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!).'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. 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?

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.


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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend A La Woodlands

We are going to take a break from our regularly scheduled solipsism and give you a little tour of this fabulous little satellite of Houston, Texas, called The Woodlands (I think you have to capitalize the "The."  It's a little pretentious and fabricated, which is exactly what I love about The Woodlands.)

A couple of weeks ago I slipped away at butt thirty in the morning (totally kid free!  The last time that happened was 2009!) to visit my former neighbor and dear friend Ravishing Red Ann, who had moved to The Woodlands a year ago.

Moms at a wine bar.  I am not the cute redhead.  

First of all, I had never been to Houston.  Houston, for the unitiated, is a big mother effer.  There are freeways that are light years long and go in 38 directions all at once.  I blithely flew Southwest into Houston Hobby, not knowing that Ann was about 20 minutes from Bush International and about 392 miles from Hobby.

Either she's used to driving or a saint in training, because Ann happily drove eighteen hours to pick me up and drive me back to Houston Hobby.

And then we drove to The Woodlands.  The Woodlands is a lush green island oasis off the freeway that is completely fabricated (I think they say "Master Planned Community.")  They only cut the trees down that they need to clear for buildings and roads; the rest of the time you feel like you are in a big green maze.
The Woodlands, aerial view
All the shopping and malls are tucked discreetly in little wooded groves, so that you don't even see all that tacky retail from the roads.  You might see a subtle little sign saying "Whole Foods," but if you blink you'll miss the little sign.
There is a Walgreen's in this picture!  Don't you see it?

At one point we were mulling our many, many dinner options (I am not kidding.  There are about 292 hip and chic options for any genre of cuisine your heart desires), and I swear I thought we drove the same road for about an hour, even though we were always heading somewhere different.  I think the only way you learn to drive in The Woodlands is either an acute sense of smell or muscle memory.  

But don't let all this bucolic green gorgeousness belie the economic powerhouse that is The Woodlands:  Exxon itself is building its new headquarters there - it looked like the Death Star was being constructed, in a vast acreage of concrete and cranes:
Exxon Death Star

Energy and tech-sounding companies are popping up in gorgeous sleek new office buildings anchored by juice bars and upscale sushi joints.  Property values are skyrocketing.  The whole town is teeming with young hip brainiacs (like Ann's husband, Eric).  (You're welcome, Eric!)  

So what does all this vigorous economic activity mean?  You guessed it, my friends:  the shopping is FABULOUS.  In a strange cosmic coincidence (cough, clears throat), The Woodlands NORDSTROM'S grand opening coincided with the morning of my arrival.

So of course we went here straight from the airport.  It was teeming with throngs of beautiful Woodlands Wives (oh my Bravo!  Have you checked that possibility out yet?).  On a whim I decided to get a makeover at the Chanel counter:

Before:  Suburban Hausfrau from Tulsa

After:  Texas Soccer Mom Moonlighting as Pole Dancer
So I spent the rest of the day scaring the good people of The Woodlands with my hooker eyeshadow. 

And the restaurants!  I don't think you could walk four feet without hitting a wine bar, or a hip yuppie pub, or an Asian Fusion, or an upscale Mex.  It was salsa and margarita heaven.


They are even building a Westin in The Woodlands.  
More Yuppie Utopia
I had a flashback to a moment in Seattle, 14 years ago:  I was having my final fitting for my wedding dress, and my seamstress's daughter was there, visiting from Houston.  It was one of those perfect sapphire-blue Seattle days, and I remember feeling a deep sense of pity for this poor girl who lived in Houston. 

I am sure God is having a good chuckle over that little moment.

So Thank You Ravishing Red Ann for a stupendously hedonistic Weekend in The Woodlands.  And thank you PVT for watching six kids and two dogs (one of whom had raging diarrhea) while I played at being a Woodlands Wife.  PVT of course fared fabulously:  the only casualty was a pan who met its demise in the sauteeing of peppers during an Oregon football game.

