tales from a stay-at-home mom of four boys

Archive for the tag “kids”

Even ninjas need to sit at the table for dinner

Dinner last night:

“No more practicing stealth ninja moves at the dinner table!”


How I met your mother according to a five year old

My husband has been rewatching the tv series How I Met Your Mother. My seven year old has decided that he likes what he has seen of the show and asked if we could watch it tonight. My five year old then turned to his three year old brother and said “Hey, want to know how I met your mother?” My three year old stared blankly at him. My five year old then answers “I popped out of her belly!” Yes, yes you did. He was a c-section.

Dinosaurs are big

Musings from a four year old.

“Dinosaurs are big.
Dinosaurs have big butts.
And big penises.”

A few four year old gems

I’m long over due for some funny things my kids say, so here are a few nuggets from the past months.

My four year old:

“Can we go to the Space Noodle?” (We live outside of Seattle now)

Upon seeing me after I had my last baby, “Your belly got all small and your boobs got all big!”

Looking down my shirt at my massive “new mom” cleavage, “You have a butt on your chest.”

“I want the new baby to come home…so I can fart on him.”

He’s such a sweet boy.

When the weekend comes

So far, splitting my time between the NICU and home hasn’t been as much of a challenge as I feared it would be. During the week, my two older boys are in school most of the time that we spend at the NICU, so they don’t really miss us. My two year old, a newly middle child, is probably suffering the most from it, as he is left home all day with his Nana, often without a brother to keep him company, but this is just preparing him for his new role as the forgotten middle child. It has been just short of a week though since I’ve been home and we are about to face our biggest challenge of splitting our time so far, the weekend.

So far, my husband and I have tried to plan our days at the NICU to maximize time there and minimize time away from our older boys. My oldest is in school all day until almost 4:00 and since traffic begins to build an hour before that, we are usually home within minutes of him getting off the bus. My former middle child, who has now been bumped up to older-middle child status, has school three days a week in the morning. We try to get into the hospital not long after he has left for school those days, so that he is only home for a short time without us in the afternoon. On the days he doesn’t have school, we try to spend some time with him in the morning and then go in a little later, so he at least gets sometime with us. My poor two year old gets the shaft in this situation. He doesn’t go to school, so it doesn’t matter what time we go because he ends up missing us for several hours a day. There isn’t much we can do about this, but we feel it is good for him since he is the only child who never went to childcare and has never been away from mom for very long. We figure this will build some independence and healthy separation. We are also trying to figure out a way to make some of it up to him by giving him some special alone time with mom and dad, but he haven’t quite figured out when yet.

The problem now, however, is that the weekend is here and all the boys are home for the next few days and of course they are looking for some quality time with mom and dad. Just the thought of having to choose between my boys hurts my heart. I don’t want to miss a day with my little guy, especially now that I am able to hold him and bond with him, but I also miss my older boys who I hardly see all week and who need me too. On top of that, there are still the everyday errands of the weekend that need to be taken care of. We are coming up on a week since I came home and I still haven’t unpacked my bags. We need to grocery shop, clean, pay bills, and I’d love to catch up on some sleep. Doing all these activities take away from time with my boys though. It doesn’t help that the NICU is about 30 minutes away, each way, without traffic, so it isn’t a quick jaunt over there. I want so badly for my little guy to just be home so I can spend time with all my boys together, but we have many more weeks ahead of us like this and despite his great progress, I doubt he’ll be home in much less time than when his due date was.

So what do I do? Now that the weekend is upon us, how do I split my time and how do I deal with the guilt of not being with whoever is left out? I don’t have answers. I guess this is one of those things we just need to figure out as we go. I know I need to just remind myself that all of this is temporary and it will be over one day. I just need to make it to that day and hold my family together until we get there.

Split in two

Today I experienced one of those all too common moments in the life of a mother; the moment when you need to be everywhere at once. Not to say that dads don’t experience this, but when kids are little, usually mom is the first one a child calls for when they are in need.

Today was a big day for my now 4 year old, he was making his stage debut as “the large pig” in his preschool play. I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks. I even arranged the day so that I my husband could take half a day to work from home and watch the kids while I went to my oldest’s parent-teacher conference and then we could all go to the play together and no one would have to miss out. Of course, life had other plans.

