Today I'm Thankful

Before I totally run out of steam I just wanted to record, for posterity, the normal crazy that went on around here today.

12:30am- (Because this calendar day began with me still awake...) I turn out the light after a long night of photo editing.

7:45am- Violet and Juliet wake up and come lay in our bed.  Eventually Penelope comes in.  I make it last as long as possible, then get up, get dressed, and head to the kitchen.  Breakfast.  I make it for the little three and myself, everyone else is still asleep.  Penelope has gotten out her school books and done some math problems already.  Score!

I get Juliet, Penelope, and Violet dressed, delegating as much as possible.  We have to search for appropriate clothing, as we have finally had the first cold day of the season.  I then head out the door with Juliet, Violet, and Penelope to take Juliet to preschool. 

8:57- Preschool starts in three minutes, but I forgot to buy Reddi Whip for Juliet's "Thanksgiving Feast" which I signed up for, so I have to go to Publix.  I lock my three children in the van, hoping no one notices, and literally run to the back of the store, grab the stuff, check out, and run back to the van.  All is well.

9:14- We finally arrive at preschool.  I thought that the feast was at 9:30 and that I was supposed to stay and help, but I learn from another mom that it's not until 11.  We chat.  She asks me if I'm coming back.  I say no, that I home school, and then have to reveal that I have six children, which is information I never offer, only tell if asked.  I don't know why, it just seems weird to announce it.  The mom I am talking to opens up a bit to me about her son having a hard time wanting to go to school.  I tell her we will pray for him.  It is a nice conversation.

9:30- I'm back home.  Jackson and Jimmy are still in bed.  This is not usual, I must say, or they will both be mad and accuse me of making them sound lazy.  Jackson has not been feeling well.  Jimmy usually gets up but with there being zero noise in the house, he was without his normal kid noise alarm clock.  I say something along the lines of, "Time to get up and make those real estate deals!" or "Are you going to get up sometime today?" I honestly can't remember. 

I do dishes and other random chores and get the kids mentally prepared: It's Monday.  We're doing school.  I look in Jackson's throat.  His tonsils are huge and there's at least one white dot that I can see.  I call the doctor.  I make an appointment.  I do a puzzle with Violet on the floor.  I get school stuff.  I tell Jimmy not to schedule anything, that I need the van to pick up Juliet from school and then go to the doctor.  (We currently only have one vehicle, which must be soon remedied or we will all lose our heads.)  He says he already has a 12:00 inspection to sit for.

10:00- We sit down.  We pray.  (I remember Juliet's classmate!) I read out loud.  Bible, History, and some historical fiction.  I pound my fist at least once, threaten punishments multiple times, and ask everyone to limit distractions with a mere furrowing of my teacher brow.  I have to stop to lay Violet down for a nap.  After I read, I let them loose to do their own work.  I tell Cash if he can't find the book he lost he has to pay for it.  We find it.

11:10- Jimmy and I make a plan.  We will pack lunch, leave at 11:45, drop Jimmy, Cash, Libby, and Penelope at his inspection, and myself, Jackson, and Violet will go to the doctor.  Juliet has a sty I wanted looked at and Violet needed the second half of her flu shot.  After the doctor I will come back to get Jimmy and the kids.  I edit a few photos while sitting at the table with the kids, who, I'm not sure were really getting all that much done. 

11:30- Libby packs lunch and I help everyone get some school books and something to read packed in a bag.  I pack lunch for Violet and something for myself.  Cash wears his roller blades in the van, hoping to skate in the parking lot of the commercial building they will be at.

12:00- We drop off Jimmy and kids, go to Juliet's preschool, and make it to the doctor on time.

12:30-1:00- We sit in the waiting room.  I have plenty of time to feed Violet applesauce, a cheese stick, a piece of bread, and a baby granola bar.

1:00- We wait inside the exam room.  I get a call from an art student.  I try to answer his questions but get interrupted.  I tell him I'll call back.  We see the CRNP.  Jackson has strep.  Juliet needs hot compresses and an ointment.  Violet falls and bumps her head, cries, barely has time to recover, and then screams terribly for the shot.  Juliet still has her boots off from when she stepped on the scale and we all have to wait while the baby screams to put on the four year old's shoes.  It seems like hell on earth as I type it, but really, it wasn't all that big of a deal.  I'm pretty immune to the chaos.

2:00- On the way to pick up Jimmy and the kids I call back my art student. After we pick them up wet head to Publix to drop off the prescriptions.  Libby tells me that while they were at the inspection they wrote 75% of their Thanksgiving play, and that they even gave Juliet a part.  When we get home we all clean out the van, since we're going on a trip for Thanksgiving.  Jimmy and I call everyone back to task multiple times.  I get the baby changed and laid down for a nap.

2:30- We come inside and I unload the dishwasher.  I get people back to work on school stuff and play Operation with Juliet.  Jimmy has something to do.  He leaves.

