Friday, November 28, 2014

Yes, They are all mine!

I have five kids ages 6-12. I try not to take all them places with me for several reasons. It is hard with all of them and the older two kids can babysit or stay home alone. I get distracted trying to keep track of everyone. They misbehave. Someone always ends up crying or fighting. The biggest reason though is all the looks, questions, and  comments I get.

Over the last six years (because I then had 5 kids) I have heard too many to count. Here are the most frequent/shocking/annoying of the many.

1. Are they all yours?
My response: Yep, all mine!
What I want to say: Oh, weird. No, I have a few extra. I better find out where they came from and return them before one of their parents gets worried.

2. You must have been a teen mom, you look very young.
My response: Thank you so much! I was 26 when I had my first, everyone tells me I look young for my age.
What I want to say: Yeah I was. I was pretty slutty and just kept having kids. I don't know how that happened. I should probably stop sleeping around. Maybe that would help.

3. Do they all have the same dad? 
My response: Yep, I have been with my husband over twenty years and we waited nine to start a family.
What I want to say: No, all different dads. I go to bars and get drunk a lot and just keep getting pregnant. 

4. You sure have your hands full!
My response: I sure do! It's a lot of work but its all worth it. 
What I want to say: I know right!? Do you want to take a few home with you?

5. It must be expensive to have so many kids.
My response: It is. We use a lot of hand me downs, look for clearance items and shop at garage sales a lot.  
What I want to say: It is but the welfare benefits help.

6. Were they all planned? 
My response: Four were, but the last pregnancy I got twins. We call her our bonus baby! 
What I want to say: I didn't want to have any kids but I have a sex addiction and haven't quite figured out birth control yet.

7. They're so good!
My response: Yes, they are usually very good in public.
What I want to say: This is rare. Come over anytime and you will see much different behavior. They fight, cry, throw tantrums, destroy things, show disrespect and attitude. Want to adopt one?

8. Are they twins? 
My response: Yes
What I want to say: No. I saw this one wandering around the parking lot, thought what the heck, what's one more kid, and picked her up!

9. How do you do it?
My response: I have no idea, I just do, one day at a time I guess.
What I want to say: Usually at home I just lock them in the closet and only let them out for baths, meals, and school. That makes things pretty easy.

10. You are so blessed.
My response: Yes, I sure am!
What I want to say: Tell me how blessed I am when they all start acting like jerks, or when they are all barfing sick on the same day. Then you can share the blessing and  babysit for the day.

There are many many more of these, too many to count. I have learned to just smile and give the proper response and not let it bother me, but man it would be fun to say what I really want to say! 

Monday, November 24, 2014


My eight year old was diagnosed with ADHD eight months ago. Things have been a real struggle for our family in dealing with it. When I try to talk to others about it I hear ignorant responses such as:
ADHD doesn't exist.                                                    
Just put him on medication.
He's just bored.
He's just lazy.
He has behavior problems.
He's still young, he will grow out of it.
He was probably misdiagnosed.
He just  needs discipline.
He probably has a high IQ so the work isn't challenging enough.
 I don't even respond to such foolish nonsense because you can't fix stupidity.

I can tell you with certainty ADHD does exist and my boy has it. We went the long route for diagnosis and got a full scale mental health evaluation instead of just filling out some surveys.

At his evaluation his IQ was tested and then they conducted a lot of other tests to pinpoint what he is struggling with and rule out other learning and mental conditions. He was found to have a full scale IQ of 130, which is very superior, with lowest score being 114 (high average) in Verbal Comprehension, and the highest score being 137 in Perceptual Reasoning (very superior). This was comforting to know since many ADHD kids with high IQ can do very well. He was diagnosed with moderate combined type ADHD (inattentive and hyperactive) and was also  diagnosed with unspecified anxiety. He sees the school counselor once a week for the anxiety.

