Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food For Thought For Those Considering A Big Family

I've been pondering some ideas for blog posts lately. I think a recurring one is the things I think about when I think of our decision to have a large family and having all the kids so close in age. While I (obviously) wouldn't change a thing, I do have some "nuggets" I would pass on to parents contemplating having kids so close together. Food for thought that I didn't realize before we started our family.

*While it's GREAT having kids who are interested in the same things and at similar stages of development, it's also nearly impossible to enjoy events (like storytime at the library) with one when you have others who are just young enough that they can't enjoy it, wreak havoc the entire time, or are not allowed to participate because they are too young. Because I publish a newsletter for my community that lists great kid-friendly events in the area, I get to see how much there is to do with kids. So much great stuff...but I have to live vicariously through the readers who DO participate because I can't realistically take L (who's 4) and have E & M (who are 3 & 1, respectively) along because it isn't age appropriate for everyone. Getting a sitter for a 45 minute-1 hr event seems silly to me (and not exactly practical.)

I wish I had more of an opportunity to experience those "mommy & me" types of things with each.

*I confuse details of when things happened to each child because they are all so close together. Here's the breakdown of ages:

R-born 5/3/2005
L-born 5/17/2006
E-born 12/18/2007
M-born 6/20/2009 and
H -due 1/22/2011.

R is a little easier to remember since he was our first, but then after that, it all kind of gets smooshed together. I would love to say I can just refer to each child's baby book, but, well, then I would be lying. I made a valiant attempt to record everything in R's baby book. I think I got up through year 2. By that time L was already turning 1. L's ends somewhere around 11 months. E doesn't even have one, although I looked many times for one. M? I didn't even bother. Isn't that horrible?

*Because our 2 oldest are SO close, they were in essence raised as twins. Not because we deliberately did that, but because they're both boys, they share a room, they wear roughly the same size of clothing, they are very close developmentally and participate in most of the same activities and on the same teams, etc. So, imagine L's chagrin when R started kindergarten and L didn't. It was a little ugly, Because they had [almost] always done the same things at the same times, L couldn't understand. Also, he was too young to realize that R was around for a whole year before L was even born. To him, they have always been together. It's fine now. Espcially since L started preschool and has his own "thing" but it was rough for him at first.

*People feel entitled and even compelled to make comments about the size of your family, the closeness of ages of the children, the fact that you and your partner didn't prevent so many pregnancies, etc. It can get personal. Even when it's said in jest and by people you know, it still gets old. Every person who makes a comment must think he or she is the first. If you never tire of hearing, "So, have you figured out what causes this yet? or "Are they all YOURS?!" or "Are you "done" yet?" or "One of you needs to see a doctor about this," then you will have no worries. Otherwise, decide now if you will paste on your best permasmile and shrug it off or if you will throw out a zippy comeback.

*If you are someone who does not welcome touching, prepare yourself now. Nothing seemingly screams "Touch me!" more than a pregnant woman's belly. I consider myself a touchy/feely individual, but I draw the line with someone touching my "bathing suit areas." My belly is in that holy, sacred, not for public use areas of my body. I would never DREAM of violating anyone else by touching them there, so it always surprises me when others cross that line. Family is different (at least for me.) It's strangers or acquaintances who floor me when they reach out and rub, pat, grope, or squeeze my belly. I found a GREAT shirt at Burlington/Baby Depot that says what I may be too shy to say, "Touch the Belly, Lose a Hand." Isn't that awesome??? 'Nuff said.

*Unless you are independently wealthy, you may need to give up the idea of using name brand everything for your kids. Huggies were my favorite with R. I turned up my nose at those who used Wal Mart brand. And then L came along...and then E. They were ALL In diapers at the same time. No longer could we afford the $25+/box diapers. Especially when we were buying 3 different sizes. We discovered Target (Up & Up brand) and it was love at first sight. Same with formula. We used soy for R & L. Then E came along and we realized we could save $5 a can on the milk-based. Imagine the happy dance we did when we found out we could save another $10 per can if we used Target brand--which as all the same stuff in it as the name brand???

