Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Thank List.

One}  I am thankful for Matt.  If you read the preceding post about Brock, you could just adultify it a bit and that would describe me.  Matt absolutely, unquestionably loves and trusts me, despite my innumerable idiosyncrasies that I insist on forcing upon my entire little family.  He so patiently photographs the boys, over and over and over.  He cleans the house and cooks for these events I plan and host, despite having no time to do so. Sometimes, I think he actually finds my psychosis endearing.  Never, have I ever, met a more loyal, wonderful, funny - no, hilarious - happy, cynical person. I could not be who I am, nor where I am in life without him.  So, more than anything, I am thankful for Matt.
Two} I am thankful for health.  For my health, but mostly, my children's health, my husband's health as well as my, and his family's health.  We are lucky.  Usually, I don't like to use the word "lucky". I feel that mostly, you control your place in life, but actual genetics is, in fact, luck. The family you are born into is luck.  Admittedly, no one in my family is the picture of health, in that, we eat good food.  I don't mean "good for you food", I mean good food.  Filled with saturated fats, and sugars and Gluten and lactose.  We are active, but don't necessarily exercise regularly.  So, I feel, our health can be attributed a lot to luck.  Therefore, I am so thankful that my boys were born with good immune systems.  That all of our parents are still alive and involved in our children's lives. Without our health, again, I could not be who I am, nor where I am in life.

Three} I am thankful for family.  I feel like I say this all the time, yet not enough.  I could never stop thanking my parents, Matt's parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins for their help and support.  Mimi takes the boys to school 3 days a week.  This is not a small job.  And every day she takes them, she is forced to break Brock's heart by saying "no" to him coming over after school.  As I know he asks every single time.  She lets him, very frequently, probably more often then she should.  And he LOVES it.  Annora, my mom, and Mimi take the boys on little excursion's constantly.  I don't think my children even notice that they have two, full-time, working parents.  Their schedules are just to busy to allow them even a moment of down time.  Nearly every Sunday, we enjoy a family dinner.  All of our Holidays are jam-packed with family events, food, gifts and fun.  When Matt abandons me and leaves town with a newborn plus multiple other children, the grandparents do not even hesitate to step in and help. No matter the madness, there is always someone there for us.  Always someone willing to assist.  If ever, people wonder what the heck I am thinking having 4 children, as well as considering more (and I know they do wonder) they just need look at the people I grew up around, and I feel it's very obvious.  Nothing is more valuable than family.  And more then the previous, without family, I could not be who I am, nor where I am in life.
Four} I am thankful for my brain.  Maybe that's a selfish thing to say.  Or seems a bit cocky.  But I am simply saying, I am thankful for the brain I was born with.  The personality it produced. I love that I have endless energy.  That I am driven, motivated and passionate.  I've never been any other way, so I can't really compare, but I think it makes life more fun to be this way.  I love that I love so much.  I love that my mood is generally always positive.  I have come to terms with and learned how to control (most of the time) my lack of patience, short fuse, and loud mouth.  I enjoy good company.  I love my job as a physician and that I was given a brain that could perform this skill with competence and proficiency.  Without my brain, I could not be who I am, or where I am in life.

Five} I am thankful for my wealth.  I am not saying I have lots of money, but I never "want for anything".  There is never a question that food will be on the table.  Our clothes are not tattered, worn or unclean (well, besides Curtis).  We have a fabulous roof over our head. Matt and I have a constant, steady income. We grew up in stable, wealthy homes.  Again, I use wealth as a term not specifically pertaining to money.  We are wealthy in love, friendship and health as well.

