Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Decade in Review

It's so hard to believe the first decade of the 2000's is over. I remember so clearly as a child thinking about the year 2020 and how that sounded so futuristic and "out there". I was CERTAIN we would be using hovercrafts as our main source of transportation by then. Now we're at the advent of the decade that leads to it. Bizarre.

This past decade was the first I spent entirely as an adult. And yet, I still don't feel grown up. Still so much to learn I guess. I was trying to remember what life was like 10 years ago. So much has happened. I decided to settle on a little summary of the highs and lows. So, here ya go:

Highs: first year of marriage, graduating from college, moving away from "home" and starting out in a new city so hubby could start grad school, meeting our first great "couple" friends.
Lows: getting sick with mono the last month of school and battling it for about 6 months, getting a "real" job and discovering that money doesn't stretch as far as it did when I lived with mom and dad.

getting our first "baby" - a pug named Max, discovering on Christmas day that our second baby and first princess was on the way, moving into our bigger 2 bedroom apartment.
Lows: juggling life as a fulltime employee in a "put food on the table" sort of job, while hubby worked hard as a fulltime student and parttime employee, seeing each other often only in the early morning or the wee hours of the night, worrying about the state of the world following 9/11.

welcoming Princess #1 to our little family, selling our little two door Beretta (that was a pain in my arse by the end!) and buying our 4 door "family" car.
Lows: struggling with hyperemesis during the early part of my pregnancy and missing nearly a month of work, thus using up all my paid vacation time, going back to work fulltime when Princess #1 was 10 weeks old.

hubby finishing his graduate degree, entertaining job opportunities for hubby, my last day at work.
Lows: having several job leads for hubby not pan out, worrying about the future and how to provide.

finding the "right" job for hubby and starting a new adventure across the country, meeting new friends, discovering Princess #2 was on the way and 9 months later on Christmas day holding her in my arms for the first time.
Lows: hubby passing out the night before we began our cross-country move resulting in an overnight hospital stay and bills that swamped us for years later, beginning to wonder if the "right" job for hubby was really the "right" job, missing being close to family.

taking a God-directed leap of faith and moving back "home", having a job fall into my lap that more than provided for our family while hubby was looking for a job, hubby finding a job.
Lows: battling fear while taking that leap of faith, hubby being out of work for a few months, having to give up my stay at home mom status to work fulltime again, wondering what in the world we were doing with our lives and what our purpose was, my grandfather passing away.

getting involved with Northview Community Church which forever changed our view about what a church should be/do, hubby working his way up the ladder at work, surprising him with a positive pregnancy test - Princess #3, buying our mini-van.
Lows: my boss getting fired and subsequently my job become more inflexible and less accomodating, juggling being a fulltime (pregnant) employee and mom and feeling like a failure at all of it.

the birth of Princess #3, job promotion for hubby which brought a change of city and an opportunity to me to work only parttime, buying our first home.
Lows: realizing owning a home is a huge responsibility, learning to deal with the demands of hubby's new job, balancing three children - we are officially outnumbered.

learning how to balance three children and figuring out hubby and I pretty much rock at it (most of the time), getting the shock of a lifetime when we learned Princess #4 was on the way, Princess #1 starting Kindergarten.
Lows: wondering if this was "it", had we arrived at where we would be forever, because we weren't sure we were where we wanted to be, hubby's grandfather passing away.

welcoming Princess #4 to our family and officially parking the baby train, discovering a true peace and contentment about where we are in life, getting to quit my parttime job to stay at home with my babies and help a friend out by watching hers too, celebrating 10 amazing years of marriage and knowing it's only going to get better.
Lows: Princess #4's traumatic birth and my healing process, my grandmother passing away, discovering that money REALLY doesn't stretch once you're a family of 6.

Out with the old, in with the new. Here's to the next 10 years!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Leave Me

Christmas is in process. I'm officially exhausted. Stay tuned. I'll be back blogging soon.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Activites

I thought I should do a quick update on my attempt to be all "Super Mom-like" with our cutesy little Advent Activities I have planned for each day in December.