We have also gotten much better at shopping at stores like Gabriel Bros, Marshalls, Once Upon a Child, Target (of course. We love Target so much we have them listed as our emergency contact should anything happen to one of us!) consignment sales, and--our favorite--hand-me-downs from wonderful friends and family. Gone are the days when we would buy 4-5 outfits at Gymboree--full price-- because we thought they were adorable. Now, we realize that we could buy 20-25 outfits somewhere else for that same amount of $$.

*Driving/vehicle usage may be a challenge. Expect to have at least 5 car seats at once if you have 5 or more kids in 5 years. We have 2 boosters, 2 forward facing and soon we are adding a rear facing for the newest addition. We drive a standard minivan, so we are hoping for the best as far as everyone fitting inside the van while we travel. Otherwise, we hate to break it to R, but he may be our new hood ornament. HAHA. Joking, obviously. Put down the phone. No need to call CYS.

If we decide to have even 1 more...we will be investing in the John & Kate style full size van. I'm not ready to be compared to them in any way.

*Your body may revolt. I was never in danger of having a 6-pack, but now I can almost hear my abs sobbing, wheezing and gasping to hold it together. They are dangling by a precarious little thread and at any moment the dam could burst. I picture them with their fingers laced, eyes squeezed shut, and smoke pouring out of their ears, struggling to keep it all together. If I get up too quickly, I am immediately doubled over in pain. The books call it "round ligament pain." I call it "did anyone see who just stabbed me in the gut?!"

I used to say my favorite time of pregnancy was at about 6 months. That's when you get that little bump that looks like more than a beer belly but is still adorable and fun to dress up in maternity tops. Then, during the third pregnancy, that changed to about the 5th month. This time? I hadn't stopped looking pregnant from the previous baby, so my belly "popped" to looking about 7 months from week 3, I swear. I seem to have surpassed that "cute" phase altogether.

Also, kindly pardon the delicate subject, but let's talk about hemorrhoids. We've all seen the Preparation-H or the Tucks commercials where a pad is used to extinguish a match--the match, of course, representing the hemorrhoid. Um, no. That doesn't even begin to detail what a hemorrhoid is like during pregnancy or after delivery. I was scared to death to have my first #2 after having R. Little did I know that they come back during pregnancy (and sometimes even when you're NOT pregnant.) It's like giving birth. There may or may not be blood, yelling or white-knuckling involved. It can really dampen a perfectly good magazine reading session in the ol' library, I tell you.

You may get acne reminiscent of your teen years. I have been blessed enough to get it on my face, my neck, my shoulders AND my back with this pregnancy. Since I didn't have it as a teen or for any other pregnancy, I guess Mother Nature was feeling frisky and decided to give it to me all at once this time.

As far as all the other typical aches and pains and the sheer discomfort that feels endless, save up your pennies or ask for gift cards for cleaning services, babysitters, or massages. The shine and excitement of others pampering you has surely worn off (for others) after about baby #3. Gone are the days when people rush to carry things for you, rub your aching [insert body part here], call often just to see how you're feeling, or take the kids for a few hours so you can get some much-needed rest. I've been told many times that it's now a non-event when I'm pregnant because it happens so often. I've also been told that I'm such a trooper when I'm pregnant that people forget until they see me. I appreciate those kind words. I really do. I just get so tired. It's draining. Yes, it's also my choice and my life, but...ya' know? A little pampering and fuss wouldn't be out of the question, would it??

*But, most of all, try to prepare yourself for the most overwhelming...engulfing... all consuming love you will ever experience. It's been said that being a mom is to have your heart walking around on the outside...or something like that...well, being a mom of many is like that times 1,000,000. Even if you fear there won't be enough love to go around, believe me, there is! And who knew you could function with so may pieces of your heart roaming around. It's truly the best, hardest, most stressful, draining, rewarding job there is. I strongly recommend it, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Keepin' On

Finally. Feels like we're turning a corner. And at the risk of sounding all junior high'ish, I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that.

