Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Plague

Well I planned, and cleaned, and cooked and prepped and finally Wednesday came, the day before Thanksgiving and I just finished it all and we were waiting for my parents to arrive in about 2 hours.  The house was ready, the cooking was all ready and I had it done so that all I had to do Thursday was wake up, put the turkey in the oven and warm the sides.  I had achieved it, the perfect Thanksgiving for a mom, one where I would actually get to sit down, watch the parade, and enjoy the day.

Then it happened.  Haven threw up.  I kind of stood there in shock, but she assured me she wasn't sick, she just had some reflux because she put way way way too much cinnamon on her oatmeal.  I didn't really believe her, but she looked OK and said she felt better and so I settled back and chatted with the husband about having to just bake the pumpkin pies and make the brine for the turkey.  My parents walked in the house two hours later, and as they crossed the threshold.....she threw up again.  This time we knew....she was sick.  Crap!!!

Haven was sick most of the night, and I got a double blessing of a fever due to a sinus infection I have been ignoring.  Thursday morning came and Haven looked pretty good and no one else had gone down.  I felt behind the game all day and I was stressing about who would get sick next, because lets face it, no way only one of the five would get sick.  Finn got sick that day, not vomiting but really unpleasant diapers, lots of them, and they were the down to the socks type awful (all parents can relate to this).  We made it through the day, everyone went to bed and the hubby and I tried to relax, but we still knew we were not out of the woods.

Friday came and we got moving.  We all looked pretty good, everyone seemed OK, it was looking up! We all went out for pizza, then to the park and then my parents took the tree older kids to the movies.  We brought the babies home, Finn gifted us with some more horrible diaper incidents, but we were starting to breath easier.  Big kids came home and Brittan walked in the door, into the living room, said her stomach hurt, walked into the bathroom and threw up.  My wise parents then turned and left, they never even got their coats off.  Four hours later, while still juggling a sick Britt, down went Gray.  At that moment, we all turned to look at Teagan, since at this point she was the only one who had not gotten sick yet and we just stared.  Poor Gray was sick all night, and yesterday Haven, the babies and I kind of huddled downstairs while the other two healed upstairs.  I disinfected the entire house last night and went to bed....waiting...waiting....waiting.

Morning came and everyone looked fine.  Everyone was eating and happy and so far today everything has gone well.  I will still be waiting, until Tuesday, and if by then Teagan is still not sick I will say this virus has gone...but until then, I am still waiting on the Thanksgiving Plague to take my youngest girl down.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mental prep

So with the upcoming move, we are busy preparing.  Right now we are preparing this house to be sold by finishing some tasks, cleaning, organizing, purging and packing what is not needed.  We are also busy preparing for the holidays, so sometimes it seems counterintuitive!

We are also preparing mentally.  Some kids are not thrilled about the move, so we talk a lot about all the positive things, what we can look forward to and how we can still keep in touch with our friends here.

For me the stress and worry is different.  I worry about keeping this house in order to sell it, and buying a house that fits everyone's needs.  I worry about schools, and kid's friends, and finding a place we all fit.  I worry about what we will need to give up, and I worry about needing to find a new place to get milk, eggs, meat, produce, etc since that is a big part of our lifestyle.

So many things to think about, excitement and reluctance all rolled into one.  This will be an interesting year!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Well I have not blogged in nearly 2 months because I just could not wrap my head around everything that has been going on.

First off, the kids are great.  Teagan is in preschool and loving it, the three big kids are all doing well in school and I am enjoying the moments of having my sweet Finn all to myself.

Finn is doing well.  He is still not talking much and will stay in speech for a long while I presume.  He saw cardio and got good news, saw genetics and they were pleased with his progress, saw gastro and they put him on a daily regime to minimize issues with the diastasis recti and he saw the ENT who feels his tonsils and adenoids need to be removed, so we are working on getting that scheduled with Children's since it will be inpatient.  He is also becoming very "2" which means he is into everything and pushing boundaries and all the other things he should be doing :)

Ryan was offered a new position a few weeks ago, a promotion he deserves and wants, but it will require us to move to North Carolina.  He of course said he wanted the job, and we are waiting to see when it will all come to pass since the new manager needs to negotiate with his current manager to steal him.  We are all trying to come to terms with the move, parts are really exciting, but others are really hard.  I am trying to look at it as a new adventure and the kids are getting a little excited, well some of the kids.

We have all been sick the last few weeks, just a wicked cold or virus that is lingering. It wouldn't have been a big issue, but we had to prep for the hurricane that thankfully did not cause any damage here but devastated so many of our friends homes and lives back in NY/NJ.  Then the following week Ryan was sick, the babies were sick, Brittan was sick and I finally got the bug and lost my voice.  Normally I would have just rested and tried to get better, but I was three days away from my final defense!

Somehow while sick and not sleeping I got all the edits done on my dissertation and prepared for my defense, and last Wednesday I defended and passed.  It is official, I am Dr. Kelley.

So that is where we have been.  Now I am trying to shake off the rest of this illness and do all the neglected chores that I have pushed to the side the last few weeks while focusing on the dissertation.  The best part is, in about 3 1/2 weeks I will be off from both schools for almost a full month.  A full month of being with the family, celebrating the holidays and just taking a much needed break.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Week 2 down

So we are almost at the end of the second week of school and the kids are exhausted and all weepy and melty and crabby.  We also had the first illness of the school year, since we want to be over achievers we decided that Week 2 was a great time to start missing school.  Poor Britt had a high fever and sore throat and missed two days, and Gray decided to catch it as well and missed one day.  Thankfully they are feeling better :)

We have been working hard to get the house ready to sell and had decided that we would try to stay here in our town, in our school district.  Well...the hubs met with some new manager of the group he wants to move into who basically said they would hire him there now, but the position is in Cary, NC.  The guy went so far as to put through a request to have the position "moved" here so they could hire Ryan, but the understanding is that eventually we would move to NC.  We were thrown for a bit until we thought about it.  I am a-ok with living further south, we would be closer to my parents, for me the area is great because of all of the universities, we would get a city without it being DC, schools looked pretty good, good medical care for Finn and well, I would get a new house which is all I really care about.  My jobs go anywhere, so it is easy for me to move.  Ryan has always been the one who didn't want to go further south, but he really wants this opportunity and it will make a big difference in his career, so I guess Cary is now on the radar.

Health wise, beside the little virus that ran through, kid are doing well.  Finn has his cardiology checkup in two weeks and I am anxious.  I am hoping for no change with the SVAS and we need to talk to them again about his heart rate.  I keep flagging it on our pulse ox at nearly 160 beats per minute while he is resting, so not a true SVT, but still a pretty elevated heart rate which is not good for an already stressed heart. I am wondering is we need to do a 24 hour monitor to see what is really going on.  I also have to try to get a double appointment at Children's, he needs his annual with genetics and he needs to see gastro for his diastasis recti.  We also still need to see ENT for his follow up and need to get pulmonology into rotation as well.  Just managing Finn's appointments and therapy is a full time job sometimes BUT he is signing a ton, trying to speak more and is super silly, fun, smart and loving.  I would go to the ends of the earth for him :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

So it begins...

Yet another first day of school has come and gone.  Haven started 7th grade, Brittan 5th and Grayson 2nd and in just a few short weeks, my Teagan will start preschool.  I figured out that by the time Finn finishes his senior year, I will have had children in school consistently (not counting college) for 23 years.  Egads!

Thankfully the day went smoothly, kids got off without a hitch and everyone had a great day.  I had our sitter come this morning to watch the little ones and I got so, so much done!  Then while they napped, I baked cookies, started a yummy dinner and finished my work.  Now I sit here and the house is cleaned up, lunches are packed and kids are set to hit the hay.  Not a bad start to the first week of school!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The run down

Well I have been absent most of the summer working to juggle many different jobs/tasks/kids.  Figured I would give a quick rundown.

Work-still do it and a lot of of it.

School-Chapter 4 of the dissertation is in final edits and Chapter 5 has been started.  Should be all done this fall...then you can all call me Doc Tribemama.

Finn-Doing well.  He is HUGE which makes me laugh since last summer he was so tiny and wasn't growing at all.  His speech is coming along slowly but surely.  We have some Occupational Therapy as well to strengthen his muscles, especially in his arms and shoulders since he has hypermobility and his joints sort of pop in and out.  He was also just diagnosed with Diastasis Recti which means basically the stomach muscles have split apart. Kids with CL are prone to hernias so I guess this is just part of it all.  We will see gastro at Children's when we go see genetics.  He also will need to get his tonsils and adenoids out at some time, and we have follow up with cardio in the fall.  That being said, you would never guess anything was going on.  He is a non-stop mover and shaker, he loves to dance and has some awesome moves, he is loving and sweet and silly.

Other kids-All doing great.  They are such a different group which makes raising them fun and a challenge.  I think they are all ready for the routine of school, time with friends and less time managing their relationships with siblings 24/7.  They love each other and get along most of the time, but just as siblings do they get on each others nerves too.

