Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Age of Innocence and Media Influence

I think one of the things I miss most as my kids grow from babies to toddlers to school age kids is the decreasing frequency of funny things they say. Thats not to say they're not still very entertaining, just in a different way. When they're toddlers, its the innocence that makes it so funny. I think what is so amazing is the way when they're 2, 3 or even four they pick up things you never even think they'd notice and then it comes out later and you're left open-mouthed. Its like a video camera, always recording (big ears on little people.) We've always known Piper is listening (hence her nickname of Nosy Rosy early on) but we were never really sure with Carter. He's a lot like his Papa, sort of meandering through the day, happy as a clam. Both figure if they don't let on what they know, we won't ask much of them. Isn't ignorance bliss? But Carter is definitely listening. He is our resident grizzly bear in the morning and spends his first hour or so watching Nick Jr. I think he's become less interested in the shows lately though and more tuned in to the commercials. Its amazing the influence the media has on our kids. I am continually summoned to the TV to watch a commercial so I know what to get him for his birthday (he has no concept of exactly how far away December is.) But now he has also started calling me to see things he thinks I need. Namely, the topsy-turvy tomato plant growing contraption "so we can grow 'matos for Finley," and the rotating mascara brush which he told me would make my eyes look so pretty. Damn, I must look pretty tired these days - and I thought I hid it well. I think the kicker was when he was watching the Bulls game with Tim and saw a Geico commercial with the talking gecko. He looked straight at me and said, "Oh, he's the brother to the money." It took me a minute, but I realized he was talking about "the money you could be saving with Geico" money with eyeballs. He then asked "is his name Geico too?" Sometimes I get disturbed thinking about the way the media corrupts our kids - mostly when Piper wants to model her wardrobe after Hannah Montana, or walks off the bus singing "f-r-e-e that spells free, credit report dot com, baby." Apparently thats what all the second graders are singing these days. Duh!! But, then again if I were to say 588-2300, I am fairly certain you would all say Empire. And we turned out okay. Though I feel like my kids are getting too smart, too grown up too quickly, I am left smiling with tears in my eyes every time we drive on 355 near the factories in Lemont since Carter pointed to the smokestacks pouring smoke into the air and told me that is the "cloud factory" where they make clouds. Yes, it is sweet one, yes it is!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nature vs Nurture

When people ask me what the best thing about having 5 kids is, my answer is always the same - we have such a mixed bag. 5 very different little people in one family. Often the differences are so glaringly obvoius that I start wondering about the whole nature versus nurture argument. Which personality traits and habits have we helped shape and which are so deeply embedded in the fiber of their little beings? We have recently implemented weekly and daily chores (this is long overdue) in the Johnson household. Lets just say this has met with some very interesting reactions. One particular child has been very eager to help, wanting to do all the chores on their chart all at once. (Yes there are charts, actually typed up in Excel and taped up weekly in the kitchen. You'd never know by looking at the inside of my car that I do have these crazy OCD uber-organized tendencies locked away deep inside.) Another child, who shall remain nameless, has taken on the role of Cinderella coughing as they sweep up the crumbs from under the dinner table, telling us on several occasions, "I did NOT sign up for this." I might argue the same.

The same two children have very different saving and spending habits as wsell. You can literally see the smoke coming from Cinderella's pocket when she has a dollar to her name. Whereas her sibling, shall we call him Prince Charming (I'm not doing very well in the way of anonymity, am I?) has a washed out glass jar in his drawer filled with every nickel he's ever earned or been gifted. Go figure...

The scene that played out at this morning's breakfast table had me revisiting the nature vs nurture topic once again. Piper and Finley were having waffles, and Piper noticed Trace's plate had a piece of chocolate chip coffee cake left over from Nana's birthday brunch. She started to cry when I told her it was the last piece. Without a word, when Piper wasn't even looking, Trace put the piece of cake on her plate. Those of who know Trace know how much he loves his sweets. So this was a true sacrifice for him, yet he did it without a moment's hesitation. I would argue that that is something that you cannot teach your child. Either way, that is the kind of moment that makes us so proud as parents, and so thankful for this crazy, chaotic life with 5 very different individuals. Happy Monday!

