Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confessions of a slacker mom...

Justin's orientation day at Holy Name preschool. Lucy got to come and she loved it!
Justin, now 4, is really enjoying both of his preschools! I'm so happy that he enjoys them...because I would send him anyway (and hope that he learned to enjoy them at some point!). :)

When my older children are home, Justin is wonderful. He plays very well, especially with his big brother, and he disappears for long periods of time to entertain himself. When I check on him, he is happily engaged in something building with legos, coloring, digging in the dirt outside, swinging a baseball (with no one around him...ha!), etc.

When my older children are not home, Justin is a nightmare! He seems to be lost without the big kids, so he entertains himself by picking constant fights with Lucy. Or, by doing things that tend to drive me crazy (for example, taking all the cushions off the every room...and then he can't put them back by himself...ER!). He complains about errands and play dates (and that's about all this mama life is not that exciting!). You get the point...I'm thrilled that he has safe, fun, educational programs to attend for a few hours each morning. I think it's great for all of us!

Lucy looks at Justin like this A LOT these days :).
I am such a slacker though! Justin was supposed to bring a picture of himself for a project the first day of Holy Name preschool. Did he? NO. He was supposed to bring a picture of his family the next day. Did he? NO. The other kids couldn't wait to give their teacher the coloring page "homework" that they had completed. Did Justin complete his? YES! But, did it make it to school? NO.

Woops! Clearly, this is all on me. Thank goodness, Justin doesn't even seem to notice (and we turned in the pictures late (well, it was kinda a family picture...the kids were there, just no parents. Who has time to go to the store to print pictures!?).

But, for the record, my three school-aged children (as far as I know) are faring much better. They arrive at school on time every day with uniforms ironed, lunches packed, and completed homework in the correct folders. I breathe a sigh of relief when they get on the bus everyday! I am wiped out by 7:55 a.m. after getting everyone ready. I feel lucky that Justin puts clothes on his back and grabs a spoonful of peanut butter and a half a banana before leaving a few minutes later :).

Justin is supposed to bring an apple one day next week (I only know this because I overheard a grandmother say this and I made a mental note to remember this!). Anyone want make a bet that Justin shows up with an apple? I wouldn't either.

I recently wrote a reflection on catholicmom. com confessing that I took the, "How many children should you have?" Facebook quiz...and that I got "3".

Jesus, you know how much I love all of my children...not just numbers 1, 2, and 3. Justin, child #4, may not have pictures and apples and a green wardrobe (another thing I forgot!), but he shows up clean, fed, and dressed appropriately (thank you for these gifts!), and loved (I love the quote about how children who are not loved at home show up at school to be loved...children who are loved at home show up at school to learn).

Please help me to grow as a parent so that, God willing, by the time Justin goes to Kindergarten, he will join the ranks of my other children who show up for school prepared.

Love, The Slacker Mom :)
ps -- I don't really think I'm a slacker (well, I kind of do), but I'm writing this to make fun of myself!!! At this stage of my life, I have to let some things go. Otherwise, I will explode :).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The next best thing...

I love that my children still dress up! Justin and Lucy are "twins!"
I called my husband at work at 11:30 a.m. today and told him that it was an emergency. He needed to come home quickly so that I could go to a! I really wanted to just take off and go have a few beers...that way I could forget about my morning and enjoy a nice buzz...ha!

Of course, he did not drop everything and come home. And, I did not start drinking (although I was tempted!). I am going to write about my morning to gain some perspective and to vent. I hope to entertain you and to make you feel like you're not alone. But, if I just bore you with details of a crazy day, I least I feel better for having written :).

It's funny to think of how I looked forward to Friday Happy Hours when I was teaching. It was a great reward after a long week of teaching. I didn't realize that the hardest (yet best...sometimes!) job of my life was yet to come...

After a crazy morning of getting the older three kids on the bus, I had to quickly wash and cut grapes for Justin to bring for his birthday leader day at school. After seeing Justin off to preschool (my husband dropped him off on his way to work), I got Lucy, Teresa, and me ready. Teresa had a bath (notice this story starts with a nice clean baby!).

