Monthly Archives: March 2015

You know you have a larger than “normal” family when…..

large families

 

 

 

 

I hate the word “normal.”  Unless it is being used to describe temperature, rainfall, or a setting on your appliances, it can be a very frustrating and sometimes insulting way to describe a person or a situation.  Who gets to decide what’s “normal” in society?  There was a time when it was considered “normal” to have a large family.  Years ago it wasn’t unusual at all to have six or more children in a family and in fact it was considered a blessing and at times a status symbol.  In fact it was considered strange if you didn’t have lots of children.  Fast forward to today…..by the third child you start to get raised eyebrows and unwanted remarks.  My personal favorite is the always popular, “You do know how this keeps happening don’t you?”  Hilarious…..just once I’d like to respond with a perfectly straight face, “No, but could you please tell me because I’d sure like to figure this mystery out.” If you have more than three children the assumptions are usually as follows:

1.)  You own a farm.

2.) You are having lots of children for religious reasons.

3.)  You are trying for a specific gender.

4.)  You are trying to get your own reality tv show…..

Here’s the thing, there are some people, apparently not the “normal” ones, who actually want a large family.  Some of us love the chaos and insanity that comes with having extra little people running around our homes like amazing little maniacs.  We love the fact that dinner will be a crowded table with lots of voices either sharing bits and pieces of their days, telling fart jokes or fighting over the last roll.  We love that there will never be a clean towel left, the laundry will never be done, someone will always be missing a shoe or a homework assignment because someone else put it somewhere “safe” and that when anything gets broken, it will collectively be no one’s fault because there really is safety in numbers.  We love that our many children will always have each other in this life, and even though they regularly try to kill each other off at home, heaven help the kid on the playground who dares to mess with one of them.  We love that the bathroom will never be free, we won’t sleep for years, and those moments when we peek into a room unseen and witness our older child helping a younger sibling learn to read, or simply giving them comfort after a hard day.  It is truly magical.  So call us crazy, but we love it.  Will we complain about it, blog about it and sometimes lose our minds over it?  Of course.  But we would not have it any other way.  So, for those of you wondering if you are one of us crazy ones who have a larger than “normal” family here is a checklist:

1.)  When grocery shopping, if a product is marked as “Family Sized” it means that you need two, possibly three of them.  Also, at some point in time you have had a cashier look at your cart and ask if you work in a group home…..

2.) Your grocery bill is often more than your mortgage payment.

3.)  You feel like you run a 24 hour diner, with rude guests who refuse to tip and often complain about the service.

4.)  You own a mini van and you still need one of those storage things for the roof, and your spouse drives a second vehicle if you all go away on a family vacation.  This is because of a lack of space and not because your spouse doesn’t want to drive with all of you….although I would suggest you make him take the one who gets motion sick….just saying….

5.)  If, like myself you do not live in a mansion, your bathroom will require the use of a finely tuned and closely monitored schedule to keep everyone clean and avoid world war three.  You also wash at least two loads of towels a day, constantly question if anyone uses any of the toothbrushes in the pile on the sink, and keep the folks at Lysol in business dealing with toilets….

6.)  You are always playing referee to such arguments as, “That’s my spot!”  “That’s my cup!” “That’s my shirt!”  “Those are my snow pants!”  Etc…..

7.)  You live with what feels like a small village of people and yet no one ever knows how anything got broken or who put the empty carton of milk back in the fridge.

8.)  There is always an empty carton of milk in your fridge.

9.)  You never sleep because someone is ALWAYS awake.  I am pretty sure they take shifts.

10.) Keeping track of everyone’s doctor’s appointments, after school activities and homework assignments is like some sort of marathon in your house.  This should really be considered for an Olympic sport and the time management gurus come to you for help.

11.)  Getting everyone to school on time fully clothed, with their lunches and both shoes should also be considered an Olympic sport in your home.  I’m deadly serious about this.  I’ve written letters to the folks at the Olympics….they think I’m joking….I’m not.

12.)  You haven’t spoken to your husband since the fourth child came along, but you are pretty sure he’s the guy with the beard that shows up around dinnertime to eat at your 24 hour diner…he also doesn’t tip.

