Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Breaking Point

I hit a breaking point of sorts tonight.

It's been a long construction season and a busy fall sports season. Not to mention speech, Faith Formation, work, and the other everyday adventures that four kids bring. I've been handling the chaos pretty well, until this week.

I'm not really sure what happened, but suddenly I have no patience left for my children. I am trying not to feel sorry for myself.. I know there are people who do the parenting thing solo all the time, and my hat is off to those parents. I couldn't do it.

Tonight, I decided when the going gets tough, the tough make salsa.

I gave the big kids chores: one gave the little girls baths, the other folded and put away two loads of laundry. While they did that, I made salsa.

I've never made salsa before. I don't even really like salsa that much. But tonight, it seemed like a project I needed to tackle. I have boxes of tomatoes I picked from the garden now sitting in boxes in the basement. I have been patiently waiting for them to ripen. Tonight, there were enough red ones to make two batches of salsa (one batch takes 18 tomatoes). I stopped after one batch. But I gotta say, I'm pretty excited about this salsa. It looks, and smells, just like the stuff we buy.

But I'm even more excited about this salsa, because it may have saved me from doing, or saying, something I know I would regret. I was at a breaking point tonight. I was either going to freak out on my kids, or do something constructive. I'm so happy I chose the latter. I'm pretty sure they're happy about that too.

And the best part is, I have more tomatoes...waiting for the next time I need a "break".

Sweet Baby Morgan

It must be tough being the fourth child.

Lexi is 11 and responsible, and busy.

Jake is 9 and suffering from major middle child syndrome.

Lizzy is three and, well, she's Lizzy. See more at

And then there's Morgan. Nearly 11 months old, and the calmest, sweetest, mellowest baby ever. Sometimes she's so mellow, we forget about her.

I suppose when you live in a crazy, busy house like ours, and you're the baby, you sort of have to be mellow. The poor thing was dragged to her first basketball game at just ten days old. She still takes some of her best naps in gyms, and the buzzer never even wakes her.

While I love having such a mellow, patient, easy-going baby, I can't help but feel a little sorry for Miss Morgan too. Case in point, last weekend's photo shoot. It was supposed to be a photo shoot for Morgan. But Lizzy managed to steal the show.

The pictures of Lizzy are amazing, and I love them all (see just a few at But what you won't see there are the equally amazing pictures of sweet baby Morgan. Again, the photographers managed to capture her easy-going personality, just like they captured Lizzy's Punky Brewster style and personality.

Here are a few of my favorites of sweet baby Morgan:


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I was so good about keeping up on pictures with my first three kids. But poor Morgan keeps getting forgotten. I had her three month pictures taken when she was four months old. And now I finally got her nine month pictures taken... she's ten months old. Oops.  But, the ten month picture will hang on the wall, with the rest of the Morgan pictures. And if anyone ever comments that she looks so much older, bigger, etc in her nine month pictures than the other kids do in their nine month pictures, I will just smile and nod. Hey, at least the pictures were taken... better late, than never!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sleeping Beauties

I am sleeping on the couch tonight.

I've been kicked out of my own bed.

Lizzy didn't have a nap today and she was an absolute mess from about 6:00 on. Bless her heart, at about 9:00 Lexi finally finished her homework and offered to watch a movie with Miss Lizzy Crabby Pants. I was so relieved, as I was trying to get Morgan to sleep at the same time. It didn't even dawn on me until it was too late.... they went to my bedroom to watch a movie.

By the time Brad got home and I got Morgan to bed, both Lexi and Lizzy had fallen asleep in our bed. They are both snoring. And they're cuddled so cute, I just don't have the heart to move them.