His psychologist was shocked when he got to the 7th and 8th grade questions on the IQ test and was still answering enough questions correctly to continue the test. When he had answered enough questions wrong the test concluded. The attention test, however, was a total BUST! He could not even complete it. He was asked to stare at a screen and hit the space bar whenever a letter popped up. He could not focus enough to even do it at all. He restarted many times and still had the same result. He could not stare at a screen for 5 minutes. Most ADHD kids can complete the test but miss some because of inability to focus and distraction.

This confuses me. He can answer hundreds of difficult questions and spend hours doing it but can't stare at a screen for 5 minutes? Apparently if something is engaging enough ADHD kids can hyper focus, but if it isn't they have a hard time focusing at all. It is very hard for me to understand how he can build with Legos make forts or plat Minecraft for hours on end but has difficulty even starting the simplest of worksheets. It is crazy to me, but that is the mystery of the ADHD brain.

This brings me to our struggle with him. I do not know how a child can be so amazing and so infuriating all at once. Sometimes he can do many pages of homework very quickly and others he can't even start. Sometimes he sits for 4 or 5 hours to do 1 page. This saddens me. He is missing his entire childhood. I get very frustrated and our whole family suffers. I feel like I spend all my time and energy on this child in order to get him to accomplish what he needs to accomplish, so that everyone else is just pushed to the back burner. This monster that is ADHD has invaded out home and I just wish it would leave us the hell alone. But alas it won't, it is here to stay, so we need to find a way to beat the monster. My boy is so creative, caring, empathetic, brilliant and funny. He is also busy, stubborn and strong-willed.

One night last week he sat and sat and sat and did nothing at all for 3 hours straight. When it got to be bedtime his father told him to go to bed and he could get up early to do homework in the morning. I thought is was a horrible idea because I was worried the same thing would happen and he would end up with late assignments. I have never let him wait until morning for that reason and also I'm lazy and don't want to get up early. I always had him stay up however late he had to in order to get it done.

Well at this point I was crabby and exhausted so I was willing to try anything. Nothing was getting accomplished anyway so staying up with him was pointless. So I went to bed early, and got up at six the next day to wake him up. I got him going and left him alone to work and I went back to bed. I needed to see if he could be self driven and work even if it meant late assignments, and also did I mention I'm lazy. I was well prepared to end up calling his teacher to explain what had happened.

IT WORKED! Low and behold, it worked! When I got up at seven he was just finishing up the last of fourteen pages, only eight of which were due that day and the other six were due the next day! I was so very proud and completely ecstatic to finally find SOMETHING that worked. We haven't had to do this again since, we always try to get him to do homework in the evening, because again, I'm lazy, but at least now we have an alternative if evening isn't working.

I believe this worked for several reasons.
1. He was well rested
2. His brain wasn't overloaded and fatigued like it is in the afternoon from all the school work he did that day.
3. More was at stake because if he didn't finish he would have late assignments and a consequence at school.
4. There were no distractions because everyone else was asleep.

When I realized what was happening, that we were WINNING against the monster, I was giving the finger to ADHD in my head thinking: See you bastard ADHD, you can't beat us! We are gonna fight and keep fighting and we are going to beat you! Oh, and one more thing.....

                                 SUCK IT ADHD!!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Morning Madness

I don't know about anyone else but I absolutely hate school mornings! I do not function properly without coffee and before 9 AM. I do not want interaction of any kind before both of these requirements have been met.

Because my kids eat breakfast and lunch at school all I need to do is make sure they are dressed and drive them to school. I require absolutely nothing else from my kids except getting dressed, I'm not joking. Literally nothing else! Still, it is near impossible to get them to school in time. I get up at 7, wake the little girls, and of course they cry. I give them their clothes in their beds (crazy I know), make sure they start dressing and I move on to my 10 yr old daughters room. After I have made sure she heard me tell her ever so nicely to get up, and I get a verbal reply (something like "but it's too cold"), I go downstairs to wake the 8 and 12 yr old boys.

