Raising a Blended Family

Kids will be kids

These sage words came from my cousin, responding to a Facebook status I recently posted. The status was this:


Yes, he did. Only a five year old, right? He then proceeded to continue complaining (loudly) as we made him sit through the rest of class and watch his instructors teach the rest of the half hour. And the icing on the cake in this particular incident is that it came out of nowhere. He was just fine on the way to his class, smiling and chatting as we walked in, even greeted his instructor nicely when we walked in the door (and bowed, as is tradition). This temper tantrum was completely out of the blue.

Kids will be kids.

I suppose I should also apply this logic to the many other … events …. that have been happening around the house. In a home with five kids, there’s always going to be something interesting going on, right?

L came home from her last day of school yesterday with her report card. We had not talked much with her teacher during the last two months of school that L was with us, but when we did were generally assured she was doing fine. We diligently inquired to L about homework each night, and when it was assigned (not often), checked it for mistakes before she turned it in. We always asked how school was and we felt like we were on top of it. Imagine our surprise when her report card was full of, not the A’s and B’s we were expecting, but D’s and F’s instead. Mostly F’s. Further imagine our surprise when a call to L’s teacher, placed after school on the last day of school and during which I’m sure the teacher was wondering why we were bothering to call NOW, when there was nothing to be done, revealed that not only had L HAD homework every.single.day (there were many days she told us she didn’t; in retrospect we should have found that suspicious), her teacher had sent home multiple progress reports, make-up work packets, notes, and other attempts at communication that never made it home. We checked each day- they weren’t there. Now, apart from our anger that this teacher had not made a phone call or sent an email when she never got a response to her notes, there is the bigger issue: the kid lied. The kid lied BIG TIME.

I holy mother of all things good I cannot STAND to be lied to. Nothing makes me madder, faster, and I feel like steam comes out of my ears anytime I catch someone in a lie. Imagine how I felt at this revelation. Mad does not begin to cover it.

Kids will be kids. Oooooooohm.

We’ve talked about it, Shorty and I. We are going to be so involved next year with L’s teacher, we’ll make helicopter parents look detached. We’ve spoken to L, and she will be making up all the work she skipped out on over the course of this summer while the other children play. And yet, this was just the last (and largest) in a series of lies that we’ve caught her in and Shorty and I are really at a loss. We’ve really never dealt with a kid who lies before- Thing One does it every once in awhile (at her own peril) but not habitually or, I would say, problematically.

Kids will be kids?

And then there was the incident the other day in the ER. Involving Addie. She was crawling around on the floor and got ahold of Shorty’s migraine medicine. We did not know it was on the floor and I am ashamed to say that we did not catch her until she already had the pill in her mouth. I pulled it out, half-dissolved, and immediately called poison control, who told us to take her to the ER. We were there within ten minutes and they told us that because they had never had a child her age swallow this particular medicine, they would have to transfer her to a children’s hospital and keep her overnight. She ended up being fine, but it was a stressful, anxious, guilt-ridden night. They tried to give Addie activated charcoal- she was NOT having it. Luckily she didn’t need it. They had her hooked up to blood pressure cuffs and heart monitors- she looked pathetic, but also pathetically adorable. She was much happier when we transferred to the children’s hospital that had a crib so she could crawl around, rather than us having to keep her contained on a gurney meant for an adult.




We also had to call Addie’s social worker to tell her what had happened. She grilled us to the Nth degree, acting like we had done it on purpose, and then there was a new social worker at our door the next day, to “investigate an alleged incident of child abuse or neglect”. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Are we seriously the only ones whose baby has ever swallowed something she shouldn’t? The new social worked was very reassuring and tried to tell us, without being able to actually tell us, that the case will be dismissed. But it was still stressful and I felt like I was being looked at as a bad person. Ugh.

Kids will be kids?

Needless to say, things have been slightly stressful around here. We are going on an adults-only vacation in July and leaving the kids with Grandma, and I find myself thinking of it more and more as an escape from the stress. Going to my “happy place,” if you will. Kids will be kids. And adults will be adults who sit on the beach and sip drinks in order to get away from it all. Ohhhmmmm.



****warning: this post is sad. Scary. Maybe a little graphic. Don’t feel like you have to read it, I just needed to process it****

It feels good to be back to blogging again. It means I have somewhere to turn when I need to process things.

I was dumb enough just now to watch a news clip about the mom and baby who died in the Oklahoma tornado. Mom pulled over and tried to seek shelter in the deep freezer with her baby, but the whole building collapsed on them and they didn’t make it.

The baby was a boy, the same age as Pax.

I just can’t imagine.

What must their last moments together have been like? How must it have felt, to be absolutely powerless to save herself, let alone her baby boy? Did the baby have any idea of what was coming? How could he have?

I have thought about this in more detail than I probably should. More detail, certainly, than I would have a mere seven months ago, or four years ago. More detail than I would have before motherhood.

