Since Juliet was born I am very often asked, "What's it like with five?" And I haven't come up with a response. I think people are just being polite and don't really want a response, but I've been trying to come up with one with no luck. Today, I figured it out. Mostly, it's the same only you add breastfeeding and diaper changes and middle of the night feedings. What's the same? What it's always been with kids. A dichotomy. Wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. There are times you want to pluck your eyes out, and times you're winking at someone. Times for hugging, times for a spank. Times for eating, times for pooping. Times for laughing, times for crying. And all of these can happen simultaneously somehow. It is irony at it's best. And it is life all around me all the time.
What made me come up with this amazing insight to such a flippant question? It came through Penelope. Today we were cleaning up the house. This means I was trying hard to make sure no extra messes happened. Penelope got the Windex off the counter and began to spray (a lot of) it on the french door rectangular windows. When I discovered what she was doing I said, "Stop!" and went to get a paper towel. No need, she was rubbing it around with her bare hands, then rubbing her hands on her shirt. As I was tearing off the paper towel she said, "I'm washing the index, Mom!" And there it is. A time for a mess, a time for something really cute. What's it like with five? It's awfully good, terribly terrific, and there's lots of laundry.
Last night when I went to bed I decided I was going to wake up and do something fun. The weather was supposed to be perfect so Cash stayed home from preschool, we abandoned normal homeschool work ("Just do your math") and the kids and I built a terrarium. I intended to take pictures of every step but I forgot. I've got a good excuse(s). I was dealing with four loud children who seemed to think they knew exactly how to do something they'd never done before. Plus, they all had hammers and were flinging dirt.
Meanwhile, I'm shushing everyone so the baby wouldn't wake up, doing constant laundry (can't suspend laundry day, sorry) to the tune of my dryer which squeaks like 200 fingernails on a chalkboard, and I cut myself on an exacto-knife. So the camera kind of took a back seat.
But here are the steps we used to build our terrarium. And the pictures of steps I did remember to photograph. A friend recently gave us his aquarium so that's what we started with.
Step one: Fill the bottom of the aquarium with dirt. That little plastic container on the side is cut on the top and half the remaining bottom of it acts as a little ramp a creature could go down to get inside the little "cave".
Step two: Add a layer of rocks. We didn't have rocks (and I don't take all five children to the store to buy rocks, puh-lease) but I did have some tile under the house so we used hammers to break up the tile into small pieces. The children totally should have been wearing eye protection and Cash and I both cut ourselves on tile, but sometimes you just live on the edge.
Step three: A layer of spanish moss. There is plenty of this in my yard.
Step four: Put a bowl for a little pond.
Step five: More dirt.
Step six: Plants! Plant them and water them. Add whatever bugs or worms or caterpillars or centipedes the kids can find. Jackson found a lizard, put his hand down into the terrarium to let him go in and the lizard ran up Jackson's arm and leaped as far away as possible from our terrarium. The lizard is no dummy I guess.
I'm going to get some more plants and hopefully one of the boys will catch a lizard and make it stick. It was a beautiful day and fun to be outside. And tonight for dinner I made chicken with onions on top and rice. Penelope looked at it and said, "I don't want aliens!" We gave her chicken without aliens and the kids went back outside to play. I love nice weather!
Here are Cash's nipple tattoos which he applied on Sunday morning before church. I made him put on his nice shoes, all the while he has tattoos on his nipples. We can try to impress, but underneath it all, we're pretty much as wacky as Buzz Lightyear on our chests. (I had a cute pic of him in his underwear showing tattoos on his arms and legs as well, but I'm trying to keep a little of his four year old dignity intact.)
Here are Libby and Cash at the "Sweetheart Tea" at Preschool on Valentine's Day. Cash chose to bring Libby. I have to admit I encouraged him in that direction. But if anyone deserves to be called his sweetheart, it's Libby. She has been an amazing big sister to him from the beginning. Penelope wanted badly to be in the picture but I wouldn't let her. I told her I'd take a picture of her after I did them.