3:00- I help Jackson eek out a Spanish assignment because I've been getting texts from his Virtual Spanish teacher.  I text her and let her know he's been sick.  He has to call her at 4:30.

3:40- I wonder where Jimmy is, I have to leave for a photo appointment that starts at 4:00.  He shows up.  I get myself together and grab my camera and head out, not even speaking to Jimmy, he was standing on the front porch talking on the phone.  (I had told him to make those real estate deals, after all.)  While sitting at the light to get out of our neighborhood I text him, "JACKSON ****MUST**** CALL HIS SPANISH Teacher at 4:30.  Do not drop the ball on this!" Sometime during my photo shoot he texts back, "K".

4:00- I have a photo session with a family with two little girls and their newly adopted chiuaua.  It goes well!  They are super nice.  The 2 and a half year old held my hand whenever we walked around.  It made me feel good.  I love kids.  They asked me about my baby.  How old my other kids were.  I thought they knew I had six kids, so I just rattled off the ages.  After that they sort of had that jaw dropped look and said, "So you have five?"  "No, six."  "And you still have time to do this?"  And I replied appropriately, but I should have said, "It doesn't really feel like I have time to do anything, so I might as well do this!"

4:45- I head to Publix to pick up the prescriptions.  I call Jimmy and ask him to start building the quesadillas for dinner.  We have a discussion about buying cars.  Right before we hang up I say, "If you have any kids help you with the quesadillas, make sure they wash their hands first."  He says, "What? Oh right, you wanted me to make quesadillas."  I hang up.  Not mad, just wanted to hang up before he forgot again.  I'm at Publix.  I buy salsa, disinfecting wipes, and pick up the prescriptions.  This is the fourth time I've been to Publix in less than 24 hours.  Good thing it's a pleasure to shop there.

5:00- I get home.  Jimmy and Libby have already built and grilled the quesadillas!  Juliet has fallen asleep on the couch.  I check on her.  I also check on Violet, she is still asleep.  I throw some frozen corn in the microwave and get out the raw spinach.  And that's dinner.

5:05- Jimmy leaves again, was waiting for the van.  Has to go to a property.  Jackson goes with him.  Violet wakes up and the kids and I eat.  I get Juliet to sit up and eat on the couch.  While we are eating Penelope announces to me that this has been "the best day ever."  When I ask why, she tells me that they went for a bike ride and she and Libby made a plan for name place cards they want to make for Thanksgiving.  They mention the play again.  Libby is going to be John Smith.  And apparently, we are related to John Smith, according to Dad.  He looked it up.

After dinner the kids play outside in the garage and driveway.  I get Violet bundled up and buckle her in the wagon and give her a ride.  Juliet revives and goes out to play too.  They work on their name place cards in the garage.  I go in and do the dishes.  I get some laundry going.

6:15- I tell the kids that if they clean the kitchen and living room in 15 minutes then they can have hot chocolate.  They get to work.  ish.  Jimmy and Jackson come home, eat dinner.  The kids don't really make it.  I don't give them hot chocolate.  We sit together at the table and read a home made book to Violet that I made for Jackson when he was a baby.

6:45- Bubble bath for Pip, Juju, and Violet.  I go into the attic and hunt for our space heater and footed pajamas for Penelope.  I throw a couple more things down.  I send Libby to do Math.

I don't know what time it is now.  I pull out all the summer clothes from Penelope and Juliet's drawers and replace them with jeans and long sleeve t-shirts.  While I'm doing that Jimmy lays on the bed and plays the Beach Boys for Violet and plays me an Andrew Peterson song.  Penelope tries on a couple outfits and dances around like only a Penelope can.

8:00- I am expiring and am ready to get the baby to bed.  I doctor up Juliet with her ointment and tell Jimmy that he is in charge of everyone and I take Violet to her room, nurse her, sing to her, rock her, pray with her, and hug and kiss her.  She wraps me in her sweet baby cocoon of wonderfulness.

I take a shower, tell Penelope and Juliet goodnight, spend about five minutes reading my Bible verse of the day and praying, then start editing photos galore.  Jackson sits with me and does some school work.  I do take a short break for ice cream.  I edit some more.  I make myself go until 11, then decide maybe I'll write a quick blog before I turn in.  Now, 45 minutes later, I've written an obnoxiously long blog that no one will read, and I'm super tired.  This is our day.  And in light of it being Thanksgiving week, writing all this down has made me so thankful for such a full life.  It never disappoints.


I'd like to tell the truth

I want to be positive, tell stories about our family, and bring some laughter and joy while recording the memories we're making.  But today I just want to tell the truth.

I'm sad that my baby is weaning.  I'm sad for it to come to an end.  I think about where I was last year, with a six week old newbie, trying to deal with some pretty intense breastfeeding issues, and it seems so far away it's like it happened to a different person.  I had a good run.  I should feel full.  Instead I feel sort of cheated.  I wanted her to be more attached and for longer.  I fear it is my fault.  That the stress in my life has dried me up.

