Friday, January 16, 2015

Where Boring Ruminations About the Weather Lead Me to More Boring Ruminations on Having a Big-ish Family

(I am going to force this into a Seven Quick Takes Post, and hope it works, OK?)

1

Ah hello there dear friends.  I have been suffering a severe case of January-itis that has left me feeling sad, lethargic, anxious and generally morose as soon as the alarm goes off each morning at pitch-black thirty.

2

But today:  the little bug Margaux and I are sharing seems readily controlled by Tylenol, the sun is shining, and the temperature promises to break 40 degrees, which makes me want to blubber tears of pure joy.

I don't know when I became so affected by the weather (although I suppose my whacky hormones might contribute a bit to the shenanigans).  I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, where the term "sunbreak" was coined.  When I lived in New York, I trudged through the city streets with alacrity through Nor'easters, snow storms and all kinds of awful muck (in high heels, no less, because I could not abide the sneakers/skirt commuter look).

But maybe since I've had kids, or maybe since we've lived here (I can still hear a friend, a native Tulsan, intoning when we told him we were moving here:  "Say goodbye to temperate weather," a phrase I promptly poo-pooed but which has haunted my brain ever since), both the extremes of summer and winter make me wring my hands in despair like a little old lady.

It's fairly pathetic, really.

Too, the past many winters have corresponded with the middle, boring part of pregnancy.  A boring pregnancy, of course, is a wonderful thing; I don't think anyone yearns for an "exciting" pregnancy.  But the mid-pregnancy blahs, coupled with the mid-winter blahs, make me snappish, grumpy, and unable to handle the little things with any sort of resigned cheerfulness.

3

The only picture I've managed recently:  waiting at bassoon lessons
But a little cheerfulness is something I've discovered is desperately needed when you have a big-ish family:  because there is always a little problem, a little SOMETHING, going on.  Way back when I had one or two kids, I always viewed mothers of large families with awe, a bit of envy, and a dash of self-righteous disdain:  how could they possibly love ALL of their children as much as I loved my two perfect little boys?  Well hahaha: now that I have my own large-ish brood, I can assure my past self that I love each and every one of my (perfect-ish) children just as much as I loved the first two.  That isn't the hard part.  What is hard is all the little things, all the time:  this one has a huge project that requires nagging every single night.  This one lost his new hoodie.  AGAIN. Why does this one have a little fever?  What is going on with that one's finger?  Why did that one just randomly puke on the couch that I JUST HAD PROFESSIONALLY CLEANED last week (sob)?  That one NEVER STOPS TALKING.  This one needs to talk SLOWER.  This one had better adjust his attitude.  This one is always hanging out in his room solo, playing on his Kindle.  This, that, the other thing...none of these are big problems, of course.  But all of the little little things add up sometimes to where I feel like I can't keep up, despite the fact that I try to be fairly laid-back, for sanity's sake.

4


And the FOOD!  Back when I had three little boys, I usually could get by with one large grocery store on the weekend.  A few years later, I had to add in a mid-week run for things that disappeared quickly, like fresh produce.  Or chocolate.  And now?  It seems like I am at a grocery store every.single.day because we've run out of something.  And I have at least 5 grocery stores in the rotation:  one store has the best toast, the other the best produce, the other the best whip cream (this is very, very important) and deli meats, the other my special French Vanilla "coffee," the other the Sriracha mayonnaise that is helping me survive this pregnancy (which is why, perhaps, I've gained 20 pounds and the baby supposedly weighs 13 ounces).  It's like I'm a Frenchwoman who goes to the farmers' market every day, without the charm, the farm, and the French.  And with a big big van.

5

Where did she come from?
But of course all the little things and problems are, in the long run, more than offset by all the daily victories, the daily laughs, the daily jokes, the very loud and hazardous games of indoor tag, and the milestones.  There is this one who finally got the project turned in, and while no one will think Mama did it (a point of pride in this family:  homework is done by children. I am not sure all the parents in our school district always agree), it is a lovely piece of work.  This one's fever is gone, and she is back to chatting up a storm about carnival rides and French toast.  This one looks so very PRETTY in her ballet tutu.  This one scored 5 goals last night.  So much to keep track of, but so many joys, big and little.

