My Day In Numbers, A Countdown

10

phrases that I repeat over and over and over and over and over. (That would be, in no particular order, “Please speak kindly to your sister”, “Just say ‘yes, Mama’ and obey”, “Put the baby down”, “Stop running down the stairs like that”, “Ahh! You just gave me a heart attack”, “No, we don’t flush (fill in the blank) down the toilet”, “Who didn’t flush the toilet?”, “Close the front door”, “I know you are hungry, but you just ate 10 minutes ago”, and (my personal favorite), “WHY?!?”)

9

moments that I wished that I was spinning, followed by getting out the wheel, spinning for 20 seconds, and then remembering why I wait till they go to bed to spin, putting the wheel away, dealing with whatever issue tore me away from spinning and gazing longingly at spinning wheel.

8

“Read it again, Mama!”s that I acquiesced to  before I finally said, “No, I read it enough times today”.

spills to clean up.

6

little people vying for my time, attention, and love.

5

school subjects to cover while I still have their time, attention, and love.

4

phone calls ignored.

3

meals planned, prepared, served, eaten, and cleaned up.

2

minutes to myself. Barely.

1

bedtime routine executed with all diligence and speed on my part, but not really on theirs…

0

times I regretted any of it.

Sibling Wars

“Don’t touch me!” “Stop looking at me!” “Get away!”

They usually get along pretty well, but we do have our share of squabbles. Car rides are prime places for the grumpies to emerge, especially when The Boy and The Dancing Queen are seated side by side.

To be fair, our last trip was really long and they did great for hours, but the strain was too much, and eventually the bickering began.

As parents, our response is about as predictable as their arguments.

They start with the angry outburst – “Scoot over, your squishing me!”

We respond with, “Okay guys, let’s speak kindly to one another.”

It escalates to the whiney – “Stop it! I said stop it!”

We try a firmer voice – “Hey, you two. That’s enough.”

The peak is usually shrieking or tears, depending on the offending party – “GET ON YOUR SIDE! STOP TOUCHING ME!”

And, of course, we match it with a frustrated – “YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW!”

In a short car ride, we’d be home by now, but on this trip the peak hit with an hour to go and we knew that didn’t bode well for our sanity.

That is when The Man had a stroke of genius. “Okay, guys,” he said, “You are going to do dishes for three days – together. It is time for you to learn how to get along with each other.”

Silence.  After a time, it started up again, and The Man responded calmly with, “Okay, that’s another day of dishes.” They had a week by the time we got home.

That was almost two weeks ago and I have an amazing tale to tell!

When it comes to my kids, if there is a fight it is usually between The Boy and The Dancing Queen. They are like oil and water and have never really gotten along. Oh, there has been the occasional truce, short interludes of peace and companionship, but they were few and far between. I have wracked my brain trying to think of ways to get them to love each other, to play nice together, to just get along, for crying out loud!

Well, we found the answer.

After a week of working together, they are getting along splendidly! They really learned how to communicate with each other. They learned to respect one another and they found something to like in each other. It is amazing! It took a few days. It took a few fights. But there were a lot of dishes to wash and a lot of messes to clean. As they worked together towards a goal, they found out that they really make a good team. Now, I find them reading to each other on the couch, playing with each other outside, building forts together in the living room. It is like a miracle!

The day after they finished their sentence, they had a little spat. I calmly looked up from my knitting and said, “Oh, it looks like you guys need another day.” And they did the dishes that day, too.

But I don’t think that they will be doing it again. And if they do, I have a plan. A plan that works beautifully.

I Don’t Talk On the Phone and Other Ways Parenthood Changed My Life

Don’t take it personally. It isn’t you. Really. I haven’t returned your phone call, yet, because I just don’t return phone calls. You see, I have children. Lots and lots of children. And so I don’t talk on the phone very often. When one lives in a small house with six children, one finds themselves having phone conversations like this –

“Hello? Hi! How are you? Put your sister down, please. What? I’m sorry, what did you say? No! Don’t bring the hose in the house. Wow! Really? Oh, just a sec. No, you can’t have ice cream for breakfast. Okay, sorry. Well that is amazing, and then Oh wait. Really? All the toilet paper? Shoot. I really have to go. Can I call you back later? Stop flushing! Better yet, just message me on Facebook.”