PS. This awesome pic was taken by Paula Subler

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Fish Tale

Every year we come to Gulf Shores, the kids are in search of the elusive sand crab. It has become a bit of an obsession, and a bit of a joke. The first year we were here, we did in fact acquire a crab. Tim took the kids down to the beach at sunset to look for crabs, armed with a bucket, shovel and net. Hours later they returned with a crab, named Sonny. Trace was so proud telilng me all about the crab and how they caught it. This turned out to be his first fish tale, since they actually "caught" the crab in the elevator. (Another dad and his little guy found a bucket full of crabs in the elevator.) Last night, Tim, Piper and Trace returned from dinner with a huge crab. Aunt Paula spotted it as they were driving back, and after some coaxing and a little pep talk, brave Uncle Rory dumped his fries out of a styrofoam container and caught the crab in there. The nice lady at the Citgo next door gave Tim a fishing pail to put it in, the kids got some sand from the beach and now "Bigfoot" is sitting on our patio. Never a dull moment...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Easter

Hope everyone had a happy and blessed Easter! Ours turned rainy but was good. Here are a few pictures...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One Month Old

I can't believe that one month (yesterday) has passed since Scout was born. If only the last month of pregnancy passed that quickly. Her one month "birthday" was celebrated with her first plane ride. Her and her cousin Brody were so good, but it was definitely a long day complete with plane changes, gate changes and diaper changes. Scout was happy to be carried in her sling for the majority of the day. We're glad to be in warmer weather and look forward to a relaxing week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wally World, Here We Come!

Growing up, there was one movie that the entire family always watched, whenever it was on. It was a family autobiography of sorts - National Lampoon's Vacation. My dad was Clark W. Griswold (His dog is actually named Clark.) My parents told me that some day my brothers and I would look back fondly on our three week trip out west. Aaahh yes, one pop-up camper, one sister, two brothers, a talking PeeWee Herman doll, huge wads of Bazooka bubble gum, and Ryan "drying out his mouth" (AKA drooling on my head,) and countless stops at places like  "The Corn Palace," Wall Drugs, and "The House of Mud." I didn't understand then what possessed my parents to take us on what has lovingly been nicknamed "The Hell Trip." Now as a parent, as I realize it is just one of the small joys of having children (right up there with embarrassing them with your clothing and singing really loud to the music you like on the iPod.) Tim is even more excited to take our children on road trips than I am. This could be because I still get bored and car sick like when I was a kid. But not Tim, he's armed with his atlas, sports talk shows on AM radio, and a cup of lukewarm gas station coffee. We've made the trip from Illinois to Gulf Shores, Alabama the last two years over Easter. We weren't going to brave it this year because of Scout being so young. However, we changed our minds after a week of being cooped up over Christmas Break, and the kids announcing by seven in the morning that they were bored (never mind the heaps of new Xmas toys.) So in true family man fashion, my brother Rory has agreed to be Goose, the wingman to Tim's Maverick. One Suburban, one Acura, two dads, four kids, 14 hours of driving, countless potty stops. Doesn't seem to add up?? That's because there will be two moms (Paula and I) and two babies (Brody and Scout) on one peaceful flight down south tomorrow. The boys and big kids are on the road, and I must admit I'm a bit giddy as I clean the very quiet house with one sleeping baby nearby, knowing that what I pick up now will actually stay picked up longer than 5 minutes. If any two guys can handle the challenge, though, its Tim and Rory. And its good for the kids to get to do something so fun with their dad, after all he lets them get all the treats I never let them have! So, Tim and Ror, may the force be with you, and NO, girls cannot pee standing up like boys - just find a clean bathroom!!!!
Here are a couple pictures of Finley, who was such a good girl and big helper that she got to have her toenails painted before we left for the beach! She was so proud!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Babywearing and Blogging