13.)  And last but not least, even though your life is utter chaos,  your house is a disaster, you don’t eat, sleep or shower and your account balance regularly hits 0, you know that one day they will all move on and have their own lives.  Suddenly, as quickly as it all began it will be over.  Your house will fall silent.  And that very thought breaks your heart into a thousand pieces.  So you will take a breath, pour some wine, and savor every last minute of it all.  Because you simply wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.

 

 

How to Speak Toddler….a Basic Translation Guide

toddler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toddlers are pretty amazing little people, because they are in fact, little people.  All of a sudden they are no longer squishy little babies who are content to simply sit or lay down all day while you put them wherever you want to put them or take them wherever you decide to go.  Suddenly they have their own ideas about what they want and when they want it, and they are incredibly dedicated to their own little whims.  If you have ever had the opportunity to care for a toddler you will know that this is putting it extremely mildly…..a toddler who wants something that you either don’t understand, or are not able to provide or allow is very much like a tornado, and you my friend are a trailer park.

Heading into the land of toddler myself for the fourth time, I thought that a translation guide of sorts might be helpful.  So here you go:

1.)  “No!”  Or “I not!”

Remember in College when you were insanely dedicated to a cause and decided that you would join your fellow  protesters in a sit in?  Nothing, and I mean nothing was going to deter you from making sure your message was heard and that change was implemented.  This is now your toddler…..if you plan on accomplishing anything on the day that these words are uttered, clear your schedule and make some calls, because you are not going anywhere anytime soon.  These words are usually used when it is time to leave the house and socks, shoes, or possibly pants are required.  These words are also very popular when trying to buckle a toddler into a car seat when they will suddenly decide to “plank” and use their super human toddler strength to prevent you from doing up the buckle.  These words are almost always used when you have to get to work, or you have an appointment which you are likely already running late for.

2.)  “I try it.”

These words will be used during mealtimes.  They mean that your toddler is now going to abandon their own plate, which contains the exact same food that you are desperately trying to eat yourself, and will now proceed to eat every scrap of food on your plate.  For some reason, toddler logic dictates that your food is better than theirs, even though it is exactly the same…it’s best to just develop a taste for cold, tiny bites of food because unless you hide in the kitchen to eat, you may be trading plates for awhile.

3.)  “I no did it.”

These words will often be uttered when you have been out of the room for a few minutes.  It absolutely means that they did something….the trick is what is it?  Sometimes it will be obvious because there will be a puddle of something or the writing will literally be on the wall.  However, if it is not obvious, do not assume that nothing has happened.  Search high and low until you figure it out because this is one of those times when weeks from now you will be wondering what on earth that smell is, only to discover half a banana crammed into the back of the toy garbage truck….

4.)  “No worry mommy.  I clean it.”

This is also usually uttered when you have been out if the room.  This one is a bit more alarming.  It’s nice that they have taken ownership over whatever havoc they have caused, however they have also attempted to clean it up.  So, what was the mess?  And what exactly did they “clean” it up with?  This often involves a defective sippy cup and a throw cushion from your couch, or, worst case scenario, a diaper and an afghan…probably knitted by great grandma and irreplaceable.

5.)  “I big helper.”

This is a tough one because it is so darn cute…but it’s a trick.  Do not be fooled by the big innocent eyes or angelic smile….this does not meant they are going to help you.  This statement means they are going to, under the guise of helping you, do absolutely everything in their power to prevent you from getting the activity done.  If you give in to this request, as I foolishly do at least once day, pour yourself a coffee and just abandon all hope of getting anything accomplished.  Oh, and make sure you allow for time to clean up whatever messes will now be caused by your “big helper.”

6.)  “I hungry.”

Brace yourself….you are about to be told no to every single option of a snack that you provide and even though the toddler could actually be hungry, there will not be a single food item in this world that will be acceptable.  If there are older children in the home, your toddler will also be aware that you have cookies….so you know that sit in from College?  You are about to meet the sit in King or Queen.

7.)  “Mine.”

Toddlers are only capable of understanding their own needs.  So this statement could refer to a toy, a toilet brush or even your left shoe.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  In fact it often doesn’t.  Just assume that everything they see, touch, hear or smell belongs to them in their little world and roll with it.

8.) “It so pretty.”

