Friday, January 30, 2009

You Know You're a Mom When...

I realized this week that I must really be a mom. Here are some of the things that tipped me off:
1. I no longer notice the smell of poop. Ever. (Well, maybe sometimes...but not usually).
2. I think a Swiffer Wetjet makes a great gift.
3. When I grow up, I hope to poop alone.
4. I'm pretty sure I'm all that and a bag of chips when I'm out there crusing around in my fancy mini van.
5. My home is decorated by creations lovingly made by 2-8 year olds.
6. I carry on conversations with people who only come up to my kneecaps.
7. I use babytalk, and honestly think that's going to turn my husband on.
8. A fun night on the town includes a trip to the Children's Museum.
9. Eating out usually means I get a toy with my meal.
10. I came home from ladies' night at church with puke in my hair and poop on my shirt. And I didn't shower to wash it all out until early this evening.

Yep. I'm a mom.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ugly Pants, But a Lesson Learned

I have always prided myself on my ability to micromanage every detail of everything that goes on in our home. From what will be for dinner to how much toilet paper we have to how frequently each child poops, I have it down. It's all here in my adorable little head. With recent changes around here, though, I had to let go of something. All that managing gets exhausting after a while.

Number One is now half way through the third grade. He's going to be nine years old in a couple months (Hang on. I'm breathing deeply into a paper bag on that one. NINE YEARS OLD??!?), and he's in the gifted program at school. So, basically we're looking at a very smart little boy who is really growing up.

I have always kept track of how many clean clothes he had right down to socks and underwear. If he wore something I told him not to, I got grumpy, but made sure they were washed and ready for when he'd need them next. It's the same scenario with his homework. I have always checked his backpack the minute he walked in the door, given him a snack, and then seen to it that his homework was more than just done. It was done 100% correctly. And neatly, too. And, for at least a year now, he has begged me to "stop checking my work. I can do it myself!" So, I have taken the plunge. I've stopped checking his work or even looking to see if it's been done at all. I've also quit bugging him about not wearing his good school clothes to play.

You have to know some background info. about the school clothes. I bought him four new pairs of jeans right before school started this year. The little booger hit a growth spurt, and looked like he was waiting for Noah's Ark to pull up any second by December. So, in December (not a great month to spend extra money), I got him three more new pairs of jeans. I was very clear with him that this was all he'd be getting this year for new pants (I made sure they'd last by buying a little bigger) and that they were not to be worn for running in the mud or getting gross, etc. It has been a constant battle ever since because he loves the pants and wants to wear them all. the. time. This past week, I've been biting my tongue and letting him do as he wishes. The results?

Sunday, the little genius (gifted children do not apparently have ANY common sense!) decided to hose himself and his brother and sister down while playing outside. IT'S JANUARY, PEOPLE!!!! AND HE'S OUT THERE HOSING HIMSELF DOWN!!! Anyway, those clothes were understandable soaked and muddy. Yesterday, he played out in the ice and decided to sit directly on the ice to slide down the driveway. So, those pants are soaked and muddy.

This morning, he came in crying that he had nothing to wear to school. What's that? Nothing to wear to school? And why not? Finally he gets my point!!! And I didn't have to do anything!!!! I calmly explained that he'd asked me not to nag him and I had chosen not to, but now it was his job to check and see what he'd have to wear for school if he used up all his good clothes. Not one word of argument came out of his mouth!!! Not one!!! (This is huge for him.) I offered him so other pants, but he said they were too small and ugly. So, he went to school wearing a pair of running pants that are too big, but apparently better looking than the ones I'd offered.

And, the homework situation? All of a sudden, I find him coming to me to ask for help. Go figure. And, should he not complete an assignment, his teacher gives him a mark and he gets to do it during recess. Seems like a fitting consequence to me, and it's one I don't have to enforce. I've come to accept that third grade is not like college. He won't lose his scholarship if his work isn't done to perfection. He'll get lower grades and maybe learn a lesson about personal responsibility. And my life will be easier at home to top it off.

