Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Is Not For Me

There is a word that many people, especially women have a trouble saying. That word is "no". Many people think that no is a dirty or bad word, and that they will be condemned and judged by others for using it. For those people I have several reframes of that word.

"That is not okay" is for the child who is making the wrong choice.

"I am not interested" is for the invitation to join an activity that you don't think will be a good use of your time.

"This is not for me/us" is for the request to volunteer that is not doable for you, or again is not a good use of your time.

I spent a good half of my life with the inability to say no to people for fear of what they would think of me. So many times I would say yes, when I did not want to and spent hours of my life completely miserable.

There is a problem with being the "yes" person, and that is you train people to use you as the easy way out of everything because they know you will do it. This goes for coworkers, friends, your church community, and even your family. In contrast, when you guard your time and you are honest with yourself and others about what you are capable of doing, you teach people to respect your time and talents. You will find yourself being asked for more appropriate requests. Your will stop getting manipulated into doing things that you do not want to do.

One of the blessings that comes with having a special needs child is that their needs become such a priority that it forces you to learn to prioritize and it necessitates that others respect your situation. When our oldest received his autism diagnosis and we entered into all the therapies and work with him to become more functional, I had to stop saying yes to everything. In fact, for a couple of years I did not take on any projects other than him and running our household.

About two years ago things have come around to the point that I can do some limited volunteer work, but it is on my terms. I give of my time and talents but I do so in a way that works and is not overwhelming or stressful. For instance, last year I helped a teacher one day a week with paperwork. I also co-chaired a committee at the school. Then I got pregnant with Mara. I am not doing volunteering in the classroom this year, and while I still do a significant amount of work for my committee, I resigned my chairmainship.

There is a time and season for everything. Right now my children are little and they take up the majority of my time. Having four children was absolutely the right choice for us and our family. We were spiritually called to do it and we wanted lots of children. This does mean what works for our larger family is often very different for smaller families. On top of that, living with special needs means that things that work for others would not be a successful situation for our oldest child. This means we just can't go to some events, and many parties are out. Instead of feeling bad about that, I choose to believe that there are other awesome things that we get to do.

Someday the children will be older and all be in school and things will change. Right now the PTO may be out for me, but I know there are lots of people who are glad they don't have to cut and count the soup labels with me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful For...

Today I have been thanking God a lot. It went something like this:

Dear God:

Thank you for teaching Mara to burp and pass gas without difficulty. Thank you for showing me how to better delegate Jimmy's IPad use so that he is less whiny and more cooperative. Thank you for helping me to show Cristin to have a more thankful and less selfish demeanor. Thank you for showing us Jack's hyperactivity is due to food dye sensitivity.

But most of all, thank you for helping us intuit to make the children's bedtime slightly later, thereby causing them ALL to start sleeping until 7am without nightwaking. Thank you also for a baby who appears to need only wake once in the middle of the night and is willing to sleep in her own bed. This has given us two 3-4 hour stretches of solid sleep a night. We have not seen this in eight years, God. I humbly ask you, that if it is your will, to allow us to keep this pattern, for with this kind of sleep and your help, I am able to accomplish most trials during the day. This includes but is not limited to a gassy overstimualted baby, an autistic child with a new fixation, a six year old crying that life is not fair, or even a 4 year old who was accidently fed red dye #40.

I think I can even handle WalMart with all 4 by myself, but I am not sure. That may be over the top.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How Much Is That Baby In The Window?

Last night I was nursing Mara. Cristin, the 6 year old saw that I was immobilized and determined that it was a great time to hit me up for stuff.

She sat herself down on the coffee table, directly across from me, and opened the Target circular to an add for an gingerbread house.

"Hey mom I really want to get this gingerbread house. It is a really good deal."

"I don't think so."

"But mom look at the icing, and all the candies. I would love to put this gingerbread house together."

At this point I realized she was drawing on all the sales talent passed genetically from her father unto her and was going to attempt a hard close. I decided to use this opportunity to combine a lesson about being thankful with a lesson of fiscal responsibility.

"Cristin remember how we talked before how in this family we conserve our money and do not go into debt to pay for things."


"Well we have already bought all of your Christmas presents, and while you will have just as nice a Christmas as usual we aren't going to be buying more stuff at this point, so you need to stop asking. I want you to focus on the the fact that you got the greatest gift of all this year and that is your baby sister. I mean, how many of your friends got a baby sister this year?"

"Well none but still this is a nice gingerbread house."

"It is but we need to conserve our money because we will have a lot of bills from your baby sister's birth."


Oh yes she did think that. At this point I had to backpeddle and explain what hospital bills were and how they were expensive and while we didn't have to buy Mara, getting her here cost us a lot. In the end I saved it from being a parenting fail, but it took a lot of backpeddling.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Oops I Filled My Pants....