6

Many many years ago, the partners of the accounting firm I was working for hosted a progressive dinner at their houses for all the newly promoted tax managers.  We got a limo, and there were probably 8 of us managers packed in, drinking champagne; there was flirting; we were young and on fire, and we were having a ball.  Each partners' house seemed to get bigger and grander than the home before.  Finally we got to the last house.  It was a brand new house presiding atop the West Hills in Portland.  We could see all of Portland glinting below, the river and the mountains beyond that.  The house was immaculate, I remember the beautiful virgin wood floors shining like mirrors (in fact, the partner was so obsessed with her floors that she had emailed me specifically to chose my footwear carefully, knowing my penchant for obnoxious heels).  And I kept looking at those floors, knowing I would never have a house like this; I didn't have the fire, the stomach for all the work needed to make partner.  And I missed my two little baby boys - and PVT - at home.  And right then I had a thought that I think has given me the courage to have "just one more," to discard the stern warnings of doctors who mutter darkly about "advanced maternal age:" my children are my wealth.  

Nothing else.  

Well, that and health insurance.

7

That's probably enough mush for one post.  And my "wealth" wants me to come play some weird game with my shoes and a blanket.  Here's to the occasional warm winter day and healthy kids!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dispatch from December

I am a bit shocked to write this, knowing how many things can go awry at this time of year (6 kids, winter), but I believe I can put this down in the books:  our Christmas was marvelous.  No one was sick; we made it to church; I made an edible breakfast casserole; and I only wrecked one dish at dinner (I couldn't find my tin foil, so for some reason I covered the spiced squash rings with a plastic lid.  I think I thought that it was some special oven-proof plastic?  Um.  Suffice it to say we did not eat the spiced squash rings laced with melted purple plastic).

And the kids, of course, had a fantabulous time.
That's a lot of blue and green for a bunch of Okies
I think you will probably agree that second to hearing your newborn baby cry for the first time, there is no sweeter, happier sound than waking up to kids squealing with delight over their Christmas loot.  Even if they wake you up from a deep warm sleep and it is still as dark and cold as the dead of night.
Anyone who knows Margaux knows she has worn the same tattered ballet dress EVERY DAY for the past three months.  Santa got her this dress, and it is a miracle that rivals the incarnation of Our Lord that she is wearing it.

I keep seeing these huge dolls lying face down on the floor and  thinking some kid has lapsed into a coma.

A wee bit of snow!  Snowman made by mama, thankyouverymuch

Sno cones on Christmas.  Of course Santa brought a sno cone machine!



It was a happy, exhausting day.  
***

I don't think I have ever been more happy, or surprised, to be pregnant.  Usually by this (relatively early) time I am so tired and over the whole thing, complaining about my gimpy leg, my herculean weight gain, and all the other indignities of pregnancy.  But after my own losses, after hearing too many stories of others' heartbreaking losses and struggles with infertility, I feel like I've won a lottery.  Every time I feel her move I feel a mixture of relief, elation, and dumbfounded gratitude. 

Please remind me of this when I start complaining about heartburn or extreme fatigue or feeling like a one-legged bowling ball, which I'm sure will be all too soon.

And now, we are facing down a lovely week of sleeping in, bickering over screen time, and lots of football and loud random yelling by Sylvie.  I plan to treasure it.

See you in 2015!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Wherein I Finally Exhale...and Advice Please!

Here's a link up with Kelly - 7 Quick Takes!


