Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contemplating Summer...

Summer is here, and for the first time ever we are going to die  still doing school. Kenzie, my 15 year old freshman is still at it because her online school goes until the 8th of June. The other kids are enrolled, too, but because we can set our own schedule we have always been done long before now. They are done with most subjects, but several are still muddling through Math or History or Science, whatever their least favorite/proficient subject is, mostly because of some work versus school scheduling that happened this winter. The kids that aren't done are LOSING IT. I am so, so ready to be done. I spent a nice chunk of the day deciding how we would spend our summer.

Kenzie and my Jenna will be doing a summer session of dance, which I am so happy about. The three middle guys, Kolbe, Luke and Ben will take four weeks of swim lessons at the local pool - and boy, I love that so much! It is an outdoor pool, so I get to sit for 45 blissful minutes, by myself without having to do anything or think anything, except wave when one of my little guys waves to me as he jumps off the diving board. I love the sun, the semi-solitude, and the fact that there is nothing I can do or have to do for those 45 minutes. This year, as I will be working two days a week, their dad will get to do two of the days a week, and I will get two of the days a week. That's fair, I guess.

So now, I just have to find a fun summer thing for Jonah. He is so into just being on the phone, or up messing around with Legos, I feel like I need something constructive for him. He hasn't had a class or anything in about a year. I am thinking of finding a drawing class for him. I hear rumors about a lady here in town who does drawing classes. I think I will seek her out and see if she does anything over the summer. I am also looking into getting Kolbe signed up for guitar lessons. I can't seem to ever remember to make the call during business hours. I drive myself crazy.

While we are making plans for the summer, we have also come to the conclusion that we really can't go on a vacation this year. I am so sad about it, not because of the vacation itself, but because we were going to be sharing a house with my sister and her family. We had the BEST vacation ever the last time we did that. Dana and I had so much fun. We would give the kids breakfast and do laundry every morning while the guys snoozed or played with the kids. Then we would all head to the beach where the rest of the family would be camping out. We had lunch on the beach and played all afternoon, and then headed back to the house for dinner, or whatever. We had the best time. We had planned to go before we found out about the baby. Now, between finances and the fact that vacation is planned for about a month before her due date, my husband thinks we better stay home. I know he's right, but I can't help feeling little kid disappointed.

So, with the issue of finances at hand, we are trying to come up with a reasonable budget. Right now, we get paid twice a month, basically, and our whole paycheck is gone the day we get it, paying bills. We end up really struggling just to do gas and groceries. I don't know how to budget, let alone budget for this size of family. We have always had more going out than we have coming in, month to month, so I have become an expert finagler. We tend to count on our income tax return to catch us up on bills and then live off the rest for several months. We didn't do that this year, opting instead to pay off a vehicle, which we thought would really free up a lot of money. Turns out, we really just couldn't afford that vehicle, I guess. So, now we are trying to figure out how to budget the money we do have, so that we can breathe a little easier, and hopefully get out of this house and into one a little more suited to our needs in the next year or so. Right now, that's not looking too promising.

I know some of you have many kids, how do you budget for gas and groceries? How do you get from one pay to the other? Right now, we are not making it pay check to pay check. I look at the check book and am not really sure where all the money goes. I have a bad problem of thinking a thousand dollars is more like two or three thousand, and pay bills and spend accordingly. I just tend to think it will go much further than it does.

So, with all the classes I have planned and things for this summer, I now have to figure out how to come up with the cash for all that, which means I need a budget. Any of you moms have a recommendation or plan? How do you figure out your budget? Between what we spend on gas (right now about $60 a week for my husband and $20 a week for me, about to go to $40) and groceries, we think we need $700 to get from one pay day to the next. That is being conservative, and bargaining that nothing horrible (such as a car repair or even new sneakers) happens. This pretty much means that all bills will have to come out of my husband's paycheck, and the daily expenses have to come out of mine. We are eliminating cable on Friday, and I have to find a way to cut our electric bill. (How???)

I feel like kids who are homeschooled need the "extras", and I also think that swimming lessons are a life skill. So, how do I find a way to provide these extras? Is there a way to coupon that is reasonable? I have tried from time to time, never doing better than a couple of bucks on a $200.00 bill. I don't have hours and hours a week to clip coupons. I am open to suggestions! What do you mamas do to make those dollars stretch a little more?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When Adult Children Live At Home...

Oh my. This is a sensitive topic. My husband and I are really just entering this phase. Two adult children, one moving out soon, and one who has just moved home from college until she graduates and gets a job and then who knows? I  never expected to be the bill Cosby parent who couldn't wait until the adult children moved out, but I am SOOOO there. They need to git, already. Partially because it's just time, and partly because they drive me nutso... so, I have to ask, if you have adult children living at home, what are your expectations? What are the "rules"? I'll lay out what I think is appropriate, but please, I am looking for some guidance.

I also have to add in that I have a sort of anxiety thing when they come home. It takes me weeks to acclimate to them being here. I don't particularly care for the disruption of my routine, from the bathroom time to making dinner. I just don't. Once they go, I really would rather they just stay gone. I know that sounds harsh, but having to readjust everything every few months really doesn't work for me, so I end up on edge, all grouchy and irritable, and I REALLY DISLIKE being grouchy and irritable. I don't like feeling like I being unreasonable, though to a certain extent, I know I am.

