Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Thank You!

I am overwhelmed by the responses to my blog post yesterday, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my Facebook post as well as everyone who sent me private messages. I am very blessed to have so many friends and family who care about me and my family. I am doing okay. Monday was a rough day. We all have them, but for some silly reason I feel the need to share mine. Writing about the day is my way of unpacking all the thoughts, concerns, emotions and ideas that tend to pile up and weigh me down. There is no greater feeling than when a post is finished, particularly one like yesterday's, and I can hit Publish, sending all of my concerns off into cyber space. Once my post is published, I am ready to start a new day with hope and enthusiasm. It works!

I am also able to learn from the previous day's mistakes. I was not prepared for Monday. I should have recruited some help, particularly with Thing 4, but now that I have a long list of potential babysitters thanks to yesterday's post . . . tee hee!, I hopefully will not make that same mistake again. So, thank you everyone for being so considerate, for caring about me, for reading this silly little blog and for just being you. You are awesome, and this girl loves you!

Anyhoo . . .

Let's talk about Thing 5's name - Harriet Winona Grace Webster.

It's a mouthful. When she was born and we told the nurses and doctors her name, one of them laughed and said:

Well, she is all ready for a career in country music.

I admit it is a crazy name. You will probably never meet another Harriet Winona Grace, and that is okay. In fact, that is why I love it so much. This name has been reserved for my baby girl ever since I became pregnant with Leif, and the more I get to know her, the more I think it suits her to a tee.

When I tell people her name is Harriet, I get one of three responses:

First, there are those who are in utter shock and do not know what to say. They tend to make a noise like:

Ohhhhhhhhhh . . . .

followed up with:

well, you don't hear that name too often.

Then there are those who absolutely love it and their response tends to go something like this:

Harriet! I love it! I just love old names. What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl!

and so and so on.

And finally, there are those who loathe the name and they tend to cringe in horror:

Harriet?! . . . Seriously? Harriet?

Unfortunately, all of Harriet's grandparents had this response, but I am happy to say that they have either warmed up to the name or have finally realized it is not going to change and so have stopped saying anything about it.

I adore the name Harriet and have for years. When Zoe was a little girl, I bought a book for her titled: Harriet, You'll Drive me Wild. It is about this adorable little girl and all the mischief she manages to stir up in a day. To me, Harriet is the perfect name for a little girl because it is spunky yet classic, it is unique and it is strong. Whenever I think of names for my girls, I try to imagine them presenting their dissertation on some grand idea in literature, the sciences or business and having a fellow academic introduce them:

It is my pleasure to present Harriet Webster . . .

But it also has to be pretty enough for someone to whisper:

Harriet, I love you and nothing will ever change that.

without that person cringing in horror . . . tee hee!

And both Mr, Level-Headed and I agree that Harriet is the perfect name for our final Baby Girl.

Harriet's middle name is her grandmother's middle name and completes our obligation to name each of the grandchildren after one of their grandparents. I should note that this obligation is something Mr. Level-Headed and I imposed on ourselves because we were both given one of our parent's names and like that family connection.

Zoe was named after my mom: Zoe Elaine

Elliot was named after Mr. Level-Headed's dad: Gerald Elliot

Avery was named after my dad: Avery Derrick Kurt

and Harriet was named after Mr. Level-Headed's mom: Marylee Winona

Yes, Leif was left out of this tradition, but his name is a Danish name and was given to him to acknowledge my father's Danish heritage.

Now for Grace. Well, I believe that names have to roll off of your tongue. They need to sound nice when they are said aloud; therefore, we added Grace at the end to soften the sound of her first two names. We also wanted to include Grace because both Mr. Level-Headed and I realize that both of these babies that we have been blessed to have later in life are only a part of our family thanks to God's grace. He did not have to give them to us. He especially did not have to give us two of them, but He did, and for that we will be forever grateful.

We love you, Harriet Winona Grace, name and all:













Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Big Three . . .




Yesterday summed up perfectly what I find to be the hardest three things about this particular phase of mamahood that I am currently immersed in. It was a beautiful fall day, and Zoe had an appointment to get her Remicade infusion in town right after lunch. Since her appointment typically takes 2 1/2 hours, I decided to take the two-under-two crew to Rockwood Park while we waited for her to finish up. Like I said, it was a beautiful afternoon. The sun was shining and there was a gentle cool breeze blowing that made it the perfect temperature for jeans and a t-shirt. We had the entire park to ourselves, but unfortunately, thanks to Leif's recent aversion to a full night's sleep, I was exhausted. Rather than run and play alongside Leif on the climbing structure like I typically do, I sat on a nearby bench with Harriet on my knee, encouraging him from afar.

Good job, Bud. Now go down the slide.

As any parent will tell you, this does not work well, and Leif quickly became bored. Can you blame him, though? It really isn't fun playing by yourself. Thanks to boredom, Leif did not stay in one place for long and so we spent the majority of our time at the park meandering back and forth between the lake and the playground.

I really hate being tired and this is one of the hardest parts of being a mama right now for me. I become very cranky and impatient when I am tired and neither of these qualities are conducive to handling an equally tired toddler whose tantrums increase in duration, intensity and frequency with each hour of sleep he misses. Let's just say that Leif and I were not the best of friends yesterday, and those days make me sad. I know what kind of mom I can be, and I really like her, but on very little sleep, it is like I can see that mom drifting out to sea and as hard as I try, I cannot reach her to bring her back.

Ugh . . .