1.  So I announced this the other day to the World of Facebook:

Week 15, Baby #7.  I am not the grandmother.
To say I am thrilled, after two miscarriages and a long long year, would be a small understatement.  I had been waiting for what seemed like eons for the call with the results of the Harmony test (this is a new-fangled test - new even since I had Margaux - that somehow bifurcates the mother's DNA and the baby's DNA in a blood sample from the mother, and then examines the baby's DNA for chromosomal abnormalities), and finally called the doctor myself this week.  Miraculously, at my ripe old age of 41, the baby is fine.  While I know I would have loved a child with special needs, it is so wonderful not to have that extra worry (I am not so spiritually advanced that I request suffering, alas!).  And...it's another girl!
The gender-reveal party is a great excuse to consume heavily iced cupcakes

Lordy another sister

2.  Seven kids doesn't sound daunting to Phil or me at all.  But four girls in a row...four TEENAGE girls in a row?  Is there enough Pinot Noir in the world?

3.  We will continue our trend of Frenchy girl names, because we are unabashed Francophiles and like to think we're really sophisticated like that.  Ahem.  So...do you got any good names a la Francais?  We have a Colette, Sylvie and Margaux.

4.  It is so great when they lose those two top teeth at this time of year:

All I want for Christmas...
Fortunately the Tooth Fairy remembered the moola right in time...around 6:55 am.  Phew!

5.  Santa is having a tough time coming up with gifts for two sports-loving, video-game loving (am I allowed to admit that?) boys, ages 8 and 10.  What are YOUR tween boys clamoring for this Christmas?

6.  After baby #6, I gave away all my maternity clothes, thinking I could never endure another pregnancy (my left leg pretty much falls off.  It is super super painful.)  Ha!  Ha!  So I've had to buy a few things, and I have to say I love what I've gotten from my dear standby.  This brand, Lilac, is new to me, not terribly expensive, and flattering enough that I might not even burn it after I have the baby.


7.  I have friends who are waiting for, and wanting, another baby.  Please know I am praying for you.  The cycle I got pregnant, I said a Novena to Saint Jude.  He is my Dude.  Maybe he is yours too?  I have had a glimpse of the vast emptiness - and can I say pathetic envy of pregnant women? - that comes with wanting another child (and I say that fully knowing how ridiculous for a mother who has been as richly blessed as I have been to even harbor such feelings.  But there they were.).  If a child is what your heart desires, do not lose hope!

Have a Happy Advent Week!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On Gratitude

Ah, Thanksgiving.  How was yours?  Ours was...well.  Let's just say on Thanksgiving itself, I was thankful for NO BARF.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, and less than 48 hours before we were supposed to board a plane for Seattle, Colette came down with what appeared to be an acute case of tummy barf-o-rama.  Et cetera.  There is always hope, though, after just one, right?  You think it might just be an isolated, strange bit of awfulness.  So I spent the next day doing laundry and worrying and hoping.

The day we were supposed to leave, Will came into my bedroom at 5:45 in the morning and told me he felt sick.  Ugh.  But there was still hope!  Six to seven hours, he would probably be tired but no longer actively ill.  So:  we kept packing, I tended to Will, I dropped the dog off at the doggie hotel.

By 1 pm, Will was better.  We were leaving at 4.  At 3 pm, Margaux got sick.  Could we get one sick baby through the flights?  Well, maybe.  Phil loaded the car.  And then:  Sylvie got sick.  Could we get TWO kids through....?  And then:  Rory got sick.  Our choice was obvious:  we had no choice.  We would look like a traveling Ebola circus.  So Phil got busy rescheduling our plane tickets, while I tended to three sick kids - it was coming so fast I couldn't even empty the barf bowls.

In the end, I was very very relieved that I was taking care of my miserable kids on the GROUND.

That night, around 1 am, I woke up.  Oh crap.  And Keane, a couple hours later.

The last man standing?  Phil never got sick.  I suspect it was the potent combination of probiotics and gin in his diet that kept the bogeyman away.

So we all spent the next couple of days lolling about, recovering from the evil bug.

By Friday, we were ready to all have a meal; since there was no food in the house, we decided to try a new spot down the street.  Oh my.  The service was strange and grim; the atmosphere was strangely sterile and unwelcoming; the menu was uninspired.  But we stuck it out.  And then the waitress asked:  "Are these all your children....or your GRANDCHILDREN?"