Off to school!
By the time the three of us got out the door (there were lots of chores to complete in addition to Lucy's high maintenance morning routine...she insists on doing everything herself which takes forever!), we had about an hour before we had to go get Justin (I'm not a fan of this early preschool...8:30 to 11). We are out of yogurt and this is not good at our house (6 kids who eat yogurt regularly makes it a staple!).

There is a discount grocery outlet that sells yogurt that is just expired or just about to expire. It is deeply discounted and I stock up every few weeks (and I always remember when I was in the hospital having Joseph. My sister-in-law was watching Gianna and she called me to tell me that the yogurt I had packed for Gianna was expiring the next day...did I want her to give it to her!?! I think I said no...oh, how times have changed!!!!!).

Anyway, Lucy insisted on the ridiculous size shopping cart with special seats. If only she stayed in the special seats, it would be lovely. But one aisle into the trip, she always wants out. She causes a huge scene if I don't let her out, and I pick my battles!! So, Lucy ends up free in the store. Sometimes this is fine. Today, it was not. First, she pushed the tractor-trailer size cart right into a display of oatmeal cookies. I cleaned it up as best as I could (which wasn't very good!). After that, I strapped her into the cart as I picked out yogurt (the whole reason for my trip!).

Lucy was being very good and quiet. I should've known better! After putting the yogurt all around Teresa (isn't much room in a cart when her baby seat is in there!), I noticed that Lucy had been dumping the children's body/hair wash bargain everywhere. I struggled to remain calm, but a few bad words slipped out. I raced to the bathroom (and it was tons of fun pushing that huge cart into their storage room where the restroom is tucked away!). I did the best that I could (again, not too great!) to clean up. Suds everywhere. One of us thought it was really fun and one of us did not!

Girls had an awesome first soccer game of the season!
Jump ahead. Preschool pickup went well (Justin had an awesome birthday leader day) until he darted into the parking lot when he saw our minivan. And, he came much too close to being hit by a car that was backing out. How many times can you give this lecture!?!?! Parking lots scare me to death...obviously for good reason! Justin was standing right next to me when we waited for a friend to run to her car to grab something for me. I told him to stand right next to me on the sidewalk and wait. He clearly did not listen. So, I am left continuously thanking God and blaming myself (again) for trusting a 4-year-old near cars. I let my guard down around age 4 because I think that they're old enough to know better. Joseph did the same thing at age 4. So, even though they do not seem to know better, I do...a good (and terrifying) reminder for me!

Back to the baby who was clean. As we were about to leave preschool, Lucy asked me for a yogurt smoothie. She normally eats these without a problem, and I was glad that she would not be hungry when we got home. So, I handed one over. On the five...yes, five...minute ride home, Lucy somehow gave the yogurt to the baby (or more likely, Lucy got distracted and the baby grabbed it). Upon opening the minivan door in the garage, I was greeted by a very happy and smily 10-month-old baby...who was covered in yogurt. Head to toe...and, the car seat was not spared.

I went inside and called my husband to come home NOW. He was great. He listened, gave me some good advice (from now on, go to that store when Lucy is at school and park illegally right next to the sidewalk at preschool like some other moms do!). The best part though...he offered me the next best thing to going to a bar stop at the wine and spirits store during his lunch hour (we're out!).

Ahh...I felt myself getting calmer. The wine will be nice, sure, but having all my kids home safe and a husband who cares...what more could I ask for!?!

Well, maybe a clean baby :).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fall is my favorite!!!

Lucy loved her first day of school!!! Finally HER turn. She kept asking to go back today!
Five out of my six kids are now in some kind of school! This makes me so happy. Not because I want my children away from me, but because I feel like I can be a better mommy to all of them. There is more routine, structure, and overall balance in my life. I am able to handle stress better when I am not stressed out for 12 or more hours of the day!

I was joking with friends recently that I've actually googled "states that have year round school." In other words, where can I move in the United States where there is no three-month break in the summer!? A few spaced-out shorter vacations during the year sounds perfect to me! I'm pretty sure that I would be a saner person with less fear of June, July, and August!