So, to lessen my anxiety, and just to instill some common courtesy, there are a few rules I think they should obey:
1. Always let me know if you are going to be home for dinner. It's just the courteous thing to do. It helps me plan. It also gives me a "warning" so I can be prepared for your arrival.
2. If you are home for a meal, pitch in and help prepare and clean up. Seriously, you are adults eating for free. Help out!
3. If you are home for a meal, and I am not, PITCH IN AND HELP! Don't leave everything to the younger kids.
4. You use sheets and towels, right? If so, please throw a load in once a week or so. On top of washing all your own laundry, of course. And, if you don't have enough to make a load, throw some of the regular wash in, just to be nice.
5. Don't come in here after you've been gone for months and demand your spot back, or try to tell the younger kids anything. You haven't been home, you lost your spot, and you don't really know how things currently work. If you mess with the kids, I am probably gonna side with them, because you don't know what you're talking about anymore.
6. Don't sit. Just don't. If you want down time in a household of this many, go find it someplace else. If you sit, you will make me angry. I might have visions of you working in some sort of  prison encampment chopping wood or busting up rock with sledge hammers, and I will continue to boil until you leave or find something to do. If you are home, be busy, find something to do. Even if it is reading a book to a small person or pretending to clean your room.
7. CLEAN YOUR ROOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!! You are too old to live in a mess. Wash your clothes and put them away, CHANGE YOUR SHEETS! Dust, sweep, generally restore order.

There are also a few requirements to living at home:
1. If you are currently enrolled full time in school, then you must have a part time job, at a minimum.
2. If it is summer you must have at LEAST a FULL time job or jobs. Whatever has you busy and earning as much cash as possible.
3. Once you graduate, if you still want to live at home, you must be employed a minimum of FULL time, and you must pay rent, to be determined when/if that day ever comes.

So, Mommas, what do you think? Is this reasonable? Is it enough? Too much? My brother would say it is not nearly tough enough, while I suspect my husband would be fine with all the kids living with us forever. I think I would deal with the comings and goings much better if these were adhered to, which right now, they are not. One kid does talk to me, letting me know what's up most of the time, and she does pitch in with dishes when she is home, and even does some driving for me, so that I don't have to go out late on Monday nights. I do know when she will be home for dinner, she just communicates with me on a regular basis. The other kid doesn't tell me anything. Comes and goes at will, and never lets me know. She has ocassionally helped with dishes. Perhaps three times in the three weeks since she has been home.. not sufficient. So, it is a work in progress. I get angry, because I honestly don't think most of this should need to be said. They should just know. If you are going to be home for dinner, let me know. If you are here, help with prep and clean up. We don't ask for much... and I should think that a little common courtesy isn't too much to ask. So....let me know your thoughts! How have you handled these issues?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I often wonder what family means to other people. I know they come in all shapes and sizes, and that people have their own definitions of what makes a family. What I am talking about is how you are family with your family, if you know what I mean. Are you family in name only? Do you go the extra mile? Do you forgive hurts and move past your issues with other members?

It's no secret that I love my family. My husband teases me that I love my family of origin even more than I love him. He knows how I really feel, he is the other half of my heart. He is my home, my life. My family of origin, my parents and brother and sisters? I love them, too. They make up a huge part of my life, my heart, my prayers. I would absolutely do anything in my power for any of them. And they would for me. They have. They have taken care of my children when one was sick, helped us move, and all the little things that come with being family, too.

My sister and I often butt heads. I don't know if that is because we are too alike, or too different. I suspect it is because we are often alike. We butt heads. We irritate each other. But, no matter what happens, not matter how irritated or angry we might get, we always make an effort to put it all back together. We make sure we smooth things over. We never, ever let it go on long. Why do we make this effort? Because we are sisters. We are a family. I don't care what happens, she will always be my sister.

I recognize that we were blessed to be a rather verbal family, and as such were probably given some skills to work things out. My dad taught us how to be diplomatic, reasonable, yet passionate. My mom always said to treasure your sisters and brother. She taught us to stick up for each other, no matter what. Sometimes that means even to yourself.

Family means putting yourself, your wants, issues and needs aside for the good of others. Family means making that extra effort, no matter what wrong has been done. Family is more important than slights, insulted egos, and even, broken hearts. Sometimes, family will be all you have in the world. Hang on to it. Cherish it. Make them more important than yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

That Different Blessing...

I still cry during Mass. I just do. I have always been emotional about Mass, but ever since we lost the babies, it has been so much ...more. This week, as I was preparing to go to communion, I was just thinking about them, about how they are now at the feet of Jesus, and I am grateful for that, and even happy for them. As I approached the altar, and looked our Deacon (transitional deacon who will be ordained - yay! - in two weeks) in the eyes, and he offered the host to me, I locked eyes with him, and started to shake. He clearly saw this, and raised the host closer, so I could take it on my tongue. I went to the cup and accepted it with shaking hands, handing it carefully back.

