Friday, June 23, 2017

First Week of Summer

Time just keeps running. And I prefer it that way. Gives me less time to hurt about these two girls leaving us. They have been at the mom's house that is going to have them come July 1st the past two Sundays and I just keep on getting all teared up and having a chokey throat. Two kids. It's such a small number. It's relaxing. And four. Four is fulfilling.

Like I said, it's easier to keep them out of the house than in the house so we've been doing some pretty outrageous things. Like the zoo and a hike around lost lake and the children's museum and lots of days after school at the park when it's been nice enough.

And now, school is out. Summer. And it's like our little hearts have just been waiting and waiting and now we're going super-speed full ahead! No filtering.

We have a week planned at my mom's house. Our first whole week of summer will be spent out there, doing swimming lessons at the pool and eating the free lunches they have at the school and then who knows from there. The canvas is open.

This week berry season started. I did a delivery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and was absolutely worn out by Thursday evening. 75 flats, 45 flats and then 80 flats. Which. Of that 80. I had 7 that were homeless for awhile there and finally started giving them out like candy. There was no way I wanted that many berries to process at the end the night. I even basically payed a lady $2 to take one! She had come to get one and needed change and I just let her take the second flat instead of giving her change, even though she was $2 short. I lost money on that one. But the rest were fine - striking a little over even.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

4 Weeks Measured by Heart Taps

People. I love, love having 4 kids! The heart taps that come are un-countable. And yet I want to remember every. single. one.

My heart just wants to implode and explode, all at the same time. It is amazing the joy I find in having these two extra girls in our home. They are so absolutely pleasant and it saddens me to no end that their mom and dad can't be the ones taking care of them. But I am soaking up the opportunity that I have.

reading together on the bed

homework all together at the table

mother's day cards

Their comments on how much they love it here, how much they love each other and Talmage and Alaska. They have quickly become a mainstay of our family and I have been scheming how to keep them longer. I was so nervous taking them in with such a short time until our newest edition but now I am all up and anxious about them leaving.

I did a nesting clean-up of our room. Making the most of the space and clearing out a space for a pack-and-play. Talked to my parents about doing respite care while they can so I can give Steven the family time he thinks he needs before the baby comes. Talked to them about doing respite after the baby comes so we can do a little adjusting. And then talked to a few other people, too, about taking care of the girls while the baby is born. It was all coming together.

And then I contacted our certifier. And she basically said, Ummmm - thank you for being so flexible and I am glad this placement is working out - but you really don't have the room. On top of that, the mom of the brother had already said that she could take the girls. She had just needed the extra time to figure out child care and everything complicated like that. She's amazing and is a single mom who works - I hate to see her take on so much - but I know she'll do wonders. So all my planning and cleaning and everything was pretty much for naught and I bawled my eyes out.

Which in turn made my madder than I have ever been before. I am so ridiculously upset that my dreams are being shot down by space. Space that I don't have any control over because housing in St. Helens is mounting into a bubble (269,000 for a 3 bedroom!!!!) and rent isn't much better. We're lucky to be where we are, but it's not enough. And on account that Steven hasn't promoted yet and is looking at a career change and yet nothing is moving. It's stagnant.

Fostering has held my head over the water - allowing me to do great things while in my limited situation and now that my 'doing great things' has been expanded it absolutely disgusts me that I can't keep going. I so badly want a house with a yard. With multiple rooms. One extra child used to be scary, and then two was scary, and now I feel like I am ready to take on three if I were asked. And now I am stunted. To one extra. Where I have already been and done.

5 kids; 2 bedroom apartment

When you get serious about fitting 5 kids into a 2 bedroom apartment you really take a look at necessities and throw everything else out. I've got a couple bags to go to goodwill and another bag of garbage. Huge bags. The kind that come from Les Schwab that they put your nasty tire in to keep your trunk clean.

Right now we've got three girls in the one bedroom. Bunkbed - twin size. And an upper piece of a trundle - crib size. In our closet we've got one boy in the bottom piece of the trundle - crib mattress. And now I am figuring out footage for a pack-and-play.