Of course, we're not really going anywhere, so I will just have to appreciate TODAY (whatever today might be!). And, I'm quite happy because today is September :). Happy fall everyone...wishing you pumpkins, apples, colorful leaves, chilly nights, and all things fall!!!

Justin left me kicking and screaming (literally!), but he had great first days (at both schools!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Truth of the Matter...

Not an exaggeration...Justin has worn this shirt every other day this summer (it would've been every day it I didn't instead on washing it after each wear!).
I love when answers become clear. If you read my last blog post, you might remember that I did not know what I was going to do about Justin (almost 4) and preschool this year. For some reason, preschool decisions have caused me great stress for years! When Gianna was almost 5 and she could not go to Kindergarten because of her September birthday, I spent countless hours worrying about making the right decision for her 3rd year of preschool. The past month I've been going back and forth about Justin.

I know those of you reading this who have older children are probably thinking to yourselves, "These are the EASY decisions of parenthood...just wait!"

Anyway, the answer about Justin suddenly became clear yesterday morning. I got the older three kids off to school, and I was really looking forward to a playdate at a friend's house. It had been a difficult morning of making lunches, ironing school uniforms, followed by lots of preschool, toddler, and baby issues, but I knew good coffee and conversation were just a short car ride away...

Justin usually plays really well with his older siblings!
Until...dead battery in the minivan. NO!!!! I called AAA and then waited over an hour for them to show. The technician was there for over an hour confirming that it was a dead battery and then replacing it. My husband reminded me more than once that I was very lucky that I was at home and not in a parking lot somewhere with the kids in the car. True!

But, during these two hours, I was finally able to make up my mind about preschool once and for all :).

True or False? During those hours, Justin was a bad boy and I was a bad mommy. Both TRUE!

True or False? We both had quite a few meltdown moments, temper tantrums, and loss of impulse control? TRUE again!

True or False? We were both acting age appropriately. This is FALSE, of course. Justin is almost 4. It is practically his job to test me and drive me to my absolute limits. And, to torture his little sister (luckily, only the 2-year-old...he's quite sweet to the baby)...can't forget that! I am 39. I should have enough virtue and grace by now (at least in theory!) to deal with 4-year-olds, right? After all, I've had three of them already, and I always swear that I love age 4 much more than age 3 (although Justin is still technically still 3 for another 10 maybe that's the problem!).

This is Justin at his end-of-year preschool show in May. I was SO proud of my adorable boy!
It was a rough two hours. I didn't want him to watch TV because he watches it when his little sisters nap (and I really need him to watch it then so I get a break!), and I feel very strongly about limiting screen time.

However, letting him watch a little TV might have preserved my sanity and prevented some ridiculous behaviors (here's a few: daring Lucy to eat chalk, squeezing out almost an entire bottle of sunscreen and promptly getting it into his and Lucy's eyes, running in and out of the house and successfully locking all of us out (twice)...luckily, I used the hidden spare key (twice), dumping pieces of games that he couldn't possibly play alone anyway (Candy Land, etc.), opening a package of cookies, spilling them all over the kitchen, and eating just enough to ruin his lunch (and Lucy's too)).

Of course, I had said NO to each of these (the ones that he bothered to ask about), but I was trying to talk to the AAA guy and take care of an infant at the same time, so I wasn't as watchful as I usually am.

I felt like an out-of-control woman as I yelled at him for each of these offenses (aware that a stranger was in my garage!). And then it hit me...he needs to go to school! He's not even trying to be bad...he's just bored!!! Lucy (when not falling under Justin's influence) was quite happy pushing her baby in the stroller up and down the sidewalk. The baby, despite an ear infection, was content crawling around and exploring. Justin needs more than this now...

So, Justin will go to school! Justin will go to two schools (see previous post!). He will (hopefully) make friends, complete crafts, sing songs, dance, play at the playground, etc. After 2.5 hours, I will pick him up and I will be so happy to see him again!!! I pray that he will learn, grow, and have fun. If it is too much for him, then of course, we will reconsider because...