Six}  I am thankful for friends.  This can almost go under the "family" category, as good friends are as good as family.  If not better.  You choose your friends.  So rarely do you have to put up with personalities that are not necessarily compatible with your own.  In family, you learn to put up with these differences, but with friends, you simply don't click, so why continue the relationship.  Six of our closest friends have been asked to be Godparents.  I feel this is stating, if you could be family, you would be.  They too, can be relied on for a helping hand, a sympathetic ear and a night out of fun and good company.  Or a night in of board games, beer and friendly(ish) conversation.  Friends visit when we have a new baby.  Bring gifts and dinner.  Friends provide fun mommy play dates when I am home with the boys all day.  Friends enrich and optimize my life.

Seven}  I am thankful that the list of things to be thankful for could go on, and on, and on.  I could get down to specifics.  I could write a book.  I am thankful for our giant, Giblin-family thanksgiving.  I am thankful for our small, O'Laughlin-family thanksgiving.  I am thankful for a father that understands that you can only visit so many families in one day, but knows I love him despite not seeing him every holiday.  I could just thank, and thank, and thank.  And after all that thanking, I hope everyone reading this can do the same.  I wish everyone could experience life in this way.  I guess I am a bleeding heart, at heart.  Happy, thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Shark.

I've said it before, if Brock were born to any other mother, I believe they would label him has a "difficult child".  His energy is endless. Absolutely and utterly endless.  The child never stops moving.  As a newborn he was no fun to hold, and to this day, he is no fun to have on your lap.  We have gone so far as to nickname him "The Shark", as I am certain, like a shark, he would die if he stopped moving.  That is the only thing that could possibly explain his fidgety nature.  Lucky for him, I too, seem to have an endless amount of energy and struggle to sit still.  I've mostly attributed my condition to Restless Legs, but it's probably due in part to a lack of patience and attention span.  Which, more and more, I see is the same for him.
Brock has also been accused (mostly by my siblings and his grandparents) of being "anal", or "stubborn", or "particular" or "picky".  I can't fault the kid.  He knows what he wants.  He knows how he likes it.  And he's not afraid to demand it that way.  This can get irritating at times, but I have known him for his entire 5 years of existence, can generally guess which particularities he might have, and often fend off a melt down by presenting things in a certain way.  The fact that his idiosyncrasies are so consistent and predictable actually make him my "easiest child".  That, and his advanced age helps.

The wheels never stop spinning in that kid's head.  And, I know, I know, all kid's "say the darndest things" but I don't think all kids, ALWAYS say the darndest things.  I keep a list on my phone of funnies, and they are nearly all Brock.  And he has been doing this since before Curtis' age.  I am not saying he is actually a funny person, because he's not.  He's a pretty serious dude.  But to the adult ear, his hypothesis', explanations, thoughts, and antics are hilarious.  The other day, I heard him out in the hallway, crying and yelling, and getting so very extremely frustrated (oh yeah, did I mention he has no patience, gets easily frustrated which results in a slight anger management problem?)  I asked what the problemo was? He exclaimed, "My feet are itching!!"  Wow.  Well, that's easy. "Then itch them Brock."  To which he starts crying/whining/getting angry again and says, "Ugh.  I can't!  My toenails are in the way!!"  You can guess what I did next: laughed.  Brock has also gotten so frustrated with his eyelashes, that he has requested they be trimmed.  When his lips are chapped, he whines and asks me for lipstick because his "lips are jammed."

One of his most recent developments is a method to tattle on his brothers.  Which I actually appreciate. A LOT.  If I am in another room, I will suddenly hear, "George Alert! George Alert! George Alert! George Alert!" This will go on until I ask Brock what his brother is doing.  Brock will then kindly explain that George is trying to insert something in the CD drive, or open the garage door, or has dumped out all his cereal and is stomping on it, or any other various annoying, devastating or dangerous things that toddlers are so famous for and skilled at performing. He does the same for Curtis.

Overall, I just hope Brock continues to have this palpable passion for life.  His excitement, and love is infectious.  His grandmother's have a very difficult time telling him "No" to ANYTHING because he so visibly over-joyed to be given or allowed to do "special things".  He does not want to miss an experience. Does not miss a detail. His memory is impeccable.  His hearing excellent (do not, for a minute, assume he is not listening.  In fact, he will inform you that he "has his ear plugs in" when he is purposefully trying to act like he can't hear you.)  His ability to process information is astounding. 