One only has to have a few conversations like that to induce one to avoid the phone at all costs.

I do have an answering machine, though, and I did get your message. Well, most of it. You see, somebody dropped a glass jar onto the kitchen floor when your message was halfway through and I had to run off to get the baby out of the blast area before she ingested broken glass and when I returned to listen again, the baby was squirming in my arms in protest because she wanted to eat all that sparkly glass, and her squirming was knocking my hands out of my control for the most part and when I meant to hit “play” I actually hit “erase”. When the machine asked me “erase all messages?”, I was distracted by the barefoot child running toward the minefield of broken glass and hit “yes” instead of “no” and well, what was it you called for?

Getting a hold of me is easiest if you use Facebook messages. Or better yet, just come by. I am here all the time. I don’t leave the house much, mostly because I am a homebody, but also because when one has six kids, one doesn’t get a lot of invites for visiting. Oh, I love to have people over, and I do it all the time. If I don’t, I would never see anybody! And I am not really complaining, though I know it sounds like I am fishing to be invited somewhere. I understand that it is intimidating to ask us over – we must seem like an invading horde or like the clowns in a circus car (“how many people are in that car, anyway?”) as we spill out of our SUV into your clean, quiet, orderly house. And feeding us must scare the daylights out of any hostess. So I just try to keep my house picked up and my bra on in anticipation of drop in guests, but to be safe, maybe you should just expect to find a mess and me in my jammies… just in case.

As a matter of a fact, my house is rarely clean. I didn’t say that I don’t clean, just that it is rarely clean. But, cleaning the house for me looks like this –

Go in kitchen to wash dishes. Find toys all over kitchen floor. Call kids in to pick up toys. Play peacemaker to the bickering about whose toys they are and who put them there. Say in an exasperated voice, “I don’t care whose they are or who put them there. I just want them put away.” Return to the dishes and find that there are no clean dish towels. Go to laundry room to look for a clean towel in the “to be folded” basket and throw in a load of laundry while I am there. Hear the baby waking up from nap. Get her up, change her diaper, nurse her, cuddle and play with her. Smile when I see The Munchkin approaching with a pile of books. “Mama read to me?” she asks in her so cute way. Read a pile of books. All the kids gather round to hear, regardless of age, and I sigh in content as I cozy on the couch with my brood. Then I look up and see all the dishes in the sink. And the toys on the floor. So I do what any good mother would do – I reach for another book.

So parenthood has turned me into an almost-hermit who dwells in a messy house with a bunch of loud kids who only communicates with the outside world through Facebook messages.

And I am totally okay with that.

This Moment – Each and Every One

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Only, today I am having a hard time choosing just one. Which of the many beautiful moments from this week is the most memorable?
Is is blowing dandelions with The Princess?
Or watching the Fraggle try to walk?
Maybe my favorite moment was experimenting with photography with The Boy,
Or passing around the welding mask while watching the solar eclipse, and discovering all the interesting effects of the diminished sunlight. 
Perhaps the best moment was working on a crossword puzzle with The Bookworm in the garden,
or watching The Munchkin turn cardboard into an excellent and hilarious dress up.
Of course, I can’t forget the zoo moments, like when The Dancing Queen was almost eaten by a hippopotomus,
and we all got to touch sting rays (or at least try).
My life is filled with perfect little moments. It is hard to pick just one.
May you have a lovely weekend filled with perfect moments. And may you catch at least a few of them with your camera.

My Hands Are Full… And So Is My Heart

She looked up at me with her beautiful, toothless smile, and my Princess said to me,

“I am a mama – see? Because my hands are so full!”

My hands are full, too, because I am a mama.

And so is my heart.

I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day yesterday. I know I sure did.