House-we are preparing the house for sale next spring, but we have no clue what we are doing when it sells.  Buying an existing home is easiest, but we are not sure we will find what we want when the time comes.  We like the idea of building, but that takes time and where the heck will we live in the meantime?  There are a few builders who have homes that we can customize some to better fit our needs, but we are not sure we want to live in a planned community again.  Decisions decisions!  We will meet with a builder and realtor this winter to see what our options are and go from there.  Personally, I would love to buy a big lot with a teeny house on it.  Live in the teeny house while we have the new house built, then rent the teeny house when we move into the big house...who knows maybe it will happen.

School starts in a few days and I think the kids will all have a great year!  Happy September :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back on track

So I think that I will have a lot more time to blog in a week or so, since the three biggies will be heading back to school.  Usually this week is crazy since I am working for FT school and usually go back to my PT gig teaching on campus, but this year is different since I am teaching for PT school online too!  I developed the online course last year and taught it for the first time this summer.  I was only supposed to have one section this fall, but it was totally full and had a waiting list, so they added another section.  I will also be training another PT faculty member on how to teach the course online in spring (woohoo for extra cash) and I applied for a grant to develop a second course for the department! My boss also suggested I develop another course for another department as well since they need someone with online experience.  I am so thankful that I suffered through the last few years juggling teaching FT online and PT on campus!  The best part is, the courses I develop I own, so I get to teach them.  This guarantees me courses, and online to boot!  It is weird to be home all the time now for both jobs, but the kids are only small once and I want to be here until Finn is in school full time and this allows for that.

I am looking forward to the biggies going back to school.  I know, I know, I am supposed to say that I don't want summer to end, and that I will be sad, etc., but truth be told, it is really hard to work full time with a house full of kids and no real schedule.  Add to that the hubby working crazy overtime all summer, the super hot days that kept us all inside and well, five kids running around, and I am ready to get on a schedule.  I am also excited since school means fall which is my second favorite season which leads into winter, my absolute favorite season!  I look forward to hunkering down with the littles during the day, playing with them lots and enjoying all the fun events the kids take part in at school.

Happy back to school week!

Monday, August 27, 2012

I totally slacked

and didn't post in Gray's birthday last week....he turned 8!  The thing is, the week was crazy busy and his actual birthday was the busiest of them all, and well, the post got away from me.  However, he did have a great birthday.  He got the presents he wanted, and we loved on him as much as he would allow (side hugs only these days).  He chose his dinner and his Dad even worked from home so he could hang out with us.  See, I also know he wouldn't be upset this post is a little late since he told me, "Don't worry Mom, it isn't your fault" when not one, but TWO of the cakes I made for him would not come out of the pans, although I am not too sure whose fault it was then if not mine :)  Thankfully, third time (and a new recipe) was the charm and he got his wish...a chocolate cake with a Biscoff cookie spread filling, topped with chocolate ganache and mini chips.  Yes he is a chocolate fiend, and yes that is just one of the many things I love about him.  He still gives great hugs and kisses, he is the sweetest big brother to the babies, he is funny, silly and super creative.  He answers me with "I would love to" when I ask him to complete a chore and he is totally NOT a morning person, which I relate to.  He is our kid in the middle, oldest son and best all around big boy and our world is full of silly, crazy, chatter with our Gray around.  Sorry for the late post Gray, but thank you for being such a special and amazing son, brother and kid, we love you!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Best bedtime routine

Teagan and Finn have the funniest bedtime routine ever, and we do it for nap and bedtime everyday.  It starts with me rocking them both in the rocker. I sing Edelweiss and Castle on a Cloud, and sometime Finn either nurses or has a bottle.  When I am about 75% of the way through Castle, they both jump off my lap and run to Teagan's crib.  I put them both in and Teagan lays down and gets her blanket on.  Finn then makes every stuffed animal kiss each other goodnight, and there are  at least 10 stuffed animals.  Then he proceeds to jump up and down for a few minutes, bouncing Teagan around who thinks it is hysterical.  Then he will give her a hug and a kiss and I will put him in his crib.  He then hands me his pillow, lays down, gets up and sticks his hand out for his pillow, we put it back, he lays down again and they go to sleep.  Oh, and her bed is packed with dolls, stuffed animals and blankets.  Finn has two blankets and his little crib pillow.  He throws anything else we put in there out!  They are funny :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Too busy summer

I am too busy to post much.  Too busy working.  Too busy entertaining the kiddos. Too busy holding down the fort while the hubby works a lot.  Too busy potty training.  Too busy adventuring.  Too busy trying to pack up the house for the move in the next year.  Too busy enjoying delicious meals like grass fed filet minion, fresh local corn and couscous blend like I am doing right now :)  Happy Summer!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Day late and a dollar short

So...I meant to blog on Tuesday but the day got away from me.

On Tuesday, my second daughter turned ten...TEN!  She turned the big double digits and she is growing into an amazing young lady. When Brittan was born she was so different from Haven. She didn't cry much as a newborn, and she always seemed timid.  As she grew we found that she liked her space, even as a little baby, and she would happily sit for hours observing us and smiling when we looked her way...but if we got too close, or pulled her into the craziness that was Haven at age two, poor little Britt would lose it.  She was a beautiful baby, she looked like a little doll, and she would sit in the cart at the store and just smile at everyone around her, so long as they kept their distance.  As the years went on, Brittan grew and changed and found her voice.  She is no longer timid, although one of our more quiet children, and she is far from shy.  She excels at school and sports and loves to run of all things!  She is a mother hen to the babies-competent, genuine, loving and sweet.  She is bossy to Haven and Grayson and I see a lot of my desire for perfection and things being just so in her.  She is tender hearted, and feels deeply and can have such empathy for those around her.

We are a dynamic bunch-loud, opinionated and passionate and for awhile I worried that our quiet, sweet, petite little girl would struggle to find her place.  Well, I didn't need to worry, she has her place.  Now at ten, she is a force in our home, a quiet storm of sorts, and not only do I rely on her to toe the line and be a team player, but her siblings rely on her to help them stay on track (although they may complain she "helps" too much!).  She is going to be a great woman, an amazing mother and she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.  She adores little ones, her siblings and every other small child we come across, and she has a way of working with them and talking to them that makes all the little ones just love her.  She is responsible, silly, kind, loyal and full of joy.  She is the balance to the intensity that is her older sister, and she is a child who is always surprising us at every turn.

Happy 10th birthday Brittan Elizabeth.  You were named for the four great grandmothers and I see all of their best qualities in you every day.  We love you more than anything, and we are thankful every day that your sweet soul is ours to care for.  I am so excited to see you grow!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My littlest girl

It has been quite a while since I blogged, that happens when you have a house full of children, very busy jobs and a husband's job schedule that is changing and demanding.  Today, however, is one day that I must blog, because today is Teagan's 3rd birthday!

We had a big break between kids after Grayson.  My oldest three are a neat and tidy two years apart each, and then it took nearly five more years for us to have our fourth child, our sweet and sassy little Teagan Jayne.  The pregnancy with her was really tough and included preterm labor, meds that completely messed with my already wonky heart and numerous cardiology visits to check on her little heart that was beating erratically.  It was a long pregnancy, scary at times, and when we neared 37 weeks my doctor decided it was best for all involved to have her.  We had an amnio as I turned 37 weeks and found out the next day her little lungs were ready to go, so we scheduled her to be born on Wednesday July 15th.  Actually, my doc wanted to wait a few extra days and have her on Friday, but that was my second daughter's birthday and I could not make them share a birthday if there was a way to avoid it.  Looking back, I was so worried about Brittan having to share her week with Teagan, but instead she relishes the special bond that it brings, and they have such a sweet relationship, I am happy that they can share their birthday week.

So today marks three years since that little 7 lb 6 oz bundle came into our world.  She is the fourth child, but the firsts in many ways-the first with a dimple and the first with her Daddy's curls and our smallest baby. Teagan changed us, changed our family and our world and all for the better.  We never knew what we were missing until she came along.  At three she is hysterical.  She loves to laugh and is super happy and smiley-unless you get on her bad side and then she lets you know!  She is so very smart, loves to learn and is creative and inventive.  She loves her siblings and calls them all her "friends" and she has a really special bond with her baby brother. She is so spunky, loud and silly, amazing and fun, loving and kind.  Happy Birthday my Joopy Jayne and Daddy's Tigger, we love you so very much!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Have to....

So, as many who know me in real life know, when my husband and I got married over 12 1/2 years ago, I was five months pregnant with our oldest daughter.  We got married by the magistrate and my sister, brother in law and niece were there to serve as witnesses.  After the ceremony, we went to breakfast and then to Babies 'R Us to register for my baby shower that was in a month or so.  Then in July,  few months after Haven was born, we had our "marriage celebration" in NY where we renewed our vows and had the big Long Island reception. Traditional?  Not so much.

When we got married, so many people swore it wouldn't last, that we wouldn't last.  If I remember correctly, a few of his friends gave us a year.  We were young, already had a baby, just starting our careers and we had moved a year earlier away from friends and family.  Money was tight, and we had just bought our first home a few weeks after Haven was born, so we had the stress of the upcoming move hanging over our heads too.  If I had been an outsider looking in, I would have said we were doomed too.