So, I'm on the couch upstairs tonight, and Brad is on the couch downstairs. I can hear him snoring all the way up here, so maybe it's a blessing that these sleeping beauties took over our bed! This bed mix-up could mean everyone will get some much needed rest!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Lizzy may be the only kid with an entire blog dedicated to the funny things she says and does, but that doesn't mean the rest of my kids don't have their fair share of "isms". Today, it's all Jake.
  • Tonight he told me he's not going to get married. He's going to have a job like Dad's, but no family. He's going to live in a small, inexpensive house. But he will make lots of money, like Dad, and since he won't have a big house or a big family to pay for, he will be rich. Rich in money anyway. He admitted he might get a little lonely. He went on to say when he gets lonely and wants a good meal, he will go visit Lexi and her family.
  • Over a big plate of spaghetti, Jake was re-thinking his life plan and said maybe he will have a girlfriend someday, but not a wife. He doesn't want to share his house, or his money, but it might be nice to have some company once in awhile. He will not share his house with his girlfriend though.
  • Lexi is going to an opera on Friday. I asked her if she was looking forward to it and while she was trying to decide if she was excited about it or not, Jake piped in his opera knowledge... "people think it's just  fat ladies singing in high pitched voices but really it's a play that all the words in it are put into a musical".
  • I must have been frowning as I was washing the supper dishes, because out of the blue, Jake told me it takes 23 muscles to smile, but 67 to frown so I should smile more. It would be easier on my muscles.
  • I brought home a couple of big boxes from work today. We used one to protect the table when Lizzy fingerpainted, and the other has become a toy. Jake convinced Lizzy and Brad to tape the box shut with him inside... he wanted to be mailed to Grandma's!
  • This morning Jake was studying his football (the same one Lizzy snuggled at naptime yesterday) and says to me: "I'm not trying to say a bad word, but look at this... my football says 'wtf'. Isn't that sort of inappropriate, Mom?". Um, yeah. And how does he know what "wtf" means???

Monday, September 20, 2010

All My Spare Time

I often feel like people expect more of me because I work part time. Many people think because I'm off in the afternoons I have time to do all kinds of "extra" things. Others think I spend my afternoons shopping or watching tv. The truth is, the only tv I watch anymore is "Dora" and "Phineas and Ferb".  

I don't know why, but tonight I really feel the need to share the events of today.. and to prove that I really don't have time to watch soap operas.