Brock is five.  I have lived with this little ball of energy, for five years.  I have loved every minute, even the frustrating ones.  I feel like anyone who meets him can see why I would have three more boys to follow.  Everyday is something new, entertaining, amusing, and love-filled.  Happy Birthday to my little Shark.  And many more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Time For a Day in the Life: Work Day with a newborn and 4th child.

 Recently, the mother-in-law of a good friend asked me, "How did you manage to get 26 hours in a day, and the rest of us are stuck with only 24?" To which I replied, "Guess I have friends in the right places."  I've been getting these kind of comments a lot lately.  A few people have even asked me to run through a typical day for them.  So, I decided it was time for a description of what exactly goes on behind the seemingly non-tired, unphased, energetic facade that I have so skillfully mastered.

A Day in the Life: Work & School Day with a newborn and 4th child.

5:47 am - Mitch wakes up to eat, likely because one of his 2 older brothers (even more likely it's Curtis) has opened our bedroom door and called out, "Mommy" while standing directly next to the pack 'n play where he resides.  If this doesn't happen, I might get an extra 20-60 minutes of sleep (but it almost always happens.) I then get Mitch and feed him.  Matt tries to convince Brock and Curtis to go back to bed, explaining, "It's too early!!"  Eventually, he gives up and showers.  I try to get Mitch back to sleep.

6:45 am - Mitch is fed and back asleep.  I am up getting dressed for work.  During this time, Curtis is begging me over, and over, and over to "come downstairs".  He and/or Brock are asking for a snack, or a drink, or to read a book, or to play.  They are touching my hairbrush.  My toothbrush.  Asking me when I'm going to be done.  Inquiring as to whether it's a "Mommy Daddy day?" Which, obviously, it isn't as we are both up and dressing for work.  If it were a Mommy-daddy day, we'd both still be in bed getting annoyed at them for being up, forcing them to play on the iPad while we get some extra shut eye.  Getting mad at them for opening our blinds. Letting them destroy our bedroom. Et cetera. How have they not picked up on this pattern!?  They seem like such bright boys...except before 8am.

7:00 am - To the relief of both older boys, I have finally finished dressing, and am now downstairs.  Though, I am bewildered by their relief as I have to get out the door in the next 5 minutes, and I am going to continue to say 'no' to their barrage of questions.  No, I cannot get you a drink. No, Kerry will give you your gummy bears (vitamins, duh people). No, milk and juice are "drinks" and I already said no to that!  No, I cannot get you a snack.  Ok, fine, if I give you some cereal will you leave me alone!?

7:05 am - I am still helping out the children. Kerry is now here for relief.

7:09 am - I finally get to the door.  Now I feel bad.  I am going to leave my kids, and I have just been telling them "no" all morning.  So, I search them out to kiss them goodbye.  I hear George now awake in his room.  Do I go in and say goodbye?  This is at least another 3 minute delay.  Oh great, he's in there saying "Momma" now, over and over in his sweet little voice.  Ugh, I'm going in there.

7:13 am - I am in the car.  I forgot my ID.  I run back in the house.  Brock exclaims, "Mom is home already!!" George comes running to greet me at the front door with his arms open, grin huge, stating, "Momma" as if he didn't just see me 30 seconds ago, and I've been gone for an entire 8 hour day.  Even Tater is excited...but he's an idiot, we expect that from him.  I say, "No, nope, not home, haven't left.  Love you all. Bye!" And I am back out the door.

7:16 am - Time for my daily internal Starbucks debate. If I stop, there is no way I can get to clinic by 7:45 on the off chance one of my patients has actually checked in 10 minutes early and is awaiting my knock on the door (which has never happened, by the way.)  But if the line is short or even better, non-existent, I can get there by 7:54.  I'm stopping. I order my usual Caramel latte with skim milk.  I say hello to whomever I know, perhaps chat a bit too long, and am on the road by 7:23.