Leif has not been sleeping well for the past two weeks. He wakes up numerous times at night and then is waking up for an hour or so at 4am and falling back to sleep just as my alarm goes off. Then, because he is in a state of over-tiredness, he is not napping well either - 30 minutes tops. We are both about to lose our mind. I suspect this inability to sleep is thanks to the abundance of words he is all of a sudden able to say. With my older three kids, monumental milestones always accompanied an inability to sleep. I think it has something to do with the flurry of activity that is going on in their little brains at that time.

But I also think that this sudden disruption in sleep could have something to do with our lack of routine. Since school has started, as hard as I try to stick to nap times and daily routines, it has not been working because every day brings a new schedule. With five kids, someone always has one appointment or another - doctor's, dentist's, physio, etc. Throw three different school soccer schedules in the mix and we find ourselves running this way and that most days. I suspect all of this disruption has really thrown Leif's system out of whack, and this brings me to the second hardest aspect of my current state of mamahood - a lack of routine. With five kids ranging from infant to teenagers, our life is busy, crazy busy and I am really struggling trying to establish a routine.

Anyhoo . . . 

Back to the park. Growing tired of chasing Leif back and forth for an hour and a half, I plopped him and Harriet into their double stroller and we went for a walk. After his initial fuss over being restrained, Leif quickly settled into his seat and began to enjoy the sights of our walk.

Wuz zhat? Wuz zhat?

Then my phone buzzed. I looked down to see that Baby Girl had texted me. My heart leapt . . . woohoo! She is done.  Then my heart broke as I read the next three words.

It happened again.

I knew exactly what she was talking about; two infusions ago, Zoe had a reaction to her Remicade, which caused her airway to swell and made it difficult for her to breathe. This is one of the many, and probably least scary, side effects of Remicade . . . Ugh. For the record, I HATE colitis and I hate the fact that I have to give my big, Baby Girl this drug, but after dealing with this disease for almost four years now and having nothing else work, this is what we have to do.

Can you come. I am pretty shaken up.

I picked up my pace and quickly returned to the van with the two-under-two crew. Leif, who was soaking wet from wading in the lake, needed to be changed but I did not want to waste any time. I whipped his pants and shoes off, strapped him and Harriet into their seats and drove off. My heart was racing. I was so mad at myself for not being there . . . again . . . for Zoe during this scary experience. Yes, I also missed the first reaction . . . ugh.  

We pulled into the parking lot. I stopped the car, and jumped out. I quickly found Leif's change of pants and slipped them on. Since his sneakers were too wet to put back on, I placed him on my hip and put Harriet on the other and then ran inside, where I was greeted by the nurse.

She is sleeping right now. We gave her more Benadryl. We have restarted the IV and she seems to be okay. Since we had to stop and restart it at a much slower pace, she will not be done for another two hours. We will text you when she is ready to be picked up.

I stood there looking in on Zoe who was peacefully sleeping under the fleece red blanket I had made her two years ago. Looking at the two babies on my hips and seeing how many patients were currently hooked up to IV's in the tiny, cramped clinic, I felt completely helpless. I knew I couldn't stay, but I really did not want to leave her side. Her nurse must have read my mind:

She is going to be okay, Krista. When she wakes up, I will tell her that you stopped in.

Thank you.

With my babies in tow, I turned around and walked back to the car, much slower this time. I felt like all the life had just been deflated from my body.  No matter how hard I try, I consistently let one of my kids down. By attending the older kids' soccer games and appointments, I have disrupted Leif's sleep schedule. Because I have two babies to care for, I can no longer sit with Zoe during her appointments. Because I am not getting much sleep, I am not as patient as I once was while doing homework or as fun on the playground. . . and so on and so on. I think not being able to attend to all of my kids' needs is definitely the hardest and most frustrating part of being a mama of five.

I could have really beaten myself up, but I chose not to. Instead, I headed to my mom's house where Coca Cola flows on tap and where there is never a short supply of arms or laps to hold and entertain two babies under two.

By 7:30pm we had all returned home. As I stood at the island, putting the day's dishes in the dishwasher, I looked around at my family:  Mr. Level-Headed was discussing Elliot's soccer game against Rothesay High School with him, which they tied . . . woohoo!, Leif and Avery were in the middle of an intense game of tag, and Zoe was snuggling with Harriet, who has recently found her voice and currently spends most of her days telling us off . . . er, I mean . . . telling us stories. I couldn't help but smile at all of them. They are all mine. I may be doing a craptastic job at this mama of five gig, but I am trying my best, and I think that my sincere love for each of them and my desire to be the best mom I can be will shorten the gap between the mama I know I can be and the mama I actually am. I hope.


Elliot #20, rushing the goalie. Thanks Monique for the pic!










Monday, 28 September 2015

The Travelling Gong Show

When I was pregnant with Harriet, I met a woman who was in a similar situation as I was. She had three older kids and her two babies were nineteen months apart. Since she had a month under belt being a mom of five, I asked her for some survival tips, and one in particular made me laugh:

Well, whenever you think you need to go out, remember it is not worth it and stay home.

At the time I laughed because part of me thought she was joking; unfortunately, she wasn't, and Saturday afternoon I was kicking myself for not heeding her warning. Mr. Level-Headed needed to get a few things and both the boys needed cleats. Everyone had been busy Friday night and Saturday morning, which meant I was home alone with the two-under-two crew. Mr. Level-Headed did not want to leave me home alone again so he suggested that the babes and I come along for the adventure. 

. . . it is not worth it. It is not worth it . . .

Sure!