We faced adversity from the start of the day. First my youngest threw up, threatening to keep one parent home with him, but he bounced back enough to survive an hour at a school play. Then my husband texted me to say that they had called a sudden meeting that he had to attend at the exact time as the play. Luckily the meeting was pushed back two hours. The clouds were starting to clear and it looked like everything was going to work out, my husband even came home a little earlier than I’d asked him to. Then I got the phone call. My oldest son had been injured at school and wouldn’t stop crying. His teacher didn’t want to put him on the bus and wasn’t completely sure what was wrong. I raced over to the school thinking he was probably just upset and that we might need to schedule in an emergency chiropractor appointment after the play. As I pulled up to the school though, I could see flashing lights in front of the school and my heart pushed into my throat. I entered the nurses office to find a crew of paramedics from the fire department, office staff, and my son curled into a ball on his teacher’s lap, sobbing and holding his neck. It seems another child yanked on the back loop of his back pack and his neck was injured. They couldn’t get a full story from him and he was in too much pain to straighten up, so they wanted to get him checked out at the hospital and the best way to move him was via ambulance. So I rode to the hospital on a gurney in the back of an ambulance with my son balled up on my lap. I texted my husband to take the boys to the play, get a few pictures, but to just enjoy it because someone was recording it and it was important that one of us was present at the performance.

After being checkout and x-rayed, the doctors decided that it was probably just a sprain with severe muscle spasms and that he was okay to go home. Of course I had no way to get home, since my car was still at the school, and my husband was at the play that was about to begin. We couldn’t just hang out in the waiting room for an hour, especially with my son still in a lot of pain, so I instructed my husband to come get us as quickly as possible and then race back to the play, hoping to make it in time since my 4 year old’s part was toward the end of the play. My husband did his best, but I don’t think I would have been satisfied with his speed if he were going 100 mph. I just wanted at least one of us to be there for him and now both of us were in a car trying to get there. When we got to the play, we hurried in, each carrying a child, just in time to see my middle child sit down in his seat while the child after him gave his lines. Me had missed his lines by about 10 seconds. My eyes welled and my heart broke. When his group performance was over, my husband snuck over to him and told him that we were all there, so as far as he knew, we had seen him deliver his lines and made it in time. To me though, I still felt horrible, I’d missed his big moment.

This was one just one of those occasions where I wanted to be there for both of my children, but I just couldn’t; there is only one of me. I didn’t want to miss my sons big performance, but I had to be with my injured son because he needed me more. Thankfully my oldest didn’t have anything seriously wrong with him and I will be able to watch the video of my middle child’s performance at a later time, but I still felt like a failure as a mom for not being able to do it all and be there for both boys. It’s a constant tear and it happens on almost a daily basis. It isn’t anything I can control, I can’t clone myself, but I still feel like I’m a bad mom if I can’t be everywhere at once and always be there for my boys. I know I’m not the only mom that feels this way, but that doesn’t help with the guilt. I just need to learn to except that I can’t split myself into two and that sometimes life makes my choices for me, leaving everything else to be watched on video later.

No good deed turns out the way it should when you have three boys

Fridays are a shorter day for my kindergartener and it has rained a lot this week, so I decided to try to do something special with the three boys this Friday. I saw that the new movie “Free Birds” was playing at the local theater about a half hour after school gets out, so I decided that this would be a nice treat since we don’t go to the movies much.

I arranged to pick my son up from school and headed over to the theater for some fresh popcorn and a relaxing afternoon. Unfortunately, upon arriving, we were informed that a scheduling conflict had arisen and that showing was canceled. The boys were upset and I had promised them a movie, so I looked up the next showing at the next closest theater and saw it started in two hours. In the meantime, we headed home for a snack and the boys went next door to play with the neighbors while I got some stuff done. When it was time to pick the boys up, I locked the front door and loaded the boys directly into the van from next door. We arrived at the movies with just enough time to use the potty, get popcorn, and find some good seats before the previews. That’s when I was first notified of the problem.