7:54 am - Time now for my parking lot debate: North docs lot, South docs lot, patient parking out front, patient parking right by the clinic?  North lot.  I often sit for a moment, sip my coffee, finish listening to "War of the Roses" or a good song, or whatever subject Afentra and Danny are discussing.

7:59 am - I begin logging into the computer at my desk.

8:05 am - I am finally into eCare and can begin seeing my patients.  If any are roomed.  I'll spare the details here, as those would require a post (or three) of their own. Suffice it to say, I feel rushed, the ENTIRE clinic.  I begin to panic a bit around 9:30 because my pumping time is approaching.  Try as I might to avoid it, I always leave a patient waiting in a room for about 20 minutes while I pump.  This causes me significant guilt, anxiety and throws off the entire flow of my clinic.

11:56 am - I have finished with my last patient.  I have about 25 minutes left of documenting to do, and about 60 unanswered work emails, patient messages or results, faxes that need sending, and any other numerous office-type work to complete.  I begin to make a dent in this.

12:37 pm - I am starting to get really hungry.  As you may have noticed, I never mentioned eating.  This is because I haven't.  Some days I remember to grab a NutriGrain bar or something of the like, but most days I don't. There's milk in my coffee, right? Mitch is home, and he is likely getting hungry.  Do I stay and get to more of the work that I desperately need to finish?  Do I waste precious moments and run to the cafeteria to get my $6 lunch?  More often than not, I decide no to both, and I take off for home.

1:21 pm - George is napping.  Brock and Curtis are at school. Now, I can avoid pumping for a second time, and personally feed my teeny, little abandoned newborn.  It's such a relief to be home.  Work will just have to wait.  There is always tomorrow, right?  Just as I begin to nurse Mitch, I hear George jumping up and down in his crib.  He doesn't seem too upset, so I finish up with the baby.  Mitch isn't quite ready to be set down, so he cries as I get George and change him.  I really want to immediately pick the baby back up, but George needs his "hon" which is drink.  Yeah, I don't know either, don't ask. I get him a drink. I pick up the baby.  The baby needs changing.  I change the baby.  George wants a snack.  He is following me around crying and grabbing onto my leg.  I get him a snack.  I try to rock Mitch asleep.  I hear a drawer open in the nursery.  Damnit.  George is getting into the top drawer of the changing table.  AGAIN.  I am so tired of picking up Q-tips.  Mitch is getting more and more agitated because he just wants to fall asleep and keeps getting interrupted.

2:30 pm - Mitch is not going to be happy about this, but it's time to put him in the infant carrier and run to pick up the older two from school.  I get George's shoes on, and take them to the car. Mitch screams the whole way.  I mean, he even stops breathing sometimes.  I can tell he is panicked and sure that he has been completely abandoned.  He is a snuggler, a people person, loves to see your face.

2:39 pm - I lug the 2 babies into school to pick up the 2 older brothers.  I have to carry George and the baby through the play ground, or it would take 15 minute to walk from point A to point B.  My wrist and back are aching.  I'm hot.  I'm a bit stressed.  Or frazzled really.  Do I get Brock or Curtis first?  I almost always pick Curtis, I don't know why, just seems like the right choice.  Recently, though, I found out from Brock and his teacher that it's "really cool" and "awesome" and "the best thing ever" if YOUR mom is the FIRST mom to pick up in the afternoon.  Great, another thing to feel guilty about as a mom. Looks like I need to change up the routine.  I spend the next 5 minutes trying to corral the kids out the door, making sure they have their jacket, lunch box, back pack, art work and any other loose item.  And then we are faced with that damn playground, again.  I can't very well carry all 4 of them past this obstacle, so we play for a few minutes.  Luckily, I have trained them that it is imperative we leave before the bell rings at 3pm for the "big kid's school" or else we will be trapped at school forever (which I don't think is far from the truth). 