This rarely means that you will find whatever is happening “pretty”.  It could mean that those paints and crayons you thought you had hidden have been located and in the time it took you to pee, your little artist has provided you with a custom made mural in your living room.  This mural will likely include walls and your couch.  It could mean that somehow your toddler has found a pair of scissors (even safety ones will cut hair) and given themselves a “pretty” new haircut.  Or, it could refer to the fact that your toddler located a tube of lipstick in your purse and has given themselves a “pretty” new makeover.  It could also refer to the fact that you have thirty seconds to get out the door for an appointment and your toddler has removed every scrap of clothing you put on them and opted for a diaper and a tutu, a pair of your underwear on their head and one glove instead….they may combine this with the lipstick make over….

I will be happy to provide more translations for common toddler lingo as they arise….now if someone out there could provide me with some translations of pre-teen language…that would be great.

 

Exercise and raising small children….also known as “Mission Impossible”

exercise

 

 

 

 

 

If you have small children, you likely spend a great deal of your day outside, which is wonderful.  Unless of course, it is Winter and you are experiencing some of the coldest temperatures on record since the last ice age.  For so much of this Winter I simply have not been able to get outside with the littlest members of our crew.  This has led to me question why we did not have a wine cellar built in the basement instead of a laundry room, and also desperately feeling in need of some exercise.  Now, exercise and small children seem like they should go hand in hand….but they don’t.  Not actual, real exercise.  Have you ever gone for a “walk” with a toddler?  Earlier this week the temperature finally crept high enough that with the sun shining away I was able to bundle up the two and a half year old, pile blankets on the one year old in the stroller and GO OUTSIDE!!!! Oh glorious day!!!! I would finally be able to stretch my legs and save my sanity.  I suggested to my little man that we go for a walk….we made it to the neighbor’s driveway….at that point he made a lovely snow angel for the neighbors on their front lawn, returned their recycling bin to their garage (even though ours are apparently just fine to leave in our ditch until next recycling day) and then the garbage truck came.  Oh, and a plane flew over.  This all took nearly an hour, at which point we needed to make the strenuous hike back home, one driveway over, to go inside and warm up.  Sigh…..

Rather than suggesting to a toddler that you should go for a walk, some more appropriate suggestions would be the following:

1.) Let’s go sit on the side of the road and look at a rock you find fascinating.

2.)  Let’s go draw masterpieces in the dirt with sticks and then spend an hour arguing with me over why I won’t let you run with those sticks.

3.)  Let’s go sit on the side of the road and wave at cars.

4.)  Let’s go outside and point at birds.

5.)  Let’s go outside, walk about five doors down thus giving mommy false hope, and then throw yourself on the ground having a massive tantrum because I won’t let you put a caterpillar in your pocket.

And there are always those folks that will very helpfully suggest that you simply make junior ride in the stroller…..um ya, thanks.  I hadn’t thought of that.  That may work occasionally, but once your little darling finds their feet and realizes they can use those amazing things to “gasp” RUN, good luck convincing them to sit, and ride in something resembling their car seat….which they also hate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love seeing the world through the eyes of my children.  Having the opportunity to experience nature as magical and awe inspiring again, is truly beautiful.  However, sometimes mama wants to work on her muffin top!!!!!!

So, I devised a plan.  My wonderful mother in law gave me her elliptical machine and my wonderful husband hauled it into our basement.  I was on a mission.  I would hop on it and work out for about four minutes at least three times a day.  Four minutes was the amount of time I felt I could safely leave the munchkins to play.  Sounds doable right?  At first I used the dryer timer….since there is usually laundry in it that needs to be fluffed, it made sense.  But staring at the heat ducts and listening to the dryer going was really boring so I upgraded my fancy home gym to allow for the use of my cell phone and whichever song I could find on You Tube that I felt would rev me up…Unfortunately, if listening to music, it is hard to discern which sounds from the floor above are bad sounds or good sounds…are the kids playing or staging a coup?  Is it fun, sing along time or Lord of the Flies? Also, have you ever tried to leave the room to do ANYTHING for longer than 30 seconds without disaster striking?  Or this lovely chorus following you?  “Mommy!!! MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! Mom? Mommy where are you?  I come?  Mommy I come?  I help? Mommy I come help?  Mommy I come help you? MOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY!!!!!! I hungry.”  Put this little ditty on repeat and I don’t care what song you are trying to listen to, it is not going to drown it out, and after less than two minutes your increased stress level is doing battle with whatever health benefits you might be achieving from your increased heart rate.