As we were unloading the car and putting on jackets, I was notified, first by my middle child and then confirmed by my oldest, that my oldest didn’t have his shoes with him. I didn’t believe it. How did he lose his shoes between the neighbor’s house and the car? I repeatedly asked him where his shoes were as I searched the van in disbelief that we had gotten all the way to the movies only to find out he didn’t have shoes, but they were no where to be found. Apparently, he didn’t want to wear his boots, so he left them on our porch and got into the car with no shoes on, never once mentioning this to me or asking me to let him change into his sneakers. I was furious! Beyond furious! I had half a mind to load them all back in the car and turn around and go home, but that wasn’t fair to the other two boys or me, who really just needed a break. Luckily there was a Marshall’s across the street, so I hurried the boys over to it, one in stocking feet, to look for some cheap shoes. Of course all the shoes were $20 or more and none were his size. So I made him buy shoes that were a size or two too big so that at least I didn’t feel like I was wasting money and he could wear them when he got a little bigger. I rushed all three kids to wait in the way too long of a line, finally purchased the shoes, threw them on his feet, and attempted to rush us all over to the theater. At this point the previews should have been starting (secretly my favorite part of the theater going experience), but that was fine, we just needed to quickly use the restroom and grab some popcorn. Of course, nothing is quick with three young kids. Once in the bathroom, everyone wanted to use the potty, including the one in diapers who is never interested in the potty unless we are in a rush. At the concession counter, we got in the shortest line, which ended up being the wrong choice. The woman and her two kids weren’t sure what they wanted and ended up ordering entire dinners off the menu (I didn’t even realize that was possible). Forty dollars later and fifteen minutes into the movie, I finally managed to wrangle my three boys, our four coats, my purse full of water bottles, and an $7 bag of popcorn into seats to watch the movie. I was able to relax and enjoy the movie until the popcorn and hidden snacks ran out, about 30 minutes into the movie, and then spent the rest of the movie telling my oldest to sit down and leave the seats in front of him alone, and chasing my youngest up and down stairs and across aisles.

For he record, the movie was actually really good and funny, which I hadn’t expected, considering I really didn’t know anything about it. I would recommend the movie, I just wouldn’t recommend you take an almost 2, 4, and 6 year old, and I’d definitely recommend that you check that all your kids have their shoes on before you get to the movie. That is not something I’ll be doing again anytime soon!

Death by parenting

I’m sure that I heard from multiple sources that having kids is a lot of work and exhausting work at that, but I don’t think anyone ever told me that having kids might kill me.

I have three boys; three very active boys. Whenever people see me braving the outside world with these three boys (who are spaced out in age at two year intervals), they make comments like “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” Or “I bet they keep you busy.” But unless you’ve had three boys this close in age, you have no idea what it is really like.

As of this fall, my sons will be 2, 4, and 6 years old. Fun ages for sure, but also very trying ones. My almost 2 year old is at an age where he wants to be just like his older brothers and thinks he can do what he older do, but he lacks the motor skills and sense of danger that his older brothers have begun to accumulate with age. In recent days he has decided to: ride his riding toy down the middle of the street (twice), attempted to climb to the third story on a play structure, pushed a step stool over to our bar stools in order to climb up to the bar, tried to ride his brother’s Razor scooter, fallen and split his chin open on said Razor scooter requiring stitches, continual climbed up on and hung off of any and all tables, danced on the coffee table until he feel off backwards, jumped repeatedly from the coffee table to the couch, tried to figure out how the lawn mower works, stood on chairs to reach the water machine on the refrigerator, found out what happens when you put plastic toys in a fan, and attempted to climb the hill across the street and then jump off the hill into our neighbors backyard. Those of you with a two year old might think that sounds like a typical day for you. Those without a two year old might think that is enough to do a person in. Well, that is just one of my three boys. My almost four year old isn’t as daring, but he tends to be on the receiving end of his older brother’s wrath most of the time, which leads to lots of tears and many falls. My middle son takes falls (pushed or otherwise) from chairs, tables, scooters, stairs, beds, couches, and the stone wall. He also gets hit by many things such as: toys, plastic bottles, Legos, clothes, pillows, controllers, shoes, and balls. There is no end to the bumps and bruises, scratches and scrapes that this one gets. As for my oldest, my almost six year old, he is the most trying and troublesome one of all. Not only does he make constant demands upon me with no ability to wait for things, but he is also at an age where he is constantly pushing the envelope and doing things he knows he shouldn’t be doing. I feel like this past month I have become a warden constantly doling out consequences and enforcing punishments. He is going to kindergarten in a few weeks and I’ve been trying to explain to him that he is going to have new responsibilities, but also new privileges. He has taken this to mean that he is now a big boy and can do all sorts of big boy things that he clearly isn’t ready for. Among these privileges that he mistakenly thinks he has are: the ability to use art supplies, including scissors and paint, whenever he wants, taking a shower in the bathroom that doesn’t have a shower curtain, riding his bike halfway down the block with the 11 year old neighbor, ride his bike in the street, use a knife to cut food, cooking things in the toaster oven, turn the electric fire place on, go outside without permission, and using tools such as,hammers and nails, while I’m putting the baby down for nap.

All of these recent “adventures” with my boys are raising my blood pressure and some days (like today), I feel like my head is going to explode. My heart has skipped a beat more times than I can count in the last month or two, and I’m pretty sure the amount of grey hairs I have has doubled since summer began. The fact that we’ve made it this far into summer vacation with only one ER visit amazes me. If school weren’t just around the corner, I’m pretty sure I would just collapse and die one day soon and my official cause of death would be “mothering three young boys.” Let’s just hope I don’t have to change the name of this blog anytime in the near future.