My classes FINALLY start on the 23rd. This is so exciting. I just transferred out of the MBA program into the Masters of Elem Ed program--not until I had "wasted" two classes (12 weeks) and $4000, of course, but whatever. It's almost here. And I can't wait.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a teacher. And, since I seemingly have an elementary school/preschool in my house with my own children, I figure...why not make it official?

In other news, my blood pressure seems to be dropping. I've addressed some issues that needed addressing and that has helped to alleviate some of that nonsense. I've started some spring cleaning in my personal life and it feels good to be setting some boundaries and definitions for myself and my family. Good stuff.

Third trimester nesting has been in full force. Love that. Although it isn't always consistent, overall, our house has stayed in pretty good condition. The laundry is a whole other ball game, but at least we have clean things to wear. And besides, the mountain of clothes in the basement makes for a cheap play activity for the kids.

I actually took a look at my library of blogs the other night-the ones that I follow. Boy was I...disappointed? I know I've been out of it, blogwise, for a bit, but I was so surprised to see how many personal blogs have become (what seems like) strictly review/giveaway blogs now. I was sad. I got all settled in with a hot cup of tea, and was so excited to read what's been going on in some of my bloggy friends' lives...only to find a slew of product reviews and giveaways. Maybe with the turning economy and the holidays approaching more bloggers are turning to these types of things to make money. I totally understand that. I just wish I didn't have to scroll through so many blogs that used to bring me so much entertainment until I found one that actually talked about someone's personal life. That's what I get for being MIA for so long.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I would love the opportunity to work in a soup kitchen this year like my husband and I have done before, but I think the kids are a little too young for that yet. In good time we will have everyone there serving. LOVE that.

I hope you are all spending Thanksgiving with family and friends. This year, we are celebrating on Tuesday since Joe has to work all day Thanksgiving. If you are eating out for the holiday, PLEASE be kind to your restaurant staff. They have families waiting for and missing them at home. And, contrary to what I used to think when I was young and single and ate out for Thanksgiving, it isn't always a case of , "Well, they probably chose to work it because they get such good tips." No. Sometimes missing family to be at work and watch everyone else's families have a wonderful day isn't a choice, but rather mandatory for one's job.

So, be safe, relax, and enjoy the day!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Ways to Be Super Annoying and Self Involved

I just updated my Facebook status to read: "Today may be the day my head actually blows off my shoulders."

And I mean that.

Yes, I know pregnancy hormones are a bi-otch, but this is ridiculous. I have been in a self-imposed cave for the better part of a week now because I am sick to death of stress and those who cause it. Those things that I can usually just let roll off my back with minimal aggravation are recently making my blood pressure rise, my face get hot, and my belly to "squeeze." In the interest of my unborn child (who is swimming around in all that anxiety induced gastric acid) and myself (who has been awakened each night with toxic acid reflux that sends me to the bathroom afraid I'm going to toss my cookies), and my children (who could probably sympathize with little Chritsina Crawford during Mommy Dearest's wire hanger tirade) I am trying to avoid the world at large in hopes of avoiding--or at least alleviating-- the stressses.

So far it's not really working.

The stresses find me. Aggravating people who think they don't have to play by the rules we all play by are popping out of the wood work. I've been thinking of these people and I've come up with some things they all seem to have in common. Below is my non-exhaustive list:

Ways to Be Super Annoying and self-involved

1. Believe (and let it be known that you believe) that your time is far more valuable than everyone else's, That means, stand in the middle of the doorway, hallway or sidewalk when you see others coming--especially a pregnant woman pushing a double stroller with 2 children tagging along. or Chat it up with someone who is in their car, in the middle of the parking lot, while someone else waits to pull in or park.