First, let it be known this is a huge strain on me. I am so not a crafty mom that always has fun things for the kids to do in the afternoon following school or during the long summer months. Our days are more likely spent with the Princesses going back and forth between playing and fighting, and whining to me about being bored to which I respond, "go read a book or something". So, to actually have an activity planned for every day for 24 days in a row... well that is a Big Deal.

In a nutshell: the activities that involve going somewhere, doing something, spending money, getting out of the house - those are a hit. Going to see Santa = awesome. Going to see Christmas lights = fabulous. Going to get ice cream (haven't done this yet but I already know) = extreme Princess happiness.

The activities that revolve around glue and construction paper and creative juices - yeah, not so much. Oh Princess #1 was perfectly happy making paper snowflakes, until she got frustrated because she couldn't cut through the layers of paper. Princess #2 loved the idea of stringing popcorn and cranberries, until she stuck her finger with the needle and got in trouble for eating all the popcorn. Princess #3 could just flat out care less. Sigh.

So. What have I learned from this, now 11 days into December? Advent Activities aren't always the perfect Norman Rockwell scenes I envisioned (and dang it, I was SURE that stringing cranberries would fit that bill exactly!). There are more days filled with whining about the activity not being fun enough, rather than excitement over what cool and exciting thing Your Majesty planned next. And I'm pretty sure I've totally set myself up for MAJOR damage control when Dec. 26th rolls around and I have nothing fun planned.

But we've made memories. I've got pictures of every activity (carefully taken of course, so as to promote the Norman Rockwell-ness, rather than the actual Griswold catastrophe most of them turned into). The Princesses look forward to finding out each day what their activity is. I look forward to spending special time with them. I think I'll probably attempt to do this again next year. But first, I gotta figure out how to get all the glitter off my kitchen floor.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

6 Years

I was just complaining to hubby this evening about the laundry monster that has invaded my home. We are talking a full scale attack here. Nearly all the dresser drawers are empty due to the clothing being either dirty and in hampers, or clean... and in hampers. Seriously. Do we really wear this many clothes? Ridiculous.

In desperation I wailed about the overwhelming urge to throw it all out and start over. I can do that right? That wouldn't be TOO bad...

I asked hubby if he remembered laundry like this when he was a kid. Because I sure don't. My mom was the queen of laundry. No dirty sock dare touch the floor lest it be swept up by her hands and shoved into the waiting washing machine. She still gets up the second the dryer timer dings. She puts me to shame. Really.

Hubby doesn't remember the laundry monster at his house when he was a kid either. Figures.

But, he quickly pointed out to me, he and his sister were in school most of the day and his mom was home alone. What was she to do? Eat bon bons and watch soap operas? Well, maybe... but there was plenty of time to squeeze in some laundry as well.

And then the light bulb went on. Right now I only have one princess in school full time. That means that for every waking moment of the day I've got at least two other princesses (and sometimes 3) vying for my attention. Of course this is why I have a mountain of laundry that is threatening to overtake my bedroom (of course it is. I'm not wasting time on the computer and ignoring said laundry. Ever.).

Back to the lightbulb - SO. In about 6 years, all four princesses will be in school full time (and the angels in heaven rejoice). AND by that point princess #1 will be nearly 13. Which is DEFINITELY old enough to have some laundry duties (all in the name of teaching her how to care for her things and to be responsible of course). So I figure in about 6 years not only will I have all the time in the world to do my laundry, but I'll also have a helper to keep the monster at bay.

So in 6 years my laundry battle will be over. In 6 years I'll be able to reclaim my laundry room... and bathroom... and bedroom... In 6 years I will have done approx. 3,756 more loads since today (don't ask how I came to that number. It ain't pretty). In 6 years.... oh, is that all?

I'm not sure I'm going to make it that long...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Change of Plans

I was all set to sit down yesterday afternoon and whine and complain about the state of things. We were invited to two Christmas parties scheduled for yesterday evening. And we couldn't go to either because they were "no kids" parties. Do you know how expensive it is to get a babysitter for several hours for 4 kids? Or how hard it is to ask friends to watch your 4 kids for several hours for free, even though they have their own kids and lives to deal with? I'll be honest. I was hurt. I WANTED a night out with hubby. Sans kids. To not be "mommy" for awhile. To just hang with friends and have a good time. Or heck, I would have been satisfied with going to the parties WITH the kids. Just to have a night out. But no. I mean, I get it. I really do. I know not everyone's children are as well behaved as ours (ha!). I understand. But understanding it doesn't mean that it doesn't still sting a bit.