Not me, Mara.

Mara has 2 modes these days. Either she is so full of gas she is about to explode, or asleep. The problem we face is that if we manage to get her to get all the gas out, she will often fill her diaper right as she is falling asleep or soon after.

The timing of this is most unfortunate as there are up to three other children running around my house at any given time. Is this a massive problem? Not a bit. However, it is logistically challenging at a level at or more complex than the EVIL level of computerized Suduko puzzles.

The biggest challenge is trying to get the house reasonably clean. By reasonable, I mean clean clothes, clean dishes, fed children and a floor that doesn't look like a landfill. We have been making our way towards this goal, however Mara keeps throwing us curve balls along the way.

Case in point, this AM. After a fairly long night of Mara being up refusing to sleep with a tummy full of gas, she finally suddenly dropped off to sleep while I was burping her, much like the little girl in Monsters Inc. went from wide awake to passed out. I put her down in her crib and to my delight she didn't wake up. Trying to decide what I should do first, I passed by the hall bathroom where my boys do their business and realized the whole thing smelled like a urinal. This has more to do with the 4 yr old recently discovering the joys of peeing standing up than my lack of cleaning, but still it was suddenly target #1 for me.

So I was back and forth between the 2 bathrooms getting them very clean, I was excited to be on a roll, and it wasn't even 10am! Just as I am cleaning up the source of the smell, I hear it.... the screaming. Sigh.... only 20 minutes into this nap and it is over. Just then the 4 yr old appears and informs me that his sister is awake, as if I cannot hear.

This is where the real problem begins. The 4 yr old hasn't quite grasped that a baby who is crying is not going to up and die if it isn't picked up. So there I am, hands pretty much in a toilet and I have to finish. I spend the next 5 mintues cleaning as fast as I can and arguing with the 4 yr old to stay by me. Why? Because if I don't the 4 yr old will attempt to "rescue" Mara. By "rescue" I mean surely do something that is at best unhelpful and at worse dangerous in order to "help" her.

I did get through it, and found the cause of the waking. Yet again, she woke herself up via filling her pants.

Gotta laugh at it or I'd go insane.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Um So Carey What The HECK Happened To You?

I realize it has been since February since I blogged. I am sure people have wondered what in the world happened to me. Well it is quite simple. A few days after my last entry I got one of these:

Needless to say shortly after that occured, I wasn't quite myself. Okay, I was uber sick all the time for close to 4 months. THEN I became possessed by this need to purge all the crap out of my house. THEN I had to organize what was left. THEN I started having false labor contractions. And by the time it all settled down I had about a month to go and was trying to get ready. In the end we ended up with a precious baby girl on October 20, 2011. She was 7 pounds and 9 oz and 20 and 1/2 inches long. We named her Mara. So yes, the pattern was preserved. We now have boy, girl, boy girl. Everyone is healthy and happy. With the exception of having 3 older and overexcited children who love a little to roughly on baby we are doing great.

Of course the birth brought with it some questions and so I'll just answer them right here.

Yes we may sometimes be crazy, but it isn't because we had a fourth child. Yes she was planned, in fact they all were. We don't know whether we will have more. Maybe we will, and maybe we won't, but if you ask me once I am in menopause I can tell you for sure. We weren't specifically trying for a girl. We don't really think God works that way, but clearly He agreed with our other daughter's 2 year long campaign for a sister and provided. Yes we do think the Duggars are awesome, but no we aren't striving to catch up with them. Yes my hands are often full but they aren't overburdened.

Of course the biggest question is, "How do you handle four?"

I want to dispell a little myth. Parenting doesn't become exponentially harder with every child you have. It may seem that way because the second child, in my experience, is the hardest transition and the work does double. However, it doesn't triple with three or quadruple with four. The work load remains pretty constant with the third and beyond, but the noise level peaks with number three. With the fourth it was just adding another head to count in the great zone defense that goes on in our home. Maybe it is because she is an easygoing baby, but four has been our easiest transition so far. Now of course other things logistically change, but the work isn't all that much more. Maybe that is just me, but it isn't nearly as insane as I expected.

Keep in mind we added our children one at a time and the gaps between births have gotten larger each time. There are twenty-one months between my first two, two years and nine months between my second and third, and this last gap is just shy of four years. There is an enormous difference in juggling the needs of a toddler and a newborn versus a preschooler and a newborn, especially with the preschooler is already toilet trained and can get him or herself dressed.

The biggest obstacle we have is really that there is uber amounts of "love" coming from the older children to the point that it is near dangerous for Mara. We have to be super vigilent because despite loving correction we still have children patting her head too hard, trying to pick her up, and attempting to climb into the crib with her. The whole inside voice thing is not there as much as we would like either. It will work out.

Glad to be back in the saddle and hope to be blogging more consistently.