I threw some diapers, a change of clothes and some snacks in my purse and we were off. Unfortunately, we forgot that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the Kingston Peninsula, which meant that the ferry line-up was ridiculously long. Both Leif and Harriet, who did not understand why we were just sitting in the car not going anywhere, began to lose their mind. Then, we dropped Avery off at soccer 45 minutes late . . . yep, we are those parents. Then because Mr. Level-Headed had left his wallet in his car, which was now parked in the Hampton High parking lot since Zoe was volunteering at the school's season opener football game, we drove to Hampton to collect it. By the time we had the wallet, had put some air in the van's leaky tires and filled it with gas, it was almost time to pick Avery up again so we decided to head back to the soccer field and wait for him to finish up.

 . . . it is not worth it. It is not worth it . . .

While we waited in the car, I nursed Harriet and Leif lost his mind . . . again. Two hours after we left the house, we finally arrived at our first destination - Winners.

We unleashed the monkeys and everyone jubilantly ran into the store. 

Back Story - whenever I go into a store, I immediately strap Leif into a cart and he remains there for the duration of our shopping trip. Last week, however, we went to Costco with Grammie and she let Leif out of the cart. I nearly choked.

What did you just do, mom?

Don't worry, Krista. He will be fine and I will watch him.

Well, two seconds later she bumped into a childhood friend and I was left chasing my nutball son through the busy aisles of Costco with Harriet strapped to my chest. This was not the worst part, though. With the sweet taste of freedom still on his mind, Leif has determined that sitting in the cart is optional. Oh yeah, you know where I am going with this. Now, every time he is placed in a shopping cart, he loses his mind. He kicks, he screams, he flails his arms and he inevitably attracts the attention of everyone within a ten mile radius. All we need is a circus conductor walking before us, shouting:

Come one; come all and enjoy the spectacle that is Shenanigans Inc.!

With Leif screaming, Harriet assumes we are all in imminent danger and therefore, she unleashes her own cries of discontent.

So, yeah, throw in a teenager who was anxiously checking the time on his phone, counting down the minutes until he had to be at his friend's house, and you have a pretty accurate picture of how we must have looked to all the customers in the three stores we visited. . . yes, I said three. You would think we would have just thrown in the towel after the first store, but we Websters and a Skov are stubborn and we are definitely not quitters.

After not finding cleats for the boys at Sport Chek, our third stop on the travelling gong show, and with an inevitable fourth stop looming in our near future, I finally came to my senses and recalled the wise words of my fellow sister in the trenches of mamahood:

 . . . it is not worth it. It is not worth it.

I think the babes and I are just going to stay put and hang out in the car for this round.

And that is exactly what we did. Leif drove the car and hollered at all the passerbys, while I nursed Miss Moo in the front seat, and we both happily ate the Goldfish crackers that had spilled in the front console of the car earlier in the week. After the boys had found their cleats, and the two-under-two crew were safely strapped back into their carseats, we decided to celebrate our shopping victory with a trip through the A&W drive-thru.

I am living the dream, folks. Living. The. Dream.

 . . . tee hee!



The crazy thing is that I do believe they are worth it.




Friday, 25 September 2015

Letters to my baby, Baby Girl

Dear Harriet,

You laughed for the first time yesterday. I had laid you down on a blanket, while we watched Avery's soccer game against RNS. It was a beautiful fall afternoon. The sun was shining and there was a light, cool breeze blowing. You were so happy to be lying on your back in the sunshine, stretching out your arms and legs after spending the afternoon at Costco, cozily snuggled in your sling. Avery's principal came over to meet you and as soon as she bent over to talk to you, you gave her one of your award-winning smiles, where your nose and eyes scrunch up and your neck rolls threaten to swallow up your face. Your smile grew so big that you could no longer contain it and the sweetest giggle I have ever heard, well probably since your big sister, Zoe was your age, erupted from your plump, pink lips. I couldn't help but squeal:

That's your first laugh, Baby Girl!

I can't believe how quickly you are growing up, Harriet. You turned 3 months old this week, you occasionally sleep through the night for us, you have lots to say, you no longer stay in one spot anymore as you use your feet to push off from and slide yourself around the play mat on your back, you are trying to reach for your toys and sometimes you are successful but sometimes you are not, and today, you wore your very first pair of jeans. Let me tell you, baby girl, you rock those jeans! 

I love you, Harriet, with all my heart. It makes me sad that sometimes you have to put yourself to sleep when I am dealing with your high maintenance brother, but thank you for being so self-reliant, and thank you for being goofy and sticking your tongue out all the time. It makes me smile.

Love, 

Mom
xoxoxo


That tongue!



zzzzzzz . . . .





You are such a chatterbox and gosh, I love that roly poly belly of yours!


Rock'n the jeans, girlfriend!


p.s. I say it all the time but I think we are going to be the bestest of friends someday.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Guardian Angels

Caring for toddlers is a lot of fun, but it can be downright terrifying! Their enthusiasm for life combined with their utter lack of common sense can be a lethal cocktail. Yesterday, mom and I took the two-under-two crew to Fredericton to babysit Ava, while Emily was in class. During our visit to the park, Leif and Ava suddenly became bored with the climbing structure and made a beeline for the busy road. Like two wild piglets, Leif and Ava took off as fast as their little legs could take them in different directions, laughing as if they were in the middle of the best game ever and seeing aunt Krista/mom scrambling after them in a sheer panic only made them run faster and squeal louder. There was no way I could grab both of them before they ran straight out into traffic,and for one brief moment, time stood still while I tried to figure out who would listen best and who I needed to physically restrain. It did not take me long to solve this one.

Ava, STOP!!

oh? stop.

And she stopped just as I wrapped my arms around Leif before he took another step. I grabbed him and ran over to Ava who was standing on the edge of the curb saying stop, stop, stop.

Thank you, Ava, for listening. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

What can I say? I know my son . . . and thank heavens my gut instincts were right. Phew!