And I found it. In the corner of our master bedroom. Which also happens to correspond with the heater, but that will just have to be a problem for another day.

We've had a crib since Alaska was a baby and have only used it for her. For Talmage it never got set up because by the time he was big enough to move out of the pack and play we had C and just kept him in there because then we had two girls in the other room.

It has been amazing to see the transformation of that room all the girls are in right now. How full it felt with just Alaska in it. How full it was with C and Alaska doing the crib size trundle bed with two dressers. I couldn't imagine fitting a bunk bed in there; having three girls was totally out of the mind's imagination. And now we've got three dressers in that room and the two beds. It is a jigsaw puzzle of tetras that we have conquered by slowly adding pieces here and there. It is the way I like it right now. Nothing more needs to be shuffled - but it is definitely packed.

The walls are lined all the way around with either a bed or a dresser. I also got an oversized clothes basket that is separated into 3 parts because I found that unless the clothes are sorted as they are dirtied, I have huge avoidance issues of the laundry.

Two dressers are used for clothes and the third is used for storage. Everyone has their 'special drawer' that they can fill with whatever they want. Currently they are stuffed full of colored and drawn pictures, some cheap-o toys that they seem to be constantly picking up as prizes, and some other things that they call 'theirs'. This system has been a lifesaver as far as collections of stacks of things being all over the place.

I also ran to IKEA one weekend - one of those weekends where it was easier to have them out of the house than in the house - and got another storage unit to put up in there. This is where all the books go and a few toys and doubles as a nightstand for all three girls, at all their different heights of beds.

The Elsa and Anna decor is still up, even though I had to take down a lot of pictures and things to make wall room for the bunk beds. The pendant banners and tissue pom-poms have stayed and while it is totally outdated because FROZEN is way out - it's functional and cuter than nothing, so it has stayed. Right now I am collecting things to make a mermaid room for Alaska. Whenever that happens. She may be getting moved into the closet and Talmage could potentially be moved into the other room with the baby and we'll call it a 'boy room'.

I've never decorated a boy room before and am scouring pinterest and etsy for ideas. Right now I've got a Peter Pan theme flying around in my head or a 'Where the Wild Things Are' going on.

Swimming Pool

I always see moms posting their weekend adventures on Facebook. Grand, fun adventures. And I wonder where they get the energy. Where they get the patience. Often, by the time the weekend comes around, I am so pooped it's all I can do to get a little house cleaning done.

Well - I am going to let you in on a little secret. It is easier to have four kids out of the house doing something fun, adventuring, than it is to have four kids in the house going crazy on each other and wrecking the place apart as they play game after game.

We went to the pool. I have never been to the pool with kids the 4 years that we have lived here. D wanted to go and we were invited by Alaska's friend so I went ahead and braved everyone getting into suits and the whole thing and went.

It was a big deal. As much as I tried to play it off as a small deal. We went in our suits and took a bag with numerous underwear and I made sure everyone was wearing something quick to slip on and off. Dresses and flip flops for the win. Talmage had shorts and t-shirt with sandals.

We got there around 10:30 and I thought we would be done in a hour or so, but we weren't. I had to drag them out at noon-thirty because I was majorly done. I think I did really good to last even that long. Warm pregnancy blood running through me definitely was a plus. Usually I am turning blue after 10 minutes.

The girls did a good job playing together. Alaska has definitely gotten more confident in the water than the last time I had seen her swimming and D helped with that. E clung to the side of the pool and hovered by the stairs while Talmage jumped off the edge into my arms. It will be a big day when I can have kids in the water without having to be in the water with them.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dental Appointment

I just need to jot down yesterday's adventures. It was a chaotic day.

Running kids here and there and then picking them back up for this major dentist appointment that I had made for all three of the girls at the same time. And somehow I got myself dolled up decent enough to attend a meeting for C and look like a normal person. I may have actually taken a double-take in the mirror, wondering where that girl has been for the past month. I have been rocking the mom-bun a lot but took the time to blow-dry and straighten my hair and it made a large difference.

