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.

Ahem.

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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Post Has So Much Content It Might Blow Up

Well, we went out with a bang:  we did the zoo:

Gah why didn't we just go to a playground if you want to play on the zoo playground?

"Zoorassic Park"


The Zoo Train.  Sylvie is not ACTUALLY in a trance.

A Camel Ride.  Anything to Spend Another $5 Per Kid!

We also went to a Drillers' game - they're our little minor league baseball team.  This should have been fun, but Sylvie and Margaux were being rather awful, PVT was irked at me for sneaking in a little flask of my trademark beverage - Diet Mountain Dew with a splash of Pinot - and then I forgot towels and a change of clothes for the little ones for the splash pad.  So Sylvie just got wet and froze, and then we left!

The next night PVT and I were somehow, inexplicably, invited on a pub crawl via Party Bus.  No, I can't believe it either.  I was very, very excited.  But we discovered that we really aren't cool enough for a pub crawl in a double decker bus.  I had visions of us staying out until 4 am and dancing on the bar tops, but I should have known that if I drink when I don't have food around, I get tired and silly.  And I was worried about the babysitter being out so late, and my own need to function the next day.  What a party animal I am!  So even though we went to fabulous bars with wonderful friends, by pub #3 we snuck out and took a cab home at the embarrassing hour of 1 am.

And the next day I was STILL exhausted.
A gorgeous rooftop bar in Tulsa!  I felt like I was in A CITY!
It was a lovely night, but I guess I have to wait until I'm much older to go on another party bus, which is really depressing.
PVT would rather have a root canal than have anything to do with a selfie.
This post is almost over, I promise.  

***

This morning things #1-4 went off to school.

Two of them were in new schools, so we were all a bit queasy.

Well, maybe that was the dog crap issues I also had this morning, but I can't even write about those without wanting to cry and puke a bit.  



On past first days of school, I have loaded the elementary kids on the bus, and then met the bus there, parked, and waked them to their classrooms.  The parking has changed, though, so this year I ended up missing them come off the bus, and then just ended up traversing the whole entire school with Sylvie and Margaux just to say "bye" (which was probably more of a disturbing interruption than anything else), and sweating very very profusely.

Gah.

What a summer.

Maybe someday I'll tell you about the dog poop.

Then again, maybe I won't.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Will, Training Wheels, And Then I Get Sappy

So this guy turned eight yesterday.

We had our usual chaotic gaggle of kids here.


Margaux found a friend
 And a ridiculous, large inflatable water slide.



I thought kids would eventually get bored, but it was used CONSTANTLY for over 5 hours, so I think we got our money's worth.

Except during the interval when the thing blew a fuse and started deflating with a bunch of kids at the top.  I screamed to the kids to get down, I screamed at Phil who was already looking for the fuse, and Will proclaimed it the worst party ever.

It's not a good party without a little drama, right?


Oh Will.  He is our feisty little clown who has perfected the art of verbally torturing his brothers.  He is tough and scrappy, and can put up a big bravado of a front; but deep down he has a very sweet and vulnerable heart.

I fervently hope to protect and nurture that innate sweetness throughout these growing years.

***

You know some of those things that first time parents get really excited about?  Potty training, sleep training, early reading, yadda yadda...I would add to that list "riding bikes without training wheels."

Colette had been asking forever to take the training wheels off her bike, and I deflected the question to either PVT or would be vague about "after vacation" or "..." because yuck, all that running, and falling, and crying.  But then one night PVT, who is much more responsive about those sort of things, took them off.

The girl is six, and she just took off.

 Yay for lazy parenting!



***

This is our last full week of summer.  We will go to the zoo and a baseball game to finish off with a bang.  What a sad, fabulous summer it has been.  Our trip with the gorgeous tall mountains and the oceans of puke. All the stuff, the camps, the lessons the kids did.  Seeing my family, a visit from my sister.  Being pregnant, then not being pregnant.  I will always remember this sweet and teary summer of 2014.  

