Monday, August 19, 2013

Join your PTSA. A PSA from me to you.

I am sitting at home with Curly and I get an email from his school. It discussed Open House and it discussed that our awesome PTSA purchased a program so we can do online ordering and payments for events like Open House.

This little note got me excited!! That awesomeness was me :) well, sort of. They discussed the problems collecting payments (and I often experienced the ridiculousness firsthand while working) ever since I first joined. I finally got off my rear and researched and found us a solution and talked it up at meetings until I got enough support to make it happen. As a result, I cheered out loud when I read the email (I obviously need to get a life right?) and Curly asked why. I read him the email and we began to discuss what PTSA does for his school.

He's interested in signing up to be the student rep for PTSA this year. He's interested because I drag him to all these meetings as part of my job (although I like to think I'd go even if I was just a parent, I live in a dreamworld obviously)  and he'd rather participate than do homework or play on the computer during every meeting.

PTSA is a difficult thing. We all have a hundred other things on our plates and this feels like one more thing we don't have time for. It's an activity that often doesn't have immediate gratification and often requires ridiculous amounts of talking and not a lot of doing. It can be profoundly frustrating to say the least.

But working in a school I can see the very real need that PTSA fills. Often schools are burdened with government rules and regulations and no matter how much they want to help they must follow protocols etc... Parent Teacher Associations fill the gap. Need supplies? They don't have to requisition, they can just go to the store and get them. Want a new program? They have insurance to cover liability and can organize volunteers. Need money? They are a non-profit organization and all set up to be a powerful fundraising machine. Whatever holes you find in the education system you can work through your PTSA to find solutions. It's one of the best places to have your voice and concerns heard and a chance to make a powerful difference in a whole lot of little lives.

I get to listen to parent complaints as part of my job (lucky me!) and I find it sad how many parents love to complain and how few show up to things like PTSA to find solutions. Hate homework time? What if we could organize tutors? Frustrated with school communications? How about a training for teachers on how to share so parents will listen. Find recess time ridiculous? Propose new equipment, volunteer monitors or other options to make it fun again.

In the past few years our PTSA has funded numerous teacher workshops that I assume make our teachers better (they're pretty awesome to start with). We are an arts integrated school which means we need all sorts of extra funding to get the arts to our students and faculty and our PTSA has been able to provide the funding for a large chunk of that every single year. My sister started a choir at the school and it quickly exploded with awesomeness and was more than she could handle on a solely volunteer basis. PTSA stepped up and provided funding and all our students now have the chance to sing their little hearts out. A couple parents came this year and said we should have a cross country team. PTSA happily jumped on board and supported them. 

What I can't stand is that our PTSA is a group of approx. 10 parents that meet once a month and another 20 or so that come out to help with special events. We have over 500 families at our school and 30 people are all that can find the time to participate? That sucks. The same lady has run our main fundraiser since our school opened. She could really use a break but no one has stepped up. We may not participate in an awesome nationwide art contest this year because no one wants to coordinate. We get a lot of people who say they'll help but not a lot willing to lead. Why do we get so scared of leadership? A good leader delegates and doesn't have to do more work than anyone else, they just have to be willing to file the report or coordinate the meeting. To all of you who volunteer, THANK YOU!

As my son and I discuss what PTSA can do at his school this year he's pretty impressed with what we've accomplished already. I say we can do a lot more. If your child attends school find out about their PTSA or booster club or whatever and become a member, that's step one. Take one more step towards being awesome and attend a meeting or sign up to help. Become officially awesome and take the lead, start something new or find a solution to a common complaint. Most importantly, SPEAK UP regardless of if you have time to attend or volunteer, find the time to share your concerns and your gratification with those working to meet the needs in your community. They need feedback, positive or negative, in order to continue to know and meet those needs. Be the change you want to see in the world! I'm glad my son can see me doing this and hope he surpasses me in his efforts if he gets elected this year.

And now I'll get off my soapbox.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My kids are having withdrawals

I may need to call for an intervention.