So, off he went this morning in ugly pants and a homework assignment that I can only hope is done completely and correctly. And I think it's safe to say that he (and I) learned more from those ugly pants than any lesson he'll learn at school today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Top Ten Things You Learn When Your Kids Are Home For a Snowday

It wasn't even a real snowday. The boys got out of school at 1:45 due to accumulating ice. Isn't that a weird time to get out? 1:45? Just seems odd to me, but what do I know? I'm just some crazy lady with lots of kids, right? Anyway, I learned some interesting things compliments of a snowday. Or do you call it a snow afternoon? Or do you just call it a bad weather afternoon since there really was no snow at all? Beats me. Anyway, here's what I learned:

10. Younger siblings have psychic abilities and know when their older siblings will be coming home early. Because of this psychic ability, they will be unwilling to take their usual naps.
9. Cold weather causes children's brains to freeze which leads to an inability to remember where toys go.
8. Homework is much harder to do when it's freezing cold outside. (Makes no sense to me, either, but that's what Number One tells me.)
7. It's not fair!!! (Get used to it, kids! Nothing is fair in life.)
6. There is no such thing as a two player game on the Wii. There are only two-fighter games. Seriously, I was about ready to Wii them straight to their rooms. IT'S JUST A GAME, BOYS!!! Breathe!!!
5. Cold weather causes hunger that can only be cured by snacks you don't have in the house. Because they're apparently starving to death, they feel the need to remind you that "It's not fair".
4. The cats would really prefer that the kids stay at school just a little longer. (Is there such a thing as anti-anxiety medicine for cats who have lived in a home with small children for far too long?)
3. If there is a snowday today, it is to be assumed that we'll be out of school for the rest of the week. Therefore, children should be allowed to stay up late tonight. (Ha! Keep dreamin', kids...well, they may actually wind up closed tomorrow because of ice. We shall see...)
2. Everyone loves cozy jammies, even at 3:00 in the afternoon.
1. No matter how cold it is outside, or how unfair life is, or who won on the Wii, or where the cats are hiding, a fresh batch of Rice Crispy treats that everyone helps to make is just what the doctor ordered. YUM!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Who Needs Sleep Anyway?

So, Little Guy has had RSV this week. He is doing SO MUCH better, and I was feeling super about the prospects for the rest of the week. Then, Snort woke up yesterday struggling to breathe. Figures. I gave him a breathing treatment, and it did nothing for him.

ECI came over right after his breathing treatment to help with Little Guy's food issues. (For more exciting info. on that, look here.) They also noticed his rapid and strained breathing. I made him a doctor appointment and then came unglued thinking he surely had RSV, too. Just one more thing for my plate, right?

Anyway, we made it to the dr., and he was really working hard to breathe. His O2 sats were kind of low, and I was worried they'd hospitalize him. I'd have to clone myself to be with him and home with the others at the same time. They also ran his RSV test and got him going on a breathing treatment.

While all this was happening, I was still wearing Little Guy in the snuggly and trying to keep Pretty entertained. It was I guess. Anyway, the nurse came in and, to my surprise, informed me that he definately did NOT have rsv. Wahoooooo!!!!! Something good was happening that day!!!

Instead, he was having a bad asthma attack. Still not great, but not contagious and something I could treat him for at home. His O2 levels came back up, and so we were told we could come home after two shots (ouch!).

So, we're home with lots of medicines and round-the-clock breathing treatments. Add that to Little Guy's medicines and breathing treatments, and I'm pretty sure I'll never get to sleep through the night again. Eh, who needs sleep anyway?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Questionable Maternal Instincts

Pretty has been really enjoying her new baby brother. She loves to help with him every chance she gets. She shares binkies, gives kisses and hugs, brings me diapers (who cares if they're not his size, right?), and does all she can to help him feel better when she cries.

I had to leave the house for about 20 minutes yesterday. Snort came with me, but the other four were home with the King while he made dinner. When I came home, he let me know that Pretty's maternal instincts might be just a little bit off. He heard Little Guy crying in his swing, but didn't want to leave the hot stove unattended. He tends to get into his own zone when he's busy. He told me he'd noticed that Little Guy's cry seemed to change tone. Not so much volume or intesity, just tone. His lightbulb didn't go on at that point telling him to check Little Guy. The crying continued for about five more minutes before the King realized he needed to at least turn around and check. It was at that point that he realized that Pretty must not have been interested in hearing Little Guy cry. So, she put a metal mixing bowl over his head. Yeah. She's got questionable maternal instincts. But, I'm also not so sure what that says about the King's fatherly instincts, either.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Keep Looking for the "Kick Me" Sign on My Back

Somewhere I heard once that you have to experience hot to appreciate cold, and you have to experience pain to appreciate comfort, and you have to experience frustration and defeat to appreciate peace of mind. Apparently, today was one of those days that I get to really appreciate peace of mind. That, or there is a sign on my back that is written in large red letters and says "Kick Me...HARD".