C's meeting was actually for her sister, but because of dad actually getting into his apartment that he was supposed to get into back in March, I wanted to hear firsthand how everything was going and going to go down. Nothing much to report. They are looking at a return to parent the end of July - giving the girls some time out of school and for dad to get his house put together with some furniture and stuff from the community warehouse. C's sister is a pretty big worrier and has some anxiety about moving away from everything that she knows and is upset that her parents aren't together to live happily ever after. It's like the trauma from a divorce, too, that affects kids so deeply. Not just trauma from being removed from mom and put into foster care. It goes so much deeper and the resentment is against both parents right now.

I had to take E to the meeting because I didn't have time to pick her up from a sitter afterwards. She did really great and the person who was most distracted by her presence was C's mom. It was slightly irritating. I was feeling super territorial of my little girl.

After the meeting I ran around like a crazy lady picking up Alaska and D from school and we headed off to Clatskanie (45 min drive) for the dentist.

When we got there, there was three pages of paper work for each girl that I scribbled through and before I was done with all of them, a team of three ladies came out to gather the girls up to clean their teeth. A whole team! I was expecting them to do one at a time. It was the best surprise ever! I stayed in the waiting room while the cleaning was happening - finishing up the paperwork and catching up on some magazine reading time. I smiled to myself as I listened to the girls. They were so excited and filled with energy that their conversations could be heard all the way in the waiting room.

Alaska to the hygienist - my sister lost her tooth!
D from the other cubicle - and I got a dollar!
And it went back and forth like that - their excited voices spilling all their beans about their teeth to the hygienists.

They summoned me in when the dentist was looking at all their teeth and I got caught up on their complications.

Alaska has a cavity that she has had practically as long as she has had a molar. But it's not decayed and is mostly unsightly because of the stain. So we are instructed to watch it again. Which is what we have been doing for the past three years.

D has tight teeth and has invisible cavities all up and through her mouth, between her teeth - 11 or some unsightly number.

E came with visible cavities and they weren't able to do an x-ray to find more due to her gag reflex.

They'll both be referred to a pediatric specialist to get everything fixed up.

D had been upset that she hadn't been able to eat lunch before I picked up her up - and because I hadn't sent her with a lunch - she also didn't have her accustomed snack at snack time that I put in special for her to eat in class. She was starving and shed a couple of tears on the way to the appointment. We just didn't have time. Not even to stop at McDonalds before heading out of town.

I made it up to them by taking them to pizza afterwards. I ordered a medium and we polished it off with no problem. D had chosen the card game 'old maid' as a prize and I don't ever remember playing that as a kid. After lunch we opened up the pack and read the directions - learning how to play as we went, all 4 of us. We played through a couple of games before heading back into the car for the trek home. It was just the best time ever. Absolutely filling me to the top with love for each girl.

Later that night we went to John's band concert, after much dilemma on my part. I did get a nap when we got home, and that made all the difference for the rest of the day. But it was still hard because my other option was to do a book group we've been doing, where the girls would see their brother.  Both good. And I knew John wouldn't mind either way - but my sister moral compass pulled me towards the band concert and that's where we ended up landing.

John was awarded most inspirational, so it was nice to be there for that. He is just the most awesome brother a girl could have.

Afterwards the weather was so nice that Steve and the kids played a half hour of tag before we got in the car for yet another long ride back home. We got home at 10 and everyone had fallen asleep in the car. But it was all worth it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Beach Day!

Monday. The weather app on my phone estimated Seaside being 76 degrees. It is hardly ever that hot there, even in the middle of August, so I made a plan and went for it. The place was packed. Even with it being a Monday and school still being in session. There was zero parking in the parking lot but we were able to get a spot not too far. Which was important, because we needed the bathrooms!

Between getting everyone ready and off to school yesterday - it was a crazy little bit.

7:30 - Took D to school. Hustled back and threw together the suits, beach blanket, water bottles and got everyone else dressed and hair done-did. Grabbed up some snacks that I already had at the house and loaded up the car.

8:30 - Took Alaska to school.

8:45 - Hustled through Walmart for a few necessities. D has been needing a swim suit that fits rather than wearing Alaska's and C was coming with us and I didn't bother asking for a suit. Just picked up one for her, knowing that her and D wear the same size, and we would hang out to it and still get use out of it. Two suits down, headed over to get a camping chair for my own pregnant self and passed through and got some cookies and pretzels for the ride.