The other afternoon was equally scary. It was lunchtime and I was about to place Leif in his highchair when out of the blue he began to lose his mind, kicking and flailing his arms. As I struggled to get his feet through the holes, Leif flung himself up and over the chair. Again, for a brief moment, time seemed to stand still as I watched him falling head first onto the hardwood flour. Without even thinking, I shot my arm out, grabbed his arm, and managed to flip him over, right side up so that he landed on his feet. The whole thing was surreal;  Leif simply walked away with the strangest look on his face, like he was asking:

Whoa! What just happened . . .

I have no idea how I did not dislocate his shoulder, or how I managed to slow him down enough to remain on his feet as if he had not only moments before been plummeting to an inevitable concussion or even worse. It was then and there that I decided that yes, indeed, guardian angels do exist and I think an entire league of them are helping me protect this crazy, wild toddler of mine. Thank heavens because he is a handful! 







Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Aaaachoo . . .

Leif is still sick. The good news, though, is that according to the doctor it is just a cold and there is no sign of an infection. Phew! The bad news is that he is a miserable, snotty mess. He cannot sleep and he has no patience for his demands not being met immediately. I think today is going to be a lie on the couch watching cartoons and snuggling with mama kind of day.




 I can think of worse ways to spend my day.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Sunday Naps

Trials.

We all have them. We all hate them, 

And I get that they are good for us; trials make us stronger, they make us better, kinder people, but sometimes it would be nice to have a break from them. Am I right?

By the end of last week, I was done with my trials. I was tired of being their punching bag and I was exhausted from having to pick myself back up time and time again. I was so done with them that on Friday when the babes and I were doing our Costco run, I almost cried right there in the middle of the store when Harriet was fussing in her sling and Leif decided to break an egg all over our cart full of groceries. Yep, I was two seconds away from being that woman. I only stopped myself when I looked up from the slimy mess that was now covering everything to see Leif clapping his hands. 

No baby, this is not a yay! moment. It's a mess.

 I am sure Leif, who loves to cook with me, was just excited to finally be the one to crack the eggs. He had no idea how I was feeling inside. He had no idea that we did not need a cracked egg for grocery shopping. He had no idea this was not cool. Looking into his smiley face, I reminded myself that spilled eggs . . . or is that milk?  . . . either way, neither are to be cried over, and so I pushed myself through the remainder of the day.

By Sunday afternoon, I was spent. I was done putting on a happy face. I was done taking care of everyone, and most of all I was done dealing with my challenges. So, after church, I handed the two-under-two crew to Mr. Level-Headed and the kids and went for a nap. Thankfully, there was a cool breeze blowing through my bedroom window because I was able to bury myself beneath the weight of my duvet and quickly drift off to sleep.

Is there anything better than a Sunday nap? I can't think of anything. Sunday naps are a gift from God; they nourish the soul and strengthen your body. When I woke up, I was not only feeling rested, but I was feeling rejuvenated and feisty once again.

Okay, Week, I am ready for you. BRING IT ON!


It also helped waking up to this round, squishy parcel of adorableness.

Oh, and my trials are not any of my babes, nor are they Mr. Level-Headed, and for that I am grateful.



Friday, 18 September 2015

Pinch Me

I am having so much fun with my babies this week. A couple of times I have wanted to pinch myself and ask if this is really happening. I cannot believe that at almost 40 years old, I have been given the opportunity to raise two more babies, and this time I can just enjoy being their mama and not have to worry about school or work. It is a dream come true! They are so cute and so funny; I just love spending my days with them.



  Last week was a disaster. I was overwhelmed and discouraged, but this week, I put my granny panties on (this job is big and therefore requires even bigger panties), started getting up at 5:30 and it is amazing the difference that one extra hour makes. My big kids were sent to school with hot breakfasts in their bellies, the laundry is all caught up AND PUT AWAY (round of a applause please) and I made suppers that did not need to be barbecued every night this week. Woohoo!  On top of all that, the babies and I have been able to get out each day for a fun activity.

On Tuesday we went to toddler story time at the library, where Leif met the love of his life. A cute Chinese toddler walked into the children's area and Leif made a beeline for her. He stood in front of her, waved and then put his hands on her face and planted a big, wet kiss right on her lips. She was shocked and ran behind her mom's legs, but then moments later, she chased him down and did the same thing back to him . . . tee hee! It was so cute and I still chuckle when I think about it.

On Wednesday, we went to a local playgroup where I got to chat with some friends, while Leif ran around with the kids. His favourite toy was the doll stroller and he ran back and forth all morning taking his baby for a spin. Later, they made a craft. Can I just say that toddlers and crafts are a match made in heaven (even better than vanilla ice cream and apple crisp). I love how he haphazardly drizzled glue all over his construction paper and then covered that glue in feathers. They were supposed to make birds but Leif's looked more like a highway accident involving an entire flock of birds . . . tee hee! The best part, though, was the look on his face when he showed Mr. Level-Headed his craft that evening. He was so proud of it and he chattered on about it for the longest time!  



Then yesterday, the babes and I went to Brunswick Nurseries to look at the animals  . . . and the tractor. Oh, how Leif loves that tractor! We spent an entire hour walking back and forth visiting with each of the animals.

First there was the pigs. Leif would look in their pen and go:

ohhhhh, pop!

Yes, that is their poop.

Then he would creep over to the sleeping pig, crouch down, put his finger up to his mouth and go:

shhhhhhh.

Yes, the pig is sleeping.




Then we would visit the goats, the sheep, and the pony who all share a stall. He would run over to each of them and wave. Then he would ask:

Waz zhat?

That is a goat. That is a sheep. That is a pony.