On the way through the kitchen to go downstairs I flip on the coffee maker (because liquid energy) which I got ready the night before. I get to their room and their alarm is blaring and no one is moving. I think maybe they are dead. I draw the blinds. I shake the 12 yr old (oh good, not dead), he turns off the alarm and gets up to dress. The 8 yr old is not so easy. 

I poke rub and shake him all while loudly exclaiming GET UP, YOU NEED TO GET READY FOR SCHOOL etc. No response, he very well could be dead. He finally wakes up and grunts but does not move. I can do nothing but more of the same because he sleeps on the top bunk. 

Bunk beds=Worst idea ever because there is not a way to get a sleeping child out of one. Bane of my existence, and I have 2 sets! Shoot me now!

He finally rouses so I go upstairs to check on the 3 girls. Someone is crying about pants, I don't know who because they cry the same. It is now 725, 15 minutes to go time. I need to take the 12 yr old to his bus stop in 5 minutes. The 10 yr old is now wrapped in a blanket sitting in front of the heater which she has turned up to 95 degrees (because, you know, money grows on trees) complaining how cold she is! Holy Lord get me through this!

I turn down the heat and tell her to get dressed NOW! I take thew 12 yr old to the bus stop. 1 down, 4 to go.  When I get back everyone is dressed and is mesmerized by a screen of some sort. Pure bliss! I finally pour my coffee. I give them a 5 minute warning. At 740 I tell everyone it's time to go. Every day someone screws up this going thing. Therefore we are late, Every.Damn.Day.

If it is one of the 6 yr olds they are crying about shoes or zippers, I couldn't tell you because it is indecipherable. Sometimes it goes on for 20 mins.
If it is the 8 year old he is still on a screen just "finishing" something. I take the device away and then he decides he needs all the outer gear ever made. He might freeze walking out to the heated attached garage to the van or the 15 feet from the street into the school.
If it is the 10 year old she had a last minute manicure or hair style she had to do, or a wardrobe change to make.

I finally drop the kids off 5 or more minutes late, just like every day. I am already exhausted even though I have only been awake less than an hour. It is before 9 and I haven't had my coffee, so still not fully awake. I go home, down my coffee and proceed to take a 2-3 hr nap!

This craziness in the morning makes me wonder how early people get up if: 
the kids brush their hair or teeth
the kids make their beds
the kids eat breakfast
the kids have morning chores
the kids still have homework to do
the parents need to pack lunches
OR 2 of the worst things imaginable to do in the morning, 
the kids have farm work to do or the family does a half hr of morning bible study!

I could not do any of the above! The school is lucky if I dress the kids in clothes instead of leaving them in pjs. Mother of the Year right here!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Never Enough

I cannot recall I time when I didn't feel I wasn't something enough. These messages have been sent to me throughout my life (directly or indirectly) from many sources.

     As a teenager:
     I wasn't cool enough.
     I was always compared to my twin sister, who was always better at school and a smaller than me.
     I wasn't smart enough.
     I wasn't skinny enough.
     I had bad acne, I wasn't pretty enough.
     At home:
     I wasn't responsible enough.
     I wasn't respectful enough.

Now that I am an adult, and have been for 20 years, things haven't changed much, except there are more things I am not something enough at.

     As a wife:
     I don't clean enough.
     I don't smile enough.
     I'm not happy enough.
     I'm not nice enough.
     I am not content enough.
     I am not affectionate enough.
     I am not attentive enough.
     I am not accepting enough.
     I am not quiet enough.

     As a mother:
     I am not patient enough.
     I am not nice enough.
     I am not fun enough.
     I am not affectionate enough.
     I don't give my kids enough of what they want (treats, toys, clothes, devices).
     I don't take my kids enough fun places.

     As a friend:
     I don't call enough.
     I don't help enough.
     I don't listen enough.
     At school:
     I don't volunteer enough.
     I am not involved enough.
     I don't communicate enough.
     I don't care enough.

     In my extended family and my husbands extended family:
     I don't visit enough.
     I am not accepting enough.
     I am not positive enough.
     I am not relaxed enough.                                                        
     I am not happy enough.
     I am not quiet enough.
     I am generally not pleasant enough.