9:50 - Dropped E and Talmage off with a friend at dance class. We've been doing this toddler dance class for the last two months and when E joined our family I enrolled her, even though she doesn't fit the toddler requirement. It's just what happens when you're not in school - you do everything mom does. And she's been doing great. She's small enough, too, that she doesn't even stick out all that much.

10:00 - Made it to an ESD appointment for E. She qualified for services for speech articulation. And everyone was all puzzled about it. As if. She's hard to understand because she skips a lot of sounds in a word. But they went ahead and put her in for a 4 week summer program of a hour a week and will make her up an IEP to start kindergarten with.

10:30 - Meeting was over so I jetted over to the library to pick up a couple of audio books for our 2 hour drive.

11:00 - the start of picking everyone up from schools. Alaska from preschool, D from elementary, C from head start. Hauled everyone in to head start to use the bathroom before heading out and we were finally leaving town at 11:40.

12:10 - Picked up my mom from school and then did another bathroom break at 12:30 in Clatskanie since the kids had eaten snacky lunches in the car with juices. Needed to empty those bladders out as much as possible!

We arrived at the beach! Played for a long, long time. I got so super burnt that today I have had to wobble around because the skin on my legs and feet are so sensitive. I just got so busy! Thought we would get back to the blanket sooner than we did. Those girls are all wave chasers. Talmage and D were wave runners and stayed with Nana the whole time, running from the waves. The tide was super far out and there were tons and tons of sand fleas for the girls to look at and there was even a crab that got washed up to us. Talmage was hilarious and jumped mid-air into Nana's arms. It was terrifying and cool at the same time.

We spent most of our time at the water. The trek back to the blanket was a far one, given that the tide was so low. We went back once for snacks and drinks and the rest of it all was spent shell collecting and wallowing in the water. Perfect day. The temperature and the wind were all just at the right everything.

It took us an hour from leaving the water to getting the car turned on to go home. The walk back on the sand was punctuated by a stop at the water spigot where we then continued on our way back to the parking lot and to the bathrooms where everyone had a turn filing through.

The ride home was just as loud and full of energy as the way there. Which never happens. Usually kids are wiped out. Having C in the mix really made our car a loud place and even though no one was talking to her, she just loves to hear herself talk to herself, make noise, sing, whatever. I had to use our voice thermometer technique a few times on her because I couldn't even hear my mom sitting across from me in the front seat and C was in the far back!

We had a close call when we were getting dinner. Talmage announced he needed to poop, and it was an emergency. The DQ was right there, thank goodness, but turns out a) they didn't have a bathroom inside and b) there was no drive-through. So I dropped Nana and Talmage off and then had to park and left the girls in the car listening to the audio book Little House on the Prairie.

One more emergency pull over - thank goodness it was a quick exit at the John Day day park and off we went again.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Having 4 Kids

What I've learned having 4 kids:

It's easier to take them out and do something on a Saturday than to keep them at the house entertained without going crazy about the mess that is happening.

I think I have 'a lot' of kids - and consequently keep looking around for a 5th child after counting the 4.

If any of them have a name that starts with the same letter - they will consistently be called by the wrong name, even when I am looking right at them.

There is always, always, someone too close to me. My body, my hands, my feet. Everything is constantly being touched.

The "I love yous" are plentiful.

Bed time is no longer a race of 15 minutes. It is a marathon. It is a different kind of tired. A more whole-body, fulfilling type of tired rather than the harried, brain hurting type of tired.

We make the cutest line of hand-holders anywhere we go where there is a parking lot.

2nd graders are awesome. They read. They do math. They are responsible. I can set all the kids on the couch a D will read to them, happily earning minutes towards her 60 minutes a week on her reading log.

Reading happens. Having a 2nd grader who has to have 60 minutes a week of reading recorded makes us read at night. Steven doesn't understand the benefits of reading books out loud - still - and it drives me crazy. But with the added requirement of the reading log makes it happen.