7:00 am - I wake up, an hour late. Oops.
7:05 am - Morgan wants to eat. Crap. I don't have time for this. As I feed her, I watch the clock, thinking, ok I still have 30 minutes to get ready. I can do this. Crap. Now I have 20 minutes.
7:30 am - Morgan finally finishes eating, and goes back to sleep. I go downstairs to wake up Lexi, who has also overslept.
7:32 am - I turn on the light in Jake's room, and try to wake him up. He doesn't move.
7:35 am - I hop in the shower. No time to wash my hair though.
7:40 am - Fastest shower in history, done. Now I sit down to pump a bottle for Morgan for later. Times like these I really wish she was on formula. I count down the days til her first birthday (47 days, if my early morning math is correct) while I pump.
7:50 am - I make sure Lexi is up and get Jake out of bed. When I tell Jake it's 7:50, he hops up and exclaims "crap! I thought it was like 6:50!". I can so relate, buddy. He gets in the shower. I get dressed, fix my not-washed hair and put some makeup on to cover the dark circles under my eyes
8:00 am - Lizzy and Morgan are still sleeping, and at this point, it's best they just keep sleeping. Lexi picks out clothes for them and I find shoes and speech homework (we'll need that later and won't have time to come home before speech)
8:10 am - We are out the door. Lexi buckles Morgan into her seat, I buckle Lizzy in. Jake runs back in to get all the things we forgot.
8:15 am - I drop the big kids off at school...and Jake exclaims, again, "crap!". He forgot his cello. Orchestra isn't until 2:00 pm. I should have time to bring it by before then.
8:20 am - I drop the little girls off at daycare.
8:30 am - I arrive at work. During the next four hours I shoot, write and edit a vosb and a pkg. I somehow find time to eat a banana (thank goodness I threw that in my purse earlier... I am starving) I really have to pee, but there's no time for that.
12:30 pm - I leave work and pick up the little girls at daycare. They are still eating lunch, so I hang out for awhile.
12:45 pm - We leave daycare, and rush home to grab Jake's cello and a Diet Coke. I know, I should grab something to eat too, but I forget.
1:00 pm - I get the little girls out of their seats, and drag them into school, along with Jake's cello. The office is busy. We stand and wait for about five minutes (five minutes I don't really have to spare). Finally the secretary nods at me, I leave the cello and we are out of there.
1:10 pm - Lizzy, Morgan and I arrive at Lizzy's speech. Five minutes early! That's a first! We even beat the teacher there! I celebrate a little, then kick myself. I totally had time to make a sandwich, or pee.. maybe both.
1:15 pm - Lizzy's speech class starts. Morgan and I spend the next 45 minutes trying to be quiet and not distract Lizzy from this super important speech therapy.
2:00 pm - Speech is done. We have 55 whole "free" minutes before we have to pick up Jake. I take the long way home, hoping Lizzy will fall asleep. No such luck.
2:15 pm - We arrive home. I nurse Morgan and Lizzy plays. At this point, I've given up on a nap. If she falls asleep now, it will not be pretty when we have to go pick up Jake.
3:00 pm - Once again, the little girls and I load up in the van and drive to school. We just have to pick up Jake today, Lexi has basketball practice.. which means we'll have to go back later and get her.
3:15 pm - Home again. I pay Jake $2 to watch the little girls for 20 minutes so I can take a quick nap. I don't sleep, but the fact that I get to sit down helps me recharge.
4:00 pm - Surprise! Brad got rained out and is home from work early! We are all in shock.
4:20 pm - I go to pick up Lexi from basketball practice. What a treat... no little girls to tag along. I savor the peace and quiet while I wait for her in the parking lot.
4:40 pm - Jake has football tonight. Usually we leave straight from basketball practice, but with Brad home early, he offers to take Jake to practice. I am thrilled.
4:50 pm - Crap. We're all going to be home for supper, and I'm home now, so there's no excuse for mac and cheese or frozen pizza. I had actually planned to make sloppy joes, and now I even have time to make them. I spend the next hour making sloppy joes, french fries, cucumber salad and helping Lizzy make rice krispie bars (a project to keep her from falling asleep. A nap at this time of day is never good). Morgan sits in her high chair and eats for about an hour straight. Lexi sits at the counter and does homework. I also do the dishes,clean the kitchen floor and switch the laundry during this time.
6:10 pm - The boys get home from football and we sit down as a family for supper. So strange, and so nice. I'm glad I took the time to cook something.
6:40 pm - Brad goes outside to mow the lawn, Jake is sent to his room to clean, Lexi continues with her homework, Lizzy plays, and Morgan eats more while I do the dishes. Again.
6:42 pm  - The doorbell rings. Crap. Totally forgot we babysit Jorja on Monday nights. Bless her heart, Lexi takes Jorja, Lizzy and Morgan outside so I can finish the dishes.
7:15 pm - Lexi and I give all three little girls a bath. Talk about challenging.
7:30 pm - Lizzy is near meltdown stage. Such a long day, and no nap. I sit down to feed Morgan and put her to bed. Lizzy goes downstairs with the other kids.
8:00 pm - Morgan is asleep, so I put her to bed. Lizzy comes upstairs, begging for someone to hold her. I sit back down and rock her. Morgan wakes up, so I rock them both.
8:15 pm - Jorja is sleeping, so Lexi brings her upstairs and puts her on the couch so she can finish that pile of homework.
8:30 pm - Jorja starts stirring, Jake lays down with her. Jake falls alseep, Jorja wakes up.
8:45 pm - Brad comes inside, showers, and takes the little girls off my lap. I rock Jorja.
9:00 pm - Lexi comes back upstairs and takes Jorja. We visit for a few minutes, then Sheena and Jesse arrive to pick up Jorja.
9:15 pm - Finally, everyone is sleeping. I should really switch the laundry, or shave my legs. Instead, I brush my teeth and head to bed.