How to take the lead out of a lead foot

I love our new house and neighborhood, it is so family friendly. Really, you couldn’t ask for a better place to raise your kids. When we moved to the Pacific Northwest, we were even lucky enough to buy a house on a cul-de-sac, which is perfect when you have three very active boys. My boys have been riding their scooters and bikes with all the neighbor kids around the cul-de-sac all summer; life couldn’t be better. Well, maybe it could. We do have one slight problem on this small, child-filled cul-de-sac, a lead footed neighbor.

We are one of only 4 houses on our private little street and all 4 houses have children living in them, 3 of the 4 houses have young children. The problem lies at the very end of the cul-de-sac where our lead-footed neighbors live with their 3 tween and teen children (one of whom just got his license and a brand new car). These neighbors at the end of the street are very private, keep to themselves, and are very protective of their property, which is bordered solely by my house. They are friendly enough to wave and say hi and I’ve even driven their daughter home from camp before, but they have never taken me up on any offers to join us for drinks or food like the other neighbors. I simply chalk it up to cultural differences and try to be respectful of their privacy. I do take issue, however, with the way they sped up and down our tiny little street with no regard for the little ones that play in and around our private street. I have considered talking to them about this issue, but have been advised by other neighbors that this will do no good as this has been an issue since long before I moved in and many neighbors, including those on connecting streets, have tried to convince them to slow down as they travel our child-filled neighborhood. Apparently one neighbor got so sick of their blatant disregard for the repeated requests to slow down that it ended in a shouting match. Knowing this, I thought I would try the subtle approach.

It seemed to work on the teen drive and the father as they slowed down to go around the sign, it it didn’t seem to work on the mother. Instead of slowing down, the mother gunned it as she passed the sign, driving up over the gravel on the side of the road. Her actions were done in such a way that all the neighbors who witnessed it felt that it was a blatant rebellion against the signs simple request. So I decided that I needed to go a step further and give them a little more motivation to slow down.

Note the large rocks piled in rather strategical intervals off to the side to make it more difficult to gun it through the gravel area. On the grass side some toys with sharp edges have been left on the edge of the road in a rather unfortunate spot for tires that might ride over them. If my neighbors decided to ignore my sign again, they will pay for it in the form of new tires. Hopefully my neighbors will get the point before it punctures their tires.

Only time, and lots of strategic toy placement, will tell if my neighbors will learn to slow down. If they don’t, this post might become a series of posts. Either way, I hope they make the choice to reserve the lead foot for highway driving and drive more cautiously through the neighborhood, before they hit a child and this story turns tragic.

Best laid plans and co-sleeping

So I’m a bed-sharer, there, I said it. Co-sleeper, bed-sharer,whatever you want to call it, my kids sleep in my bed with me. I am very aware that this is a frowned upon activity in this country; trust me, I’m aware (I hear it almost daily from my neighbor). But this is a choice I have made, even if it might not have been part of my original plan when I first became a mother.

Though my life before having kids is a bit hazy, I’m pretty sure I never thought to myself “hey, wouldn’t it be grand if, in my future, I were to have three kids and they all (or at least 2 of the 3) slept with me every night until they were five or older?” I’m pretty sure that if I’d thought that I would’ve have had myself committed. Yet here I am, almost six years into this parenting thing and two out of three of my kids sleep with me every single night while the third sleeps with my husband in a different bed. No, not ideal, but it works for us, right now at least.