The first few years were really, really hard.  Between our wedding and our move to the house we are in now three years later, we both got laid off and needed to figure out new jobs.  We added Brittan to the family. We sold our townhouse and bought this house, and we argued.  A lot.  We had a hard time growing up, growing together, balancing it all and building a relationship. To be truthful, it sucked a lot of the time....and then we added Grayson, because we are such good planners and all.  When Gray was a year old, we separated for about 6 months.  It was a hard time, not only because I was juggling three kids 5 and under and work, but because we really needed to evaluate our marriage and why we were together, and if we should be together.  Ryan always came to the house on his days off, he took the kids out, played with them and gave me a break.  Sometimes we did things together, like a preplanned trip to Sesame Place where we all went as a family.  It was awkward and weird and felt all wrong, so when Ryan moved back home we decided that we were in it for the long haul.  The reason was simple, we weren't married because of the kids, we weren't together because of obligation, we were married because we wanted to be.  When we were pregnant with Haven, we never believed that we "had" to get married.  I had a good job, insurance, etc. and would have figured it out alone if need be.  Ryan would have been in her life, loved her and taken care of her, that was never a question.  We never felt we needed to marry because of the baby, we felt we needed to get married because we loved each other.

After the separation and through today, the only reason our marriage works, that we stick through the bad times, that we stay together no matter what, is because we love each other.  My husband can make me crazy at times, he is my polar opposite and thinks he is funny when he totally is not (lets see if he reads here) but he is also my best friend, my confidant, my support.  We have had some many ups and downs in our marriage, both in our relationship with each other, as well as family, friends and our kid's health.  There is no one who gets me like he does, who I can look at at a doctor's appointment for a kid and he knows what I am thinking, and he asks the question that would make me cry.  He is an amazing dad, and an amazing husband and while we were away and busy on Father's Day, not a moment went by that I did not think that I picked the best man to be a dad to my kids, and that they are so very lucky to call him Daddy.

So, over 12 years later the answer is still easy, all you need is love :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Today is my birthday and I turned 37 and I think I am really OK with that.  I had a great day with my family, my girls made their dad take them out to get me presents and they came up with the perfect items.  Haven got me a new makeup bag (she accidently broke the zipper on my old one) and Brittan got me two canvases and some brushes (she knows how much I miss painting).  They also made some adorable statues out of clay, so sweet!

I received so many well wishes from friends (THANK YOU!) that always make me feel special and loved, that totally fills my heart!

Hubby surprised me with my presents yesterday, and then today we headed to the farm so I could collect the last of my surveys, I think I have a total of 11 left to get!  The kids and Ryan picked some strawberries since today was the last day of the season and I stood in the sun and gathered data, not the ideal outing on my birthday, but necessary.  We then went to lunch and hit a local dog adoption event since I am looking to add another dog to the family.  We found a sweet, sweet five year old pug, but they required too much (home visit, references and a HUGE adoption fee) and while I think the pug would have been a perfect addition to our family, calm and sweet with a great disposition,  I am not going to jump through that many hoops so we had to pass.  We will find the right new family member, it just will take some time :)

After that I ran into Old Navy to grab a few quick items for the upcoming trip then we headed home and my poor exhausted husband went to bed while I took Brittan to a sleepover and fed the crew.  Now the babies are tucked into bed, Haven and Gray are relaxing and the hubby is still asleep (I will wake him soon so we can have dinner) and I think I am the luckiest woman on earth.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


There is this weird sense of peace that comes when you find people in life who get it.  People who understand your day, your fears, your off sense of humor, your lack of time for BS.  It is comforting to say something that may seem offbeat or odd to someone not in your shoes, and have it not only be accepted, but also acknowledged and understood.  Ah, that peace of not needing to have your guard up, your radar on, you tongue in check, it is priceless.

I am thoroughly enjoying that peace today, even while some of my children are banging pots and pans in the other room making a racket, and others are bickering and the music from my husband who is working out echoes through our very chaotic house.  I know, right now, that even the noise is peace.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This is the summer of change

Everything has felt different the last year.  I have had some really big upswings and some really low down times when everything seemed impossibly overwhelming.  The last few months it has been settling some for me.  I am managing better.  Forcing myself to sit still.  Forcing myself to be alone and not working.  I am starting to do more for myself and it has been so great.  This is it, this is the summer when I finally start to re-emerge from my role as solely wife and mother, to a more well rounded and better balanced person.

Right now I am super excited about an upcoming trip up North.  On our way back we will throw a bit of caution to the wind and wing it, something I miss terribly since having children, the impromptu roadtrip.  Then when we get back we will hang around the house for three whole days and head South to get the big girls from my parent's house.  Then we are essentially on summer break and the fun begins...and I have some BIG plans.

We will go to the beach.  Maybe not all the way down to the ocean more than once or twice, but we will go play in lakes and rivers, often.  We will head into DC at least once. We will see a concert, take in a baseball game, go camping for a night. We will see our friends, we will BBQ outside and we will have a firepit so we can have loads of smores outside in the evenings.  The kids will get very dirty-and I will hose them off :)  I want us to have fun this summer, and for there to be more of a balance.  Fun doesn't mean running all over town or spending a load of cash, but we can try to do a super fun outing thing once a week and have friends around a few times a week and just hang as a family a few times too.

The other thing I am doing now is working hard on exercising and eating really, really healthy.  It is not the easiest thing, but I am still trying.  Today went well-steel cut oats and maple sugar for breakfast, some leftover curry for lunch and dinner will be lemon pepper mahi-mahi with wheatberry salad.  Ryan is also working on eating better so he will be joining me in dinner and the kids are having a much more kid friendly dinner of leftover pasta.

I feel the change, it is coming from the inside out and it feels mighty good.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sometimes it all just works out

Today has been a good day, a really good day.  Started off with an early wake up from Finn, but I somehow got him resettled and then came down to say hi to the hubs who had worked from home overnight.  Made breakfast for the babies and woke up the biggies who were crabby as all get out, but awake and moving.  We had plans to do a quick straighten and then head out to the Farmers Market and then down to the Farm.  If you know me at all, you would know that those two places are the happiest places on Earth for me :)

As I was shuffling kids around and directing them to their morning chores, Ryan told me he was coming with us.  This was a huge surprise since he has to work tonight too, and it would cut into his sleep schedule, but if you know him at all, you know that these are also his happy places :)

So after bathing babies and getting everyone together we made it out the door just after 9 am, which is a huge success.  Stopped and got some cash and headed to the market to find that today was the street fair so there were a bunch of vendors and part of the road was closed off.  Threw Finn in the sling, grabbed our produce bag and away we went.

I love the market.  I love seeing the vendors, chatting with them and of course knowing I can get some of the best products all in one place.  Today we ended up getting a bunch of produce, some more wildflower honey, my favorite goat cheese and some herbs.  Haven also bought some body spray made by a local honey producer and the whole crew grabbed a snack at the Beach Fries truck!

Then we were off the farm to grab eggs, our milk order and yogurt.  Then home for lunch and naps for the babies.  I got caught up on work and then started dinner, chicken curry, and the house smells amazing!

Hoping the rest of the day goes as well :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

See Mama run out of steam

Last weekend was a whirlwind.  On Saturday I headed about 3 hrs south to see two of my closest friends from way back when.  They are twins and they are both expecting their first babies one month apart and nothing would have kept me from the shower.  It was so good to see the girls and to get to celebrate with their family and friends.  They are two of the kindest, sweetest, brightest, happiest and most loving people  I know and they will be the most amazing moms!

The next day we had a party next door to celebrate their little girl's second birthday, then Haven had her sleepover extravaganza.  I am pretty sure the girls all had a great time and I got NO sleep that night so needless to say I was a bit wiped by morning.  Thankfully the hubby took Grayson to the farm to get milk while the babies, the big girls and I grabbed a two hour nap.  It was bliss.  Then we had a fantastic supper of grilled steaks, watermelon, corn on the cob and fried onions for me....oh it was so yummy!

Yesterday we went and got my windshield replaced and while we waited the babies, Ryan and I poked around in a flooring store and a countertop/cabinet store.  Since we are looking to move in the next year, I wanted to get some ideas in case we need to replace the countertops or put in new floors.  My hope is that  the entire house will be wood floors except the full baths.  With a hoard of kids and a very hairy dog, wood floors are just easier to keep clean.  We will have some rugs, but again, those can be sent out to be cleaned unlike carpet!

Today we were supposed to have Finn's therapy session but his therapists son was sick so she had to reschedule. I had a ton of work to do, so it was a home day with the babies.  Dinner was easy, french toast, homemade buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, we are embracing our southern home more and more.

The next few weeks are still crazy with events, doctors, birthdays (ahem...mine!) and a trip up north to New England followed by a trip down south a few days later to North Carolina!  I just need to make it to July so I can relax!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How did this happen

Tomorrow my oldest girl turns twelve.  Twelve!  How did that happen?  I cannot believe I have been a mom for 12 years, that the sweet, chunky, little baby that I had twelve years ago with the glowing yellow head and huge cheeks has grown into this tall, lanky, bright, interesting and opinionated young lady.  Haven and I butt heads a lot, she and I can fight and argue and some days we struggle, but she is the first to try to cheer me up if I have a bad day, and she reacts deeply when I am hurt and she and I have a unique and special relationship that I would not trade for anything in the world.  I look at her and I catch a glimpse of the young woman she is becoming, and oh, what an amazing young woman that is.  She is so smart, and she can connect with people in such an honest way.  She is funny and silly and impulsive.  She is kind and sweet and feels things deep in her core.  She is constantly singing and dancing and has no problem standing on the bus stop dancing her heart out for the world to see, I admire that.  My girl, now 12 years old, the one that made me a mama is going to great things in this world, and I am so lucky to get to see her do it.