3:00 pm - Saved by the bell.  We all walk to the car.  At this point, I am always sure we are the cutest little sight anyone has ever seen.  I am carrying the baby, while the other 3 mobile boys hold one another's hand.  Adorable, right!?  Then I load all 4 into their 4 carseats (well, Brock can buckle himself in, thank goodness).  Now what?  Is it nice out?  Then snack and the park.  Or ice cream at Foo's with Magra.  Or home to feed Mitch again.  Or the park with some friends.  Or a walk.  Is it not nice out?  Then I'm bummed.  Home it is, to take out every toy, in every room of the house. And heaven forbid I step one single foot in that kitchen without feeding all the kids and getting them a drink.  Remember those incessant questions from this morning?  Magnify them by 10 and add tired crankiness from a long day at school.  Let me just say, from 3pm until bedtime, there is A LOT of crying.  I repeat, A LOT of crying.  And some whining.  There is definitely some wrestling, tickling, tackling and laughter too.  But lots of crying.

5ish pm - Matt and I have the daily debate called "What's for dinner".  This ends up being anything from frozen pizza or fish stick's to carry out from the Blue Moose and anything in between.  The kid's don't even eat much.  They had too many snacks because I walked into the kitchen more than once. They are usually mad at whatever decision we make, anyway.  More crying.  Every so often, we get "the good food dance" from Brock...this makes the meal much more smooth and enjoyable.  George eats anything, our "Human garbage disposal". Mitch needs to be held through the whole meal. Always.

6-7:45pm - The SLOWEST two hours of the day.  I know, I know I should be so happy to spend this time with my children.  And I am.  But bedtime never comes soon enough. They are just nuts by this time of night.  Exhausted. Hyperactive. Adorable. You name it.  Some nights this is a great opportunity for bath time.  Sometimes an evening walk.  Sometimes a movie and popcorn.  Mostly, it's time to take all the pillows off the couch and create a "bouncy house" where inevitably somebody gets bounced on...more crying. Oh, and Mitch is eating, and requiring to be held the ENTIRE time.  Sometimes you can put him down for a moment while he takes a quick catnap.

7:45 pm - George gets changed, his jammies put on, teeth brushed, ZeeZee sequestered, and he is put to bed.  Goodnight George.

7:51 pm - The 3 minute bedtime resistance routine begins.  Brock has NEVER successfully postponed bedtime, but I'll give it to him, that kid has tenacity. Curtis, on the other hand, is waiting pitifully at the bottom of the stairs because he has suddenly gotten so very tired.  He loves bed.  They both trudge upstairs.  Then they get a second wind and want to play with all their bedroom toys.  NO.  We spend 10 minutes trying to get them into their pajamas.  We brush teeth, never a chore, they like this routine.  We read a book (after an argument as to who gets to pick it out, or complaint over the choice of read).  We give kisses, turn on the noise-maker, turn out the light.  And Brock's second 3 minute attempt at post-poning bedtime begins.  He either claims he did not get a "hug" or a "kiss" or an "I love you" (to which he did receive all three) or he says "quesion" and will yell my or his father's name until we finally come back in to answer the question.  During this entire process, one parent is caring for Mitch (usually me).

8:11 pm - Silence. 

8:12-11ish pm - Matt and I clean the kitchen.  Pick up some toys. Feed the dog.  Perhaps then watch a show or two.  Or he edits photos.  I generally just hold Mitch...he won't let me put him to bed just yet.  I wish I could reply to some emails. Finish addressing Mitch's announcements.  Blog.  Post, edit, print photos.  Read.  Eat something.  Then, finally, we decide Mitch is out enough to be put to bed.  Or I feed him again. Then we go to bed.

3:31 am - Mitch wakes up.  Matt changes his diaper.  I feed him in bed.