Yet, as productive as today was, I can think of a dozen things I didn't get done today. I didn't schedule an ENT check for Lizzy. I didn't make it to the Girl Scouts office. I didn't make it to the Y. Oh well. There's always tomorrow. Today is in the books...and for those who think I have it made, working just four hours a day, I challenge them to live one afternoon in my shoes. Still as overscheduled as my life is, I wouldn't change a thing....

Crap.. Morgan is fussing.. maybe the day isnt done....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Friday Night Lights

When I was a kid, Friday nights in the fall meant it was football night. My friends and I would sit on the rickety old wooden bleachers and cheer for the not-so-good Bison Cardinals. I don't remember details from any of the games, but there are lots of things I do remember: sitting on each other's feet to stay warm, hot chocolate, snow, and fun. It's an experience I want my own kids to have, even though their hometown is a lot bigger than mine, the Friday night football experience is one every child should have.

I've been meaning to take the kids, especially Jake, to a Bismarck High School football game. Lexi and Jake are huge Demons fans and I think they even bleed maroon already. Jake is also a football nut, and actually understands the game. I have always felt he should be at the home games, cheering on the Demons. Lexi has been to a few games with her friends, but Jake had never had the chance, until last night.

Lexi, Lizzy and Lexi's friends!
It was Bismarck High vs. Century High.. a big in-town rivalry. I figured this was the perfect game for us. I had a friend get tickets for the kids, Jake's buddy Grant and me (who knew you could get tickets in advance? I am such a class B kid sometimes!) We had  Lexi's friends and their parents over for supper, then we all headed to the game together. The weather was awful - rain, snow and wind....we were soaked before we even sat down. The game didn't go the way we hoped - BHS lost, 20-14. Jake's friend was bored and cold - but Jake and the girls were so into the game, and the experience, we stayed until the last two minutes of the game.

Do I wish the weather would have been better? Absolutely. Do I wish the Demons would have won? Of course. But I would not change those things if I could, because they just add to the experience, and the memory these kids will have forever. The kids sat near us (not beside us parents, that would not be cool), watched the game and even cheered... Jake even made a good call, before the ref did (pass interference.... finally, playstation and NFL Sundays are paying off!)

Jake and his buddy, Grant enjoying some concessions!

We will go to another game, and cheer even louder for the Demons. One day, maybe we'll even get to watch Jake play for BHS. But even if he doesn't play football in high school, you can bet we will still go to the games, because now that my kids have had a taste of the Friday night tradition, they've decided it's a tradition we will continue, no matter how cold and miserable the weather is. Afterall, the weather, and the fun with friends, are the details they'll remember long after they've graduated from Bismarck High.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Stretching a Dollar

Jake has been pestering me for awhile to go to the Dollar Store. I've been putting it off, because I hate the Dollar Store, until I get there. Then I love it. And that love paired with the amazing price of only one-dollar, always leads me astray, and I spend way too much money.

Yesterday, I had run out of excuses not to go to the Dollar Store. Lexi was a basketball practice, and we had a whole hour to kill. So Jake, Lizzy, Morgan and I went shopping. Jake had $6.74 of his own money, and was figuring out how many things he could buy and still afford tax (talk about math in a real life situation). He really wanted duct tape and rubber bands. The rest, he was just going to "play by ear", in his words.