And this is the expression I got. Typical Penelope. Obstinate but so cute doing it you almost forget. Almost, Penelope. I said almost.
I also wanted to record a few funny things that Penelope says. I don't ever want to forget that she calls pajamas "ja-mammas" and yesterday she asked for a "garoney" (baloney) sandwich. A couple weeks ago Libby had a friend named Lily over. Penelope was asking me where Lily was. It took me the longest time to figure out what she was saying because her "l's" are "w's". So she kept saying, "Where's Wihwee?" I finally got it when she said very emphatically, "Wihwee! Wibby's friend!" Last night she wanted to play with her "Princess hunnel." She meant tunnel. It's a collapsible contraption you can crawl through. And if she messes her pants and I'm about to discover it she says very quickly, "I don't care, Mom." And when I see what she's done I realize what she's talking about. When it comes to pooping your pants, I do care. But I know they'll grow out of poopy pants, funny words, and nipple tattoos. Until then I get to love and live with it all.
Here is my precious newborn baby. Can I just say that there is nothing like it? Holding and loving a newbie. Feeling them against your chest. Kissing their soft skin. Listening to their little breath and feeling it against your lips as you kiss them. Holding out your finger so they can clutch their little fist around it. It makes my heart full of life and hope. My sweet girl is one month old and has been really good and is getting so big already. Here she is hanging out in her crib.
I was lucky to get a smile in her sleep.
Here's the peanut gallery who had to view every picture on the back of my camera as I took them.
Juliet and Cashy-boy. All her big brothers and sisters like to hold her and kiss her.
And this is what she looks like most of the time...she lays on the floor and watches all the chaos that surrounds her!
Sweet angel! We love you!
I love toast. I truly do. Is there anything better than bread and butter? Oh, wait. There is. Toasted bread and butter. I eat it at least twice a day. Too many carbs for you? Not me. I will be morbidly obese before I give up toast. I'm not real into food, but toast I can get behind. The appliances on my counter? A bread machine, and my four slice toaster. (And down at the end, the microwave.)
My toppings of choice? Well, there's just butter, of course. Then there's cinnamon sugar (with butter first, of course), honey (with butter first, of course), peanut butter (butter first still), and jelly (I always apply butter first of course). For lunch I often eat sliced cheese (on top of toast with butter) or yogurt (on top of toast with butter). Yummy! (And for those of you who are worried, I don't always use real butter. A healthy spreadable margarine will do too. But the best choice is butter, of course.) Okay, enough about how much I love it. On to my point.
Now. There is something about toast. You must butter it while it is hot. And you must eat it right after buttering. Otherwise, you've compromised it's ability to completely satisfy. And I never trust the toaster. Even if I've scientifically set the toaster, I'm always using different types of bread and so you never know when you might have to manually override the toaster and pop it up yourself. So I keep watch while it is down. Oh, the patience it takes to wait for the perfect browning. Nothing beyond a deep sepia color. Move into the chocolate browns and you've let it go too far. But don't pop it up while it's still just warm bread, you're making toast here!
Okay, I've digressed again. I could write for a while about toast. My point to all of this was that these days, I've been ruining toast. I push down my toast in the toaster and cannot wait for it. The baby is crying. Someone can't reach the light switch. Someone spills their milk. "Mom! I went poo-poo!" and so on. I think I have time to wipe a crack or locate shoes or switch out laundry while my toast is down. I abandon it. It burns. Or worse, it pops at the perfect browning but no one is there to butter it and it sits there and gets cold. Oh the tragedy.
I know one day I'll have all the time in the world to stare at my toaster and butter and eat it promptly. And that I'll wish I had children pulling on my legs asking for a piece. But for now, I just wish my little munchkins understood the sacrifice I make every day (at least twice a day) when I walk away from my toaster with my bread in the vulnerable position. But you are worth it, little ones. And you're probably the only thing to me worth burning toast for. (Don't tell them, but sometimes if I mess up my toast I offer it to one of my kids so I can start again. Hey, it's the least they can do!)