4:42 am - I wake up and realize Mitch and I fell asleep.  Do I leave him here or take him back?  50/50 chance I'll do either.

5:47 am - "Mommy!?"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Ladies Man

Curtis has been a bit under the weather.  The only reason this is apparent is because his energy level drops, and he is a bit quicker to cry.  Otherwise, you would be none the wiser.  Last night, I called him into the kitchen to give him his medicine.  After gulping down that yummy, pink amoxicillin, he exclaimed, "I feel happy now!"  (To which Matt and I laughed and immediately began quoting Monty Python.  "I'm not dead yet. I feel fine.") The thing is, he really did.  His mood was instantly better.  That is Curtis for ya.  Always has been.  Back when he was a newborn, I wondered whether his happy little demeanor would change.  Now, at a solid three years old, I can say it hasn't.  I hope it won't.  I don't want the obstacles, people, emotions, experiences of life to knock any of that exuberant light out of him.  I want him to continue to make people smile by his mere presence.

We have begun calling him "The Ladies Man" for a few reasons, not the least of which being that he only says "Hi, what's your name" with the biggest, cheesy smile to attractive, young women while on walks.  Conveniently ignoring the elderly and any male persons.  This method of his works!!  If you ask any of my friends or family, the 20 and early 30 something females all choose Curtis as their favorite!  At age three, he got game.  He also will blindly join in any game, bramble, tickling match or situation where people are laughing.  He will attempt to smooth over any situation where someone is crying.  While jumping on a trampoline in the backyard of a good friend, two 3 year-old girls began fighting over a toy.  Curtis, without prompting, crawled over to these girls and offered his toy to the one without.  She instantly stopped crying, even smiled and eeked out a timid, "thank you".  Curtis turned to me, with his irresistible, huge grin, puffed out his chest and said, "I made her happy, mommy!" I would say that I am insanely jealous of his future spouse...but then I remember that in addition to referring to him as 'The Ladies Man', we also call him our 'Dirty child', envision Pig Pen from Snoopy.  Yup, that's our Curty boy.  So, nevermind about all that; hire a weekly cleaning lady, that's my advice.
None of this is to say that Curtis is void of the normal 3-year-old behaviors.  He insists on being independent in everything, despite being unable to complete most of these tasks.  He wants to pour his own milk, put on his shoes, carry his plate, cut his food, ride any and every bike, walk across the street, climb all playground equipment, you name it; ALONE.  Failure to do so, results in a little tantrum.  Ok, by little tantrum, I mean a full blown tantrum.  Often in front of the mirror, watching himself to make sure the tears look real and convincing, the frown exaggerated enough and the eyes pleading enough to get the point across.  I just laugh, and make fun of him.  Again, even in his frustrating, unwarranted, ridiculous anger, he makes me smile.

Curtis speaks with a little lisp.  I think it's still cute, and I'm pretty sure it will go away on its own.  His hair is thin, course and all over the place.  Still at a loss as to what to do with it.  Size wise, he is just above average in both height and weight, fitting in quite nicely with his peers - which is how he's want it, I think. He has only just begun to attempt to pee and poop in the potty.  Have a ways to go on that end. He loves school.  The teachers love him - mostly because he doesn't cry and happily walks in to play, unlike a lot of his classmates. He will eat carrots, lettuce, bananas and applesauce.  Otherwise, it's meat and potatoes.  And by potatoes, I mean in the form of chips or fries. Oh, I almost forgot!  He ate 6 pieces of broccoli the other day, because Brock and I were having so much fun taking the "trees" through each of the seasons, like I did as a kid.

And though Curtis seems too busy concerning himself with others happiness to remember that he is now three, Brock being the thoughtful (controlling) older brother that he is, so kindly offered to remind him. Happy 3rd birthday to my second child.  My peacemaker.  My sweet boy.  My little ray of sunshine.  My Ladies Man.  My dirty child.  My Curtis.