School started this week, and it was a bit of a rough start. As we finish out our first week I think I've finally discovered the root evil of the chaos we've endured all week.

Mommy withdrawals.

This summer we hung out all the time. I have four kids but finding time for them all was easy peasy because we had no commitments and nothing but time. It was beautiful.

School started and all of a sudden we were back to having more than half our time each day committed to school or school related stuff. Our time together was just that, TOGETHER. I only had time for them as a unit.

As a unit, they made me feel like the girl from the exorcist who could spin her head around 360 degrees. After school together time became a recursive drama of:

Baby crying, calm her down

Curly has a question, tell him to wait

Larry is yelling, ask him to stop

Moe tries to read. Cries every time he doesn't know a word and must be calmed in order to sound it out

Curly asks question again, question is ridiculous so you ask him to wait longer

Larry is frustrated. Approach with caution and try not to set him off as you attempt to help him

Baby cries again. Change her diaper

Curly still needs help. Realize you can't help him and tell him to skip that part

And please remember, it's recursive, as in a never ending loop. And it's all happening at the same time, in the same room. It's a strategic attack from all angles. The all want my individual attention and time and suffer violent withdrawals when it is not given immediately.

I tried to problem solve. I tried to separate them. I tried everything. I have now come to the conclusion that they all just like me way too much and can't spend a minute at home without me. Isn't that sweet? 

Except I can't love them all equally and give them all equal attention at the same time because my go go gadget arms and other gadgets are in the shop. For now my plan is to buy a really twirly chair and sit in the middle of them so I'm ready to be attacked, I mean loved, from whatever angle they throw at me. I fear this me not be a long term solution but I am really excited about the red twirly chairs I saw at Costco so we'll just have to see how this pans out.

Unless you know of a way to duplicate myself or add hours to my day? 

Because that information would be really nice for you to share. I know, these are problems I've created for myself and I should focus on being thankful for my many blessings. You should know that The best way for me to do that is to moan and whine as loudly as possible via blog. Once I get that out of my system and refocus on the fact that I should appreciate the fact that they love me sooooooooooooo much instead of going bald as the stress causes me to pull all my hair  out (and you just thought I got a cute hair cut!) I should start feeling blessed again.

For now, why don't you take this moment to count your blessings? If that's too hard or youre suffering from similar struggles, we can meet at Costco and pick out twirly chairs together.

Monday, August 5, 2013

1st Day FAIL!

Our household has been very excited about the 1st day of school. We've discussed it for months, completed back to school shopping and attended back to school night.

Yet somehow we managed to FAIL just about everything today.

We never ran through the morning schedule before today. Of course I had the entire plan masterminded in my head but I guess if you don't share it with others it's hard to actually master. 

i realized at 3:30am that we had forgotten to set alarms, oops. The baby woke up at 6:00am screaming bloody murder and refusing to be calmed by any of the usual tricks meaning that the mornings alarm was basically me sticking the screaming baby in my cherubic sleeping sons faces. I'm all about making each day special and unexpected like that. It's called quality parenting.

Moving on I realized that I hadn't made them breakfast and due to the still screaming baby was going to have trouble keeping them on track in my usual school morning manner of screaming "hurry up!" every 5 minutes and following it with "are you ready yet?" I therfor allowed one to eat cake, one to eat a frozen breakfast sandwich in the car and i never checked to see if the third actually ate anything. My oldest got ready super fast and then explained to me that I had forgotten to shave his head and it had to be done before he could go to school. I gave in and said ok and then he spent 30 minutes bringing me every attachment for the hair clippers except for the size #1 1/8 inch that we needed. He finally found it as my youngest came upstairs in full melt down mode because he couldn't find the meat to pack in his lunch and his flame shoes that head to wear had been stolen, he as just sure of it. I put out these fires as best I could (meaning there may have been hair clippings in the lunch meat) only to realize that curly had still not been seen or heard from. It was now time to walk out the door and he was in the shower. As I was about to give up and just say lets try the 1st day again tomorrow, I looked in a mirror and realized I was still in my pajamas with hair that could rival a very young Michael Jackson.