It was then that I felt a little sad about our Thanksgiving weekend.  But in her defense, the server's name was Pebbles, so maybe wherever she's from most people ARE grandparents at age 40.

Well, we had a lovely quiet weekend in the end.  And hopefully we are immune from the awful tummy thing for the next few months.

I hope YOUR Thanksgiving was peaceful, happy, and 100% barf-free.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Am I Weird?

Look!  Another blog post!  I am ripping them out, people.  Here's another Seven Quick Takes hosted by Kelly:

1.)  I bought my tickets to Edel!
Taking a break from a vile boys' potty to buy my ticket
I don't know anyone "In Real Life" who is going, I guess my poor husband will hold down the fort while I party in Charleston, and I really don't know logistically how it's all going to work.  But!  I got my ticket!

But ladies, be afraid.  I have won shoe contests in my past.  I wouldn't even bother competing.  I will win.

2)  This article in the New York Times caused quite a stir - how mothers feel all this pressure to be "all in."  I especially liked this part:

"My sister in law told me about a mom at her kid's elementary school who took the basic school T-shirt that everyone got and painstakingly created a beaded fringe at the bottom, replete with cinched waist and perfectly cuffed sleeves.  All of the other little girls gathered around, screeching variations of "I want the same thing!"  Incredibly enough, instead of laughing in their unrealistic faces the way our parents might have, all the adults started mumbling, "Yes, OK, we can do that, sure, I'll learn a challenging new craft, no problem.  Tonight of course.  We'll do it tonight."  This made my sister-in-law, who was already late for work, want to teach a few people the artisanal craft of rearranging someone's face using only your bare hands.  We are outclassed at every turn.  We are outspent and out-helicoptered and outnumbered.  It used to be good enough just to keep your house from being coated in a thin layer of dog hair and human feces.  No longer."  

I try to keep up on the feces around here - and with several children who are marginal wipers, this is no small feat.  But fringed T-shirts?  This would not even OCCUR to me.  Not only because I'm not crafty at all, but maybe just because I'm lazy.  Here's the stuff I care about:  what my kids are eating, more or less; that they are clean and not stinky; that they do their homework; and that they go to church and grow up in the Catholic faith.  Other than that I feel very little pressure like that described in this article.  I could blame it on the fact that I have more kids than most, but I don't think I would have felt differently if we only had two.  So am I weird?

3)  Before you answer that, consider this "Pilgrim Project" done annually by the first graders at our elementary school:

Really?  First graders did these? 
Did you mamas run to the Epcot Center Gift Store?

WTF?????????????
If any of you know me, you know that the first year this project was presented, I helped a poor son glue some cotton balls on the clothespins, called it an Eskimo (yes I DO have Inuit blood) and called it good.

And then I was VERY ASHAMED.  I don't know how all the other mothers knew that this was actually a VERY IMPORTANT test of motherhood - which mommy can make the best pilgrim?  Well how was I to know that?  If I wanted to enter the local Best Pilgrim by a Mommy competition, I surely would have done that.  I THOUGHT this was a project wherein we discussed how various ancestors in my child's family came to America.  Then the kid colors a clothespin.

Again, am I weird?  OR IS EVERYONE ELSE?

Don't answer that.

4)  But seriously, if a child's success in life directly correlates to a mother's crafting skills, then my children are S-C-R-E-W-E-D.

5)  With our upcoming flight to Seattle, and after a long interlude of robust good health around here, I am petrified that we will all get some awful herps on the plane.  So I am doing a last-ditch push to boost immune systems:  Vitamin C and probiotics.  The Vitamin C supplements are delicious, so that's not a problem, but sauerkraut?  Fermented pickles?  Kefir?  Even yogurt is not a universal go around here.  So I bought some probiotic supplements, which about half of these monsters will ingest.  Any other ideas?

I have a friend who has a very intricate Lysol/haz-mat routine when she gets on a plane, involving disinfecting every surface that her mini-passengers will touch (the tray tables, window shades, seat belts, EVERYTHING!), but I'm not sure I will be able to withstand PVT shooting lasers out of his eyes while I attempt that little routine.