We spent about 45 minutes wandering the aisles of the Dollar Tree. I spent $15.90. Jake spent $6.36. Here's a list of our amazing, can't live without, purchases:
  • Rubber bands - a package of 100 for only $1...and they are all different sizes!
  • Two rolls of packaging tape - that was the best we could do, there was no duct tape.
  • An air horn - Jake's second favorite item, behind the rubber bands. My least favorite purchase.
  • A bow and arrow - it's plastic and no one has lost an eye. Yet.
  • A toy gun - I'm sure it will be used as a guide to make one out of paper.
  • Two sparkly purple necklaces and bracelets - one for Lizzy, one for Jorja.
  • Two shiny princess crowns - a pink on for Lizzy, a purple one for Jorja.
  • Two magic wands - again, one for Lizzy, one for Jorja "Mom, Jorja needs this!" How can you say no to that?
  • A package of foam visors - these are to be decorated. Lizzy plans to give one to her speech teacher, because visor is a speech word.
  • A package of foam magic wands - because one can never have too many magic wands, or projects.
  • Princess picture and paint - they've already been painted. They are beautiful.
  • Three rolls of bubble wrap - I don't think this really needs to be explained. Bubble wrap rules.
  • A big red basket - because I'm trying really hard to keep the toys in the van contained. I'm sure this $1 basket will bring me success.
  • Silly putty - the only thing on Lizzy's original list.
  • A headband with long purple hair attached - we've already gotten our $1 out of this - Lizzy wore it to football last night and the chiropractor this morning.
As I look at this list, I can't find one thing we actually needed but I guess that's part of the fun of the Dollar Store. Just don't let me go back there for a long time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Is The Day That Never Ends

"This is the song that never ends.
It goes on and on my friends.
Someone started singing it not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue singing it forever just because,
(then repeat back at top) "

I've had this childhood song stuck in my head all day today. But I changed the lyrics a little.... to "this is the day that never ends". Seriously. Longest. Day. Ever.

Tuesdays are our "early" days. Lexi has band at 7:45, so the kids and I all leave the house at 7:30. Lexi goes to band, Jake eats breakfast at school then has extra football time before school, the little girls go to daycare and I get an early start on my work day. We've only been in this routine for a couple of weeks, but I've already gotten used to it and even plan my day around getting to work by 8:00.

I should know better. Why do I set myself up for failure? I planned to leave for an out of town story at 7:45 this morning. I got to work at 7:48 (not too bad, considering I got four kids and myself ready and to our different destinations all by myself) It was 8:17 before we actually left on that shoot. There was a miscommunication between my photographer and me. It was not a big deal. The story was flexible and actually turned out better than I planned.

But, I never got those 29 minutes back. In fact, I have spent the rest of the day making up for those 29 minutes. I crammed more "stuff" into my day than should ever be allowed. I went on to shoot another story, picked the little girls up from daycare, the big kids from school, took Jake to football, shot another story, picked Jake up from football, cooked supper, cleaned the kitchen, gave Lizzy and Morgan a bath, helped Lexi with homework, put Morgan to bed (twice, mind you) put Lizzy to bed...the list goes on. And still, I find myself thinking of all the the things I didn't get done today.

Then I made the mistake of looking at the calendar that hangs in the kitchen. It is the "master calendar". If it's not on there, it doesn't happen (really, Lizzy missed an ENT appointment last week because I forgot to write it on the calendar) And, as if life isn't busy enough, it seems someone (I won't name names.. but I'll give you a hint... it starts with an "L" and ends with an "izzy") decided we didn't have enough going on, and scribbled a few more things on the calendar!

Don't get me wrong. I would rather be busy than be sitting around watching tv. I love that my kids are involved in things. And the whole reason I cut back on work was so I'd have more time to spend with them, and to drive them all over for their activities. I worked seven hours day, and it was a good reminder of why I don't work full-time... it's just too much.  And while today did turn out to be a pretty good day,  I spent most of the day wishing for the day to be over. In just 63 minutes, this "day that never ends" will be over. As a new day draws near, I am thankful for the chance to do it all again, and hopeful that tomorrow will be a better, less chaotic day. Yet at the same time, I am thankful for the chaos. I don't know what I would do without the crazy schedules and the constant running. Because while those are the very things that make me crazy somedays, they are also the very things that make my life worth living, on schedule or not.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Making My Grandmas Proud

I'm pretty sure my grandmas are smiling at me from heaven. They're probably laughing at me too. But I think I may have also made them both proud this week, by teaching my kids some of the things they taught me as a child.