I love taking photographs.  Often I drive to a photo shoot tired and feeling like I have nothing to give.  And then, all of a sudden, everything fades except the task at hand and I forget absolutely everything except capturing light.  This is not an exaggeration.  But I want to do it better.  I want to push myself creatively.  Yet I feel discouraged that I have so much going on I don't have enough time to devote to it.  I want to teach my kids to find what it is in their life that, when they do it, they get lost in it.  I want them to find what God has made them to do.

I hate cooking.  I want to be one of those moms whose kids tell amazing stories about huge yummy dinners.  I want to have "the best mashed potatoes" or "the best apple pie." I hear people say that cooking calms them, helps them to de-stress, and I scratch my head.  What exactly about it is calming, exactly?  The crowded grocery store?  The chopping?  The stirring?  The mess?  The clean up? The multiple complaints from children who think it sounds gross?  What I do enjoy is making breakfast.  Because when I make breakfast, I usually just make one thing, and I make it well.  Grits, oatmeal, scrambled eggs...I have my methods and they are good.  If every meal was scrambled eggs I think I could handle that.

And on a similar note.  I feel such a large level of guilt for feeding my children processed foods like chicken nuggets or hot dogs. But if I didn't use any convenience foods, I'd be in the kitchen all day preparing meals and snacks and my children wouldn't be home schooled at all.  And we've already covered my desire to be in the kitchen all day.

Let's talk about what I do love.  Swinging Violet in the backyard.  Reading to Juliet.  Kissing Penelope goodnight.  (Even though the way she must do it is quite the process and sometimes annoys me.)  Hearing Cash play the piano.  Watching Libby carry Violet around.  Talking to Jackson about anything and everything, and telling him funny stories about himself as a little kid.

I think about the way things used to be when I was growing up.  How the boom of technology has changed everything and I wish I could bury my head in the sand and pretend like terrible, horrific, things are not one click away from everything.  It's not here yet, but I feel it looming.  I have to navigate parenthood with no point of reference related to smart phones.  Me, who didn't even own a computer until age 19, will have to teach my teenagers how to carry one around in their pocket.  It makes my head explode.  I don't want to raise selfish kids whose self esteem is completely skewed.  I want them to know that they are worth something because of who Jesus is, not because they have a certain number of likes.

Time has changed for me.  Now that I have a lot of kids and work, time passes faster and often leaves me feeling like a whole day went by and I didn't do anything, yet I was super busy all day.  I don't know how to make this stop.  I often want to go back to the days that I thought were so hard- when I had two in diapers and two more on top of that and literally ran around dealing with whatever destruction they left in their path.  Those days were hard, but I could get everything to come to a screeching halt if I just sat on the couch with a book and started reading to them.  Now, when I read, I compete.  I compete with the noise of the house, I compete with other things I should be doing, and I compete with my older children who want to be the one reading.  I have worked very, very hard to teach my children to read.  Yet I really liked the days when I was the only reader in the house.

I am wondering if I will regret writing this.  Telling the truth, writing a blog in the wee hours.  But these are the hours good for writing, yet I'm so tired these are the things that come out.  We are in a busy season of life.  The fall always is.  I am comforted by these words: "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber."  (Psalm 122:2-3)  So even though I am headed to bed, God is not.  He will be up all night doing his divine work.  Taking care of our family and helping me, taking hold of my hand.

I write to tell the truth.  I am feeling tired and busy.  Home schooling and raising six kids is overwhelming to say the least.  But there is a bigger truth.  Children are a blessing.  A heritage.  They bring a deep joy found nowhere else.  When I was a kid I dressed up like a mom for career day.  And here I am.


Happy Birthday Penelope!

Penelope turned 8 a little over a week ago and it was her year for a "friend" party, so we had a little celebration last weekend. After she had already had a party at Granny and Grandad's house the weekend before! She had quite the birthday this year!

It is so hard for me to think of Penelope as 8 years old. She is petite, and has been missing her front teeth for years, so in my mind she's just my little Pip! She is nothing short of wonderful and we all love her very much. 

She had a My Little Pony cake at her party in Brandon and all three of her great grandparents were there. They gave her money and she gave them lots of kisses. She got a Lego Friends set which is all the rage with Penelope these days. 

When we had her party at our house she wanted grilled cheese sandwiches and wanted to decorate her own cupcakes. I had all the girls make their own sandwich and mark it with their initial. I wasn't about to make that many sandwiches! This way it was done in 5 minutes!

The girls had fun playing easy games like hopscotch and pass the parcel. Libby was a huge help. She is my assistant in so many ways! Juliet helped me make party favors. Cash was awesome and went with the flow, jumping right in there and playing with the girls and having fun for his sister and helped be the demonstrator for the dress up game. 

Penelope had lots of little girls come because you know what? She's awesome! I'm sure glad she's my friend! Happy Birthday Penelope!