Then he would hear the rooster crow. He would stop, put his hand to his ear and ask:

Waz zhat?

The rooster.

And then he would sprint over to the rooster's cage. From there we would visit the duck pond and feed the ducks some bread.







 After about 2 minutes, Leif would run back to the pigs and our rotation would begin again.

Waz zhat?

Waz zhat?

Waz zhat?

Thank goodness the tractor began dumping mulch into a customer's truck because I feared we would never be able to leave the animals. It amazes me how toddlers never seem to tire of things they love to do!

Before we headed home, we made a quick stop at the playground so that I could nurse Harriet. I love the Meenan's Cove playground because it is surrounded with sand rather than those plastic, squishy pads most playgrounds now have. They are probably safer and cleaner, but you can't play with your pails,shovels,trucks or dinosaurs in them and, after sliding and swinging, a boy, or my boy at least, likes to dig.



 Yes, I am aware that she is giving me the finger. This one is so much like her mama - saucy with a fondness for mild obscenities . . .Tee hee!



I think the babes and I have a pretty good thing going on right now. Next week, though, I really need to figure out how to squeeze in cleaning my bathrooms  . . . eeeeeek!

Have a great weekend!




Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Great Flour Mishap of 2015

There is never a dull moment here at Shenanigans Inc. Yesterday, Leif woke up from his nap very cranky. I tried playing trains with him and that was a no-go. Avery took him outside to kick around the ball, and not even that cheered him up . . . weird! I nursed him for a bit and that consoled him while it lasted, but after that he continued to cling to my leg and cry. He and Harriet have been fighting a cold for the past week and I think yesterday afternoon his cold began to win the battle. Sure enough, when I checked his throat, his glands were all swollen. So, I gave him some orange pieces and then pulled out the big guns - the baking supplies. Like always, this put a smile on his face. Since I had a large bag of apples in the fridge that no one was eating because they were getting a little soft, I decided to make an apple crisp. I also remembered that there was a tub of vanilla ice cream in the freezer . . . a match made in heaven! I set Harriet down in her bouncy chair and decided to bring our supplies over to the table so that she would not feel left out. As I peeled and sliced the apples and placed them in the baking dish, Leif would pick out the best looking ones and eat them. There was no keeping him out of it once I added the sugar and cinnamon mix to the apples. Then out of the blue I heard a loud crash! I turned around and saw that my large, open bin of flour had been knocked onto the floor.

L - E - I - F!

But then it occurred to me that Leif could not have made this mess because he was currently standing on the opposite side of the table, eating sugar-coated apple slices.

But how? Who?

And then it dawned on me; the culprit was none other than our very own Miss Harriet, aka Thing 5:



And she was not even remorseful. 

That's right! I kicked over your flour. Next time, pay more attention to me. Oh, and where's MY sugar-coated apple slices?




I guess all of her kicking and splashing in the bath tub have finally paid off and this baby girl, like her big sister and brothers, is going to have one very strong soccer kick.

As I began to clean up the mess, my phone rang. It was Elliot and he was begging to stay after school so that he could watch the girl's soccer team's first game of the season. 

Do you have homework?

Well, yes.

Sorry dude, you and I have been up to 11pm all week finishing your homework and we both need our sleep. You need to come home.

But mom . . .

No, Elliot . . .

But mom . . .

Just then I turned around and surprise . . .




Leif had found the flour pile . . . Ugh! 

I have to go, Elliot, and yes, you are coming home. Good-bye.

I quickly began to clean up the flour, but I wasn't fast enough. As I was sweeping up the mess, Leif was grabbing handfuls of flour and running to the living room with them. Such a fun game, mom!





But hey, he was no longer crying.


And we had a delicious apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert . . .  mmmmmm!




I guess this mishap was not such a disaster after all.

Disclaimer: I may or may not have scooped a cup of flour from the top of the pile to finish making our crisp. Word of advice: never eat at Shenanigans Inc.


 . . . tee hee!


Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Quick, Grab Me a Bottle

Do you ever have those moments when you are no longer in the moment; but rather you are standing outside of it? I guess you could refer to it as an out-of-body experience, but to me that word seems to imply something tragic has occurred. I think we have all seen those movies where the spirit stands outside of the body and watches their loved ones mourn for them. That's not what I am talking about. I am simply referring to one of those moments where you kind of stop what you are doing, zone out from what is going on around you and think, gosh, this is awesome.

I had two of those moments yesterday. The first one happened while I was packing the kids' lunches. Harriet was sitting in her bouncy chair on the table, desperately trying to talk to me. Leif and Avery were kicking balls around the living room . . . surprise! And Zoe and Elliot were still getting ready. I had the lunches lined up on the counter, when Avery came running over, asking me to sign a couple of forms. I sighed and reminded him once again that these things need to be done the night before.

I know! But I forgot.

Just then I stopped and was overcome by a feeling of gratitude. I had all of my kiddos with me. It was hectic but everyone was happy and healthy. These mornings are numbered and that is killing me. Zoe will be off to university next year and I will not have to make her lunches anymore. Sure, with her gone, there will be enough hot water for everyone in the house to have a shower in the morning and we will no longer need gas masks to deal with all the products she sprays on herself in the morning, but I am really going to miss her. I am going to miss THIS. So, for now, I am going to treasure these mornings.

The second moment was after supper. I am seriously on a hot streak, folks, because the past two nights I have presented my family with a yummy, healthy home-cooked meal that everyone enjoyed. How awesome is that? Pardon me while I do a little dance. 

Anyhoo . . . 

