Friday, August 28, 2009

Teeter Totter

We've all heard that life is like a box of chocolates, but in our case I think of my life more like a teeter-totter (seesaw, whatever you want to call it - I don't want to get into the soda versus pop debate...) Its all about balance, which seems to be such an elusive goal. I suppose the more kids you have, the more difficult it becomes, simply because of the sheer amount of time it takes to accomplish simple tasks when you multiply them times 5 kids. I have been very focused on creating and implementing a routine for our family with the beginning of the new school year, and I have to say I think it is working very well. My main objectives are to create the most stress-free environment in the morning by picking out clothes/shoes, packing backpacks and lunches and at least having an idea what's for breakfast the night before. Piper now has a dry erase tile on her wall with a morning checklist, just in case somehow during her slumber she forgets that we do in fact brush our teeth and make our beds every morning. Yes, every morning. Seriously, they look at me like I'm dropping a bomb each morning and this is a completely foreign practice I'm asking them to complete. Really??? The clothes being picked out the night before was essential for everyone's sanity. Trace would wear a paper sack if I laid it out for him, while Piper has some, shall I say, very definite opinions about fashion. Backpacks need to be emptied and put away as soon as the kids get home. Homework gets done before TV viewing, and I try to have a healthy meal planned and prepped. All these components are working together well, I must say. However when you add in 4 soccer practices, religious ed, and gymnastics each week, plus the normal stuff like baths, playing with friends and taking the dog for a walk the end result is not pretty. It usually consists of Tim and I surrounded by a heaping pile of soaking wet bath towels, two baskets of folded laundry waiting to be put away, two baskets waiting to be folded, and two more baskets waiting to be washed and dried. Oliver is having a field day with the fallout from dinner under the table, and the dishes are laughing at us from the sink. And the rest of the cycle goes a little something like this: Clean up the kitchen, dive into laundry, pack the lunches, sign the papers that need to be signed, lay out clothes for tomorrow, grunt at husband as I pass him in hallway, take out dog one last time, fall into bed, get child a drink of water, put child back into bed, fall back into our bed, put another child back into bed, fall into bed again, scoot over and just let this child sleep next to me, remove child's foot from up my nose, just get up already - COFFEE!!!! and start all over again. The moral of the story being that everything is never all perfect at once, which is just fine since perfection is not really the goal here. I guess something's gotta give, which is a concept I'm definitely more comfortable with as a mother of 5 than I was as a mom of just one. I know the laundry will still be sitting there when I get done folding the "Flying Ninja" from Trace's paper airplane book. At least as I'm folding the laundry, I get to hear him and Carter cheering and laughing as they launch it off the top of the stairs. I may not have the cleanest kitchen floor in the neighborhood, but I managed to be crowned "the bestest mom in the whooooole world" when I made them spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. Yes, we fish clean socks out of the dryer, clean spoons are often housed in the dishwasher and you could probably find a few stray sippy cups under the couch, but that's just how we roll around here. We're just seeking that elusive balance between chaos and calm, but we're enjoying the ride together... (insert circus music here.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back To School . . . Oh Happy Day!!!

I have been nesting lately. Not in the "I'm pregnant"sense of the term - I'm not totally crazy people!! But in the "the kids are going back to school" sense. Today I am giddy with excitement at the prospect of what tomorrow brings. I can smell the crayons, freshly sharpened pencils and new school shoes (which is a much better smell than Trace's skanky 4-month old flip-flops that have covered every inch of squishy mud Crystal Springs boasts!) I can hardly wait to take the kids' pictures by the front door holding their new backpacks, er - "Messenger Bags." But what I really can't wait for is the long-lost concept of routine. Yes, I loathed my mother's routines, muttering under my breath every time she said, "Dinner (Actually she usually sung that one word in an opera voice, which stretched it to at least 6 syllables,)time for CCD, you have soccer practice tonight, time to get showered, time for bed." But now as a grown woman with 5 kids of my own, I am literally skipping through the house at the thought of this upcoming week - the start of everything falling into its rightful place. And as my girlfriend Patti so eloquently put it, "Everything has a place, and my kids' place is in school." We are looking forward to the resurgence of a clean house. Not that we don't clean over the summer, but I liken it to shoveling while its still snowing. If you blink, you miss it. Dn't get me wrong, I have enjoyed (almost) every moment of this summer with my kids. I have loved hearing about their summer camp advenures, taking them to the park, going for walks, having their friends over to play, swimming, fishing, running through the sprinkler, watching them on the swingset and seeing them struggle to keep their eyes open at the dinner table after a day playing outside. But at this point, I have probably applied sunscreen 250 times, passed out 300 popsicles, gotten 600 cups of water, swept sand off the patio 50 times, reapplied sunscreen 100 times, been to 15 different parks, bandaged 30 scraped knees or elbows and heard "I'm bored!" 400 times. As my husband would say, "Put a fork in me, I'm done!" Now I look forward to bedtimes and homework, school projects and soccer practice. Until December at least, when I'm wishing for summer again . . .

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