6)  Yesterday, after Colette observed some lovely marker "murals" that Sylie and Margaux had colored on all their bedroom walls and dresser:  "They should have waited until January to do this."  Me:  "....?"  Colette:  "So Santa would still bring them presents!"

7)  We have twelve soccer games this weekend.  That's 1-2.  In the rain.  I will likely wimp out of many of them, given that I am a not-so-outstanding soccer mom, but you might feel a bit of pity for PVT, who will be at every single one, except for the two that are at the exact same time.  He's good, but even he hasn't figured out how to clone himself.

How's that for seven little things?  Go see more at This Ain't the Lyceum!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Back from the Semi-Comatose

AAARGH.  Well, clearly I have a bit of mental paralysis over here on ye olde blog.  This lack of online life here stems from many reasons, some yawn-worthy and boring, some more interesting, some to be determined...well.  Anyhoo. I figure even I can come up with seven things that have happened in the past MONTH.

So here goes:

1)  I turned 41.  This was not as upsetting as turning 40; I guess I've finally gotten to the point that I'm  fine with just being ALIVE.  PVT's Golfapalooza's friend's wife (got that?)  is currently in the hospital with an open chest trying to make her way back to the world after she received a lung transplant.  She has three young kids.  Just thinking about this lovely lady has put my petty thoughts of wrinkles in perspective.  So I am pretty darn thankful to be re-playing Bubble Guppies for the eighth time this morning and reffing Lincoln Log fights.

While there is no photographic record of my birthday, it was a good day.

2)  Although I'd be lying if I told you that I don't do a weekly assessment of the "will I or won't I succumb to Botox someday." Well, not yet.  But if you, too, aren't ready to enter the world of injectables, I must recommend this product.  I first discovered it reading the profile of some Upper East Side socialite (yes I love this fantasy), who used it and professed it made her skin look "like a fetus's."  How could I not be intrigued by THAT description?  I don't know what it is or what it does, but I do think it works.  It stings a little, so it's doing SOMETHING.  Try it!

3)  The kids have been sort of awesome lately.  Not awesome in the sense of saintly and well-behaved, of course, but in the sense of being physically healthy and sleeping well.  Ah, bliss!  Except last night:  one child who habitually (um, EVERY NIGHT) comes to our bed to sleep on my back and/or head, had a bit of a bed-wetting incident:  apparently she wet her own bed (bedspread, sheets, duvet cover, down comforter), and then, soaked, came to our bed, thus rendering our sheets, down comforter and duvet cover wet as well.  So thank you, PVT, for having a job, because if I had to do thirty nine loads of laundry and go to work, I would probably just end it all.
Look at their faces.  I bet you can guess which one is the offender.  

4.  I really, really want to go to this event.  Because:  Charleston!  Wine!  Goodie bags!  A hotel room!  And perhaps most importantly, meeting a bunch of like-minded, tired moms.  I've "met" many of these women through their blogs, and I idolize many of them (since they all seem to homeschool 87 children and write and run marathons and do all the things I just don't do).  But then I'm hoping to join my mom and sisters for Neiman Molly's annual geeky copyright lawyer conference in February, this year held in Nashville.  So TWO trips in one year?  For a suburban Tulsan hausfrau of six who happens to have a budget, that sounds a bit too jet-setting and free-wheeling.  So I will probably just dream.  

Or maybe hitch rides and then camp in the hotel parking lot.  We'll see. 

5)  Last month I wrote my monthly column of fluff on my sadness over a recent miscarriage, and then some frivolous ways to muddle one's way through grief.  Well, the article, much to my surprise, generated quite a bit of hate mail - or hate Facebook posts.  Apparently many readers felt I wasn't sad enough; one woman even posited whether, as a Christian woman, she could legitimately "punch me in the face."  All of this activity shocked me:  anyone who knows me knew I was quite devastated over my little lost one, and I was valiantly trying to see this loss through the prism of my abundant blessings (see:  six healthy kids; hunky husband; health insurance).  Anyway, the whole thing shook me up a bit.  While the article has been removed from the Tulsa Kids website (hmmmm), you can read it here.  And then let me know if you, too, want to me whack me around a bit.  