As I was washing the supper dishes, Zoe and Elliot were sitting at the table doing their homework. Leif and Avery were . . . can you guess? Yep, they were kicking a ball . . . tee hee! but this time they were outside and they were kicking the ball around with Mr. Level-Headed. Harriet was seated in her bouncy chair, grinning and trying, once again, to talk to me. Boy, that girl has lots she wants to say! Looking around and being able to see all of my favourites close by, made me stop and marvel at how incredibly lucky I am. Later when I was bathing Harriet, Leif and Mr. Level-Headed came in the bathroom and hung out with us. Two seconds later, Avery knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. I think everyone was enjoying just being together last night and so it did not phase any of us that we were in a tiny,cramped bathroom being entertained by a two month old splashing and kicking in the water.These are my favourite kinds of nights, where everyone is home together, busy doing their own thing, but all together nonetheless. These are the moments I want to bottle up and remember when it is just Mr. Level-Headed and I and we are all alone in our very neat and very quiet home. These are the moments that exemplify what family is all about for me and these are the moments that make me look back fondly on the moments I spent with my family as a child, the moments that made me want a family of my own someday.

Unfortunately, life is busy, and we don't always get to have these nights together. Unfortunately, kids grow up and life changes, but for now, while I do have all of my munchkins safely tucked under the same roof, I am going to appreciate them and try my best not to get too overwhelmed at how loud they are, or how messy they are or how busy and tired I am. Unfortunately, these moments are numbered, and I have no idea what I am going to do without them.


Awwww . . . my baby girls.






Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Just a Typical Day

Yesterday afternoon, I packed Avery, Leif and Harriet into the van and we picked Elliot up to take him to his physiotherapist appointment in town. Thankfully, Elliot was Rob's only client that day, and so Leif and Avery were able to play with all the balls and other cool toys Rob has on hand in his examination room. I love people who understand that kids need to move and explore, and Rob made the boys feel comfortable enough to do just that. It sure made the hour and half we spent there much easier on me, and Leif was in heaven! And Rob was amazed at how strong Leif's motor skills are.

He's a freak of nature! He shouldn't even be able to do that. Wow!

I also love when people recognize and celebrate my kids' talents.

After the appointment, I had to run into Sobey's to pick up a few things. Since it was 5:30 the boys were getting pretty hangry (best word ever!) and Harriet, who had slept in her sling the entire time we were at Rob's (phew!) was now awake and wanted to nurse. The big boys were fighting and Leif and Harriet were crying as I rushed into Sobey's. I found some ice cream bars that were on for half-price and fed them to my boys once I returned to the car. This kept them quiet until we got home. Harriet, unfortunately, would only be consoled with a warm booby, but I did not have time:

Sorry, baby girl. It is time to put your big girl panties on. We will be home soon.

Being number five, she hears that a lot.

Thankfully, the line-up at the ferry was short and we got right onto the next boat. As soon as we pulled into the driveway, I started barking out orders:

Elliot, you are in charge of Leif and picking up your school stuff off the van floor.

I have no idea why he emptied his backpack.

Avery, you need to grab my purse, the garbage and Elliot's gym bag. I will grab Harriet.

As we opened the door, we were warmly greeted by the delicious-smelling supper I had wisely put in the crockpot before we left for town. I changed both the babies's bums and then nursed Harriet. Leif and Avery once again grabbed some balls and were juggling/kicking them around the living room. It amazes me that they never seem to grow tired of playing with a ball. Elliot had fallen asleep as soon as we got home. Once Harriet's belly was full and she was content, I asked the boys to set the table while I made a salad. It may have been 7pm, but we were finally able to sit down and eat a yummy dinner, and amazingly enough, everyone liked it . . . small victory!
\
As soon as supper was done, the boys cleared off the table, while I nursed Harriet again. She always milk-loads right before bed. Mr. Level-Headed, who came home late, had just finished his supper so I asked him to bath Leif.

By 9pm both babies were asleep and this mama was ready to crawl in bed beside them.

Mom, can you help me with my homework?

 I wanted to cry, but I took my own advice and decided to act like a big girl.

Of course, Elliot.

By 10:30 as I was looking over Elliot's completed assignment, I felt two strong arms come from behind and wrap around my shoulders:

Thanks, mom, for helping me.

And in that one moment, I remembered exactly why I do this crazy job I do day after day.

Anytime, Bud.

I love being a mom!



Monday, 14 September 2015

A Not-So Successful, but Lovely Nonetheless, Walk With the Two-Under-Two Crew

Last week was DIFFICULT, and I did a terrible job juggling everything. It didn't help that the two-under-two crew were sick and demanded . . . er . . . needed extra snuggles and seemed to forget what sleep was thanks to stuffy little noses, but this week, is going to be different. I am determined to shine at this stay-at-home-mom-of-five gig that I've got going on right now, and so this morning, I woke up at 5:30, according to plan . . .  and was joined by Leif . . . grrrrr . . . not according to plan. Then showered and put my sneakers on. These sneakers are fast! I swear they have magical powers because when I wear them, I get things done. Okay, seriously, though, wearing sneakers makes things happen. I don't know why, but it works. By 11 am, I had made pancakes and bacon for everyone's breakfast, packed lunches, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, read stories to the babies, put supper in the crockpot, played trucks with Leif and Harriet and had two loads of laundry going

. . . woohoo! 

Please celebrate with me because this is the most I have been able to do in months, and it feels awesome!

On Saturday morning, though, things were different, much different. After having a battle of wills with Leif from 4-5am over not nursing at night . . . and oh yeah, I won! But did I really? Because he seemed to be faring much better on the lack of sleep come Saturday morning than I was. 

Anyhoo . . .