I'll begin with Grandma Shea. Many of my childhood memories involve my Grandma Shea. She was a huge part of my life, and someone I was lucky enough to see almost everyday as a child. From the green tupperware filled with candy bars in her deep freeze, to the homemade pies and jelly she was constantly making (I never tasted store-bought jelly until I went to college and I still don't really like it, and I still crave Grandma Shea's homemade chokecherry jelly) to her love of fresh "cukes" and tomatoes, many of my memories of Grandma Shea revolve around food. I couldn't help but smile as I sliced fresh tomatoes from our garden the other day. Grandma would be so proud of me for even bothering with a garden. She would also approve of my decision not to can any of our garden veggies (Grandma hated canning). In her memory, I indulged in fresh tomato slices with sugar. I'd forgotten how good it tastes! I taught Lizzy this trick, and she's eaten nothing but tomatoes since! I'm not sure if it's the tomatoes she likes, or the fact that she gets sugar!

And then there's my Grandma Parker. She's been gone less than a year, and I think of her lots, and often think I should call or write her. Then I remember she's no longer living in the house on Harrison Street. It makes me sad, but this week I've been doing something she'd be so proud to hear about. I'm teaching Lexi and Tess how to sew.

I'm not quite sure how I got conned into teaching them to sew. I think it was during one of the late night campfires last weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and an idea the girls would soon forget. They didn't forget. We spent Labor Day shopping for a pattern and fabric, and a little Sewing 101. They each made a pair of pajama pants for Lizzy (those were their "practice" pants). Because they couldn't pick out just one cute flannel fabric, they each made two pairs of pajama pants and a pair of pajama shorts for themselves. They're not quite done yet.. Tess still needs to hem her shorts. But, overall, I'm pretty impressed with their sewing. It's not perfect. The seams are crooked and the pieces aren't cut exactly right, but for their first try, I think they're pretty good. The best part, was witnessing their confidence grow during the project. I had to practically hold their hands during the first two pairs... I helped them cut the fabric, even held the fabric as they used the sewing machine. By last night, I was able to cook supper while they sewed all by themselves in the basement. Their confidence has skyrocketed. They're so excited to wear these new pajama pants for pajama day at school. And they're planning to make pajama pants for everyone as Christmas gifts. Grandma would be so proud, of the girls, and of me. I'm not a patient person, and definitely not a teacher. But my grandma, and my mom, were both Home Ec teachers for many years. They were patient. They were good teachers. And I finally get it. I finally get what kept them going. Helping their students become confident, and excited, about their new skills is pretty cool.

Yes, my grandmas are proud of me. I can tell, even though they're not here to tell me themselves. And knowing I've passed on a little of them to my own kids feels pretty good too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Planning for the Future

Posted by PicasaSixth grade is going to be tough, for both Lexi and for me. It's sort of a "practice" year, "training" for middle school. This year, Lexi has one main teacher, but she and her classmates also rotate between the three sixth grade classrooms... one teacher teaches math, another teaches science, and the third teaches language. Don't get me wrong, I think this is brilliant. I'm a big fan of anything that will make the transition to middle school a little easier next year, and I think changing classrooms is great "practice" for 7th grade.
But I'm a little worried. Lexi hasn't had any homework yet, but I have. Everyday I have to check her planner and initial the day. If I (or Brad) don't do it, Lexi could get in trouble. It is her responsibility to get a signature every single day. Again, it's a great life lesson, and great practice for middle school, when she will have even more stuff to balance. And, I have to admit, I sort of like seeing on paper what she does everyday (I'm a big planner nerd myself). I also like the inspirational quotes her teacher gives them everyday. In fact, I like them so much, I've been copying them from Lexi's planner into my own. Now, I feel the need to share them with you...

  • Oh, the places you'll go!

  • Things are difficult before they are easy.

  • Go the extra mile.

  • "I think I can. I know I can." ~the Little Engine That Could

  • Be responsible. Actions have consequences.
I love all of these. They are all great quotes, send a great message, and hopefully, inspire my daughter (and her classmates) to do their very best, no matter what. I can't wait to see the rest of the year's quotes. I'm also kind of excited to see my little girl grow up into a responsible young lady. But, I'm still not sure I'm ready for her to be in middle school.