6)  Here's your daily dose of barf-o-rama.

7)  In just a little less that two weeks, we will all be flying to Seattle for Thanksgiving.  I can't wait:  we haven't been up NORTH since the summer of 2013, so I think that is the longest period in my whole life that I haven't received an injection of nice gray Seattle drizzle and wet greenery.  The boys are thrilled, because the Sounders arranged to win through and have a play off game against the LA Galaxy while we are there.  PVT and I will make our favorite pilgrimage for a night at the Bellevue Westin.   We will stay with my poor parents.

I suppose there will be some puke, but it will be awesome.

Oh you missed me so much didn't you?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola, Birthdays and Ballet

(Let's just pretend it hasn't been over four weeks since my last blog entry, OK?  I've been busy concocting wildly improbable doomsday Contagion-esque scenarios in my head.)

The passion for football in Oklahoma still sort of floors me.  Sure, I knew a lot of football fans growing up, I watched the Seahawks with my dad, rooted for my Huskies, but here?  It is a religion unto itself.  My sister in law had the audacity, back in 2000, to schedule her wedding during the OU - Texas game.  Her family and guests would surreptitiously (well not so much) sneak out during the ceremony to check the score throughout the brief ceremony.

Flash forward to the OU - Texas game this past weekend:  it is held at the Cotton Bowl near Dallas.  After scrolling through my Facebook feed and realizing that PVT and I were among just a handful of Tulsans who had not left their children with the in-laws to go to the hallowed game, I started to make some horrible calculations:  Tulsa is very close to Dallas.  Lots of Tulsans and Oklahomans descended on Dallas this weekend.  Lots of Tulsans were coming back from Dallas to Tulsa.  Do you see where I am going with this?  How far, exactly, is Texas Health Presbyterian and its environs from Cotton Bowl Stadium?

Not that far, people. So yes, before I sent my children to school this morning, I did some crazy, wholly unscientific and fear-induced calculus in my little untrained brain.

This, my friends, is why I am slacking on the blogging.  I am transfixed by Ebola.

I know it makes no sense for me, in my relatively sterile suburban bubble, to obsess over this.  And my kids have been robustly healthy these past few months - maybe I don't have enough to worry about!  But a little bout of stomach flu running through our house unhinges me, so I cannot begin to fathom the despair that these people in West Africa must be experiencing:  a stomach flu that is so awful you might die.  Or your child might die.  And the medical help is wildly, horribly insufficient.

I wish God would intervene pretty quickly.  I am sure he already has, but I'm impatient like that.

ANYHOO.

That's enough of a glimpse into the paranoid musings of a Tulsan hausfrau.

Now to the more lovely and pedestrian happenings around here:

This guy turned twelve.


Keane is, despite a penchant for disorganization, (don't worry Keane, no one you know reads this blog!) doing quite well this school year.  After losing his school ID twice in the first few weeks of school, leaving his phone on the bus and forgetting a few homework assignments, he is doing kind of rocking his new middle school.   He is also balancing soccer and band with much requisite loafing and playing some Risk-type game on the computer.  And, quite to his misfortune, he has inherited his mother's penchant for obsessing and worrying.

And that is all I will say about our beloved first born who is, after all, on the brink of teenager-dom.

The girls have been busy with their little dance classes.  Well, Sylvie has been busy and Margaux desperately wishes she were.
Margaux crashing the big girl dance class
 Today Sylvie did her little "fall program" in ballet class, where the girls did a little hula number:

She hula'd her heart out
Of course the highlight of all this showboating was the cookie party afterwards:


She works hard for her cookie


Some mom spent a freakload of money on these ballerina cookies
So yes life is chugging happily along here.

Thank goodness.