We came out of the bedroom to be greeted by a week's worth of chaos - clothes, both dirty and clean, were strewn across the floor, the dishes from Friday night's supper were still piled on the island and kitchen counters. Plates with food on them were still on the kitchen table and toys, which I swear breed and multiply at night, littered every square inch of the main level. This is not a fun way to start the day in case you are wondering, but with Mr. Level-Headed and the kids' help, we started to tackle the mess. Since they all had a big day ahead of them which included a high school football game and the season opener for the Saint John SeaDogs (thanks Megan for the tickets!!), Mr. Level-Headed. whom I suppose was feeling guilty for leaving me alone yet again with the snotty-nosed two-under-two crew asked if I would like to go for a walk with him, the dog and the wee-est Websters.

Sure!

As I continued to fold laundry in my nightgown, I noticed that he, who had showered first thing that morning, had grabbed the leash and was getting Scout ready.

Oh! You mean now. Okay, but first I have to shower, then we have to get both the babies' diapers changed and dress them and pack a diaper bag.

I could tell this kind of surprised him. You see living in the adult world as he does Monday to Friday, one begins to expect that things will happen quickly; however, anyone who has stayed at home raising little ones knows that things do not operate on a timely fashion or smoothly for that matter. Nonetheless, he took it all in stride and had a plan.

You shower, and I will get Leif ready. Then you can dress Harriet and we will be off.

Okay.

After I was dressed, my Mr. Level-Headed, looking all proud of himself, came in the room holding Harriet.

Leif is in the stroller and here is Harriet. I think she peed through her diaper. She feels wet.

Who is with Leif?

He is by himself.

Is he strapped in the stroller?

Ummmm . . . nope.

You better check on him.

As I stripped Harriet's jammies off of her, I was surprised to discover that this was Poop day. You see Harriet only poops every three to four days, but when she does, look out! Her Applecheeks cloth diapers are amazing at containing these disasters, but disposables not so much, and of course, I had been too lazy that morning to run downstairs to get her freshly cleaned diapers out of the dryer and had put a disposable on her. Oh. My. Land. There was poop everywhere! Up her back and all over stomach. She needed a bath, but her being baby number five and me knowing that everyone was ready for our walk, I decided to just give her a baby wipe bath as all good mamas do. By the end of this fiasco, I had used half a container of baby wipes, there was poop all over my bed sheets (where baby number five is changed of course, either there or on the floor, but never a fancy change table designed to deal with these messes), and my sweatshirt had poop stains on the sleeves. 

Just then Mr. Level-Headed returned with a soaking wet Leif.

Ummm . . . he kind of crawled out of the stroller and was playing in the puddles.

Of course. I kind of thought so.

So, we changed Leif, put our now-screaming Harriet into the stroller and headed for a nearby beach with Scout in tow. I decided to forego changing my sweatshirt (poop stains don't bother this classy mama of five) and packing the diaper bag because it was a short walk and really, what could happen?! 

Well, this is what happened: Scout had a blast, Harriet screamed the entire way there and back, and Leif fell in the river minutes after we got there. But, being the first time that the two-under-two crew and I had stepped outside in two days, it was pretty awesome, and I am soooo thankful that Mr. Level-Headed could get a taste of how my days with the two-under-two crew roll

 . . . tee hee!




Oh, right! we didn't pack a change of clothes.


Is there any wonder why my house is a disaster? 






Friday, 11 September 2015

Sniffle, Sniffle, Cough, Cough

Four days into the new school year and the two-under-two crew have caught a cold. They have been sniffling and sneezing all night long mixed in with the occasional cough. My poor babies! It was a long night; none of us got much sleep. As I was sitting upright allowing Harriet to sleep on my chest after one of the longest sneezing fits I have ever witnessed, I looked upon her sweet face and realized that yep, I had finally fallen in love with this one.

Let me explain: after Leif was born I was holding him one evening in the hospital and I became quite upset because I did not feel the same way about him as I did about my other three munchkins. I remember thinking; what is wrong with me? This is Thing 4. The baby I have dreamed about and worked so hard to have. Then it occurred to me, love is not something that happens at first sight - sorry to spoil all those romantic movies for you. Love is something that builds over time through getting to know someone, through caring for them and through putting their needs before your own. This is not to say I was not gushing over my adorable Thing 4 when he was born or that I did not love him for being mine, but how I felt for him was dramatically different compared to how I felt for Zoe, Elliot and Avery. Sure enough, though, over countless sleepless nights spent nursing him and changing his bum and witnessing those first smiles,I fell in love with my little boy.

I am not sure the exact moment I fell in love with Harriet, but last night while I was comforting her through each sneeze and sniffle, my heart was overflowing with love for this precious little girl. I love how serious she is, how obsessed with her mama she is and how she squints her eyes when she smiles. Harriet, will always be my baby girl and you will always hold a very special place in my heart along with the other four things and my one Mr. Level-Headed.

I am one lucky mama to have this precious little girl in my life:





Have a great weekend!




Thursday, 10 September 2015

Putting My Big Girl Panties On

I apologize for yesterday's post. As soon as I hit "publish", I was annoyed with myself for being so cranky about nothing, really. Everyone is struggling with back to school woes, and I am fully aware that my woes are minuscule compared to what some of my friends and family are going through right now. When I look at my life through a worldview lens, I am downright disgusted with myself for being such a wuss. Anyone else haunted by that image of the young refugee who washed up on shore? If you need a big club over the head with a firm dose of reality, that image will do it. Oh. My. Land. I can't even imagine what life is like right now for so many Syrian mothers and fathers. 