     In society in general:
     I am not attractive enough.
     I am not fashionable enough.
     I am not active enough.
     I am not healthy enough.
     I am not creative enough.
     I am not smart enough.

All my life I have spent so much time and energy trying to become enough whatever to whoever had expectations of me. When I failed to, I tried harder and it never worked because it is an impossible task. No one can be enough of every single thing. That is what makes us human. We are not infallible. I now understand that the demand is too high. I cannot be enough everything to everyone. I realize now that I need to stop basing my definition of enough on what others think is enough. I need to focus on being ME enough, regardless of what others think I am not enough of. I need to focus on being enough of the things I feel are important to be, because I am.

                                  I AM ENOUGH!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bedtime Battle

Bedtime seems to be a real struggle for a lot of parents. In my 12 years of experience with bedtime I have found things run much more smoothly if I have a stringent routine. The key is to stick to it no matter what. It's very simple, really.

Here is what our bedtime routine looks like:

My 5 little obedient children stop whatever they are doing as soon as I ask and start picking up toys. Everyone works together cheerfully and they are finished in record time. We may even sing the clean-up song.

7:45 SNACK 
Sweet smiling children come to the table and enjoy a healthy snack of fruit and cheese or vegetables and dip. There is no fighting and no messes made. They all help put the food away when they are finished without being asked.

Everyone happily changes and brushes their teeth in five minutes without making a water or toothpaste mess and all the dirty clothes are placed in the hamper.

8:05-8:30 FREE TIME
Darling kiddos draw, color, or look at magazines without making a peep or a mess.

8:30-9:00 READING
The 3 older kids gleefully read quietly in their beds while I read to the two younger ones.

I give everyone hugs, kisses and tuck them in. Everyone is fast asleep in five minutes.

See? Simple. Easy Breezy. Now I have all night to myself to binge watch DVR shows, snack and read. YAY!

Of course I am lying through my teeth. That would be a dream, but no, doesn't happen!

Here is what our bedtime routine (if you can even call it that!) really looks like:

7:30 Nag children to stop what they are doing and clean up. I am invisible

7:35 Nag some more. They are hypnotized by their screens.

7:40 Take away devices and beg. Whining ensues. "I'm not tired." "I wasn't done." etc. Then "I didn't make any messes." "That mess is so and sos" etc.

7:55 Everything is finally put away and I shove a banana in any kids face that actually show up for snack and tell them to shove it in their mouth and quick!

8:00 Find banana smashed into carpet

8:05 Beg kids to put on pjs and brush teeth. Running and goofing around ensues.

8:15 Beg again and some of them listen.

8:20 Find my 12 yr old still not changed and still using ipod (not allowed after 8). Take it away and send him and his brother downstairs to get changed and brush teeth.

8:25 Send 6 yr olds into bathroom to brush teeth.

8:30 Hear goofing around downstairs, ignore it. Knock on LOCKED door to ask girls what is going on. No response. Go check on 10 yr old to see how she is doing. Still hasn't done a thing. She is still doing homework.

8:40 Demand 6 yr olds open door. Find toothpaste, liquid soap and water everywhere. Send them away and spend next 10 mins cleaning up huge disaster.

8:50 Girls have disappeared.

8:55 Find girls downstairs goofing off with boys who still have not done a thing.

9:00 Usher girls upstairs, kisses, tucking in, lights out. They complain they didn't get a story. Ignore them. Trip on clothes that never made it to the hamper on the way out.

9:10 Remind 10 yr old to get going, it's past bedtime.

9:15 Go downstairs and shove boys into bathroom to brush teeth, give a 2 min limit. Wait. Send them to their rooms to change and get in bed.

9:20 10 yr old daughter still has done nothing. Tell her to get moving. Hear 6 yr olds goofing off. Find them reading with flashlights. Warn them to go to sleep.

9:25 Follow 10 yr old around until she finally changes and brushes teeth. Tuck her in.