As I made my way back into the pew, tugging my Benjamin gently behind me, I knelt and covered my eyes, as I always do. I miss so much of Mass sometimes, tending to runny noses or noisy boys, but I always take those moments after communion to just be there, present, and offer up my Mass and communion. As soon as I covered my eyes, I started to cry. I wasn't even really sure why. I was happy. My girls shot looks over at me, and I tried to swipe away the tears, but they just kept coming. I have been wondering why my reaction to communion was so strong.

I think it finally just came to me. I always react strongly to going to communion, but now, I knew in my heart that my babies were with this Christ, and that, in meeting Him in communion, I was sharing a bit of what they got to experience all the time. These perfect, sinless, precious children got to sit at His feet. And I don't feel worthy of that...not at all. But, every time I go, I get a bit of that. I get to sit with Him for that moment in time. And I get to share in something my little ones who have gone before me get to experience all the time. To be the mother of such children is an honor. I have saints in heaven. I have children in the presence of Our Lord. We are blessed.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sweet Priscilla Grace...

is a healthy baby girl! Thank the Sweet Lord. I was so scared to go in there today. Equal parts scared and excited, because I could feel her moving all around. The ultra sound tech, Katie, is the same tech who was with us when we found out about the twins. She felt so bad about that, and when I went in for a check up after it happened, she asked if she could give me a hug, and that she had not been able to stop thinking about us. She is truly a wonderful person, and I am so glad this little one is in her care! She was as thrilled to find our baby happily scooting around and healthy as we were. We feel immensely blessed. God is Good.

So, we are thrilled to introduce our sweet lil Priscilla Grace!

Priscilla is her dad's choice. I  pretty much hated it wasn't thrilled with it for a long time. Honestly, I am still working on it, but he has wanted that name for a long, long time. For a while I thought he was joking, and that as soon as I agreed he'd say - "Naw - I was just messin' with ya!" But when we found out we were having a baby I was so thrilled, I told him that if it turned out to be a girl, I would name her Priscilla. He is such a good guy, and he deserves a say, don't you think? I think I will probably call her "Gracie" or maybe Kenzie's suggestion of "Rissa". We are such a nicknaming family, she'll be 10 or 11 before she knows her real name anyway. Priscilla is also the name of a saint I have come to admire since studying the name. 

From Saints and Angels on Catholic.org

Aquila was a Jewish tentmaker. He and his wife Prisca or Priscilla were forced to leave Rome when Emperor Claudius forbade Jews to live there. They went to Corinth, where St. Paul lived with them during his stay there and may have converted them to Christianity. They accompanied Paul to Ephesus and remained there; Paul stayed with them on his third missionary journey. They then returned to Rome, where there house was also used as a church and then went back to Ephesus. They suffered martyrdom in Asia Minor, according to the Roman Martyrology but a tradition has them martyred in Rome. Their feast day is July 8th.
from Wikipedia
Priscilla and Aquila were a first century Christian missionary couple described in the New Testament and traditionally listed among the Seventy Disciples. They lived, worked, and traveled with the Apostle Paul, becoming his honored, much-loved friends and coworkers in Christ Jesus.[1] Priscilla and Aquila are described in the New Testament as providing a presence that strengthened the early Jesus groups. Paul was generous in his recognition and acknowledgment of his indebtedness to them.[Rom. 16:3-4] Their mutuality in ministry and their leadership can inspire members of church communities today to work together as teachers and preachers of the gospel.[1]

And Grace - well, that's my contribution to her name. I think it is the perfect compliment to Priscilla. I am actually starting to love the whole thing.

So, we saw the best ultrasound we have ever seen - brand new machine - and saw all four chambers of the heart, her little brain, kidneys, bladder, all her measurements and she looks great. As a told a friend earlier, the fact that she is a girl is just icing on a really big, happy cake. We're just so thrilled she is healthy and growing well. 

I had been teasing Douglas that if the baby was a girl I was going to make him take me straight from the doctor's office to Gymboree and buy out the store. We have not had a girl in ELEVEN years! I needed to get started on her wardrobe, because you know, she's got to look fabulous when she bosses all these boys around. And so, we went. Doug didn't try to hold me back or give me a limit or anything. He got right in there, finding all the best stuff faster than I could! I was proud. When we met, he didn't even know there were clearance racks - now he was diving into Gymboree like a pro! This is out haul - pretty impressive, right? All clearance, as we were looking for mainly Fall and Winter items, so they were 60% off, plus I had a 20% off everything coupon, plus I got $50 in Gymbucks! Seriously, that was so much fun. 17 pieces, all between 0 and 12 months...I tend to mostly dress my babies in soft, comfy items and save real clothes for Church and pictures... the occasional get together. But my, oh my - they are all so sweet and fun. We bought everything we wanted, and the total was $112. I was pretty happy with that! 

We feel so blessed and thankful for this new little one. I continue to offer prayers of thanksgiving, and continue to beg for her protection and continued health and growth.  As for the kids, the girls are thrilled to have a wee baby sister, as are the little boys. The big boys are acting all aloof, but I know they will love her when she gets here, even if she isn't a boy!