I come from a position of privilege and I am fully aware of that. Yes, my house is overflowing and busy with children, but they are a tremendous blessing. Five amazing blessings that I chose to love and care for. Yes, I ran out of milk yesterday and had to drive thirty minutes to get Zoe's soccer stuff to her, but I was able to replace that milk and I have a car to retrieve my children's forgotten items for them. Yes, I forgot the sling to carry Harriet in on our trip to Costco, but I have a mom who is retired and lives a mere ten minutes away who was willing to drop everything to help me out. Not to mention, I have a loving husband who supports my decision to stay home and raise our children even though that decision has tightened our budget far more than we initially imagined. So, I am going to stop whining about my burden of lilies, I am going to put my big girl panties on and I am going to get 'er done! I can do this. I have done hard things before. I'm a fighter and I never give up!

Anyhoo . . . 

On Sunday, Shenanigans Inc. had their annual Back to School Feast. This year we invited Zoe's friend Kenzie to join us. I had to do something to thank him for giving me a selfie stick! Oh, yes, you can all thank Kenzie for fueling my Instagram addiction and for making me even more obnoxious than I already am on social media. This year's menu consisted of honey garlic chicken wings, rice and salad.  My observant and borderline ungrateful children complained that I forgot to include an appetizer . . . next year, I promise. For dessert, I made vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon buttercream icing . . . they were delicious! I was concerned that I would never be able to pull this meal off this year thanks to the two-under-two crew, but Mr. Level-Headed, Zoe and Kenzie all helped out. While I nursed and tended to the two babies the evening before, Mr. Level-Headed made the wings and Zoe and Kenzie frosted and decorated the cupcakes. The next time you see Zoe ask her how she feels about chocolate sprinkles . . . tee hee! All I can tell you is that Zoe has strong feelings about how cupcakes should be decorated and a very low tolerance for anything outside of her ideal and very limited margins of acceptance. Gosh, I love that girl!

Like other years, this year's dinner had a theme that I mindfully and prayerfully chose according to the needs of our family. Unlike other years, I only took one picture of our dinner:


I think it sums up our dinner nicely, though - it was a yummy, laid-back affair  . . . tee hee.


This year's theme was service. My family amazed me this summer with their willingness to step up to help me after Harriet's birth. Zoe did all of our laundry this summer and the boys cleaned all of the dishes and were in charge of loading and emptying the dishwasher. Now that they are all back to school and I have taken on these chores once again, I realize what a tremendous service they did for our family this summer. So . . . I decided that this year we need to make a more concentrated effort to look outside of our family for opportunities to help others:

Perhaps when we come face to face with our maker, we will not be asked, "How many positions did you hold?", but rather, "How many people did you help?". In reality, you cannot love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His people.
-Thomas S. Monson

It is far too easy to become overly-consumed with your own life and your own trials (ahh . . . hello, I am the queen of this!), and so I want to instill in my children that the best way to deal with your own burdens is to help someone else lift theirs. 

After dinner, we all watched this video about a tremendous and touching example of service.

Then, while everyone played a game of Monopoly, I took my tired, two-under-two crew for a walk. Once they were asleep, the Monopoly game was done and Zoe's skyping session with her good friend, Hannah, who went off to BYU last week, was finished, we all headed outside for our first bonfire of the summer. Yes, I did say the first, and so the kids finally got to burn last year's school work and roast marshmallows. It was a fabulous evening and I am so grateful to have a such a wonderful crew of people in my life.


  . . . and a Selfie Stick!











Wednesday, 9 September 2015

and so it begins . . .

please excuse my lack of capital letters today; i am holding a once-fussy-but-now-sleeping baby on my lap and i do not want to risk waking her up by setting her down.

so, yeah, i slept-in on the first day of school. that made for a fun morning. when elliot returned from school all he did was complain about his teachers, the rules, his classmates, his work and life in general. when i glanced at a two-sided sheet his teacher gave to the class to fill out so she could get to know them better, i was discouraged to see that elliot only filled in four questions:

i do not like homework
i spend a lot of time working
someday i will be tired
my feelings about school it's long

elliot hit his stride this summer: he was happy, he was social and he was confident. i really thought he had turned a corner . . . but nope. this is going to be a fun year.

then yesterday afternoon, i found out that elliot's soccer practice was no longer after school and was now at 6, which meant the two-under-two crew, avery and i were out late last night waiting for practice to finish. thanks to all the hullabaloo that hit once the boys returned home from school, i suddenly looked at the clock and realized it was already 5pm, supper was not started and we all had to be out of the house by 5:30 to make the above-mentioned soccer practice. that was also fun.


this morning we ran out of milk. i had to do the dishes that i was too tired to finish last night so that the kids could take water bottles to school today, and i had to fill out three forms that i found in elliot's book bag, which according to him was empty and never contained any forms for his mom to fill out the night before when all school matters were to be addressed and completed to allow for a smoothly-run morning. that was fun too.

just now i received two separate texts from zoe and her friend, karlee

there is soccer practice after school today. please bring my stuff.
-zoe

and

there's boy's soccer today. bring elliot's stuff. and text him.
-karlee

i have tried texting elliot three times to clarify this because he was told practice is on friday, but he was told he is not allowed to use his phone in school by his teachers yesterday. i wish they had said in class because now he will not answer me until he is on the bus. 

just found out elliot, in fact, does not have soccer today. his sister was mistaken.

this is a lot of fun too.

and to think i spent all summer long wondering how i would ever manage being all by my lonesome with the two-under-two crew once the kids returned to school. seriously?!

make room for harriet and i, leif, on that car of yours because i think the three of us need to run away . . . far, far away, and fast.


oh, but first, put some pants on.

 . . . tee hee.

pray for me . . . please.