Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Yellow Boots

After story hour, we sat with our knees above the little table in the children’s section, one young mother and I, surrounded by our broods. The children pounded salt dough flat and squashed cookie cutters into it to produce lumpy vehicles. They dangled their creations inches from our faces so we could admire their work. Charlie squashed and tasted. “Yuck! Charlie! Don’t do that!” He peeled off another tiny piece of dough and tasted again.

“How many children do you have?” the young mother asked.

“Five.” I said it the way I always do. Nonchalantly.

She answered with a typical response. “Five! How do you do it?! You seem so calm. You look too thin, too young to have five children. Five?!

I puffed up, just a little, though she couldn’t see, and responded truthfully, “We are having the time of our lives. The children are at the best age. I am treasuring every moment.”

We said goodbye a few minutes later at the library desk. Her children checked out a handful of books and I stood behind her with a full laundry basket. “It was so nice to meet you. I hope we see you here again.” I meant it.

On the way home, Charlie kicked the back of my seat, trying to keep his big yellow rain boots on. It was a beautiful sunny morning. We couldn’t find his sneakers, his only pair of shoes, and so he had to wear oversized galoshes... in public. I squirmed away from the bumps in the back of my seat and thought about that momentary puff of pride at the playdough table.

Why do I always do that? Why do I always think I must appear to be a great mother because I have all these kids? I thought more about my new acquaintance and her children. She took the time to take her kids to story hour. She let them take home the Berenstein Bears. She didn’t tell them, “Please make another choice. I’ll go crazy if I have to read that to you six times this week,” the way I always do. None of her children ate the play dough.

I looked in the rear view mirror to see Faith bent over her book. Her curls jammed every which way into a pony tail that she had hastily arranged the night before. Faith. On the way to the library, I had encouraged, “Lauren! (Strike one.)…Claire! (Strike two)…You! Girl in the pink shirt! Get your jacket on! The woman at the library called her children by the right name. Her children were beautifully dressed. She took the time to brush and braid their hair.

I am a good mother, but the reasons aren’t related to my number of offspring. I am a good mother for the same reasons that all good mothers are. I delight in my children. I listen to them. I hold them accountable. I hold myself accountable. I apologize for my mistakes and start over again after bad moments. I offer guidance and direction and give them space to learn on their own. This Friday morning, it took a sweet mother and a big pair of boots to drive that point home...again.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter At Our House

Easter Sunday in my house was a little different this year. My four eldest kids wanted to have a sleep over at my parents house this weekend and the only day that suited everyone was on Saturday night. So I woke up on Sunday morning with only my baby and my partner in the house.

It was very odd to wake up on Sunday morning and not do the whole Easter Bunny thing. The Easter bunny still visited here, but he/she (does any body know the Easter bunny's gender?) was able to sneak in quietly in the morning and place chocolate eggs in the kids baskets without fearing that the precious sleeping children would wake at any moment.

It was however lovely to get out of bed and not have to get five kids fed, dressed and ready for the day. I leisurely fed the baby, some some breakfast, had a shower, got me and the baby dressed, decorate a chocolate cake, packed some things to take to my parents house and even managed to check my emails. It was a lovely Easter morning for me!.

Around 11am my partner, baby and I walked up to my parents (they live just up the road) where my family were gathering for Easter lunch.

The kids started the celebrations by having an Easter egg hunt in the back yard. This year they were hunting for chocolate eggs and plastic eggs filled with small eggs and a special Easter message. This is my favourite part of Easter. I love watching the kids hunting for eggs and seeing how excited they get when they find one.

After the egg hunt we exchanged Easter eggs, and all ended up with way to much chocolate to take home.

Lunch followed the exchange of eggs. Unlike Christmas Day we don't really have a traditional Easter lunch, we all just bring over what ever we all feel like eating on the day. This year my Dad cooked chicken wings and sausages on the barbecue and we had some salads with them.