I have started to scream and yell a lot; there have been way too many sibling squabbles.  My grand experiment on chores has, by my own fault, faltered.  We are starting to get on each others' nerves.  So maybe it's good they're going back.  But I don't get quite as excited anymore at the beginning of school, because while I like a little break, school is too much of a break.  They will be gone too much, and I will feel useless and restless.  If there were a school where I could send them two days, and then do a little of "homeschooling lite," that would be my ideal - does this exist?  In Oklahoma?

Gosh sometimes I wonder if I am doing OK, not screwing these dorks up.  I love them so very much.  



Monday, August 4, 2014

Dumb and Dumber

If there is a short list of "Really Stupid Things People Do After Returning From a Massive Driving "Vacation,"" I am pretty sure that "Procuring a Great Dane Puppy the Day After You Get Home" certainly hovers at the top of this list.

And that's exactly what we did.

Rory had been asking for a dog for a long time now.  Perhaps we had a bit of amnesia from our last failed puppy experiment (Coco was adorable and totally incapable of making any sort of human connections.  Maybe we didn't try hard enough.  Alas, she is now happy with a family in Owasso.  We think.), but we thought it would be good for Rory to have a bit more responsibility.  So come his 10th birthday, we told him we would get a dog when we got back from vacation.

I guess I thought "when we got back" would be some vague time in the distant future - 2015 or so? - but PVT and Rory found an ad for Great Dane puppies.  I have always admired Great Danes' size and regality -from a distance - and so while I was unpacking and detoxing the van, I agreed.

Gulp.

So here's Dixie:


Her mom was 170 pounds; her father, 210 pounds.  POUNDS.

She is charming - I think, besides the annoying puppy traits of gnawing on everything, having the audacity to have hookworms (oh for eff's sake the vet bills), a little skin infection, and being WAY too excited to start the day - she starts whining around 5:50 am.

So PVT and I REALLY dislike her in the morning.  But we warm up to her after that; she really likes people, is pretty good to the kids (when she isn't gnawing Margaux's tutu), and is generally amicable.

So God works in mysterious ways:  I don't have a new baby, but I have a large Great Dane puppy with hookworms.

It's all good.

I think.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Long, Excurciatingly Boring Vacation Post


Mesa Verde.  So glad I am not a cliff dweller.

Well hello again blogosphere.  After twelve or thirteen hours - who's counting? MOI! - of driving in the van (wherein much puke was involved), we arrived home from a two week epic road trip late last night.  I was both thrilled and relieved to discover even after some of the uber-luxurious hotel rooms that PVT booked, our house seemed lovely, clean (yay me!), spacious and...just simply home.

Get the freak away from the edge you kids
From my near nervous breakdown in Bandelier National Park (I apparently have a terrifying fear of kids next to the edge of rocky precipices), to a little sojourn in Santa Fe, to Durango Mountain Resort, and then to meet my parents and sisters in Beaver Creek - whew.  It wasn't all easy, of course (how can any trip anywhere with eight people be easy?), but it was really wonderful.  These dang kids had better remember it for the rest of their entire lives.

The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe
They could have bungee-trampolined all night
The ill-fated ropes course (she ended up suspended upside down and petrified)
We discovered a few things along the way:  while we knew Margaux was prone to carsickness, holy moley schmoley.  There were quite literally oceans of puke on this trip.  Every time we started on a big drive, the slightest curve would trigger Margaux's delicate tummy.  I could always tell before she was going to get sick, though, so I could hold her and help her.  This led to a lot of roadside stripteases:  I disposed of an egg-sodden shirt somewhere near Alamosa, Colorado; rode in the van in my bra and undies through Denver; gave some truckers a free show near the Denver airport; and, on a particularly awful "scenic" highway from Durango through a theoretically charming mountain village called Ouray, balanced a (finally) sleeping Margaux and a bucket of puke for THREE HOURS.
This kid will do anything
ATV-ing

Scenic drives can suck it.