Motherhood makes you so, so, scary naked vulnerable. It’s like I have my heart on the outside of my body and it’s walking around in those tiny human beings of mine, beings who it is my natural job, instinct, and privilege to protect and love. I can’t imagine not being able to do that job. To think that any harm could ever come to them- kills me.

Therein lies the paradox of motherhood, I think. That your children are simultaneously the source of your greatest joy, and also have the possibility of being the ones who cause you the greatest sorrow. That motherhood has the ability to make you feel like you are on top of the world, and to simultaneously make you terrified of every single dangerous thing within it.

Reading things like that on the news makes me want to grab my children and hold them close. Put them in a bubble and ensure they never come to harm. Thankfully, moments of such sorrow as this one are generally few and far between. The pain is balanced out by the joy.

But the possibility of pain is, at least in my mind, ever-present. Most of the time it is pushed to the back, overlayed by the normal worries and happiness of everyday life. But it’s there. It makes me a little more cautious. It makes me think harder about consequences and dangers. It makes me more vulnerable than I’ve ever been.

I am a mother. And I’m going to go kiss my daughter and snuggle my baby tight now, and every day.


Still here… An update, finally!

Ya’ll… I’m still here. I’m alive. The kids haven’t gone all Lord of the Flies on us and tied us up… We’re good.

You have no idea how many posts I’ve started and failed to publish. Two, WordPress ate. They were there one minute, gone the next. One, I got almost all the way through on the iPad (do you KNOW how long that took?! because in the absence of a computer power cord, post-move, the iPad is all I’ve got) and then it too, disappeared. A few others are still sitting there, in “draft” form, now so horribly outdated that it would do me no good to publish them anyways. And I’ll admit, a few are still murky ideas for a blog post sitting in my head that never even made it to paper… Er, screen.

I am now clicking “copy all” every few minutes as I type this post… That’s the level of paranoia this has reached. The things I do to blog.

So, since its been so long since we’ve seen each other:

Us: five kids, one cat, two crazy moms, just moved, crazy schedules, would like a stronger drink now please.

No really.

So while I was absent:

WE MOVED!!! A month ago this coming Saturday (and I haven’t blogged since three days before that. Sorryyyyyyyy!). It went SO WELL. We hired movers (who were late and who subsequently gave us lots of $$$$ off the final moving price) and also, this amazing, fabulous woman came down and spent the night, leaving her own wife and child three hours away so that she could come down here to help corral my children and help with the big move. We were and are still so grateful for her amazing help- she was a big part of why it was such a success! And let’s face it, with five kids, three of whom were under age five at the time (Bubby just turned five last week!), so many things could have gone so terribly wrong. It went pretty smoothly, and we were able to get the kids’ stuff unpacked and ready pretty fast so that they could settle in with minimal disturbance to their routines. I am happy to say that a month later, everything almost everything (we haven’t found time to finish our own bedroom) is unpacked and where it should be and we are loving the new space we have. Still some decorating to do and pictures to hang but we’ll get there. Big thumbs up for successfully moving!

Meanwhile, the babies:

Turned seven months and nine months! And I still haven’t written their freakin SIX and EIGHT month letters yet. Hurray!

Addie is now crawling all. over. the. place. Particularly (and as fast as she can) towards any child gate left open by some absentminded soul. Many are the times we find ourselves playing a quick game of “race the baby” to see who can get to the open child gate first: the mom who just walked through it and realized a beat too late that she forgot to close it behind her, or the baby who was watching for just such an error and is now flinging herself towards opportunity with wild abandon. It’s a 50/50 split on who wins the most of these games. Addie’s usually pretty pissed when she loses.

Another game we are now playing is “shuffle all the crap out of reach of the one side of the coffee table… [five minutes later] …. Shuffle all the crap back to the OTHER side of the coffee table.” You see, we are now the proud proud owners of a baby who stands! And oh, the joys of standing and being able to reach things that were previously unreadable on tabletops, sofa arms, shelves and more! What? You picked up that piece of plastic off the floor and put it on the coffee table where it was previously safe from her grabby-grabby little paws? No problems, moms! She’ll just pull up on the table, grab it, and sneakily sit back down, resulting in us having to come take it from me once again and find some other, higher place to put it… Again and again and again.

She is also a fan of pulling up on people… And by people, I mostly mean “moms,” and by “moms,” I mostly mean only when she is a) distressed (comes crawling up to you, moving over obstacles and everything else, bawling the whole way, and then paws at you like ‘PLEASE pick me up can’t you see I’m pathetically adorable?’) or b) when you have food and she wants it. Which should really be shortened to “when you have food period” because this child is the world’s best eater and if you’re chewing down on something, she would like some too please and thank you. We haven’t found anything she doesn’t like yet, although puffs and avocado seem to be favorites. A few puffs poured out in front of her as she’s crawling toward you crying have been known to stop a tantrum in its tracks. Hallelujah.