Help please and repost!!!

If I can ask again, if you have not yet done so, please go to 

and fill in the survey for my doctoral research..pretty, pretty, please!

Oh and if you have a blog and can share the link, I really would appreciate it, I am so close to reaching my sample size!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Update on Finn

So here we are, almost a year to the day that we started trying to find out what was going on with Finn.  The "crisis" moment happened last year on my birthday (6/9) when Finn had what looked like a seizure, but it had really started a few months earlier when we noticed he was very floppy and not growing well.  The following months were scary as we learned in detail what his heart condition was and we were finally sent to Children's Hospital to see genetics.  Then even more waiting as we waited almost 4 months for results and finally a diagnosis.

Well here is where our sweet, amazing, silly and fun little guy is now as he nears 18 months old.  He walks beautifully and even jumps well.  He loves to climb and has great muscle control given his poor muscle tone.  He eats a ton and has filled in nicely which makes his skin look much less saggy and loose, and my little peanut who a year ago was not growing at all is simply HUGE. He is starting to say a few words, but is still lagging behind in speech, but we are working on it.  He does communicate well, he points and grabs and lets us know his feelings.  We can tell he is bright and his therapist believes his speech delays to be either due to muscle tone in his mouth or possibly some hearing issues, so we will follow up with audiology in June.  We also will see genetics this summer and pulmonology as well as cardiology.  Lots of appointments, but they will help us see what is going on with Finn and allow us to make choices or get help if needed before a real problem presents.  His condition is one where things can go wrong with organs slowly over time. My goal is to catch it at the first sign and not wait until he is really sick. The earlier, the better.

I am so thankful to have all my children, to be blessed to have a houseful of kids and the privilege of caring for them.  I am excited to see them all grow up and become the men and women they were meant to be.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Remember when I used to cook and bake?

Yeah not so much these last few weeks and I hate it!  I have been so swamped that I am throwing things together to feed the masses and not really *cooking* like I like.  Now they are eating just fine, they had a homemade Lasagna I had in the freezer one night, and shrimp and rice another, and a nice chicken dinner, but nothing elaborate.  Last night Haven cooked since I was on calls all afternoon and she made cinnamon rolls (from a can, ugh!), potatoes and omelets with ham, cheese and tomatoes.  Not too shabby for nearing 12.  I planned to make some marinated chicken and grilled veggies tonight, but there is just no time so I am ordering a pizza I think.

To be fair, I was closing out Spring classes at PT school, working FT for FT school, we are having our "virtual" faculty conference this week which equates to me spending 10 hours on the phone in addition to my usual calls and workload, plus I had to go do some data collection and still take care of the babies, the house, do laundry, etc.  Yeah I am beat so pizza it is tonight.  Next week I plan to do better :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Yesterday, as most of you know, was Mother's Day.  I have a hard time doing for myself, buying for myself, etc. but the husband has found a few ways to get around that.  A few years ago he came home with a gift card to one of my favorite supply stores, Sur La Table and then said we were going there.  I had no choice but to use the gift card since he already bought it, and I had a blast spending the money without feeling guilty.

Yesterday we planned to take a ride to the big super fancy mall so I could finally get my apron at Anthropologie and shop some at Sur La Table.  As a bonus, we booked lunch at Maggiano' style.

The morning started great, cards, flowers and blueberry pancakes, my favorite! Then we had a rough patch with arguing kids and an OCD flareup and meltdown.  Then we got out the door and had an amazing time.  Kids were so well behaved at lunch, I was one proud mama.  Food was incredible and the wait staff took great care of us and watched out for Haven's allergies. We really enjoyed sitting around the table, talking, eating and sharing with one another.

I must admit that shopping was fun too.  I got a new apron, new blender and a bunch of kitchen gadgets.  It was so very nice.

Understanding limits

The week was a good one, I tried to cram in some fun but of course paid for it with a stack of work waiting for me.  The transition from Spring term to Summer is always a bear, but I also have some side course design work and a summer course I am teaching that is making this even harder than usual.

The family has been sick.  Haven had strep and I think Ryan may too, along with a horrific cold that has a cough that just goes on for days and congestion.  Haven now has the cough, as do a few other kids, and this morning I woke up with it as well.  I knew it was coming, haven't felt well the last few days, but I really don't have time for it this week!

Today I have three hours of work calls, Finn has therapy and I have a date with Grayson, plus regular work.  Tomorrow I have a mere two hours of calls, plus a SEPTA meeting (I joined our local group and it has already been one of the wisest decisions I have made-so many people with so many resources!) plus of course, regular work!

Wednesday I have my coffee with Sarah (that MUST happen for sanity sake) and three or four hours of calls. Then rinse and repeat for Thursday and Friday-minus the awesome coffee date.  We have our "virtual" faculty conference this week, that is why I will be glued to a phone and a webex for the better part of this week, but this too shall pass.

On to managing limits.  Here is the thing, I suck at it. I am the first to throw myself under the bus, overload my plate, say yes to too much, and almost always it is stuff that I don't want to do, and then I don't have time for what I do want to do.  I am happy I joined SEPTA and I want to be involved, so I will need to set limits with work.  I can, on some weeks between my FT gig, PT gig and all the side work I take on, log between 70 and 100 hours of work.  If you ask people around here they wouldn't see it, since most of my work is done in between changing diapers, vacuuming, making dinner, etc.  I work in every spare space of time, after kids go to bed and often before they get up in the morning.  It can be too much.  I have to say no sometimes to the extra tasks, I need to learn that even though the extra cash would be super nice, it is not worth my sanity.  I need to learn to sit still and watch a movie with my kids and husband, to enjoy some quiet time to myself, to read and be still.  I am working on it, because I have to.  The schedule I am on has me overwhelmed.  Being overwhelmed triggers my OCD which then makes my anxiety go through the roof.  I am often up at 3 am anxious and panicking over nothing and trying to talk myself back from the brink of a panic attack.  All of this has led me to a place I rarely visit, depression.  It is hard to watch something like OCD and anxiety that helped you manage your life, take it over.  Hard to struggle every day in my own head, trading off and reorganizing every detail of my day, and knowing that I am losing out on what I want most, time with the kids and Ryan, because my head says vacuum or do laundry or work.  I am going to see what I can do about this, to quiet this inside my head, to find a place where it is OK to let something go, we will see if I can manage.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I have made it to Day 3 :)

Well, I have made it to Day 3 and I have to say, it has not been that easy.  Day 1 was OK, made it through the day with ease until dinner time rolled around.  By then I was getting hungry, like seriously hungry, and decided to make a tomato based juice thinking it would be heartier. I was so wrong.  It was like bitter tomato water and was awful and made me want to cry, but I drank one cup since I had made it, and then rewarded myself by juicing some watermelon and drinking it over ice, that was super yummy.

Yesterday I had a good start, had a fruit juice for breakfast (apples, carrots, berries, clementines) and a good hearty green juice for lunch.  By dinner, again, I was starving but Ryan was taking Gray to a cub scout thing and promised to bring me a smoothie (no yogurt, no sugar) which I was so excited about since it included the whole fruit which meant it would be more filling, so I held off on making any juice.  They ran late and I was actually in tears when I though the place would be closed, but it wasn't, and I got my smoothie and it was delicious!

Today I have had my tea and I am drinking some straight watermelon juice for breakfast.  I am going to have a salad for lunch (organic greens, carrots, jicama, cucumber and avocado) which I am looking forward to since I want to chew something, and with that I will have a green juice (just one cup, not two like I usually have) and then dinner tonight will be juice based again.  Tomorrow will be the same routine as today.

I am happy with my progress and comfortable with adapting things as needed.  For me, all juice all the time doesn't work so I am adding the salad a day early.  I don't drink enough juice, only about 32 ozs max, so I feel like I need more to keep going and not crash. I also want to be able to chew food, so the addition of the salad will help.  Thankfully, I have come to the point where I am adding stuff back in slowly and will only do straight juice days a few times a week moving forward.

This has been a good journey thus far.  I am down about 7 lbs in the two days, but a lot is probably water weight, we will have to see.  My plan is to switch to a long range eating plan, so the initial weight loss is nice, but just a bonus.

I also have not been extra crabby...big bonus for my family!

Monday, May 7, 2012

God help my family

So I decided that once PT school was over, it was time to attack my lifestyle and make room for exercise, stress relief and better food choices.  We already make a lot of good choices in what we buy, such as organic, local, hormone free, etc, but I want to go a few steps further for myself.  I bought a juicer awhile back and have been experimenting since I planned to do a short juice fast before introducing all the changes.  The juice fast will help reset my body, get rid of toxins and eliminate cravings that can destroy a new diet plan, so that is what I am doing.  I am starting the juice fast today, that means that from today through Wednesday I will only drink juices that I make here at home with good, healthy produce.  I will also have a few cups of green tea a day since it is good for balancing the body, and of course I will be drinking plenty of water.  On Thursday I will introduce some solids in the form of a salad once a day, basically good greens like spinach, cucumber, jicama, avocado and a light dressing made with honey, mustard, olive oil and vinegar.  I will also eat this this Friday and Saturday.  Now come Sunday, which is Mother's Day, I will juice in the morning and at night, but will say screw it around midday since we are going to Maggianos :)  I will try, try, try to eat responsibly, but Mother's Day and my birthday in June are the two "pass" days I gave myself, so I am going to enjoy them!