9:35 Go downstairs and shut off boys light and tuck them in. Trip on clothes that never made it to the hamper on the way out.

9:45 Boys come upstairs and get water and leave huge mess.

9:50 Attempt to sit down.

10:00 Go tell boys to go to sleep and discover 12 yr old stole ipod. Take it away.

10:00-10:30 Daughter comes out to do cartwheels and "tell me something" every 5 minutes. In between those 5 minutes I yell down to the boys to go to sleep.

10:30 FINALLY quiet, everyone is asleep. Get a snack, sit down to watch tv and promptly fall asleep.

3 AM Wake up with neck cramp and stumble to bed

Repeat daily. See? It is really quite simple if you just have a good routine. LOL

Monday, November 10, 2014

Getting Back to Me:Losing My Littles

     For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a mom; I never cared about what job I would have, where I would live, or anything else, as long as I would get the privilege of becoming a mom. I really felt like it was the only thing I was ever called to be.

     I got married at age 20 to my best friend who I met when I was 17. I spent the next five years working in manufacturing and having a lot of fun with my husband but something was still missing. I knew exactly what it was. I felt unfulfilled without children.

     At age 25 I found out I was expecting my first child. I was extremely excited to see my dream fulfilled. My beautiful son was born when I was 26. In the next six years  I went on to have four more lovely children including twins. Life was very busy but I knew I had found my purpose so I was thrilled with life. I fully immersed myself, heart and soul, into nothing else but raising, nurturing and loving my gorgeous babies. They had become my whole world, the meaning of my existence.

     The year my twins were born, my oldest son went to school and I was okay. The following year my oldest daughter went to school, and I was okay. Two years later my youngest son went to school and I was okay. The next three years I fully enjoyed spending all my days with my twins. We talked, played, enjoyed meals together, and ran errands. It was great,  but it was always in the back of my mind that soon they would also go to school and I did not know how I would deal with that. I absolutely dreaded that day. That day has come and passed and I am surely not okay!

     What on earth is wrong with me? After twelve years on focusing on my kids, aren't I supposed to be enjoying this time, getting organized, having fun, socializing, relaxing, working on my hobbies, and just getting back to me? I am not! I stay home alone all day while the kids are at school. I nap, clean, write, and read, but without the kids here I just don't feel like me. I spent twelve whole years focusing on others and putting myself very last, which looking back, feels like a mistake. I should have focused on myself more, socialized more, and spent more time doing things I wanted to do just for me. For some reason I didn't. I felt like I was doing the right thing, focusing fully on my family and forgetting about taking care of me. I now see the error of my ways, as well-intentioned as they may have been.

     I have completely forgotten the person I was pre-child and I am having a seriously hard time finding her. How do I do that when i cannot remember who she is? I am lonely and uncomfortable in the silence when my kids are gone. When my kids went to school a part of me went with them, that part of me is gone and she isn't ever coming back. I an deeply saddened by this revelation. I miss the kid noise, having littles depending on me, asking me for things, and playing nonsense things with them. I miss being constantly needed for something. I can never go back to that. That time is history. I now need to start a new chapter of my life but it is oh, so, very hard.

     I just want things the way they were. I want to be the mom I used to be when I was surrounded by kids 24/7. She is gone and it is time to say good bye to that mom and welcome a new one. Yes, my kids come home, and yes they still need me, but in very different ways. Everyone is more grown up and independent so I am not the one meeting basic needs any longer. I am now taxi, cook, tutor and counselor.

  This has been and still is a huge adjustment for me. It is going to be hard work, but I will find who it is I am yearning to become, and to find fulfillment in something the way having my babies around me fulfilled me. The question is when it will happen. I hope that day arrives soon, because I need to feel whole again, when all I feel is broken.

Here's to starting my new adventure of getting back to me! CHEERS!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mealtime Mayhem

     There was a time when I enjoyed cooking. It was one of my very favorite things to do. I blissfully made complicated expensive dishes In which my husband and I would peacefully enjoy with no stress whatsoever. Sadly, that time has passed. I now dread cooking. "Why?" you may ask. I have 5 kids, I think that says it all!