True or False? I do love Justin dearly (at every age). I want to make wise, educated decisions for each of my children as individuals. I fail as a mother (miserably) constantly, but I want to do better. I can do better by avoiding (as much as possible) situations that lead me and others down the wrong road. TRUE!!!

Blessed Mother, St. Justin, and Justin's Guardian Angel, please stay close to Justin and me as we begin this new stage in his life...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Right by both of us...

Lucy has a big girl bed :). It's earlier than I wanted (I love cribs!), but I saw how she was climbing out of the crib and it scared me! She's delighted...and so is Teresa who can stand up holding on to the bed!
I have been praying about a decision a lot lately. It has to do with my almost 4-year-old, Justin. Preschool starts next week, and I still don't know what I'm going to do! He's most definitely going, but I don't know how often!

He is currently signed up for five days at two schools. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are at the Christian Nursery School that all my kids have gone to (including Justin himself last year!). I know his teachers well (they are lovely women), and they know our family well. I know that it would be a great group of children and families. I signed him up in February (I arrived at the school at 4:30 a.m. and sat in a friend's car until the doors opened at 7 a.m.!).

Over the summer, Justin was driving me crazy. I say this very lovingly (although it doesn't sound very loving...ha!). He was just being 3-1/2-year-old with all the usual challenges (potty training, random meltdowns, temper tantrums, driving his little sister crazy, etc.!). I did not sign him up for any camps (although he was old enough to go to all the vacation bible schools with his older siblings!) because I thought he needed the summer off from stress (he loved school when he was there, but he has a lot of anxiety at first). The result was being together 24/7. I was a little anxious for him to be enrolled in activities this fall :).

Long story short, after a few phone calls and some paperwork, we were blessed with a scholarship for him to attend Holy Name's preschool (this is our parish and the school that my older kids attend). This preschool is Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I went to the orientation meeting last night and I am thrilled that he will have such a loving, gentle teacher in a solid Catholic atmosphere. He is definitely starting there next week. The scholarship seals the deal!

Cecilia had her first day of kindergarten and she LOVED it!!! Here's a shot of the kids before the bus came!
So, 5 days or 2 days?

MY answer is 5 days!!! He will be the oldest one in the 3-year-old class (he has to go into a 3-year-old class even though he'll be 4 in a couple of weeks...don't get me started...I HATE this law!). It's only 2.5 hours a day, and he will (eventually...after nerves wear off) have FUN! He will practice socializing with children his own age (of all my kids, he's the shyest), and he will gain important academic skills.

HIS answer is NO days...but, if he truly understood it, he would choose 2 days. And, the unselfish person in me (it would be really nice to have him go to school each kids and I tend to be happier at home for the rest of the day once we've gotten out for a little bit!) thinks that 2 days is the better option of the two. I think going to two schools would be stressful for any small child as there will be two sets of rules, all those new faces to get used to, different teaching styles, etc.

So, what's my answer? I really want to do right by both of us. I'll let you know!!! God hasn't told me yet. Although maybe He has (did I read what I just wrote!?) and I'm just not ready to hear yet...

Cecilia and Lucy love walking their baby dolls while waiting for the bus! However, now Cecilia is ON the bus ;).
Funny story though...

Justin was in my lap and he kissed the Miraculous Medal that I wear around my neck. He said, "I love Mary!" I told him that was great and that she loves him too. I tried to introduce a new concept of prayer to him (the fact that he can talk to Jesus and Mary on his own...not just during family prayers). He looked at me very weird before saying,

"But...them don't talk...them are dead."

Ha!!! I figured that I should stop there instead of trying to explain more concepts that he wouldn't understand.

It sure would be easier if Jesus or Mary would speak to us out loud about all the big and little decisions of motherhood, huh!?!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Just for the heck of it!