It didn’t start this way, it just kind of progressed to this point. When my oldest was born I had a crib in another room and a co-sleeper in my room. I used to put him down in the crib after swaddling him and nursing him to sleep and then tend to him two hours later when he woke to nurse again. The problem was, in the house we lived in at the time, my bedroom was upstairs and his bedroom was downstairs, directly off the garage. That made me uncomfortable, so I used to bring him up to my room when I retired for the night. I would nurse him back down and then lay him in the co-sleeper. When he woke in the middle of the night, I would get up with him, go downstairs, and nurse him back to sleep before attempting to put him back down in the co-sleeper. The problem was, half the time I was so tired I began to fall asleep in the rocking chair, and the other half of the time, he would wake up as soon as he was laid back down into the cold co-sleeper, and just about every time, he would wake to feed a again within thirty minutes of me finishing this whole process. So basically I was getting no sleep. After two months, I had to return to work, so I knew I needed to work something out so I could get some sleep at night. That’s when I stumbled upon a solution. I found that a lot of times during the day, I was so tired that I would pass out with the baby in bed as I nursed him and we slept much better. My concern at night was that my husband would roll on top of him. So I figured out a way to prop the baby up on a pillow with my arm around him and angle him just right so that I could plop a boob in his mouth as soon as he began to wake so that I didn’t have to fully wake up and could get maximum sleep (with a newborn that is). This worked and as he got older, I enjoyed cuddling with him. At the time I was working during the day, so co-sleeping at night gave me a chance to bond with my baby. By the time my second baby came, we had moved to a house with bedrooms all on the same floor. My oldest was starting off the night in his crib and even sleeping through the night in his crib, on occasion, and I continued my co-sleeping tactic with baby number two. Before baby number three came along, my oldest was spending most nights in his own bed and my middle child would at least start off the night in his own bed. The problem was, they often woke during the night and came looking for us. My husband was getting up with the older one and bringing him back to his room, but then my husband began falling asleep in my oldest son’s bed and not returning. By the time my third son was born, my husband had got to the point where he would just go to bed in my oldest son’s room so that he didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night, while my middle son started off the night in his room, but eventually wandered into my bed. So it all just evolved over time as something that worked for us in order to get as much sleep as possible with three small children in the house. Sure, some nights we don’t get as much sleep as we like (okay, most nights), but I figure, we are still probably getting more sleep than we would be getting if we were playing musical beds all night like we used to. When the kids are sick, or teething, or having bad dreams, it doesn’t matter whether they are in their own beds or our bed because we aren’t going to get much sleep anyway. At least this way I have my own pillow and am not hanging off the edge of a toddler bed.

My husband and I are okay with our arrangement for the time being and we know that it is only temporary. The problem is, other people don’t seem to be okay with our arrangement. Normally I’m not one to care what other people think, but when I have to listen to people constantly tell me that I “need to get those kids out of (my) bed,” I begin to get a little irked. Yes, everyone has an option and they are entitled to it, but I don’t need to hear it. You raise your kids your way and I’ll raise my kids my way. Still, people feel the need to give misguided advise. When the boys were young, it was a constant commentary on how unsafe it was to sleep with my babies or that I was “spoiling” them and that I should just let them “cry it out” or they would never learn to self-soothe. Now I hear things like they are too old to sleep with me and should be in their own rooms, or that it isn’t right that my husband and I don’t sleep together, it will ruin our marriage. So for all those people who have felt to the need to constantly share their loving, but critical options on my sleeping arrangements, let me share some information with you.

First off, co-sleeping with your baby is perfectly safe, if you take the correct precautions. Both Dr. Sears and Dr. McKenna support co-sleeping and have research to show that, when done correctly, co-sleeping can decrease the chances of SIDS and can provide many benefits to both mother and child (Dr. McKenna, Dr. Sears) . Secondly, whether people realize it or not, co-sleeping is the cultural norm in 90% of the world and is practiced by nearly 200 cultures (cosleeping ). For whatever reason, we here in the US seem to think that every child needs their own bed and their own rooms. People forget that it wasn’t that long ago that multiple generations lived under the same humble roof, sharing both living and sleeping space. It is really only in the past 20 or so years that people have begun building these McMansions to live in, banishing children to their own wings. As far as spoiling a baby, their is no such thing. For nine months that baby is cuddled, comforted, and soothed inside the mother. On they day the child is born, they don’t just suddenly adjust to all the bright, harsh sounds and lights of the outside world and no longer need to be comforted. If that were the case, we would be born like other animals and walk out of the womb. For this reason, I refused to let my children “cry it out” (I won’t even go into the psychological effects I believe it has). That’s great that my neighbor kicked her kids out of her room when they were four days old or that a former co-work of my husband started to let his four week old “cry it out”, they have to live with those decisions just like I have to live with mine. Children are really only little for such a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things (despite what it might feel like at 2:30 am for the third night in a row of tearful teething). I want to cuddle my boys as much as possible while they will still let me. They aren’t going to be still sleeping in my bed when they are 18 (I’ll probably be lucky to get a hug from them by that age). When my boys are ready, they will begin to sleep on their own, in their own beds; after all, they do have them. As for my husband and I, people shouldn’t worry about our relationship, I mean we did manage to have three kids. Plus, I’m not sure my husband really wants to sleep with me. On the few occasions in which we have shared a bed recently, he usually moves to a different bed by 1:00 am because he says I’m too restless of a sleeper; I’m not sure he ever wants to share a bed with me again.

Each family needs to figure out what works best for their own family and what works for some might not work for others. I’m a bed sharer and I like it. For those of you who aren’t, don’t judge; after all, I’m not judging you for isolating your kid in a dark room each night.

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