After Mother's Day, I will do the same schedule that I am doing this week, except next Sunday instead of eating at Maggianos, I will be adding fish to go alongside my salad at dinner along with a good whole grain such as barley, wheatberries or quinoa.

After the two weeks, we will see how it is going.  I anticipate trying to have juice only days two days a week, juice and salad days two days a week and juice and healthy lean protein, healthy carbs and salads three days a week.  Wish me luck, better yet, wish my family luck...notice there is NO coffee on that list!  I will have some on Mother's Day and may allow it on two other days a week after this week, but I am not so sure yet.  Hopefully I can do this for at least the next month, then I will begin to add more food days and less straight juice days to the schedule.  This will be a challenge, I need to make food all day long for my family, but I think I will like how it makes me feel and I am up for the challenge.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hello old friend

Oh my poor blog, my neglected sixth child, my inner voice that I have had to shush the last few weeks, good to see you again!

I am thankfully looking ahead to a quieter couple of months, classes are ending at PT gig soon, FT gig slowed a bit and I will get a few glorious weeks of no PT school while the biggies still have school, I cannot wait to scrub the house!

I have been struggling with some things and they are causing me anxiety and stress that rears it's ugly head at 3 am where I sit in bed and stress only to fall asleep at 6 am just in time for the babies to wake.  Some of the stress is good-we are getting an awesome refinance, and some not so good-like what to do about Finn, the research study he is enrolled in and where to find a shoulder to cry on when it is just too much to bear.  Sometimes I log on Facebook and I am bombarded by all the positive and uplifting posts, videos, memes, tags, etc for a bunch of ailments that impact children and adults.  I love that they are out there, that people who are finding their way through some really tough and terrible times are seeing those same posts and that it lifts their spirits.  I know many people who are impacted by some of the illnesses and conditions highlighted, and I am so happy for them that they have that support, that others recognize the need to support those on that path and that there is a community.

At the same time, I wish there was a community for us.  I wish there was a video that spoke to the parents of kids with the odd disorder, the unusual, the undiagnosed.  That we could feel that same sense of community and understanding and support as well.  It can be hard, and on a really rough day it can bring me to tears because this path we are on has no one else on it.  No one.  We know of 50 cases like Finn's worldwide and each case seems very different. One will say that the condition is mild and benign, and the next will discuss scary things like childhood emphysema and aneurysm.  There is no "norm" and no community and no one who has gone before and can tell me what to expect.  I look at my boy and he is smart and funny and physically strong...but what about the inside?  Are his organs strong?  His veins?  How will his skin hold up?  What will we do about his breathing issues, his heart, etc?  I feel the love that comes from those posts, I feel what they must mean to a parent just finding their way and yet, I also feel lost and sad and very alone in this. Maybe we will find out more through the study, maybe we will help them get more information so another mama never feels so alone.  I know for sure that until the day I die, if a parent contacted me and wanted to know our experience, I would be there to share, to help, and to provide whatever I could in the way of comfort, because I so wish I had that right now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Help a girl out

So I am finally gathering data for my dissertation and I am looking for people to participate in my survey.

If you are interested, please go to

I really appreciate you taking the time to help me gather data so I can complete this major milestone.  If you can, share the link with anyone and everyone, the more the merrier!

All data collected is for academic purposes, this is not for financial gain in any way and all data will be kept confidential.

Again, please go to to complete the survey and thank you!

Saturday, March 31, 2012


I do believe this has been the longest I have ever gone without posting.  It was a good break, a nice chance to clear my head and think about where I am and where I want to go.

Things here have been great.  Gray is doing so, so much better.  It was like a switch turned and his symptoms just sort of melted away.  We will still see a rheumatolgist this summer since autoimmunes can behave that way, but for now I am just happy he is feeling better.

The bathroom remodel is still underway.  It is a slow process, but we are making progress and that is huge.

Work is, well, work.  It can be stressful and overwhelming but I am working hard to manage that and try to  keep work and home as separate as possible.  This can be hard with the work being fluid and emails coming in whenever students send them, but I am trying.

I am also really working on me.  The early years of parenting can be all encompassing and I threw myself into the mom role, and well, now I want to get to know myself again.  I am going out with friends, working on my own health and working to do small things for myself and not feel guilty.  I will say I feel a bit calmer the last few weeks, and I am hoping it gets better.  Last week I bought myself a Kindle Fire, because I wanted one.  I cannot remember the last time I did that, bought something just because I wanted to!  I love it, I can watch movies on it, read, FB, everything.  It sits on the shelf when I am on the treadmill and I can read a book while working out, and it will be helpful with the babies when we are stuck at the doctor's office or one of their siblings events.  Today I am buying a juicer.  I've wanted to add juicing to my life for awhile since I sometimes have a hard time eating.  So today, I am getting it, and then I will start juicing once a day until PT gig is over.  Then I think I will do a 5 day juice fast to get my body on track.

Things are changing, I want to be happier, healthier and I am the only one who can make that happen!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Updates and Big Plans

So, we followed up with the oncologist yesterday and all his tests came back normal.  We are frustrated that he still feels badly and he is getting the hives, but so thankful that it does not seem to be something serious.  He has been at school all week except yesterday and he seems to be feeling a bit better, so I think we will step back and see how he does and then follow up with the specialists the oncologist recommended.

We have had a mad week.  The husband is finally working on the bathroom he began demolishing over 2 years ago.  I am happy we are moving forward, but frustrated that more has not been done.  It is pure torture to look at the beautiful tile and paint sitting in my room while the bathroom is still a wreck.  Trying to breath and not lose my mind over the bathroom.

My kids have been wild animals lately.  Our schedules are a off with me on Spring Break from PT school and the hubby off this week to work on the bathroom.  After school and the evenings has been pure chaos and it is overwhelming.  Dinner has been late every week, chores are not getting done and the volume and activity level is overbearing.  We need to reign this is ASAP since when this happens it tends to grow and get worse unless we work to get everything back under control and on track.

In an effort to start the days off better, I am going to set my alarm for 5:30 am tomorrow, YIKES!  My oldest daughter gets up early, around 5:45 since she likes the quiet and I usually get up around 6:30 with Brittan and Finn.  By the time I get downstairs, the breakfast craziness is underway, some kids have already messed up my kitchen and I usually cannot even get to my coffee maker to start coffee.  I am setting my alarm and setting up the timer on my coffee maker, I am getting coffee tomorrow morning before 9 am dammit!

OK, off to bed since the crack of dawn is calling my name!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The longest day

Today was long.  Achingly long.

We took Gray to see the oncologist at Children's today.  She asked lots of questions and examined him and believes that his current issues are most likely not related to any form of cancer.  She took a load more blood from my boy and is testing for a million and one things to rule out cancer and try to get us some leads on what is causing his health issues.  We also had to go to the local hospital for xrays of his chest and spine, again to rule out anything cancer related and will follow up with them next week.   The sense of relief we felt from hearing from the oncologist that she did not believe there to be any malignancy is indescribable, and we are just waiting for all the results to come in so we can finally fully exhale.

The visit to the doctor and the hospital took a long, long time, and then we got trapped in Friday traffic, so I managed to walk in the door about five minutes before I need to leave again to take Haven to the school for her MS Talent Show.  The show was great, the kids were amazing, and my goofball kid was funny in her skit she put on with a friend.  The best part of all was walking in to see people we know, seeing Britt run to see her friends and to witness the great support that the kids at our schools give to one another, and that the parents give as well.  It may have taken 8 years, and I may have gone kicking and screaming, but we love our community here and it is our home.  We have friends here.  We have support here.  We have schools that know and love our kids, and that our kids love attending.  I am thankful for the opportunities they have here, and that they feel this is their home.  Today was long, exhausting and emotional, but the love and support of our friends near and far made it so much easier.  Long day, hard day, wonderful day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Is there a breaking point?

I think we all feel like we have a breaking point, a place where you cannot take on one more thing, one more worry, one more fear, one more responsibility.  I feel very close to my breaking point, but know that even if I reach it, I have no choice but to keep going and bear my load because I am the mom and moms don't quit.

We still don't know what is wrong with Grayson and he is getting worse.  He is incredibly pale and his eyes are black. He is getting horrible hives daily and has constant pain in his neck.  He is exhausted most of the time, he wakes tired, has some energy through the morning, is tired by lunch and rests, has a bit of energy in the evening and by dinner he is wiped out.  This was my never stop moving kid and it is sad to see him sit so much.  He is having such a hard time with this and hates being home from school and feeling yucky.  We have had two sets of blood tests, all normal.  We have tested for Lyme, thyroid, arthritis, lupus, liver function, inflammation.  He has had an MRI of his head and neck which were clear.  The doctors are concerned, he came in months ago when we suspected he was a bit anemic, he had been tired and pale.  Over the last few months he has gotten worse and we have not found out why.  We met with his doctor yesterday and she has run out of options and feels we need to see oncology this week to rule out cancer.  I know what she is looking at, lymphoma, and he does have a number of the characteristics of lymphoma and fits in the age and gender for the disease, but right now I can not and will not accept that is what is wrong.  We will see the specialists at Children's Hospital Friday to have him assessed and they will have all of his medical records, so I am confident that they will be able to determine if more testing is needed and if they suspect a lymphoma as well.