I kind of feel like writing today. But, I have nothing really important that I want to say :). It's just an ordinary day! I'm seldom at a loss for words, but I'll spare you "writing just for the sake of writing" (which is never very good writing in my experience)!
So, today I'm just going to post some pictures of  memories and reflections that I want to store in my heart!
Thanks for stopping by...may God Bless you today!
The kids love their Uncle Bobby! He doesn't have any kids of his own, but I'm glad he gets to experience the special love and attention that children give so freely!
Summer fun at the museum. I know that I'll miss these days of piling all my children into the minivan and going on adventures! My mind will eliminate all the stresses and only the smiles and happy times will remain in my memory, right!?
They were ready and too :). First day of school went very well...except Joseph came off the bus with shirt un-tucked...we'll have to work on that!
Yes, that's big bite of cheese in Lucy's mouth! We went to the Open House at the Harrisburg International Airport. And, Cecilia and I waited in line for a half hour to use the porta-potties!!! After waiting that long to go to the bathroom, I didn't have any desire to wait in even longer lines for the kids to actually get on a plane :). Lesson learned...get there early next year!
"Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it."
St. Josemaria Escriva

Friday, August 22, 2014

I made it!!!!

In the hurricane chamber at a local museum! Winds at over 100mph! starts on Monday (it's Friday!).

I came very close to losing my mind this week. And, that would've been a shame after staying pretty sane all summer :).

Last night was the 1st grade meeting at Holy Name of Jesus School. Joseph is a 1st grader so I had to attend (even though Gianna was just in 1st grade and I thought I would know everything...and I did!). I was greeted by one of the kindergarten aides who innocently said, "It was a quick summer, huh?" I did my best to remain calm. I had an awful afternoon, so I joked that, in fact, NO!, it hadn't been quick at all :).

The principal overheard this and joked with me that I was probably the happiest person in the building to be attending a meeting. She was probably right...Daddy was going to bathe all the children and they would (fingers crossed!) all be in their bedrooms by the time that I got home (and they were!).

Gianna danced around the room with Teresa to the theme song of Curious George...Teresa loved it!
It hasn't been a bad week, mind you. As always, there have been countless blessings. But, I think the kids are just ready to be back in school. The fighting, tattling, boredom, and restlessness are at a summer high. There hasn't been any camp this week (besides an hour tennis lesson for Gianna and Joseph in the mornings), and the kids are very quick to argue with me about...everything!!!

They did spent over an hour trying to catch a worm this week. Despite all the objections, I sent them outside to play after movie/rest time was over one day. Joseph came inside to plead their case to me. Since I will not allow any pets (deprived children!), maybe they could catch a worm that they would leave outside at all times in a cup full of dirt. How could I possibly say no to that!?

They caught a worm (the site of five kids digging with plastic spoons in the bad yard was something. I was just glad that everyone was occupied so I could focus on the baby!) and named him, "Truck" (NO idea why!). The next morning, Justin came to tell me very solemnly that, "Truck is dead." I did my best not to laugh (and I did feel guilty for about 10 seconds for not letting them have a real pet!).

When Gianna and Joseph played tennis, the younger three ran through empty baseball fields!
I love watching my kids run.
Joseph gave me the laugh of the week. He randomly told me as I was putting away laundry that I was going to be a grandmother soon. I literally laughed outloud!!!

I asked him, "What in the world are you talking about?" He told me that he is growing up fast (true enough) and that he might want to get married someday and be a dad. Therefore, I would be a grandmother (I think it because he was very interested in how I am related to Papa, Nana, and Uncle Bobby who came last week).

Fertility has been on my mind a lot recently. Although, I am talking about my own fertility...not that of my future daughter-in-law ;).

As a practicing Catholic who is practicing Natural Family Planning, it has to be on my mind. I am amazed at how much my emotions, moods, and my physical body are affected by where I am in my monthly cycle (I still suffer from low progesterone when I am not pregnant too). On any given day, I am very "tuned in" and I have a pretty good idea of what it going on (although there's always some doubt too!). Anyway, fertility is never far from my mind.

Little did I know that I do not need to worry about's time to think about grandchildren. Silly me ;).

God willing, next time I write, the school year will have begun and we will be settling into a new routine. Stay tuned...

I never go down in my basement...but I did when it was raining this week. I thought my presence would
cut down on the fighting...but it didn't :).