My resolve was back. I think it was due to the shock i received from the horrific hairdo sighting. We made it out the door 20 minutes late and got in the car where I discovered a pile of papers that were to be filled out and submitted the first day of school. They were all blank and they all needed to be done in triplicate. Got to school where it was raining and we didn't have rain jackets or umbrellas and made all the boys sit in the car and be tardy so I could quickly fill out the papers. Walked them to their classes and then went to the office and filled out more papers (incorrectly I might add) and left them in the mailboxes they needed to go in.

I made it home to discover that my husband had magically stopped the maniacal crying fit of baby and then discovered that if I made any noise the crying fit resumed and all sleep was lost. Continued the cycle of feed, change, burp, swaddle, curse silently, allow cry it out for the 30 seconds I could handle til my eardrums burst and repeated that unsuccessfully until noon where I decided to screw it all and take her out with the hopes she might sleep in the car.

Went to the mall. Baby got quiet but never slept. I forgot my coupons and overpaid for things I didn't need, couldn't find the things I did need, had to order a subpar lunch because they were out of what I wanted and got stuck with someone asking questions about baby while I desperately tried to leave until I had to be rude, cut them off and rush because I was late picking up my boys from the first day of school.

Got to school and baby had FINALLY FALLEN ASLEEP! So then I had to haul her out of the car, waking her up and rush to try and find my boys who I had missed because did I mention I was late? Found my boys and discovered youngest had forgotten 90% of his stuff in his classroom, was accidentally rude to my sweet friend as I rushed right past her in my ridiculous frenzy, got stuck in after school traffic and made it home where the maniacal screaming resumed itself immediately upon crossing the threshold.

Now it was time to pump, help boys with homework, check on pets, answer the phone and handle screaming baby all in the exact same moment. I didn't excel at this task. After 1 hour  Moes homework was complete and baby was finally calmed down. After 2 hours, a lot of tears, and possibly some bribing, the twins homework was done and baby had resumed crying. 

It is now 5pm and there is nothing left for me to say or do, this day cannot be brought back from the horrible horrible death that it died. I think it's time to strategize, hire a maid and reconsider joining a cult where there are tons of people assigned to help with everything so nothing ends up being your fault. Instead I'll probably just take a nap and repeat this whole mess tomorrow.

Just curious, how was your day?

Friday, August 2, 2013

July was rough stuff

July started off with a bang!

Literally a bang folks, or lots of them as we bought a ridiculously oversized package of fireworks from Costco and set them off in my mother in laws driveway. Setting things on fire is such a magical way to celebrate the USofA's birthday don't you think?

The baby and I both ventured in to my mother in laws pool for the 4th and that loving 1st swim moment where the baby clutches this mom in sheer terror and screams like you dipped her in acid. Other than that first moment it went pretty well with me walking her in the pool trying to be sweet while clenching my teeth and threatening my sons with the heinous crimes I would commit if they so much as splashed one drop of water on her during her magical first swim moment.

Another fun moment was when my boys were all playing at their friends house and Curly fell out of a hammock. I wasn't there and missed the phone call and text from my friend that noted that he then cried and carried on uncontrollably until he cried himself to sleep on her couch. But no need to worry because she had made sure he didn't have a concussion. When I finally got the message and checked in, he was still sleeping and I found myself much less worried about if he might be hurt and instead mortifyingly embarrassed that my 9 year old would behave that way over a bump on the head. My poor poor friend tried to keep him over after he woke up but he went back to the moaning groaning crying extravaganza so she brought them home. Within 5 minutes of her leaving they all collapsed into inconsolable tears of ridiculousness and I put them all to bed at 5:30pm. I'm thinking this may be the best consequence ever because it means I get a night off while they get the rest they need. Parenting win!!