I had taken Little Guy to the Saturday pedi. clinic this weekend because he had been having a wet cough. He coughed all the way into the office and all the way out. But he didn't so much as hiccup funny while the dr. was in the exam room with us. Figures. So, the dr. gave him a very clean bill of health and sent us on our way. Well, his wet icky cough just became gradually worse, so I took him to our regular (completely wonderful) pediatrician this morning.

Just in case I didn't already have enough on my plate, Little Guy now has RSV which is made worse by his reflux. The reflux can't really be treated until the RSV gets better because the meds. for it will potentially mess with his lungs. (Like me professional terminology there?) The kicker? The RSV won't get too much better until the reflux is under control. Anyone else see the cycle I'm stuck in? And, to top it off, he's got an ear infection. Nice. Very nice.

From the dr's office, I went straight to Target to pick up his prescriptions. Seems like an easy plan, right? Ha! Not when you're wearing a big red kick me sign on your back. I had to hurry so I could get home for Snort's ECI semi-annual evaluation. Target's pharmacy usually only takes about 20 minutes, and I had an hour. So, I wasn't worried. Bad idea. When you're wearing a big red kick me sign on your back, your insurance will not find your child's file in their records and will therefore refuse to pay for his desperately needed medication. The very kind and patient pharmacist called my insurance and argued with them. He didn't have much luck. So, I called and argued with them. I had better luck, but not fast enough. So, I still wound up forking out a ton of money for the medication. I can go back later this week with my updated insurance information and get the money back, but I may be too afraid of being struck by lightening to venture out anywhere.

Anyway, so I finally came home 20 minutes late for Snort's meeting. I'd texted his worker earlier, so at least she knew I'd be late. I got here just as they pulled up. I rushed in, put Snort and Pretty down for their naps, and tried to cover the diaper smell in the house with my Lux Vanilla Scentsy. Snort's team asked about Little Guy's appointment and all his latest details. I relayed the whole story and expresed my fear that some doctor somewhere down the line would suggest that I should stop nursing him (which is a huge worry of mine). At that point the very well-intended occupational therapist suggested pumping milk and weighing it down in a bottle. From there, I promptly melted into a sobbing puddle. Nice. Very nice. Tomorrow, I can wear a "Loser" sign on my back I guess.

So, if tomorrow is any better than today was (and really, how can it be much worse?), I promise to really appreciate the peace of mind I'll be feeling. If not, I guess I'll just keep waiting for that big red kick me sign to fall off.

I Guess I Taught Them Something Right

So, yesterday was Martin Luther King day. I think that's quite fitting given that we're welcoming the first black president to the White House today. But, that's not the point of this post. My point is that the boys didn't have school yesterday. Days off from school for the boys usually equate to my entire routine being thrown totally off and me wanting to pull my hair out.

Knowing that I was already very busy juggling five kids, and that I had people coming over for Little Guy's early intervention intake, I decided that it would also be a great day to let each of the boys have a playdate. WHAT AM I , NUTS?!?!? I must have had a temporary brain fart and forgotten that days off from school lead to me being completely frazzled. Can I just say I'm SO GLAD I let them have that playdate?

The Beast had a friend from church coming over. I already knew the family and the little boy, so I wasn't all that worried. He and the Beast played so nicely together in the Beast's room. I could hear them giggling as they got Pretty to do all sorts of silly things for their own entertainment. It was too cute.

I was most nervous about Number One's playdate. He is a friend from school that I'd never met before. I'd heard so much about him from Number One, but have always limited visiting friends to children of people I knew. He's getting older now, though, so I decided I'd need to expand my bubble. The boy came over and I have to say that I have NEVER met a more polite, kind, and respectful kid in my life! This boy remembered his manners to a T. He was gentle with the little ones, spoke softly in the house, and was generally a delight to have around. The King had rented some Wii games for the weekend, so they played on that almost the whole time.