The one question I get most often from people is, "How do you manage 5 kids?" I will not even pretend that I do manage all 5 all the time. Hence the name of this blog (chaos reigns more than calm.) However, if I had to sum it up in two words, they would be patience and multi-tasking. Once we jumped from one to two, then two to three kids, I often wished I was an octopus. Seriously, if you could buy an extra hand, what do you think it would go for? The common man (or mom) probably could never afford it. It would be priceless. So, until I stumble upon an extra hand, I am always looking for ways to free up the two I do have. My magical and miraculous solution this time around is called the Peanut Shell. Quite possibly, the best thing ever invented, yet so simple. I had the Baby Bjorn with the other kids, but this is a pouch-style sling that is so easy to use and Scout loves to be in it. It makes sense, as she's all snug in there like she was for 9 months in me. First , the homeopathic remedies and organic foods, now the earth mother sling. I'm feeling so crunchy these days! But seriously, its the only chance we have at getting lunches made, breakfast served, kids dressed, homework signed, and kids to the bus stop in the morning, not to mention that dinner would never get made without Scout in the sling. Thats just how she rolls :-) Thank God, because amidst the requests of, can you help me wipe, can you make me another chocolate milk, can you find my night-night, can I have a snack, can you play ponies with me, can you watch me play monster trucks on wii, and can you button my pants, I'm happy to have a free hand or two.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April Showers (and Baths!)

You know you're a parent of a newborn when the most exciting event in your life is "the falling off of the cord!" For some reason, Scout's umbilical cord remnants have been extremely interesting to her siblings, especially Finley. The first thing she asks every morning is whether Scout's cord fell off during the night. The presence of this little shriveled up brown bit on her baby sister's tummy apparently occupies her little two year old brain much of the time. It took a good week or so to convince her that is was not, in fact, poo on Scout's belly. Now we use it as a calendar of sorts - as in "We'll go on Spring Break after Scout's cord falls off," or "The Easter Bunny will come after Scout's cord falls off." Hey, whatever works... So of course last night was the much anticipated "First Real Bath" in celebration of no more cord. It fell off on Wednesday, and Trace asked me if I was just playing an April Fool's joke on him when Finley announced it as he walked in the door after school. Though I realize I spend most of my time with the under 9 crowd, I like to think I could've come up with a better April Fools joke than that, had I been so inclined. I am a college-educated woman after all, though there are many days I wonder why. My class load from college translates roughly into:

Mass Media (aka "The Overwhelming Frequency of Ads for Bendaroos and Blendy Pens on Nickelodeon") 

Radio 1 (aka "How Quickly can Mom Turn Down the Volume Before the Kids ask what it means to be "Bringing SexyBack")

Religion (aka"The Divine Mystery of How One Hour in Church with 5 Kids Feels like a Month")

American Lit (aka "The Joy of Reading Dr. Seuss Six Times and how even Toddlers Know When You're Skipping Pages")

French (aka "Oui, I'd Love to Watch Another Annoying Episode of Caillou")

Logic (aka "Peaceful Negotiations In Regards to the Division of Marshmallows in the Breakfast Cereal")

All this just to have my 8-year-old tell me last year that her teacher knew better than me about how to wiggle a loose tooth because she was a teacher and I was "just a mom." When I tried my rebuttal, I was told it was true, that she had in fact "gone to special school." I think I went there too, but heck, what do I know???
So anyhow, April looks to be bringing us more snow before anything else, but it can't last forever,right. Hope everyone has a great weekend! Here's a few pictures of Scout's first bath, and Piper snuggling her afterwards. The towel that Scout is wrapped in is the same one we used to wrap Piper in! And look at her now- she's such a big helper!

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