But actually the mountains were really, really gorgeous.  There was one night I snuck out on our "private 5th floor balcony with hot tub" (so yes, PVT is really, really good at finding deals at luxurious hotels not accustomed to middling income types with large families), high up in the mountains of Durango, and watched a far off thunderstorm.  I felt quite close to God, my lost little baby, and this whole beautiful awesome mess we're in the midst of.  Of which we are in the midst.

I forgot chairlifts are petrifying
Ready to zip line!  Is that a verb?
There were a few - OK, several - times when the tears came; but mostly I felt at peace.  No, that's a lie.  I'm still a little befuddled and lost, despite all the riches (by that I mean six healthy awful kids) I have already.  I met a lovely grandmother at one resort, who, in noticing my mass of humanity, told me she had had eight children.  After her sixth, she became very sick, and thought she wouldn't have any more.  But she was blessed with two more, and then realized that it was time for her to "just be a mom" to the ones she had.

I think these were words I needed to hear.

We went to the "National Sand Dune Monument" in Colorado.  This was after I had been puked on twice, and was also worried about one kid's persistent coughing, a lack of suitable nearby lunch places (what can I say?  I am obsessed with the next meal), and being out in the scorching hot July Colorado sun.

So I didn't get any pictures of the girls doing this:


Or the boys doing this:


I really wish I had gotten a boy picture, because when Rory came down the mountain, his entire body was covered in sand, including above his eyes (he had had a bit of a wipeout), and looked like a Star Wars sand creature.

And then we proceeded to unload 8000 tons of sand into the car (the showers there, should you ever need to know, are highly ineffective).
The "weenie" girls' rafting trip (Margaux hates life jackets!)
We finally met up with my family in Beaver Creek, which was breathtaking - it's right next to Vail.  My parents splurged on a Westin (it sat right on the gurgling river) for all of us for their 40th anniversary.  I hope there are Westins in heaven.  I love the smell, the Heavenly Beds, and the doormen (apparently to be a doorman at the Westin, you have to be a super hot guy with just the right dash of insouciance.  Of course these guys were also die hard skiers in their spare time).
Everybody except my sister Molly and her husband Bryan.  They must have been off canoodling.
It was quite the sojourn.  The only thing missing was Nordstrom - and I didn't even care!  Thank you, dear Mom and Dad.

PS - and thank you, PVT.  It should be noted PVT drove the ENTIRE time, because he hates my driving.  And maybe puke.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bastille Baby

So:  my daughter (I never thought I'd say that after three boys - my DAUGHTER) turned 6 yesterday on Bastille Day.  Bastille Day is big around here:  it's Colette's birthday and my mother's birthday (we just say Memere is Colette plus _0, so!).



There was a Frozen cake; there were many girls -


I think fun was had.  I hope so, because I have been rendered immobile.  Birthdays are wonderful.  But man I guess I am getting old.

Colette is really tricky for me.  She is a lovely girl.  She is also sensitive, bright and VERY detail oriented, which sometimes clashes with my slap-dashery way of doing things.  And her flamboyant whackjob of a sister (who may go by the name of Sylvie) is often all too happy to trample through Colette's very precise plans for HOW THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.

Oh I love her so much.  Sometimes I marvel that this ethereal little auburn haired beauty is my own little girl.  But all this growing up coming up:  it's not going to be easy for any of us females around here, not while we have oodles of estrogen coursing through our veins.

***


Well this is embarrassing:  I am kind of having a tough time slogging through the days.  And I feel bad about having a tough time.  Because - well, duh.  Six healthy kids.  Everything is good.

A dear friend reminded me today that "sometimes it is not our decision."  Strangely that was comforting.  Of course I didn't choose this; but I have to trust the One who allowed it to happen.