Breaking points.  We have had our fair share of health concerns and issues with our kids and I have not reached my point yet.  I have shed tears, been afraid, been angry, but each day I have no choice but to keep moving forward to make sure that all the kids have the best mom and advocate they can have.  We came through Finn's diagnosis well, and while we wish he did not have Cutis Laxa, we were relieved that while he has the rarest form, it is also the mildest.  We hold the same hope for Grayson, that whatever is making him ill will be discovered and will be treated and we will get our boy back.  I am not broken yet.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

It is easy

to complain.  To whine about the crummy parts of the day.  To moan that our back hurts, or the dog peed on the floor, or the dishes aren't done.  It is easy to complain, I know this all too well.

What can be hard is to be thankful, happy, blessed and comfortable with what you have right now.  To be in that moment, to look at what is yours and be so glad to have it, even if the TV is 10 years old and the rug is a bit dingy.

The terrible tornadoes that destroyed so many lives yesterday helped put it in perspective.  Today we took time as a family, in the midst of a busy day out for a kid event over an hour from home to explain what happened. Today we talked about how lucky we are and about what so many families are dealing with.  We explained that people lost their lives.  We showed them pictures of towns that were gone.  Gone.  What a grounding concept.  We talked about how kids just like ours had nothing left- no toys, beds, homes, clothes, books.  How their schools are gone.  Their grocery store.  Their church.  Their friend's houses.  Their cars.  Their world, gone.  Then we talked about how thankful they probably were to simple be alive. and that it would be a long road back to normalcy.  We talked about how lucky we are, that we have so much, that we are safe, that we still have our "stuff" and our home and our comforts.

Then we made a decision.  Tomorrow we are cleaning the house and I am moving children's rooms around.  I have a tremendous amount of clothing that we were planning to sell at a yard sale this summer.  Nice clothes, some even brand new.  They will be packed tomorrow and sent to someone we now who lives near Maryville, IN and is collecting for the families there.  We will also send books.  We will send toys.  We will send shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors.  We will send stuffed animals, and crafts for children in shelters and we will send money to the Red Cross.  We will help our fellow man with real action because even though I am tired from our busy day, and my ankle is sore, and my house is a mess, I am lucky to have a house, my children, my life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our crazy life in a nutshell

Nuts.  We are nuts.  Our life is nuts.  Haven is allergic to nuts :)

So we have had Grayson home from school for over a week.  Boy is still busting out in wicked hives, huge giant welts across his body that itch and hurt and are hot.  He also has persistent pain in his neck, he is tired, he is not hungry, he is forgetful and more aggressive, he has lost weight, he has been falling a lot more.  He has had two sets of blood tests and an MRI...nothing.  We are frustrated since he feels so badly, and we cannot send him to school because the hives cannot be controlled and he gets so uncomfortable.  We will see the ped again next week to reassess and we are seeing the Neuro just to see if she thinks it is anything neurological.  Ugh.

I am moving along in my dissertation and it feels really good to be making progress.

We are jostling kids about in the house in an effort to have a more peaceful home.  We have also moved Finn out of our room and in with Teag and my non-sleeper has become a champion sleeper!

Feeding these kids is a major undertaking.  We buy beef by the quarter, 20 lbs of chicken at a time, 50 lbs of flour, 5 lbs of oats at least!  Today I found wild caught shrimp on sale and bought 10 lbs!  When I buy bread, I get 3-5 loaves at a time, and eggs we buy 3-5 dozen.  It is crazy!  I am thankful that I found great resources for good, wholesome, real natural and organic foods when our family was smaller, it has made this so much easier on us.

Tomorrow I need to take Finny to get his first pair of shoes.  The little man is walking really well, and I like to keep shoes off of them as long as possible, but he is starting to want to walk when we are out so I need to cover his toes.  I cannot believe he is almost 15 months old!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crazy is as crazy does

So when you are a crazy loon like I am, you get fixated on things.  Lately it is a salad.  I eat the same salad every day, same ingredients, same style, same everything...everyday.  Thank goodness the ingredients are healthy and that I can make it here at home, but even I am starting to think it is nuts.  Except that, well, yeah, I am eating it right now and it is so good.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Small Victories

When you live in a house with six other people who may not define "clean" the same way you do, it can be a challenge.  I also have OCD which when it flares up due to stress or exhaustion, can make a small problem like a messy counter or unvacuumed floor seem like the world is crashing down on me.  It is a constant balancing act of how much mess I can tolerate without losing it.

The last few months have been stressful and well, sleep is hard to come by.  The result was a house that was seeming overwhelming.  Too many loads of laundry, rooms that I clean and clean and that keep getting messed up, and then not enough time for me to get to the rooms I wanted to clean. See, I need a space.  Just one space in the house where things are organized, orderly and peaceful, and that space usually is my bedroom.  However, since I have had Finn sleeping in our room, and Ryan works nights so he sleeps during the day, there was no time to clean up the mess that just happens with life.  Today I was exhausted after being up all night with Finn who has a cold, but I sucked it up and went upstairs while Ryan manned the kids downstairs.  I got the room scrubbed clean, changed the curtains, dusted, vacuumed and organized.  I also went into Teagan's room, rearranged and out Finn's bed in there (we will see how this pans out) so now I can keep things the way I want, and I am so very excited to be sitting in my clean, orderly space.

While I was busy upstairs, the kids and Ryan cleaned up downstairs and Ryan got my new print of NYC ready to be hung.  Now tomorrow I can do the regular maintenance that comes with a houseful, and know that when bedtime rolls around, I get to retire to a peaceful place.  I bet I will have sweet dreams tonight!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rants and Raves and Comments

Crazy is as crazy does around here lately.  Everything is on full tilt as usual, but I am also trying to get vacation planning underway.  This year I have two trips I am taking alone, one day trip to a double (!!) baby shower and then I will fly to California this summer to see one of those mamas after she has her baby.  I have been waiting, oh almost 25 years for this, so I am over the moon excited.  The bonus is I am going alone so I can just spend time with my friend, her family and her new addition.  Bliss.

We also need to plan a family trip for summer, I am thinking beach. We have a trip to NH scheduled for a graduation, we will then stop in NJ to see some of the hubby's family and then I will need to take the youngest three and go to NC and get my big girls who will fly to NC with my parents from NH.  Whew!

Finally I think it is about time that Ryan and I get the heck out of here for a little R&R.  My parents are willing to watch the tribe, so we are looking for a trip in October, and I am thinking we are going to need passports.  So excited to get away with my husband for a nice trip alone.

I also feel I must comment on this:

Seriously.  That was a perfectly good lunch for a child and they replaced it with scraps of over processed meat bits mixed with preservatives, chemicals and fillers?  Um, yeah they would have seen my wrath if they did that.  My kids often take turkey and cheese sammies, a fruit, a healthy snack and a sweet snack to school, that is our lunch setup.  Many of the products are whole grain and/or organic, so would they take that away and give them nuggets?  Terrible situation and I cannot believe anyone thought that jun food was a replacement for the healthy meal the parent packed.  This is the problem in America, too much emphasis on what the government tells us we need and not enough simple common sense.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Early Valentine's Day

I always try to do something fun and sweet for the kids for the holidays.  I want them to look back and not see what they got, but how they felt at the time.  This Valentine's Day I have my long work day at PT school so I decided to start the festivities a bit early.

Today I made chocolate cupcakes using my favorite chocolate cake recipe and topped them with my secret recipe cream cheese frosting.  For extra fun, we took some of the heart shaped marshmallows and dipped half in chocolate to serve as a topper.  They came out super cute, don't you think?

Finding your battle hymn

So we are again doing doctor visits with a kid, this time Gray.  He has just been off the last few months, tired, neck pain, etc.  Initial blood work was good, no mono or thyroid issues, not anemic.  Next round will include Lyme's which is what our gut is saying, but the docs are talking of getting some imaging of his neck and head done too just so we rule out the scarier concerns associated with neck pain in a kids.

When you have a houseful of kids, health issues come up.  Haven's "stuff" is primarily gone except for the lingering ADD issues and the food allergy.  She has outgrown her epilepsy, her gastro issues are long gone and we are all comfortable with her food allergy and how to protect her.  It was not a fun ride while going through the diagnosis, but looking back we feel lucky that her issues were so minor and easy to deal with.