Speaking of tantrums, our once even-keeled girl is not so even anymore, and seems to be displaying much more of a temper these-a-days. She’ll scream when she’s been in her car seat too long, scream when you leave her in baby jail the baby playroom, scream when you thwart her attempts to crawl over, on, or through Pax for the umpteenth time… She can really get those lungs working and if this is any indication of the toddler years to come then I think I’ll just let Shorty handle those and pop back in when she’s, say, 25 or so. (Thanks in advance, wife. Let me know how the teenage years go).

Pax is growing and learning too, though still not at a fast enough rate to keep him safe from Addie! He is “scooting” himself forward now, using only arm strength and dragging his legs behind him. It is a painfully slow process to watch as he scoots forward inch by precious inch, minute by minute, and I’m pretty sure that by the time he figures out that those legs and feet he’s hauling in back are actually USEFUL, he’ll be so buff from dragging his chunky self around by the arms that he’ll be able to beat the pros at arm wrestling. Ah, well. He’ll figure it out eventually, right?

The boy is starting to be able to sit, too- although not on his own. If you place him in sitting position and give him a minute to check his balance, he’s able to keep himself seated more often than not. The times when “not” turns out to be the case, he usually topples over and then happily flips onto his stomach to continue playing- doesn’t even bother trying to sit up by himself. Lazy bones. 😉

Food-wise, in spite of the fact that the doctor gave us the the go-ahead to start giving him foods at our six month checkup (I believe her exact words were, in response to Shorty’s query about starting solids, “At his size? By all means feed that baby!”), Pax seems to have missed the memo because he will. NOT. eat anything that is not boob milk. And he will rarely take boob milk from any receptacle that isn’t a boob. Helpful, kid. We have tried purees, easy solids, mashed bread, everything we can think of… And all of it, the moment it touches his tongue, gets spat right back out at us (usually accompanied by a clamping of the jaw shut so as to prevent more of the Icky Stuff from possibly having contact with his mouth, and usually some gagging/dry heaving). Once or twice, he has actually gagged so hard he barfed and his poor little eyes started watering. All of that over a little bit of puréed fruit…. I swear he gets the stubborness from his mama.

So for now, we are backing off. We figure all of this must just mean he’s not ready for solids (and indeed, like I said, he seems perfectly happy with just boob milk. And lots of it.) Eventually he’ll become more interested, right? He’s not going to be EBF forever, right? Right?!?!?

The final Pax-update I have, and something that has been cause for much celebration in this house, is that he is now sleeping in his own crib!!! We had been getting to a point where none of us was sleeping very well, Pax was getting too big and squirmy to be comfortable, and we had had several wakeful nights in a row… So we just decided to make the switch! We kind of did it all at once, cold turkey, and to our surprise he’s taken to it like a fish takes to water. Now, in all transparency, he does sleep SOME of the night with us- he still wakes up once or twice to nurse and when I go to fetch him from his crib, he usually stays in bed with us until morning from then on. We’re okay with this though, because it means that he’s A) sleeping at least half of his night in his own crib (bedtime at eight, sleeps until somewhere between midnight-2amish, then wakes up to nurse and sleeps with us until morning at 645/730) and B) sleeping by himself now (he used to not sleep anywhere but on a mom) which gives us mom-time at night, and C) allowing me to fall asleep without holding/nursing a baby when I go to bed, which was really what was making it hard for me to sleep in the first place. But still, even with sleeping with us some of the night, he does really well on his own, letting us put him down, taking naps in his crib now, etc. High fives all around! The fact that he’s doing so well with it and never really had any problems adjusting (it’s been three weeks now) tells us that he was just as ready for his as we were. Yay for better sleep!

As for the rest of the kids:

They are doing great! They each have their own rooms now, which they love. Bubby turned five this past weekend- we got him his very first bicycle and I swear that kid FLIES up and down the streets. Thing One and L are almost done with their school year, which is a source of endless excitement for them- summer vacation! Of course, it’s also a source for an increased amount of negative behaviors and ever-shortening attention spans here at home… And if it’s like that here, I can’t imagine what it must be like at school! (Sorry, teachers!). But really, they’re all doing great. They play (and fight) like cats and dogs siblings, which is just how I expect them to act and which simultaneously makes me happy and drives me crazy. They all love to play with (and fight over) the babies, although sometimes they do have to be reminded that the babies aren’t dolls… They’re BABIES.

We still have weekly visitations with L and Bubs’ Moron, although I don’t want to get into too much detail here. Not a lot has changed in that category, sadly.

Soooo yeah! S’all good here, sorry it took me so long to write. Hopefully the next post won’t be another month from now!

(Ps- sorry about the crappy photos. They’re all I have on the iPad at the moment…)