Thursday, July 16, 2015

In which a summer routine continues to elude us

So that measly summer cold I was telling you about? Well, it turned into a full-blown sinus infection. We're talking fever, ear infection, sore throat, gagging on my coughs and, today, nearly voiceless. My kids love this part. On a positive note, I can actually take cold medicine for the first time in, oh, like 7 years since I'm neither pregnant nor nursing. So hello, NyQuil!!!

Her favorite spot at Target--the Disney Princess Barbie turnstile that plays each theme song. She KNOWS Belle is my favorite. So she always plays it for me and then dances in the aisle.
I've also rediscovered one unfortunate side effect of meds--drop dead sleepiness. I totally forgot Jon would be coming from work early this week. He may have found me passed out on the couch yesterday afternoon while the little 'uns had free reign of the house. Well, not all 3. Joci was taking a nap herself, because I'm super responsible like that.

Proud mama of girls that insist on wearing all the dresses ...

... and of boys who refuse to change out of the jammies for the day.

While we're discussing my mad mom skills, lemme tell you about a play date we had this week. My friend Kim and I are running a Play Group at our church that meets for fun times twice a month. Kim is on vacation this week, so I was on my own yesterday--entertaining 20-some moms and their miscellaneous kiddos--all on a few random hours of fully-interrupted sleep and with a barely-audible, scratchy-throated voice.

This is your potty-training update ... 'nuff said.
I let myself sleep in until 7:04am because, well, it felt like I hadn't fallen asleep until 6:58am. So we started off the morning running behind. And then the kids were all fighting over Lego missiles and insisting on wearing Christmas dresses and fancy shoes to a play date, and crawling up into my bathroom sink to paint the mirror with mascara and clog the drain with lotion. You know, the usual. So we were lucky enough to make it out to the car in a timely manner and with a packed lunch to enjoy with friends after the play date.

House painting update--"we've" finished another side!
Except that "packed lunch" was really just me throwing a container of old fruit salad, some graham crackers, and a jar of peanut butter into a bag. And then I put off sitting my kids down to "lunch" for as long as possible because I didn't want the other mamas to notice my big fat failure. Eventually it was becoming too obvious that my kids were the only ones not eating. So I grabbed a seat with my friend Rachel (on the outer limits of the Mommy group) and set out my container of mushy fruit salad, pulled out the pack of crackers (the corner of which had gotten soggy from the leaking fruit salad), and the jar of peanut butter, and handed my kids a wad of napkins and some forks. Dig in, loves!

She got whacked in the face a split-second before I snapped this photo. Fun times!

More proof that I cannot take my eyes off her EVER!

She makes a mess, I clean it up, she makes it messier... 
I did think to throw their (empty) water bottles into my bag at the last minute, but they had been drinking water all day and were kind of over it. And since I was already feeling so bad at this point, I decided to treat them all to a can of Sprite from the vending machine--served in Dixie cups. It was such a big hit they convinced me to get them a can of Ginger Ale too. And then, feeling refreshed by their luncheon of one bite of PB cracker, no mushy fruit salad, and entirely too much soda, they all started running around the church, jumping over furniture and hiding in all the places I never knew existed in the church lobby before.

Just call me super mom.

He's the cool dad that brought a basin of water balloons to the park!

This dog! He wouldn't know a treat if it was sitting on his nose!
In my (feeble) defense, my morning dose of DayQuil had worn off and I was having a hard enough time holding a conversation, much less keeping track of four little roadrunners. It may not have been the best morning, but it did make for excellent dinner conversation that evening. I decided to share the details of our day with Jon after his usual "So, what did you do today?" (you know, right after he found me napping on the couch.) We got a good laugh. Well, he got a good laugh. I ended up in a coughing fit that quickly sobered me right up.

Our family takes up all the swings.
But in relaying the hazy events of the day, I suddenly remembered the mom of three I passed on the way out to the car after our play date. She had just come out of the bathroom with her brood. The only reason I ran into her was because I had forgotten the bag of sand (the 40 lb. bag of sand that we only needed approximately 3 oz. of for our craft that day) that I was carting on my hip while chasing down a escaped 2-year-old.

This is where all that sand went to.
"You impress me," she said, "You have four right?"

And I wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time. But I couldn't, because right about that time we walked out the church doors and me and my 39.7 lbs. of sand had to herd small children (now feeling the sugar rush that was previously a can of Sprite) away from the road and in the general direction of the car.

Bathing beauty.

The only thing better than great neighbors are great neighbors with a pool!

It wasn't until later that I began to wonder just what exactly this mama was impressed with. My two boys, some of the oldest kids there, that hogged the Legos the entire morning and made little babies cry? My preschool daughter who kept sneaking seconds (and thirds and fourths) of the Goldfish snack that was for everyone to share? Or maybe my nearly-2-year-old, who threw herself down in the hall, feet and fists pounding the floor, because she thought I was dropping her off at Sunday School (and we all know how much this girl loves to be separated from her mama!)

Jack says, "Mom, we're working on our tans."
I began to feel a little guilty that I didn't sit closer to her while we enjoyed "the lunch that wasn't." Maybe then she'd see how completely unimpressive I really am (or at least not in a positive way.) I could have explained to her that yeah, I have four. It wasn't exactly intentional, and I certainly never had all these babies to prove how capable I am. But I know that God gifted my husband and I with these amazing little people. And over the last few years I've learned that he chose me to be their mama, fully knowing that I struggle with pride and self-centeredness, idolize performance, have a tendency to yell, and give in to too easily to television and sugary drinks. And yet still He made me their mama. And He made you your kids mama.