With Finn it was a bit different since he essentially spent three months not changing, not growing an inch, not gaining an ounce, not making one developmental movement.  Then when we saw genetics and we began testing, it was a long wait and the outcomes were pretty varied.  Now that we know what he has going on, and that there is little information but we believe it to be the milder form, we feel more in control.  Of course we took the proactive approach and got him into early intervention, and he has already phased out of physical therapy.  We see his cardiologist regularly to watch how his heart develops.  He has seen the ENT to determine if his throat is OK and if there is apnea and we will watch his lung development for any signs of emphysema.  There is little else we can do but be proactive, to be aware and to be ready for battle when it comes.  All parents of kids with "issues" do this, we just roll along with life because the "problem" disappears and just becomes our  reality.  I don't wake every day and see Finn's genetic condition, in fact, most days I don't even think about it unless we have therapy or an appointment with a doctor.  Sometimes kind people will comment on his big, soft cheeks and how cute they are and I am reminded that they are a symptom, but then I try to see what strangers see, a sweet baby boy with gorgeously kissable fat cheeks.

For me, the most helpful thing I did for myself when facing the unknown or the stress of a diagnosis was to come up with my battle hymn.  I found a song, for that child, that made me feel empowered as a mom, that made me feel like we could conquer the world and that I could project down the road at a future event, graduation or their wedding, and focus on the destination and not the path.  It helps, when I am scared or worried or generally sad about the situation to blast that song and sing it at the top of my lungs (even badly!) and feel that sense of power come over me.  We have it easy here.  My kids are healthy and will hopefully live long and joyous lives.  Finn's issues are still unknown, but we can handle what comes at us and when I doubt myself, my strength as a mama, my ability to get the job done, I pull out that battle hymn and know I am more powerful than I ever imagined.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The most common defect

Our family is a heart family.  I have a heart condition and have been very lucky to have avoided surgery up until this point.  The common question when doctors hear my condition is when was your surgery, not have you had your surgery.  My youngest, Finn, has the same condition however his is getting worse little by little and has changed enough over the first year of his life that we know he will not make it to his mid-thirties without the surgery and will probably undergo surgery by the time he is eight or nine.  While it is scary, as it is an open heart procedure, the results are good and outcomes can be amazing.

We also have three other kids with heart defects, Haven had pulmonary stenosis and a VSD which thankfully closed and her stenosis improved.  Brittan has a simple murmur.  Teagan has pulmonary stenosis and a malformed pulmonary valve but she too has been thriving and is just being followed and watched.

We hold CHD close to our hearts, and they are the most common defect found amongst newborns with the impact ranging from a simple murmur to a life threatening anomaly.

We are wearing red today for CHD Awareness Week.  Chances are you know someone who has a CHD, so will you wear red to support them?

Check out Mended Little Hearts here

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sigh of relief

I was spared in the layoffs, but a good friend and coworker was not and I am a mix of angry and sad tonight.  Corporate policy and rules confound me sometimes and in my heart of hearts I don't think it was a good call.

In other news today, we officially ended Finn's physical therapy and his speech/occupational therapist thinks he is only a few months behind!  He is signing "more" really well and vocalizing a lot more.  So happy he is making such good progress.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oh my poor neglected blog

Well, yet another week has passed and I have not posted.  Life has reached critical survival level and it is all I can do to get through the days and keep a smile on.  The kids are good, great in fact.  Finn waved bye bye, blew kisses and signed "more" all for the first time this week!  He just turned 14 months old yesterday and I can see us catching up, I am over the moon.  The rest of the crew is doing equally well, good schoolwork, decent behavior and being the all around swell kids I expect.

I met with the designer at my PT job so I could finally start designing the online course for them.  Good thing since they already paid me for it :)  PT gig is going well, I teach a class from 12-1 on one campus two days a week, and one of those days I also teach a class from 4:30-7 at another campus.  This gives me a huge chunk of time between classes that I plan to use for dissertation work, course design work and well...a job search.

Just when we began to think the FT gig was looking more secure earlier this week, the hammer kind of fell Friday.  I logged onto a call with a bunch of other faculty only to learn that our bosses had meetings Friday and Monday and that layoffs for faculty were looming.  I emailed my boss since we go back almost 7 years and she called me to discuss, and she sounded so sad on the phone.  She has no say in who stays or who goes or how many go.  Seniority means nothing, and while we hope that what we do translates through our reviews, and committees and course assignments, the truth of the matter is that the people who are making the decisions are not faculty and have very little contact with faculty, so who knows what is coming.  I have no choice but to explore other options, I have a family that I need to help provide for, and I cannot sit on my rear waiting to see if I have a job next week or not. Even if I make it through the first round of cuts, who is to say there won't be more?  So we made the hard choice, and I am looking for teaching gigs and industry jobs up and down the eastern seaboard.  It is hard to accept, especially since I love my job and my coworkers, but i love those five shiny faces more and they need stability.  Fingers crossed that I end up with time on my hands and keep my job, this may be a long week.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A much needed down home cozy day

Finn started my day early at 5:30 but it was actually pretty nice.  We came downstairs, changed his diaper, I made coffee and he and I got to hang out alone for an hour before Teagan and Gray came down, then Haven and finally Britt.  Kids enjoyed breakfast and I got laundry running and made two beautiful loaves of cinnamon raisin bread which will make French toast for tomorrow's breakfast.  Now I am hanging around while the kids straighten the playroom and the babies sleep.  I am planning a big family dinner tonight, my famous stuffed meatloaf, roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic vinegar and mashed sweet potatoes.  I also promised the kids some fried apple pies with ice cream for dessert, so I need to get working  on the apple filling soon.

As with any time where change is looming, I hunker down at home, cook, clean and spend time assessing the situation.  There is something serene about rolling out dough, or cutting vegetables or scrubbing a tub.  It is simple, easy and the result is always a good one.  Right now we are trying to figure out what to do if I lose my job, and what we will do if I don't.  Times like this make me feel excited and scared, there is a chance for a new adventure, a new page in the book and new scenery, but with that comes the fear of the unknown, the work needed to get somewhere else and the sadness of having to leave a place you know well.  Time will tell, options are being explored and I truly believe that fate will lead us in the right direction.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gosh has it been a week?!

Ah well I guess it has.  It has been quite an eventful week so I have been busy running around.  Sunday we were supposed to have a date night, but Grayson kicked off with a fit and basically we ended up just running out to get some takeout instead of enjoying a leisurely kid-free dinner out.  It was a huge bummer, but what can you do?

Monday the kids had a delay due to ice and Finn had educational/speech therapy. He makes lots of noise now, but no real words.  We have also been working on signing but he has not really been doing that either.  He does "get" what we say a lot of the time.  His therapist had a card with a hat and when she identified "hat" he put the card on his head.  It is frustrating for him since we don't always know what he needs or wants, but we will get him to speak someday and when it happens it will be worth all the trials.  On the bright side, he saw his physical therapist Tuesday and she is recommending that we stop physical therapy.  Finn is walking really well, and while his arms and shoulders are weak, he is able to use them well.  I am thankful that even with poor muscle tone, he is progressing well physically.

I headed back to PT school this week and have a long day Tuesday and a shorter day Thursday.  I also had a meeting at the school Wednesday so it made for a long week.  Add to it that my FT gig is going through layoffs which we just found out about and the week has been busy, crazy and stressful.  I am so thankful it is the weekend and I don't have to worry about a call or email that my job has been eliminated, and hopefully next week I will be just as lucky.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fixin the dogs and a laundry list

OK, so 2012 has had a rough start.  We have had the two week stomach flu, that was super fun.  The heat stopped working, but thankfully we got it fixed by our home warranty company.  The faucet exploded and I coughed up the buckos and got a nice replacement.  The cable modem kicked off the other day, thank goodness there is a Comcast place down the road and we were able to just grab a new modem.  Now it is the washing machine which is revolting (ha!) against all the disgusting laundry it had to deal with during the sickies.  The agitator wasn't working right and thanks to the handy dandy Internet, I was able to diagnose the issue as bad agitator dogs.  The part, including next day shipping was a whopping 12 bucks.  Hopefully it will be as easy as they made it look on You Tube.

We have had a lot break, but it was all pretty easy to fix in the end, until today, when I broke.  A broken Mama is never good because when she goes down, the ship goes with her. It started a few days ago when Teagan started gagging in the kitchen.  I grabbed her, as I had been doing morning, noon and night for days, and ran her to the bathroom.  Sadly when I grabbed her, I wrenched the hell out of my back.  It hurt, but was manageable, and well, I don't have time to deal with pesky back pain so I took Advil. Then the next night Finn was up every hour and I tried to sleep with him for awhile and well, my back was really sore yesterday.  So of course I went out, dragged babies in and out of car seats four times, lugged groceries, vacuumed and did laundry.  Last night I struggled to sleep from midnight until 3 am when I finally gave up.  The pain was excruciating and rivaled a pitocin labor with no epidural.  By morning I was really suffering and spent the day coated in Icy Hot (sexy I know) with a heating pad plastered to my back.  I did what I needed to for the little ones, but that was it, and by 4 I realized I needed help that only a prescription could provide.  My hubby loaded the fab five into the van since there was no way I could drive, ran me to the doctor where they handed me many, many meds to make me feel better.  Just since taking the muscle relaxer I feel so much better and can finally get a deep breath.  I also took half a pain pill since they knock me on my ass and I am feeling pretty good and super tired.  I am happy to finally be mostly pain free, but I am not sure I could spell all the kid's names at this point :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Must get this

Teagan is a Ni Hao Kai-Lan junkie.  I seriously don't think we could have made it through the last few days without the recordings we had of the show and her doll.  Just saw this and think it will be perfect for Easter!