After all was said and done and the boys had gone home, I realized something. I had been expecting children to be building swings from my ceiling, broken toys, loud yelling, shaved cats, painted sisters, dogs in tutus, a full raid from the local SWAT team, and possibly a hostage situation. Instead, I got a really fun and peaceful morning in addition to two little boys who were thrilled their mom let them have friends over. That's when it occurred to me that maybe I've taught my boys well. Maybe I have shown them how to choose great friends. Maybe I don't have to worry quite so much that the kids they're hanging out with are all future convicts. Maybe I can even be a little bit proud and give them more credit. After all, you have to be a good friend to have good friends, right?

So, I suppose this means I'll be allowing more playdates. I have no good reason not to. (It might have been a little funny to see the dog in a tutu and the cat with a mohawk, though).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hearing Test Results

Little Guy had his hearing test today. He didn't get great results. He doesn't hear. Well, maybe he can hear a rocket take off next to his window or something, but not much more than that. It's been a long and draining day.

I promised myself I'd keep a blog of the journey we go through while helping Little Guy find his hearing and his voice. So, I created it today. It has more details of today's testing, and will have full details of everything we go through. It also will include some fun video footage and still shots of the entire process...including today's.

It's a work in progress and isn't totally done yet. But, I hope you'll stop by it now and then. Maybe something we have to share will strike a chord with someone. In that case, it'll all have been worth it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ok, I'll Answer All Your Questions

So, the questions have been swirling. Some of you have come out and just asked us. Others have asked each other afraid that you'd offend us by asking. You won't offend us. We're pretty open-minded people. But, just to make it all nice and easy, here are the answers. (And, yes. I've actually heard some of these questions come straight from the mouths of people. *shaking my head in awe at what some people will actually say*.)

Q: Does Little Guy hear?
A: Honestly, probably not. He hasn't passed a hearing test yet. There was one test that showed a little response at 70db, just like the Beast when he was a baby. We have one last hearing test this Thursday morning. It's the deciding one that will have all the real answers.

By his behavior at home, it doesn't appear that he hears much of anything at all. There is no startle reflex to sound. There is no crying when children come screaming through the house. When it comes to responding to sound, Little Guy doesn't show much. I guess it's possible that it's all just because he has so many siblings. But we're not counting on it.

Q: Well, at least you guys know what to do. He couldn't have come to a better family.
A: We're glad some people feel that way. We often feel really inadequate as parents to these little people with big needs. But, then again, I think all parents of any child feels a little inadequate about their parenting skills, don't they?

And, yes. We do know what to do. But, that doesn't make it any easier. In some ways, it's even a little bit harder. When we had The Beast, we only had one other child a full three and a half years older. Now, there are four other children, two of which are still VERY young and very demanding of our time and resources. And, just knowing what to do doesn't guarantee the same one in a million result we got with The Beast. Some of these realities do weigh heavily on our minds.

Q: So, have you learned your lesson and decided to stop having anymore children? (maybe not said in just those words, but that was the intention of the question).
A: Did you decide to stop having children when you got one with brown eyes instead of blue? Or one who has trouble with math? Or one who runs a little slower than the rest of the team?

Q: So, are you okay with it all?
A: It's not what we wanted, but we're always okay. We were okay when Number One had extreme allergy and asthma issues. We did just fine when Pretty had digestive issues requiring a whole new diet as a baby. We more than survived the Beast's hearing loss issues. We came out on top when Snort almost died on us, then had an umbilical hernia, then developed severe reflux. We are always okay. We are very, very aware of who is really in charge, and we love Him for the plan He has for us and our children. We will not sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, but we will stand up, brush ourselves off, hold each other just a little tighter (because really only we can understand what each other is really feeling), and do what needs to be done. And we will be blessed for it as we always have been. Let me make it perfectly clear. We will be okay.

Does all that mean we're not a little sad? Oh no. We are saddened by the fact that Little Guy probably doesn't hear. It means there is once again a detour from the path we saw for him. We know what sort of trials and struggles we and he will have to deal with, and it makes us a little sad to know what's coming. And sometimes we cry about it a little bit. But even the greatest and deepest of all sadnesses can only last for so long. The sun will shine whether we want it to or not. So, we work on embracing the sunshine and the beauty of this perfect little child.