I got brave and was healing so well after baby #4 that I took my boys and baby girl shopping, to a lot of movies and even braved the park and the beach once. I was pretty much the poster child for post pregnancy awesomeness. As the month past its halfway mark it was time to think about school starting up again in the beginning of August. We did the back to school shopping trip where you go to all 5 stores on our island that sell school supplies to be able to find the very weirdly specific items on each of their lists. People go mad over back to school shopping, I almost think its worse than Black Friday as I watch mothers encourage children to swipe that yellow folder from the abandoned cart or send a little child in to squeeze under the adults scouring the bins for the transparent mending tape to beat them all and grab the last one. It gets desperate in the shops and people go bananas. I will not say whether or not I participated in the craziness I'll just say that I brought the cutest of my sons with me, made sure his charm was turned up to its maximum with promises of icees at the end of the shopping trip and gosh darnit if we didn't get the job done. I was so doing so exceptionally well with everything that I even took baby to the July PTSA meeting at school and managed to multitask like a madwoman and do my job, speak up as a parent and keep the baby calm (the key was to immediately hand her off to a friend as the meeting started, yep I've become THAT parent).

Not sure if it was my cocky attitude or if my awesomeness was just making all the other new moms look bad but the very next day the planets aligned to put in me my place. I got sick. Sick quickly progressed too excruciating pain. This sprinkled into my husbands getting carted off to grandmas and me spending 5 hours at the doctors office. During this time I got my first ever CT scan (do not believe it when they stuff they make you drink says the flavor is apple, the flavor is liquid chalk no matter the label they out on it. Do believe the when they tell you it will feel like you wet yourself after they inject the dye (but don't worry, you won't actually wet yourself.) I also discovered that weekend clinics aren't prepared for 5 hour visits so I spent the majority of my time in an oversized supply closet with a bed where I alternated between napping while every employee there came back and forth for supplies and reading and re-reading the only magazine available, the March Madness edition of Sports Illustrated. I've never watched college basketball but I sort of feel like an expert now. Did you know the #1college player of all time is Kareem Abdul jabber and that his name when he played in college was Lew? Because I know that.

Well after 5 hours of the most fun you can have when you've forgotten your cell phone my do for walks in and says she needs to give me a hug. I immediately know I'm going to die.

She tells me to call my loved ones because I have to have surgery immediately to remove my appendix. I hope the give awards to doctors for bedside manner. I'd like to find the person in charge and nominate my doctor for the most dramatic award.

5 days later, 1 appendix less and a whole new knowledge base regarding hemorrhoids thanks to my hospital roommate and I got to go home and begin recovering from abdominal surgery all over again. The rest of July was spent high on Vicodin (pleas tell me you know this part was a joke?!) and bed rest and now I think you're caught up on the magical wonderland that is my life.

We can now resume our regularly scheduled blogs. Hope I don't have to play the catch up game again but I make no promises.

June was big!!

June was an amazing month for our family.

We had one week of crazy summer fun with my best friend and her daughter. We beached, hiked, swam and enjoyed our beautiful island while being very very pregnant with 4 kids in tow between the 2 of us.

By Thursday I was exhausted and eager for my pre-op appointment. I went in and met the obgyn that would be doing my csection and fell in love. Not THAT kind of love, but seriously he is an awesome man who made me feel at ease and ready to go through this whole childbirth thing again. That night we sent the kids off to grandmas house for a long weekend and me and the husband headed to a late movie. I couldn't eat or drink past midnight and I was too nervous/excited/worried what if its a boy!!! To sleep so we went to see that google intern movie. It was a good distraction and I made it to bed in the wee hours of the morning. 

We got to the hospital early to sign in etc... And found out that there were all sorts of women in various stages of labor and delivery stresses. This meant that my 11 am surgery got postponed because for some reason they viewed emergencies as more important than my scheduled could happen anytime in the next week unimportant surgery. I guess they weren't aware of who I was! A couple hours late they wheeled me in and the action began.

It all went well. They refused my repeated requests for tummy tucks and/or liposuction but I guess you can only expect so much at a Podunk hospital on an island in the middle of the ocean. A few things that were noteworthy during the surgery:

1. My anesthesiologist was having some sort of home crisis so the ambience of my calm peaceful planned surgery was made extra blissful by the sounds of him answering his phone to talk to the plumber as I was straining to hear my baby's first cry. The beautiful discussion on where to put the dog while the work was being done will be forever seered into my brain as part of the magical experience of  bringing a new life into this world.