So, I have decided to cut myself some slack….running up and down the basement stairs to retrieve laundry is technically cardio, driving dinky cars around the floor is basically yoga, and bathing multiple children in a day is now classified as water aerobics….the muffin top will have to be dealt with when they are all in University.

Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts….for the non-pregnant

pregnant

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy. Unless you are an adult film star, never in your life will your body belong to so many people other than yourself. Doctors, midwives, family, friends, co-workers, cashiers in the check out line at the grocery store, your hairdresser, that woman on the subway….everyone will have an opinion or a piece of advice about every single thing you do. You will spend more time naked, with your legs in the air then you ever thought possible, and every single bowel movement, burp, outbreak of acne and passing of gas will be up for discussion and on display. Suddenly your body belongs to the world. Books, magazines and of course Google will tell you what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it. Your doctor or midwife will tell you a cup of coffee a day is ok, but the raised eyebrows of the woman in the next cubicle will make you doubt that decision. People, often strangers, will tell you exactly what you should do with that body of yours. Food, exercise, clothing and even hair and make up. After all, it isn’t your body anymore. The second you announced you were growing another person, everyone around you suddenly bought stocks in the investment that is a baby. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been blessed enough to have four healthy pregnancies and each one of them was an amazing miracle from start to finish. But every one of those pregnancies was a bit different. And even miracles can be ridden with anxiety and a little messy. Growing a person is mind blowing, and the pressure we put on ourselves while pregnant to make sure we give our baby the best and healthiest start in life is enormous. So guess what world? We are already worried enough for everyone, so unless you are handing out donuts with that advice, or we actually asked to hear it, kindly back off. Having been pregnant four times, I have compiled a little dos and don’ts list for the world surrounding pregnant women, both in and out of the delivery room. It’s time we reclaim our bodies….at least a little bit.

1.) Don’t ask her when she is due. If she wants you to know she will tell you. Out of four pregnancies, three of mine went more than ten days past my “due date”. I am usually a very mild mannered mama, but by day five I was not a woman to be messed with. In fact, I am pretty sure that the poor girl in the drive through at Tim Horton’s that made the mistake of asking when I was due may still be off on stress leave….Trust me, she is more obsessed with her due date than anyone, and once that date has come and gone the last thing in the world she wants to is constantly explain that to strangers. And, unless she is your best friend from birth or you are her doctor, do not ask about her mucus plug….I mean seriously.

2.) Do not EVER guess how far along she is in the pregnancy. This is the equivalent of that game where the carny guesses your age at the county fair. Every pregnancy is different, every woman is different and everyone gains and carries their baby weight differently. Asking this question almost always leads to responses such as, “Oh wow, you are still so small.” This response leads to the poor pregnant soul immediately worrying that she is somehow starving her baby, not eating enough, not eating the right things, putting her baby at risk for low birth weight etc, etc. Or, my personal favorite, “Really? You are already so big! Wow. That must be a big baby.” Why? What on earth makes anyone say those things to a pregnant woman? First of all, you are making her paranoid in our already weight obsessed society at a time when she really shouldn’t be thinking about weight, and second of all, and most importantly, are YOU pushing that baby you just called huge out of your lady parts in a few short months? No? Well then shut the hell up.

3.) Don’t touch her….please don’t touch her. This single act reminds pregnant ladies again and again that their bodies became time share properties the second they started to show. Unless she invites you to feel those amazing, miraculous kicks, hands off. She is spending far too much time being groped by doctors inside and out, has an actual person taking up real estate in her womb and even her partner hasn’t been allowed to touch her in weeks, so why complete strangers feel that what she really wants is a good belly rub is beyond me. Pregnant bellies are an invite only event.

4.) Don’t tell her what to eat. Eating during pregnancy is extremely stressful. Things that you once ate without thinking about it are now dangerous, and things you may have never eaten may be touted as a miracle food for your developing baby. Pregnant women read every scrap of information they can find about pregnancy including nutrition. They know donuts are not vegetables, they know coffee is bad and they also know that their bedtime burrito habit is causing their heartburn. Here’s the thing, when they are gaining weight, dealing with sleepless nights and losing control of their bodily functions, that bedtime burrito habit may be the only thing helping them maintain their sanity. So, unless you see her enjoying a bag of dishwasher tabs, back off. She already knows….