But I also have to believe that He knows how darn and stupidly sad I am.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where I Try My Damndest to Have a Good D&C Day

So yesterday I had a D&C.  Oh man.   It started out a little rough:  I had intermittent tears, and several of the nurses thought I was either a) a head case (well duh), or b) nervous about surgery.  When they saw what my procedure was, they all understood.  And were really just the sweetest, kindest women:  all of them uttered a simple "I'm sorry," and conveyed a calm, understanding peace about them.  I know there's a lot of complaints out there about the current state of health care, but of the many, many medical professionals I've encountered, I'd say 97.3% of them were just quiet, competent, professional angels, serenely dispensing care, drugs and empathy.  So it was yesterday.
I know some people have trouble with anesthesia, but I always wake up giddy, relaxed, and happy.  Or:  sort of drunk.  Which is embarrassing, because here's what tumbled out of my mouth to the young and pretty recovery nurse:  "I have no right to be sad!  I have six healthy kids!  I have KEANE, RORY...et cetera et cetera...!"  And:  "Do you have kids?  What are their names?"  And:  "I feel like I just drank an excellent glass of Pinot Noir!" And:  oh gosh I will just stop there.
So way back when I had my last D&C, I got these rather wonderful painkillers.  Not only do they completely annihilate any cramping, they make me feel light, happy and downright bouncy.  So bouncy that I forget that I've had not insignificant surgery and suffered through a rather sad thing.  So I have to be super careful not to run a marathon, just because I feel so good, and not to get into the habit of popping them every four hours per the label.  Because Hydrocodone?  Isn't that Oxycontin?  Isn't that what all good celebrities get addicted to?
A non-sad aside:  I have been sort of blown away by "Totus Tuus" - that's Totally Yours, for all of us who didn't take Latin - it's the "Catholic Camp" my bigger kids have been attending this week.  The first night we hosted eight teachers, including two seminarians, for dinner (ok fine pizza) - and wow.  These were smart, polite, wonderful young people who could talk soccer, jump on trampolines and push babies on swings.  They have somehow managed to make even some of my shyer, more recalcitrant kids fall in love with them.  The kids go to daily Mass; today they went to Adoration (report:  "Colette went for 7 minutes, Will for 10; Rory for 20 and Keane for 30!"), and they cannot wait to go back every day.  I'm thinking this is nothing short of a miracle for my usually camp-hating kids.  Or Sainthood for Totus Tuus personnel.
A balm for my sad little soul today:  I'm sure I'm revealing the harrowing depths of my sheer shallow-ness here, but this little thing arrived today (I had signed up in the name of "research" for an article.) It was much fun to open and ooh and distract and ahhh.

Plus:  the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale started "privately" (meaning:  anyone who signs up for a credit card) today.  I am not sure there is any greater visceral pleasure for a material girl like me than choosily picking out adorable back-to-school shoes and clothing for her living children.

I might have thrown in a few treats for mama, too.
More vanity:  there's nothing worse than "losing the baby weight" than "losing the baby weight when there's been no baby."  Oh good grief.  Why have aesthetics have even crossed my mind?  Shallowness and vanity, that's why.  And oh how fun it is to eat with sheer abandon when pregnant!  I am one of those girls who packs on five pounds in the hour after I have a positive pregnancy test, and then steadily put on two pounds per week thereafter.  Gah.  Stupid stupid, that thigh and tummy flab have even crossed my mind.  But it's just a wee insult after a biggish injury.
But grief:  grief boils everything down to the bare essentials.  Grief renders everything in high resolution for a while:  you see, you really really see, the beauty of your children living life right in front of you.  You deeply feel your love for your concerned and solicitous husband.  You revel in the ordinary messes in your home:  the spilled milk, the clumps of white dog hair, the painful little Legos you step on, the puzzle pieces that a new puzzle aficionado has spilled over the family room.  Oh, this big exuberant life that I have been taking for granted.

And I'm just going to let you all make fun of me and say it:  I have this hope, a treasured and perhaps silly hope, that I still might be blessed with one more precious life; experience that joyous peace of holding a newborn in the crook of my arm in the hospital at 2am, witness the sheer bliss of introducing siblings to a new baby.  Maybe I'm being willfully obtuse, ignoring the odds, my history.  But:  I've never regretted being an optimist.

Oh sweet little baby VT.  Goodbye.



For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!