2. The doctor asked my husband if he wanted to look as they were pulling out the baby (he is extremely squeamish) and HE DID IT! Yep, he has now seen my insides hanging out. There's no going back from that. He's still too scarred to discuss what was on the other side of that curtain. His only comment in the moment was him leaning down and whispering "phew! It's a girl" in a very deadpan tone.

3. Oh yeah, and we had a healthy 6lb 3oz baby girl! (I already forgot how long she was and I'm too lazy to go check) 

I made it through everything and so did she. In a miraculous turn of events I felt more like I had been run over by tonka trucks postpartum rather than the semi truck feeling I got after previous pregnancies. I made it up and out of bed early the next morning and managed to pee without a tube stuck up me and brush my teeth. I stepped out of the bathroom after accomplishing these amazing feats to find my friend stopping by for a visit. Did I mention that she's a photographer and that I just stood up for the first time and all I had accomplished so far was peeing and brushing my teeth? Yep, that's how I roll. She then miraculously was able to take beautiful pictures of my baby. My favorite are the ones where I'm blurry in the background. I wish all pictures could be like that, proof that I was there but no evidence of exactly what I looked like/how much I weighed. Is there an app for that?

I got in an argument that would have turned into a brawl if it werent for my excellent pain meds with a night nurse on the second night. The next morning I got the doctors to discharge me and baby a day early so we could get the hell out of dodge. Home has never seemed so magical! 

Fast forward to the end of the first week and my best friend had her baby who is quite possibly even more perfect than my perfect baby. Mine is bald and pale and has the whole she's going to become adorable thing going for her. My friends was born with perfect almond skin and the most beautiful lips to ever grace a baby plus she had enough thick dark hair to put a hair clip in. Yep, they won this round but we're catching up fast. I brought my baby to the hospital to meet her new best friend for life whether she likes or not in a moby type carrier. These carriers are a large piece of cloth that you tie around yourself. It was my first time using it and since my baby barely weighed 6 lbs she pretty much disappeared Inside of it just making a large bump in the fabric with her butt. The bump happened to be placed in the middle of my chest and unbeknownst to me until I saw the pictures on Facebook created a lovely third breasted alien look for me. Lesson learned, but not til the world had a chance to see the faux pas.

The last two weeks of the month were just spent at home where I fell in love with each of my sons all over again as they amazed me with their capacity for love, poop, screaming and kindness. They took it all in stride as they made schedules to pick out her clothes and begged me to make a bottle so they could feed her and forced me to allow them to try carrying her and soothing her. Turns out they rock at all things baby and are already better surrogate parents than I will ever be. They are pretty amazing!

Oh yeah, and my husband and I had our 10year wedding anniversary. We celebrated by getting my steri strips removed at the doctor office and getting a jaundice check for the baby. We're real ballers when it comes to celebrating dont ya know.

All in all another great month full of adjustments and getting used to life as a family of 6.

Up next, what happened in July? Tune in next time to find out!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's been 2 months!

I can't even believe its been that long since I gave you the gift of reading my blog. I apologize if you felt deprived or abandoned. You have to tell me when I do that to you so I can fix it! I'm very self involved so I need constant reminders that the world needs to hear about my mundane happenings via blog as often as possible. You know how that goes I'm sure.

In the last 2 months I finished up another school year in May, had a healthy baby girl in June and had an emergency appendectomy in July. It's really been a summer of fun.

Lets start with May. 

Crazy times ensued as I tried to finish out the year feeling very fat and sweaty. I grunted and waddled my way through and I'm certain everyone who saw me marveled at my beauty and grace during trying times. My pregnancy mask got to the point where it looked like I was painting my face to look like I had a mustache and unabrow and permanent sunburn. There was drama at work as something that I mailed in march never reached its destination and they didn't notify me til may and then I had to notify everyone involved (which was hundreds) that stuff was lost in the mail. I thought I was going to get fired. It was stressful and bizarre but I'm still employed so there you go. 