2. Ignore messages/emails asking questions, but continue to post status updates and comment on others' posts. When the person messaging you asks if you've gotten their messages, say "yep" and leave it at that.

3. Feel free to jump down others' throats when YOU misunderstand what the other person said--and then excuse yourself for doing so because you have a lot of "stuff" going on in your life. Because, clearly, you're the only one who has "stuff" happening...

4. Lick your fingers before touching every donut in the case at the bakery/supermarket. And then choose the 17th one you've touched. This one may lose you a hand.

5. Tell a pregnant woman that she is "so much bigger than so-and-so who is due at the same exact time..." This one may also lose you a hand OR another important extremity.

6. Totally take advantage of a friend who has bent over backwards for you over the past 9 years and do your best to work your voodoo (you know, that crap you peddle as motivation) so that they actually believe you were right for taking advantage of them. In fact, make them believe that they OWED it to you to let you take advantage of them. (That's right, there are people out there who think this way...)

7. Complain about something nice someone did for you UNASKED and for FREE.

8. Tell people you "don't have time" to check your email/voicemails, etc when you KNOW they have been trying desperately to get ahold of you for something important.

9. Tell a pregnant woman that she is too crabby and should stop complaining.

10. Post status updates about your life that are either 1) "nobody loves me and everybody hates me" or 2) "My life is perfect, my house is spotless, my kids are angels, and I just made lasagna from scratch, 3 apple pies, and ran 12 miles."

I realize writing a blog post about being annoyed could also fall on this list, but, well, it's my blog, so whatev.

Sorry for being Debbie Downer today. Please forgive me. I will try my best to be back to a jovial mood soon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm Cleaning House

...and I don't mean the one I live in.

I mean the one in my head. The one where I store all the people in my life, how I feel about them and all the stresses of being in any kind of relationship; romantic or otherwise.

I have always fancied myself to be someone who is supportive and patient (maybe not all the time with my kids, or old people...or slow traffic...) but with the people I care about, concerning the BIG things.

If I'm wronged I will usually sweep it under the carpet because the idea of calling someone out about it or hashing it out is so uncomfortable--almost more uncomfortable than the original wrong.

I've really tried to be more open-minded with others over the past few years, and [try to] see things from their perspective, because I realize mine can sometimes be a very narrow point of view.

There are certain people in my life who I have allowed, time and again, to act, do, be or say however or whatever they wanted simply because I held them in such high regard.

I am not someone who loves confrontation, even though I feel very strongly about different things.

But now I think it's time to 'red up as they say in these parts.

It's time to start laying some "boundaries"-- as some are so accustomed to doing--while being careful not to use "boundaries" as a facade for being selfish--as some are also so accustomed to doing.

There is a fine line between being a hypocrit and giving valid, honest truths. That has always stumped me. How do I begin to give (sought after) advice when there have been times in my life when I have done the EXACT opposite--and with good results?? At what point do you stop tickling someone's ears with kind words, subtle points that go unnoticed by the listener, and start giving some cold, hard reality checks. At what point do you tell someone-who is/was/has been important to you that you're not swallowing their bull anymore. That you see through them and know that they are full of it. When do you start asking them who exactly they are trying to fool--you or themselves or both?

I think I am poised on the verge making some good changes. Some needed changes.

I am 30 weeks pregnant and there are some things that just aren't worth me stressing over. Not anymore.

Some people will find that they fall into that category.

Yes, this is a somewhat cryptic post and very ambiguous. It's for me to "get it out there"-the things that have been floating around in my head for a few days.

If you think see yourself in this post, ask yourself why?

I'm an obsessive personality and I'm tired of having the same imaginary conversation with certain individuals in my head. I vascillate between wanting to get it all out on the table and making it KNOWN that I'm not taking it anymore AND not wanting to even deal with it--not making it a priority anymore, not expending another ounce of energy on the issue.

Not sure which way I'll end up going-confronting it or ignoring it. We'll see.
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