Find it here

These are the days

that frightened me as a young mother.  That kept me up at night whenever we were expecting and our family was growing.  This is what I feared.  Not college payments, or feeding the masses, was mass illness.

It got so bad here last night.  So. so.bad.  Haven went down, then Teagan was up sick again, and then Finn had diaper after diaper explosion.  Then the hubby was sick again, then Brittan this morning.  The carnage was impressive.  We had to completely toss a entire mattress.  Multiple loads of laundry were done, pillows were tossed out as well.  I would clean a bathroom for the last few healthy ones to use and one of the sickies would use it and I would then reclean.  I spent the day with whining, crying babies climbing all over me, Lysol spray and cleaner being wielded everywhere I went and the constant hum of flushing and the never ending washing machine running.  I put the entire family, even those who are well, on a strict diet of chicken broth, white rice, poached chicken, toast, tea and Gatorade.  Finn is not even being given anything beyond breastmilk since he is looking so worn out and I am worried he is getting dehydrated.  Teagan mainly drank Gatorade today but finally looked a bit better by evening.  My only goal is to keep the babies out of the hospital and for the biggies to rest.  The little ones have been so sick for so long I am closely watching them for dehydration and really need them to turn the corner tomorrow or they will need to go in for fluids.  It has been hell, and I was right to be afraid, but we are managing and hopefully we will start seeing improvement soon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Onward and upward baby!

So...the plague is still ongoing and the locusts have started coming as well, figuratively speaking.  Teagan and Finn are suffering through the tail end (pun intended) of the stomach bug and we are doing lots of extra laundry as a result.  Teag spiked a fever last night as well, but since getting it down she has been ok and even ate a little today!

Took Gray to the ped this morning since he has been really tired and pale.  They check his initial numbers which looked good, but the doc was concerned after examining and talking with him so off we went for a full blood workup.  Results will trickle in all week, and hopefully he just has a virus that he can't kick.  While out with him, the hubby called to tell me the heat stopped working and it was 60 degrees in the house.  Swell.  I also needed to get a new kitchen faucet since the old one decided to blow out the inner tubing and leak.  Got Gray's blood drawn, called our home warranty people (best decision I have ever made) and they arranged to have someone come right out, got home and the hubby built a fire to warm things up then back out to get the faucet and a few other needed items.  Then home again, helped with lunch and straightened, then loaded Britt and Finn in the car to head to Finn's cardio appointment.  Are you tired yet, cause I sure was!

While at the cardio, the tech came and fixed the heat (YEAH!) and we got decent news from the cardio. She was not seeing the heart rate spikes or any issues with oxygen which was good, but his gradient on his heart went up a bit more. He is at a 25 and around a 50 we start thinking surgery, so we have time on our hands which is a relief.  He goes back in 9 months and we all just assume he will slowly keep going up until he needs the surgery, but that shouldn't be until he is in elementary school :)

Then home again where it is warm and toasty and the stuff that I threw in the crockpot for soup smells grand, and we are finally seeing the day turn back around.  Now just waiting for good test results for Gray and all will be well.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Payback baby

Know what happens when you lose your positive mojo and let the day get to you?  If gets exponentially worse.

So yesterday, after the bleach in the eye and the crummy day I then decided to take the kids to CVS so I could avoid having to do it later at dinnertime.  We went and needed a handful of things, it should have been easy peasy, but two kids decided to act up and not listen which then made me have to be the mom out with five kids who looked like she couldn't control them, which morphed into the mom of five who began yelling at those two kids once the van door closes.  Between the exiting the van to go into the store and getting back in to go home, I had to call one child's name no less than 20 times, the other child about the same number and she had a cart that I needed to put stuff in, that first kid managed to full on kick me in my injured ankle (it was an accident, but it HURT!) and he also managed to hit me in the cheek with a 12 pack of Coke.  See, it was bad.  Then we came home and the oldest, who was one of the offenders, had a melt down because I dared call her on her behavior, and the other offender did as he was told and sat in his bed.  He was released early from his punishment since he had to listen to the ravings of his partner in crime in the other room, and well, that was cruel and unusual punishment.

So I fed the kids and felt we were turning the corner on the crap day.  Husband and I were going to get our own dinner, I had big plans to finally sit down and watch a movie that night and the kids were being shuffled off to bed.  As I nursed the baby and got him settled, Ryan was getting Teagan into bed just before having to log on to work when she threw up...big time.  I then spent the next 5 hours sitting in the bathroom with one sick little girl.  I don't think any of our kids have ever had the tummy bug that bad, she was still waking every few hours until about 4 am and is struggling this morning to keep tea down.  I think I ate something around midnight finally since I had only had a cup of soup all day, and fell into bed at 12:30, just in time for Finn to wake every hour and Teagan to wake every hour on different schedules until we came down at 7. I will work hard to be positive today since when I let my guard down it gets really bad around here.  So I am looking on the bright side, the bathroom upstairs is SPARKLING and the baby's bedroom is scrubbed and every blanket and towel and sheet we own for her has been washed. Positive positive!

**Edited to add that barely an hour after I posted this Finn threw up all over me.  Trying to remain positive I reminded myself how freaked out vomit made me with my first few kids and how I would have lost it back then and been a wreck all day.  This time I cried a few tears while waiting for a towel, helped clean the floor and the baby and switched the laundry before even taking off the clothes that were thrown up on.  I am now eating breakfast.  That is progress baby! See POSITIVE***

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not positive today

Sorry my positive pixie dust has run out today.  I am exhausted and really need Finn to start sleeping.  The newborn schedule should not be going on 13 months later, and while I know it is related to his condition, I am slowly losing my mind.  I average 4 hours of sleep a night, non-consecutive hours and I am really feeling it.  Everything hurts lately, I can't keep my mind focused and basically when nighttime rolls around I get a sense of dread since I know what is coming, I lay down, fall asleep and as soon as I get deeply asleep, he is up.  This repeats all night long and it sucks and I am really done with it.

Add to that I got bleach in my eye today and it hurts really badly and well, no positive voodoo left.  Kids will get leftovers, toast or cereal for dinner and I will take a loooooong shower and shed a few tears because I am so damn tired and there is no one to do it for me.  I love that little boy with all my heart and I will do whatever it takes to make sure he is well and his needs are met, but it is getting hard to survive when I am so exhausted.  Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sticking with the word of the year

I am really feeling a change in myself and my outlook since I decided to try to see everything in a positive light.  Now don't get me wrong, mix a cocktail of too little sleep, a messy floor and missing breakfast and lunch and that goes straight out the window...just ask the hubby about the salad he brought me that had the dressing ON it and how I had a meltdown.

I am trying to be thankful and positive in my actions.  I feel more present lately.  I feel more alive.  Most of all, I feel more aware of what has always been in front of my face.

It can be big things like Finn's health or small stuff like a missed lunch date, but I am seeing the flip side these days.  Today I was supposed to have a lunch date that fell through.  My response was no biggie, and it wasn't, it was an opportunity!  The babies and I finished up what we were doing at the grocery store and decided that we had extra time before lunch so we went and drove by a few houses we had seen listed.  Then we came home and instead of being bummed about not eating out, the babies and I got a chance to try the homemade yogurt I made last night with blueberries and honey and the verdict was, YUMMY!  Then since I had some extra time and the babies had full bellies and were playing, I made the guacamole for dinner and halfway through decided that maybe we would go out instead, now I have dinner for tomorrow started.  I also made a batch of granola for the big kids to have with their yogurt, I know how much they love granola.  Whole doing all this my sitter let me know she could not watch the two littles tomorrow when Haven has her EEG and I decided that we would all just go and it would be fine, because it just has to be.  Maybe we will even stop for an ice cream when we are done. Positive is working for me.

Life is full of unknowns, and we don't know what tomorrow brings for our family, so I am trying my best to enjoy today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Happy 1.11.12

Today it is cold and dreary outside, but inside we are happily celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary!  This is what we call our "practical" anniversary as this is when we were legally married in front of the magistrate and the July anniversary is our "fun" anniversary as that is when we had our actual wedding party.  We have our ups and downs, but I am so excited to be entering into this next year of marriage!

Today was off to a great start.  Finn had his speech/educational therapy appointment and his therapist was thrilled with how much babbling and pointing he is doing. We are making leaps and bounds here and I am so excited!  I can only hope that his health does as well as his physical/cognitive development.  Time after time his therapist said she was excited, thrilled and amazed by Finny.  With his diagnosis he should be struggling with walking, squatting, grabbing and he is doing almost as well as any other 13 month old.  His chest and shoulders are still weaker than we want, but he is getting better every day.  His speech is coming around, he almost says uh-oh and he babbles back to us when we talk.  He now copies speech patterns when he babbles and we love hearing the inflection and use of pitch...amazing!  He also saw the ENT yesterday and while his tonsils are a bit big, they are not bad enough for us to need surgery...hooray!  The doctor thinks the snoring/breathing issues are a result of his condition and his tissues are just soft in general so everything falls back when he sleeps.  We are trying some things to help Finn sleep better which in turn means mama sleeps better.

We are trying for a quiet day here, I have a few work calls and I am making our first ever batch of yogurt (I will let you know how it comes out) but otherwise, a down day here hanging with my favorite people.