My coworkers got together to throw me a surprise baby shower. I don't do well with surprises. Add pregnancy hormones into the mix and we're all lucky that I survived. My boss asked to meet with me after school about something that I thought was already figured out. She's my boss so of course i said yes and made time to meet with her. The more I tried to figure out what we were meeting about the more I became convinced that she was going to fire me for the lost mail screw up. This was all during the same week where everyone was discovering that I was pregnant all of a sudden after 30 something weeks of me being a human incubator. I got a little stressed out to say the least. The day of the event my boss pulls me to her office and asks me the silliest questions about a survey I had created. I didn't understand why she was asking or what I needed to still do on the project and then she pulled me to another part of the building  and we passed a conference room with baby gifts. As we headed to meet another secretary to discuss the survey problem my first thought was, "who's baby shower is it and how come I didn't get the email invite?" My feelings would have been hurt if I hadn't been so preoccupied by the survey issue and the relief that I wasn't getting fired. Finally my boss asks me to go sit in the conference room with her to discuss the survey and I am so flustered I forgot about the presents I'd seen so I head in and everyone yells, "surprise!" I almost cried in relief as everything finally made sense. All the baby questions and people realizing I was pregnant was from the shower invite. The weird meeting was all staged to get me to the shower without knowing. It was a fun shower and I was so blessed with diapers and clothes and books and handmade blankets and burp cloths. I am a part time employee and I don't have a team or department at work so I really wasn't expecting anything and was overjoyed that everyone had gone out of their way to do this for me. Of course I cried a lot later, but its that whole pregnancy thing, I cry at everything and at nothing. It's ridiculous but what can you do?

My friends and family threw me a baby shower in may too. I am so spoiled!! Everything was pink and all my favorite foods were there (I am super picky so this was crazy and unexpected and one friend even flew to another island to pick up my favorite dessert of cocoa puffs from liliha bakery) there were crafts and cute games and lots of time just getting to hang out with the women that I hope will be around to support me and influence my daughters life with their awesomeness. They did amazing things like had everyone buy clothes in different sizes so that I have baby clothes from newborn all the way to 2t. Everyone was so generous and it was so amazing to realize I had reached a point in my life where I had this many friends (probably the most I've ever had) or at least this many people that would pretend to be friends for the chance at holding my baby and catching a whiff of that newborn baby smell. Some people are baby junkies I tell you!

Finally, to end the month, my twins turned 9 on May 31st!! I know what you're thinking, how can I have 9 year olds? I ask myself this all the time. It's something about the birds and the bees and.... Anyways, I threw them a party at 38 weeks pregnant because that's how I roll. My sister and I collected 13 kids at the mall (not randomly, they were invited) and took them to see the movie Epic. We took an entire movie theatre row, 8 bags of popcorn and 6 bathroom trips to make it through the movie. Afterwards we went to the food court to open presents and eat ice cream sundaes from McDonald's. It was a real classy affair :) My sons were thrilled, the movie was great and I got all teary eyed as I marveled at what great friends my boys have. Lucky, lucky, lucky. 

We bought the boys electric scooters for their birthday so my husband rushed home to have them waiting in the driveway when we got home from the movie. As we pulled in the driveway I put on my best agitated mom voice and started lecturing the boys about leaving their scooters and helmets out In the driveway again. They hopped out of the car to take care of it (not wanting to get in trouble on their birthday) and Larry quickly figured out the prank and got very excited about his present. Curly was a little slow on the uptake and was crying and upset because he was sure he hadn't left his stuff out. He actually started to put the scooter away not noticing that it was new until his brother pointed it out. The switch in his face from tears to ear to ear grin was amazing and had me laughing so hard I almost fell over. Next up was learning how to ride their new wheels. After several instances of forgetting to let go of the throttle as they jumped off and being dragged down the road by a runaway scooter they got the hang of it and became the cool kids cruising the neighborhood.

Now lets see, the month of June.... I'll leave that for the next post.