And young people of today?  Forget about all that sunscreen nonsense.  Just major in WHATEVER you need to major in to live in The Woodlands.  

You'll thank me.  Really.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oh Yeah I Have a Blog

This post has been brought to you VERY tardily by the following:  my mentally precarious state right now; bassoon lessons; soccer; soccer tournaments; ballet and tap lessons; piano practicing; homework; a 36 hour trip to the Woodlands, Texas; and big heaping piles of puppy poop.

Isn't that crazy?  Life getting in the way of me sharing my super weighty thoughts?

They aren't weighty.  But there has been a lot of living going on here.  For instance:

We spent Labor Day weekend - Friday afternoon to Monday night, to be precise - in Plano for a soccer tournament.  I am proud to say I somehow got five children to a game at 9:30 in the morning in an entirely different area of Dallas while PVT took Keane to his game.  Then the next morning, I left Phil with all the children and rode with a friend to Keane's game...we got hopelessly, pathetically lost, worried the soccer manager mom, and had a rather hilarious time.


This guy's team made it to the finals (Rory is right next to the coach) (the poor boy in the blue shirt broke his wrist in game 2!):

I texted my sisters after the game:  "They lost!  But our guys were tired, there was some home-cooked reffing, and the other team was pretty dirty!"

And then:  "Oh my gosh I just sounded like a soccer mom."

The day we got home, PVT and I celebrated 14 years of blissful wedded-ness.  Well, not really, he went to work and I got everyone ready for school and dragged my bum to the gym.  But he came home and surprised me by taking me to lunch (Mex - because he is good like that)!  Here was my oh-so-touching Facebook summation:

PVT: 14 years, 3 states, 3 houses, 6 delightful (occasionally not) kids, 4 angels, 5 dogs (erm), 2,483 soccer games, (1,427 margaritas...), 84,383 purchases at Nordstrom, 78,281 returns at Nordstrom...thank goodness you've stuck it out with me, even though I cry too much and buy too much. Happy anniversary. Here's to growing old and wrinkly together, and here's to hoping at least one of those kids comes to visit once dementia settles in.

Of course Phil doesn't actually go on Facebook, so he didn't see it.

Then this happened:

Yes, like her brothers and sisters before her, Margaux started attending St. Bernard's preschool.  So now I have almost 10 hours per week with no kids.  I have always had a newborn when I had a two year old start the preschool, and now I don't.  Sniff, sniff.  I feel alternately very guilty (why aren't I homeschooling like all the other good Catholic moms?  Reality check:  they are better mothers than I am and I would lose my sh*t.), and then sometimes I rather - well, ENJOY the time.  (bows head in shame.)

Luckily I still can't go back to work.  But I will volunteer a bit at the kids' schools (although the PTA intimidates me).  I will go to the gym a bit (but not too much because methinks some of these hot mamas take the pursuit of the perfect bod a little too far).  Maybe I will try to find a Bible study group?  Goodness knows I could use an infusion of spirituality right now.  I don't know.  I am a super lucky mother and wife; I just need to know what to do next.

But I shouldn't be in a huge hurry to figure it all out, either.

Other news?  I went to the Woodlands, Texas, for THIRTY SIX KID FREE HOURS to visit a former neighbor and dear friend while PVT toiled with the kids and dogs.  This excursion requires its own post, so stay tuned.  PVT, of course, did a fabulous job.  Only one pan was harmed in my absence, and it was during an Oregon game, so that probably doesn't count.

And finally, our little Latina turned four on 9/11:
We will celebrate her birthday tomorrow in our usual obnoxious, over the top way.

Ah, Sylvie.  I could fill an entire blog with her antics.  She may drive me to an early happy hour every other day, but this little girl has enough chutzpah and joie de vivre to light up a bus.  The best part?  She doesn't even know it.
 Happy Birthday dear Sylvie Maria.  I'm both petrified and intensely curious to see what the growing years hold in store for you.  It is sure to be quite a ride.  We do love you so.