this : this : : that : that

I used to write songs. When I had less interruptions, more time, and a chance to use my brain to think about things other than laundry, cooking, and home school.

I always wanted to write a song with la-la's. Or doot-doot's. Or dat's. Or la-de-dah's. I thought I'd really have arrived if I knew when to put something like that in and not have it sound stupid. You know, a song like "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. It's not like he couldn't think of good lyrics so he stuck in some la's. He just knew when to sing without trying to say something. To showcase a melody and not worry about lyrics. It really makes the song.

There is an analogy here.

menial tasks : life : : la-la's : song

The la-la's (or doot's or whoa's) in a song aren't communicating any kind of message. This is how I feel about this stage of life. I spend a lot of time on menial tasks like cleaning, wiping various surfaces (and bottoms, noses, and faces), doing laundry, etc. These every day tasks seem meaningless.

I'm talking about the daily grind. The trenches of family life. Not trips to Disney World or family vacations or big birthday parties. The everyday tasks I do all the time. They are catchy. And they get stuck in your head. With them, life is just better.

The best part of these songs are the skat vocals that seem to be filling up space. But it's in this space that I see some of the best moments. When I'm helping someone get dressed or brush their teeth or cutting their food...and they look at me and melt me with their cuteness. I get to take care of them. I am giving them a sense of security and protection. These menial tasks are not meaningless. They fill the space of my life. They make the song.

Songs I listened to while writing this blog:
Piano Man - Billy Joel (la-dee-dah)
Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi (whoa-whoa)
Dreams - the Cranberries (ah...)

Galaxies - Owl City (dat dat)



*Please excuse the poorly oriented photos in this post...they came from Jimmy's phone and getting them off was approximately forty steps and I'm tired and don't need any more steps.

When you're raising kids, there are certain things that simply have a high probability of happening. Some things are just inevitable. Some of these things are good. Cute girls in ballet outfits. Handsome little boys grabbing your face and calling you precious. Funny words when they're learning to talk. Adorable handmade cards you can't bring yourself to throw away.

Some of these "inevitabilites" aren't so desireable. Ear infections. Poop in various places. Tantrums. Yelling. Tears. Separation anxiety. Bleeding. Drooling. Various bodily fluids. Potty training. Vomit. I'd like to continue with this list because it's kind of fun and I like lists. But I have a story to get to.

Our latest inevitability? Broken bones. This past Wednesday Jackson fell off his skateboard in our driveway and broke both bones in his lower left arm. It was pretty cut and dry, really. When your kid's arm looks a little bit like a half cooked noodle, you take them to the emergency room.

Jimmy took Jackson in, and I came later after my friend and then later my neighbor took over with my other kids. When I got there Jimmy was worried about the others and wanted to go home and let them know Jackson was okay. They were fine and already asking if they could sign his cast. So Jimmy stayed a few more minutes before going home and I stayed with Jackson for the duration.

At this point Jackson was in a lot of pain and just trying to keep still. We had to wait for quite a while and they were unable to get an IV in Jackson so he had no fluids and no pain medication. He was saying all kinds of normal things you say when you're in pain and waiting. Everything from "What's taking so long?!" to "They're so MEAN here!" I really felt for him.

Though I did break my own left arm when I was a kid (so did Jimmy actually) I couldn't remember much except that it did hurt pretty bad. But of course my most recent experience with pain is childbirth. But when you're sitting with your nine year old in the ER you can't say, "Buddy, just get the epidural, you don't have to endure this." Instead you push his wheelchair two feet from the television and try to distract him with "Minute to Win It."

To make a long story even longer, we finally got called back and six needle pricks and four nurses later Jackson finally got an IV into his "tiny veins." Ah, morphine. Then it was the orthopedic surgeon who numbed Jackson's arm with a blood pressure cuff and medication. At this point Jackson was much happier and waving his broken arm saying in a drug induced voice, "I can't feel anything!"

I wouldn't let Jackson watch but I did (though it was slightly disturbing) and the surgeon twisted, turned, squeezed, and pulled on Jackson's arm to set the bones. We heard them crack a little. Which, even when it's happening to you, can be funny if you're full of medication and you can't feel it.

Then one more x ray to make sure it worked and it did. Jackson has been doing great and mastered playing video games with one hand the next day. He went back to school today and did great.

As for me...What's harder than taking care of five kids? Taking care of five kids when your "right arm" has broken his left arm. I'm glad to take care of him though. He's a great kid and we're so happy he's on the mend.


School pics and updates

We started school this week. I feel good to have a week under my belt and to have the ball rolling. Jackson started at public school last week, so he's got two weeks done. His transition has been very smooth. He seems excited about school and his assignments so far. The last two summers, I've done an update on the kids. So here are their "school" pictures and some notes about each...

Age: 3 1/2
Current faves: peanut butter spoon, using the computer, yelling at everyone
Last seen: yelling at someone

Penelope started preschool (two days a week) yesterday. She seemed to do fine and when I picked her up I asked her question after question, even though she seemed annoyed. She finally just said, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!"

Age: 5
Current faves: rubbing up against me and Juliet, peeking out of his bedroom door (he can do this while still technically staying in bed), eating and drinking
Last seen: hiding inside the ottoman and knocking--the first time he did it made me go to the door twice to see who was here

Cash has begun home school and is doing great because he is a very hard worker. He has learned to ride without training wheels since we moved and gets around our neighbor's pool like a fish.

Age: 7
Current faves: writing and drawing, bike riding, taking care of Juliet
Last seen: carrying Juliet around

Libby continues to amaze us with her bright and creative mind. She is a tremendous leader and helper to her younger siblings. She is a lot like me and I love to have someone on my side around here. She recently got her first loose tooth.

Age: 9 1/2
Current faves: music, riding the bus, playing with our neighbor, asking me questions
Last seen: getting me to sign school papers (all of a sudden my autograph is in high demand)

Jackson is a great kid and we're proud of his transition to school. He embodies the phrase "inquiring minds want to know" and I'm sure would read the National Enquirer if we let him. He still loves reading and answering the phone. I miss him as my personal assistant during the day.

Some outtakes:

This is definitely going in her wedding slide show one day.

This was one of many "dude" poses he gave me.

I didn't put Juliet in here since she's not a student yet and doesn't have a school picture. Currently, she's being cute, looking cute, acting cute, and getting kissed by someone approximately every five minutes. We love each other around here. I feel very blessed. I can't believe another year has gone by. I've thought multiple times this summer that if I could freeze the ages of my kids, I think I'd do it now. But the J train continues to clamber down the track, stopping for no one. If you see us passing by, the steam from the train is coming out of my ears.