5.) Do not ever underestimate food cravings. This “don’t” may actually save the lives of a few partners out there, so pay attention. If a pregnant woman is craving something, that and ONLY THAT thing will do. Do not ever, ever substitute, regardless of how closely related you may feel the two items are. If your spouse asks you to pick up an apple pie from her favorite bakery on your way home from work, it means she really, really wants apple pie. If, for some reason you feel inspired to instead purchase a gluten free, sugar free, mini apple pie, don’t go home. Just keep on driving….a life on the run will be far easier than what is waiting for you at home when you present her with that sorry excuse for a craving substitution. Trust me on this. Also, do not ever question the cravings. In her logical mind she knows that waking up at 2 a.m. to fry bacon and dip it in spicy mustard isn’t really a good thing….especially when she is usually a vegetarian. But those cravings simply cannot be ignored and you pointing it out to her just makes her feel bad. So, grab some dipping mustard and a piece of bacon and call it a night.

6.) Don’t tell her how busy she is going to be. This is one for those mom’s that already have a little one, or two, or three at home and usually have them in tow while waddling with a very pregnant belly through town running errands. I got this one all the time. “Oh wow, you sure are going to have your hands full.” Really? I hadn’t thought of that. Aren’t babies usually born with nannies and maids as part of a package? Don’t you just select the self feeding, self changing and self washing babies when you are growing them in the womb? Isn’t there a button for that? Oh, and thanks for mentioning that this next child will suddenly make me “busy”, because right now I spend all my time lounging on the couch in my pajamas eating chips, so good to know that my life will suddenly change. We know we will be busy!!! We are already busy!!! So, unless you are going to join us while we run errands and keep one of those other children from running off or knocking over a store mannequin please respond with “what a beautiful family you have.” Because that is what we are actually trying to accomplish.

7.) Don’t tell her she’s glowing…unless she actually is. Pregnancy has a different effect on everyone. With one of my pregnancies I had beautiful, glowing skin and gorgeous hair. I felt beautiful. With the others I had acne, pregnancy mask, dull hair and gas….with those pregnancies I hated it when people gushed that I was glowing. I knew it was a load of crap and they just didn’t know what else to say. Becoming pregnant doesn’t mean that we suddenly remove all mirrors from our homes. We know if we are “glowing” or not. It’s ok, if we don’t look like pregnant supermodels. Just tell her she looks healthy, or better yet, don’t mention her appearance at all. Just ask her what she’s craving….

8.) Do not tell her stories about terrifying deliveries. What the heck is wrong with people?? I don’t know why, the minute a woman announces her pregnancy everyone from her sister in law to her dry cleaner feel the need to traumatize her with horror stories from the delivery room. Stop it stop it stop it!!!! She is already obsessing night and day about doing everything in her power to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy delivery. Why add to that worry with stories about your neighbor’s cousin’s hairdresser who was in labor for three days with a fifteen pound baby that was born sideways? Vaginas are tender areas on a good day, so the idea of pushing a baby out of there is scary enough without your tales of terror. Instead, talk about that insanely magical moment when your baby was placed on your chest for the first time. Or the sound of your baby’s first cry. Keep it positive people.

9.) Do no question her in the delivery room. For all those partners out there, whatever she wants in the delivery room goes. You may sit down ahead of time, especially if this is your first, and develop a detailed and beautifully organized birth plan. This will fly right out the window when active labor kicks in. Do not stand over her, frantically waving the birth plan around, demanding to know why she suddenly prefers silence over the soothing ocean sounds you selected together, or why she hurled your wedding photo across the room when you held it in front of her to focus on during a contraction. Just roll with it. Simply be grateful that her new, on the fly birth plan still allows for you to be in the room, and do whatever she says.

10.) Do not mention her pooping on the delivery table. I cannot stress enough how important this is. It may be the most important point of all. After nine or more months of weight gain, morning sickness, heartburn, hair growth, hair loss, acne, gas and loss of bladder control, if you feel the need to ever, ever mention that she lost control of her bowels while giving birth, you are on your own. You will likely be sleeping on the couch indefinitely, and that couch will likely be in the garage. Some things simply do not ever need to be spoken of. This, is one of those things.