     Every night it is the same thing. I dread it and feel anxious before we even start the meal. The things my kids say and do make meals mostly unenjoyable, stressful and unbearable. It almost make me want to throw up my hands and quit. But I just keep trying in hopes that it may someday change.

     Some of their favorite things to say to test me are:

My food is touching (it all ends up in the same place later)
I don't like this (They have never had it)
I'm not hungry (They were begging for food 5 minutes ago and will be again 5 minutes                                                after I put the food away)
It looks like puke (makes me wonder if they have ever seen puke)
It smells gross (no grosser than their body smells I deal with daily)
What else can I have (This is it)
Why is it all mixed (Soups and hotdishes are a bust around here)
I want mac-n-cheese (every damn night)
Why do you always make this (It has been 2 months)
It's too hot (It has been sitting there for 10 minutes)

     Some of their favorite things to do to annoy me are:

Asking for anything they could possibly want but only one thing at a time and only after I sit down
Picking on each other
Getting up and running around
Spilling drinks
Not eating one single bite
Talking all at once

And my very favorite one, which my son does every night:

Getting up to go poop

This is why I NEVER eat with my kids anymore unless my husband is home for dinner. I wait until everyone is asleep so I can eat in peace, even if that means nearly starving and waiting until 10.

                    My Reply to all of the above antics:


Monday, November 3, 2014

Youth Sports:Should it Really be about winning?

     My 12 year old, who is in 6th grade just finished playing his first, and probably only, year of tackle football. It is a 5th/6th grade team. He was an offensive lineman. 1st-4th graders can play flag football, which he never chose to do. He never played any sport because he was not really interested. I am happy to have the season over with because it was very painful to watch. He played 5 minutes of every game while many other players were on the field the entirety of every single game. 5 or 6 players stood on the sidelines the majority of every game. I don't think it should be this way until they are on the high school team. At these young ages is when they should all be playing, learning and improving.

      My son is not aggressive and is, like me, very uncoordinated. It took a whole lot for him to try this since he never tried any sport before this. He went to a summer football day camp and really liked it. Because of this experience he is totally turned off of sports now, and possibly forever.

  Before the season started and he only had practices he LOVED it and always loved practices. Games were another story. They were totally boring for him because he wasn't allowed to participate. I MADE him finish the season and attend every practice and game to teach him about follow through, and sportsmanship even though he wanted to quit and cried before every game because he didn't like going.

      This team and this sport is not the only time I have seen things like this happen. In the 1st and 2nd flag football team, there were 2 teams. One consisted of the more athletic, bigger kids, and the other consisted of less athletic smaller kids. I find it hard to believe that is a coincidence. Those teams were stacked. During the local summer baseball league a few very athletic 3rd graders were recruited for the 4th/5th grade team. Those students played while some 4th/5th grade players were benched. I find this ridiculous.

      Youth sports for students younger than high school should be about learning the sport, playing for fun, instilling a love of sports and practicing to improve.There should be equal play time for all players. Instead they are being taught that winning is everything, and if you aren't athletic you shouldn't play. I think this is a purposeful strategy to weed out all the mediocre players before high school. They want them to quit so they can have an all-star team. I find this a bad approach. I believe that if all players are put in the game an equal amount of time, at a young age, they could also become great players. They are not being given that opportunity, which is just sad. They never improve and never get to play so they quit.
 I do not care if my kids play sports. I do not care if they are any good or not. I just want them to be given the opportunity to play, learn, have fun and be a part of something. I want them to decide if they want to play or not. I do not want the decision to be made for them before they even begin.That is what is happening when they are never played and they end up hating it so they quit. The child end up disappointed and may even have self-esteem issues because of it. It seems like none of this matters to these coaches that approach youth sports this way. It doesn't matter to them as long as they win. Winning IS everything after all right? Who cares who gets hurt in the process! This is what we are teaching our kids! 

     What do you think? Are Youth sports too competitive?