After lunch we got to sit around and relax and talk and eat chocolate eggs. The kids spent the afternoon playing the PS2 and making up Easter related games in the back yard.

We had hot cross buns for afternoon tea and sat around talking until dinner time, which was left overs from our lunch. Because I had made an Easter cake we all forced a small piece down before we all packed up our stuff and headed home.

We came home and the kids went straight to their bedrooms to see what the Easter bunny had left for them, thankfully I had told them that they were not to eat another single egg and we managed to get them all into bed. But within twenty minutes both Caitlin and Clare had thrown up. Thankfully both felt much better once they had vomited and we had a quiet night. I think they learnt their lesson because today they really didn't eat much chocolate at all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From the Beginning

Today I thought that maybe we would take a little trip down memory lane. I have been sitting here thinking about the way our children make their way into our lives.

So let me start at the beginning, Brenna, she will be twelve years old this month. Brenna is proof that miracles do happen! Let me explain, I was 17 years old and Brian and I had been dating for less than a year. We were in Mass. for my mother's wedding (another story, another day). Now I am not going to pretend, in any way, that we weren't doing what it takes to make a baby, but I will state for the record, even 12 years later when I can't be grounded, that we were using protection, 2 kinds!! But like I said her name is Brenna. And we swore to our families that we weren't having any more kids!

Next we come to Griffen. I was 20, he was planned, we were broke with a capital "B". Talking one bedroom apartment, one car, one income, about a million dollars in debt! But we thought hey, Brenna seems kinda lonely, let's give her a sibling! All you need is love right!? I think that I wore that same four outfits through my whole pregnancy. And one of those was a blue and white plaid one piece pant outfit with big white buttons. :sigh:. And we swore to our families that we weren't having any more kids!

For number three we have, Kieran. I was 24, I know we waited a while this time. Now is the part where I tell you that we waited to make sure that we had our acts together. We had money in the bank, a nice house with a white picket fence of course and not a bill to our name. WRONG! When I got pregnant with Kieran we were living in my mother's basement trying to pay off our huge amount of debt, with less than a dime to our names! Oh, did I mention he was planned? And we swore to our families that we weren't having any more kids!

Then we have Alainna, I was 25 ( so sue me, I obviously know what causes it). This time we had it mostly together. We had the house and some money in the bank and well we still have bills. But life is pretty good. We made it through. I look back on everything sometimes and it seems like another person lived that life. Would I change some things? I can't really answer that because I wouldn't want to do anything that would affect the balance of where we are right now. But I will tell you that after Alainna we swore to our families that we weren't having any more kids!

And then we decided to adopt.....but that is a story unto itself.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hand-Me-Downs



"I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I've got a bag of clothes that look like they might be just the right size for Charlie." Our pastor's wife looked apologetic, worried that I might be offended at her offer of FREE clothes. I looked around at my crew, all handsomely dressed in hand-me-downs and thrift store bargains.

"Nope. I'm not offended at all. A bag of hand-me-downs is like Christmas at our house."

Tis' the season. I'm always amazed at the number of bags and bundles make their way to our door each spring and fall. The girls tear into each parcel like Cinderella's step-sisters. The sofas in the living room groan under piles of pants and shirts and dresses while the kids wiggle in and out of dozens of outfits. Some too big or too small or a little immodest, though Claire tries to convince me otherwise, and many that are just perfect. We "regift" armloads of clothes and fill the kids' drawers with more that enough for the season.

Clothes from the previous season are hauled off to the garage for storage. And that's my next project. Sorting too many clothes into too few boxes. With help.

"Ooh, Mom! I love these boots! They have high heels."

"I know, hon. But, they won't fit you until next winter." Faith ignores my admonition and traipses off in the too-big boots. Charlie pulls out all the bathing suits and John digs through the box of science supplies. Lauren, thank goodness for Lauren, really helps. So maybe by this time tomorrow, the garage will look less like a garage sale than it does at the moment. That is unless the temperature spikes and everybody decides to dig though the boxes in search of flip-flops and shorts. Then its back to square one.