And I'm pretty confident that God knows what He's doing. So I'm going to praise him for the victories--those times I "catch" my kids sharing, when I see them practicing lovingkindness, and when I realize they actually are listening at church, "Hey mom, God's ways are perfect 2 Samuel 22:31!!!" And I'm also going to praise him in spite of those mom fails--for the opportunity that motherhood has given me to work on my rough spots, to be the mama to these Fantastic Four and to be molded into the image of God at the same time. And for all the kisses and hugs that come along with it that remind me that right here is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pure Michigan

Summer colds are supremely oxymoronic. I'm sitting here by the back door, listening to the locusts' song and watching the sunlight filter through the bright green leaves, thinking I should really encourage the kids to play in that big backyard of ours. But it's just so hard to complete a coherent thought when all the snot that's NOT running down my throat right now is backing up into my brain. My central processor looks a lot like the black and white static that used to invade the TV screen whenever the cable went out (in the 90s.)

Too graphic? Well then allow me to reflect upon happier times. But first, I need to go remind my girls to keep the hose in the pool for the, like, the tenth time these past 5 minutes. They're out on the deck, buck naked, hosing down everything but the kiddie pool. I tell myself I should put them in swimsuits. But my scratchy throat and achy head cause me to respond with "why?" Why do they need to wear a swimsuit on the back deck? Why do I need to create more work and laundry for myself? Why did I just laugh when my toddler accidentally turned the hose onto herself? I'm jumping the tracks again ...

Reflecting back to a time before I thought filling up the pool was a good idea, before I started pounding echinacea, Vitamin C, and garlic like they were some new diet, before the kids started running fevers at night and noses in the day. Oh, hold on. The ladies are now insisting they need swimsuits. They just don't understand my nude is the new black argument.

So yes, right after our beach vacation was our church's Summer Jam (a.k.a. extreme VBS.) It was in the evening and because I was a volunteer, Joci got to stay in the nursery AND my entire family was fed dinner each night. Not a bad deal, even if hanging out with 400 3-12 years olds every night doesn't exactly light my fire. The kids all loved it. Unfortunately, we didn't get home until after 9pm most evenings, and coupled with all the excitement that is crafts + snacks + singing + dancing ... well, bedtime and our usual routine got a little off kilter.

Which is why I was utterly unprepared for our 8+ hour trip to Michigan that Thursday. Jack has had quite a few 7+ hour trips from Virginia Beach to PA under his belt (as a baby), but this was the longest trip we've ever taken as a family of 6. In an ideal world, I would have actually followed through with some of those great road trip ideas that are all over Pinterest. But in reality, I only managed to throw a bag of snacks, a box full of books, some coloring books and crayons, and a pile of DVDs into the car at the eleventh hour.

We managed, but it wasn't always pretty. And after a potty break that ended up being much longer and more involved than we ever imagined, I decided to swear off any more travel for the rest of the summer. Like, the Target two exits down from our house is the only road trip I want to take with my kids between now and Christmas.

You may be wondering what would possess us to drag 4 kids across 4 state lines. Well, our wonderful Coastie friends of course! I'm sure you've heard us mention Nick and Lindsey several times on this blog. We were due for a visit with them and their kids Rose, Lucy, and Caleb, as well as a peek at the burgeoning baby bump that is Quattro.

This dear family has been stationed in Detroit for the past 2 years. I haven't really been keen to visit them because, well, Detroit. But apparently I have Michigan all wrong. Although the actual city limits are just blocks from where they live, their neighborhood is all grid-precision streets, perfectly manicured lawns, fantastic 1940s brick houses, friendly neighbors, and adorable downtowns. I'm almost ready to add Detroit to our job list for next year, if it wasn't for those killer winters ...

Races, because our kids had been cooped up in the car for too long!

Races, because we were trying to catch the trolley two blocks down!

Resting, because it appeared that we had missed the trolley.

Fit-throwing, because you just realized you're going home.
They also have an elite neighborhood pool/splash pad/park/marina/lakefront/place where everyone hangs out on Independence Day. And that's where we spent a good portion of our time as well! And don't even get me started on the free trolley rides!

It was getting chilly ... and the trolley ride lasted WAY longer than we anticipated.
So while it isn't easy to travel with 4 kids, or do anything with 7 kids under 7, some sacrifices are worth it. We had a wonderful long weekend just simply spending time together. The gentlemen also got in a morning of golf and the ladies a quiet trip to Target. And our hosts fed us incredibly well and willingly shared all their toys with our chaotic bunch. So, worth it!

Does your town's free trolley also include karaoke?!?

Lindsey had the fun idea to commemorate our visit with tie dye shirts. Everyone got to choose their style and colors, which made them all special and personal! Unfortunately, the shirts weren't dry before bedtime and our family started the drive back before their entire family was all awake. So we only have a picture of 6/11ths of us.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:00am!
The drive back was very much like the drive there. We survived, although it would have been 98% easier if we had shipped Joci back all on her own. And while I was ready to clear the calendar for the rest of the summer right about the time she started kicking my chair/throwing puzzles on the floor/drawing on the chair arm/stuffing goldfish down her seatbelt slot ...

Visit to the Ford Museum.

While the parents are waiting in line to buy tickets ... the kids are making music with the metal coat hangers.

I personally enjoyed the windows and floors.

We took the "What car are you?" quiz. Jack got this Roadster.

And I got a 1984 Plymouth Voyager. That makes so much sense ...
24 hours at home, all caught up on laundry and with 1 out of 3 clean bathrooms has me thinking that maybe it wasn't really that bad. And maybe, given a few more weeks to recoup, we can still manage that NY camping trip.

Paper airplane races.

Joci ended up throwing her's down a chute from which it could never be retrieved. To this day, she still asks  "Where plane go?"

Daddy showing off those muscles!
We'll see. For now, I'm going to go chase another handful of garlic down with some iced coffee. And perhaps make my girls put some clothes on...
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