Q: So, do you need anything?

A: Yep! We need patience. We need everyone to know we're okay and we're going to handle all of this in our own little way as a family. And, when we're ready to ask for help, we really will ask. (Well, maybe. I like to be independant. The King says I'm stubbourn. I prefer to call it being firm in my convictions).

Really, though. Patience is the thing we most need from everyone. Bear with us when we seem like we're always running late or frazzled. We probably are a little frazzled, but we learn by doing. So, be patient when you're dying to step in and do it for us and we insist on doing it ourselves. It's because we're learning.

Be patient when it seems like maybe Little Guy isn't catching up like the Beast did. They're two different people. Therefore, their timing will be as individual as they are. By the same token, their accomplishments will be their own.

If someone REALLY wants to do something for us, prayer is a good thing. Don't pray for him to hear. If God has already decided to bless him with a quiet world, who are we to change that? Only great things can come from great trials, and we wouldn't want that taken from us. Instead, pray for God's will to be done. Pray that we, as his family, and you, as his friends and loved ones, can accept the cards we're dealt and handle it in the way that is best for Little Guy and most fitting in the eyes of his Creator. Who knows? Maybe next Thursday will bring a little miracle!

So, there you go. The answers to the questions we've heard the most. We welcome the questions. I just wish we had all the answers. We'll have more in a few more days. I'll update you then. Until then, just enjoy these answers. And think of more questions. We always welcome them.

Well, Thank You for Offering Your Help

Our desktop computer is in the Beast's room. We take the keyboard and mouse with us when we leave the room, so it's not like he's online downloading porn all night or anything. The computer is also passworded, so he can only get to certain sites when he does get on anyway. But, that's not the point of this post. It's just a small detail that you needed.

The King was working on some stuff on the computer the other night, and it all had to be done on the desktop, so the Beast got to stay up a little while longer than usual while his dad was using the computer. I was also in the room with them to help the King out. The Beast noted that Little Guy was fussing, so he offered me his help. "Mom! Litte Guy is hungry. Let me feed him milk from my belly button just like you do."

Yep. You read it here first, folks. Baby milk comes from the mother's (or apparently the brother's) belly button. I'm honestly not sure how he managed to confuse a boob with a belly button, but I really don't want to ask him. Can you just imagine what that conversation would be like?! Yikes!

In that same hour or so that we were in there, Little Guy was offered all of the following:
~a chance to sleep over in a tent with The Beast.
~a once in a lifetime opportunity to lick the cat
~a chance to hear bedtime stories as told by The Beast
~several very oversized stuffed animals
~I chance to sleep in bed with The Beast. This one was very special because "I promise I won't do anything gross to you". I don't even want to know what The Beast considers gross. That can't be a good thing.

So, there you have it. The Beast would be more than willing to help any of you with your newborn babies, too. He's got a lot to offer, including belly button milk. What? No takers?!?! I'm shocked.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Did They Really Just Say That???

So, apparently Number One and the Beast have both learned from having Little Guy around.

Number One was holding him the other day, and this is what I heard:

NO: Ahhhh! Little Guy just puked on me.
Me: It's okay. It's just baby throw up.
NO: Yeah, that means it's BOOB JUICE!!! *makes gagging sounds*

Yeah. I'm proud.

The Beast has apparently been confused about some of what he's been hearing. At church, he heard about the baby Jesus being wrapped in "swaddling clothes". I guess he also heard me say I was going to swaddle little guy, too. This is the conversation he had with the King yesterday:

Beast: Wait, Daddy. I need a Jesus blanket for my duck. He's cold.
King: What? A Jesus blanket?
Beast: Yep. My duck is cold. Bring it to him, please. I'll wait here.
King: *confused. Shakes his head and leaves.*

It wasn't until tonight that I had the Beast show me what he was talking about. He needed a receiving blanket AND a baby quilt. Luckily we had plenty of both, so he and his duck got to have one. He was delighted. How he made the connection to call it a "Jesus blanket" is totally beyond me. Then again, what inspired him to hide his poop in a drawer a year or so ago? Or to pee under the desk? Or to light his duck on fire? (did I ever actually blog that one???) I will never understand the way that child's brain work. I guess that's the beauty of my Beast.