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

March is finally here!

Spring is on the way. I know it is. Really. The calendar promises that it cannot be winter forever, it just feels that way. But, March is here, and we had our first days of 65 degree weather on Saturday and Sunday for March to come in like a Lamb... wait, isn't that backwards? Oh well. The temperatures dropped back to 35 for Monday and today, so our little snippet that Spring is coming was short lived.

I love Spring. The spring and fall are my two favorite seasons. The moderate temperatures are perfect for ditching the heavy coats in favor of light sweaters. The trees will soon be sprouting little green buds, and before long, the daffodils will shoot up in all their brilliant splendor. Our wimpy dog (who despises the cold weather) will get to spend more time lazing around in the warm sunshine, and we will be able to keep the windows open for a fresh breeze.

And, as crazy as this sounds, I love rain. Spring tends to be our rainy season in this area of the country. I love the patter of rain on my windows and roof. I love to see the plants perk up as they drink in a soft gentle shower. A gentle rain shower is romantic, and cozy; perfect for snugging on the sofa with a quilt, a cup of tea, and a good book (or with a pile of kiddos and a bigger pile of their books)

But the spring cough and cold season have hit us full swing. Oh the joys of trying to comfort little people who are wracked with coughing fits all night long.... and without cough medicine too. Can you feel the sarcasm? Thanks to the good old scare about giving kids cough and cold medicines, so much has been pulled off the shelf. Now what are we supposed to do? Around here, it means the poor little tykes get lots of warm showers to try and help with congestion, and very little sleep for mom and dad.

Last night, it was Jenna's turn to be up coughing. No fever, just cough. Bless my dear hubby, he's the one who has to get up the earliest, but he was still valiantly trying to give sips of water and keep her propped up on the pillows while I rubbed her back with my eyes half shut. Poor little thing. All 32 pounds of her shakes with every cough. I don't know about you, but around here spring and fall weather changes just reek havoc on our health. And, with 6 of us in the same house, and whichever kid is sick at the time crawling into bed with us at night, we just keep it going around.

But, even this pesky spring cough is a reminder that warmer days are coming. Spring is finally on its way.

Two Birthdays

We just finished celebrating 2 birthdays in our family. DH's 34th birthday was the 28th, and DD2's 4th birthday was the 2nd.

A funny thing about their birthdays ... whenever anyone hears DH's birthday is February 28th, they always make a comment about him almost being born on the 29th, but the year he was born wasn't a leap year! The year DD2 was born was a leap year though, and I remember saying that maybe she'd be born on leap day. DH replied that he hoped she wouldn't be because whenever anyone heard what day his birthday was, they always made a comment, so he imagined it would be worse for someone whose birthday actually was on leap day!

In our family, you get to choose what you want for your birthday meal. Sometimes that means we have interesting combinations. One year DD1 chose tomato soup, bacon, and apples. This year, however, both DH and DD2 chose pizza, and we'd already had pizza earlier in the week! I'm pizza-ed out! LOL DH usually picks a non-cake dessert though, so we don't often have birthday cake 2 days apart (or 3 days apart as the case was this year). True to form, DH chose cherry cheesecake for his birthday, but we did have birthday cake when we ate Disney princess cake for DD2's birthday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Well, it has been tactfully brought to my attention that it is rude to commit to a blog if you are not actually going to blog. So here I am with my tail between my legs, meekly joining back into the forum. As a quick reintroduction, I am Jillienne, mother to a fabulous four kids and in the midst of an extremely crazy (not always good crazy) adoption journey. I have been married to Brian for 11 years and he is my best friend. I know that is a cliche but it's true. Most days.

You can catch me over at my personal blog Chaos 6.5 So that's me in a small itsy-bitsy snapshot.

'til next time (I promise)

Jillienne