So I was going to go off here about that little situation. I was annoyed. And I was ready to vent. But then, yesterday happened. And it was exactly what I needed.

Normally, Sundays are hard. Like, "I want to crawl back into bed with cotton stuffed in my ears and the blanket over my head" hard. We manage to get ourselves out of the house nearly every day for school or what have you. But for whatever reasons, getting out of the house for church on Sunday is the hardest. The kids are crazed, we can't find the right things to wear, we're racing against the clock. Yesterday was no exception. The princesses were fighting, I was pouting about the aforementioned parties, hubby was downing the coffee. It was one of THOSE mornings.

But by afternoon, something had changed. I'm not really sure what. I think it was a combination of little things over the course of the day. We at lunch together at the table. Hubby played Wii with the girls. We both got to take a little cat nap while Princesses #3 and #4 napped. We worked together on a preschool art project for Princess #2. Hubby decided to not leave me with the kids to go to his work party alone (I think this played a HUGE part in the change in my attitude). We spent the evening together walking through a big light display here in town (and froze our tushies off, but it was worth it!).

We didn't spend a dime. We didn't party with friends. We were "mommy" and "daddy" And it was perfect. It was exactly as it should be. And when the day was over, the princesses were tucked into bed and hubby and I had some time to ourselves, I didn't feel like I had missed out on anything. I didn't feel slighted anymore.

It's hard being a parent. Just. hard. And I think sometimes I get so caught up in wishing for time away. A break. Time off. We always want what we can't have, right? I mean, adult time is important for a mommy and daddy. It keeps you connected. It makes you better parents. I think the adage "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is so true in many instances. But I've forgotten, that being with my kids can be just as fulfilling and rejuvenating. Why do I overlook that so much? Why do I feel so entitled to "time away"? Maybe we've (in general) become too consumed with our own time. Doing what we want. With who we want. When we want. Being a parent is about not having your own time anymore. But that doesn't mean you have to give anything up. I think I learned yesterday that although it might not be "my time" and I might not really be the one calling the shots (because let's face it - when kids are in the house, they run the show), I can still be filled up. Hubby and I can still connect.

I'm sure I'll still have moments where I selfishly desire my own time over all else. But hopefully those will be fewer and farther between. Because yesterday was perfect. And I wouldn't mind "sharing" my time like that all the time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Break Out Your Norman Rockwell, It's December!

Welcome to December! Let the insanity begin! If I thought life was crazy before, throw in a little Christmas, a little birthday, a little anniversary (our 10th to be exact) and you've got a recipe for losing your mind in the hustle and bustle.

I hate that. Christmas is supposed to be a time of reflection, of family togetherness and peace and harmony...

Oh who am I kidding? Do I live in a Norman Rockwell painting? Last I checked, um no. While I'm sure that the perfect December exists for families on his canvas, let's face it, the kids are IMMOBILE. No wonder it's perfect!

No really, our December is ca-razy. Hubby and I did not plan well. First we thought it would be brilliant to get married a week before Christmas. Then we decided to add to it by having Princess #2 on Christmas Day. OK, that one wasn't planned. Scattered in between you've got Nutcracker performances, special church services, Christmas parties, present shopping and this year I went all "Norman Rockwell perfect" and had to do an Activity Advent calendar complete with special activities or crafts to do every day. Yeah, we'll be lucky to actually do all 24 things I've planned. But gosh darn it, we're gonna try!

I hope that this December doesn't fly by in a blur. I look forward to it so much and then I blink and it's over. Talk about let-down. I know things won't be perfect. We still have family juggling to figure out. There are bound to be temper tantrums. Broken ornaments. I'm sure we'll forget something along the way. But I hope in the midst of it we manage to make a few memories. I'm not asking for Norman Rockwell, but a *little* perfection would be nice. In the small moments, the moments that matter the most.
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