Principals


I don't think I remember any of my principals from elementary, middle or high school. I could possibly pick my high school principal out of a lineup if I was ever questioned, but it would take a lot of effort to poke around in that part of my memory. I just didn't have a lot of contact with principals or vice principals. A quiet student--I mostly stayed to my closest friend and waited for the final bell to ring so I could rush off to work each day. 

I have more interaction now with principals and vice principals as a parent than I ever did as a student, and I can't say that I necessarily enjoy the weekly exchanges. "Hello Mrs. Doot, I see you brought all your children to school today." Well, what else was I supposed to do...chain them to the bike rack out there? "Hello Mrs. Doot, are you aware Mya has reached the maximum amounts of tardies?" Why yes I am. We follow a strict "at least you made it to school so who cares if you're a couple minutes late" rule at my house. Or "Hello Mrs. Doot, I think we need to have a conference." Why? Because I don't buy into the PTA or scream at my children the whole way to school so we arrive on time? 

Today as I dropped my girls off in their respective classrooms on their first day of school, I felt the presence of someone following close behind me. Refusing to turn around (because that's how I am), I pressed on to Genevieve's classroom to give her a hug since she had run ahead of me, clearly missing the memo that this was a rather big day for her and for me. I hugged her tight and kissed her curly mop of a head, and I turned to find the principal leaning against the door frame. I actually don't know the principal's name; it's just not important to me. But she knows mine. "Hello Mrs. Doot, is there anything I can do to make this year easier for you?" (Clearly referring to getting my kids to school on time and every single day of their blessed lives.) I shook my head and smiled. There was nothing she could do so why even ask the question. She stood there for a moment, waiting for a response I guess, but when I never produced one, she walked away and pestered other parents. I exited Genevieve's classroom but turned around to peek through the door frame. I watched her hop into her chair and smile at the blonde girl sitting next to her. "Hi, I'm Genevieve, and I love my sisters," she said as she pulled the lid off her purple playdoh. Her smile stretched from ear to ear, and I sat there so proud, yet so heartbroken that this little angel girl of mine would now spend more time with her school teacher (and albeit her really frustrating principal) than she would with me. 

Today felt so long and quiet without them. Not a single toy bin was dumped for no good reason, and it sorta made me feel sad. Isn't that the dumbest? As I watched the clock tick slowly, Elle and I colored pictures for the girls and taped them to the door and we decorated a "welcome home" sign in the driveway with sidewalk chalk. I was so happy to see the girls jumping off the bus that I nearly burst at my seams (whatever that actually means), but my insides did actually feel like bursting. I had missed them. 

School is the best and the worst. Principals, in my opinion, are usually the worst. Tardies are the worst. But learning is the best, and I know my girls love school so I am trying to figure out what I will do with myself when all I am surrounded by is a couple of bubbly babies. 

I'll write since I can't sleep

Tonight, in an effort to aid my pounding headache that has been in full effect since the Olympics began, I stumbled into the dark kitchen and reached for what I thought was Tylenol PM. I thought what the heck...it will help take the edge off and help me sleep. Turns out I grabbed the bottle of Excedrin extra strength with caffeine so here I sit at 11:51pm with my brain and stomach spinning. It was a good lesson in not taking medicine in the dark.

Before giving up on falling asleep, I rested in bed with my left arm and leg draped over Tim's body as we talked about the events of the day. Inevitably, I focused on all my shortcomings--I yelled when I found fire ants covering the porch and garage entrance because someone (Elle!) dropped goldfish all over the place. I didn't have enough compassion when someone (Elle!) fell on her scooter during our daily walk. (I told her not to wear those slippery church shoes.) I got frustrated with the girls while making dinner because they kept chasing Birdie in the kitchen with the broom when the fire was on the stove. (I'm a bit nutty about fire.) And so on and so on.

Tim listened as he always does. He interjected a few, "You're not a terrible mom" comments where he deemed necessary, but still my heart was not content with my behavior of today. I could've done better. I can always do better. Because he did not take Excedrin, he quickly fell asleep and left me alone to think. This is a regular occurrence. So often as I lie in bed waiting for sleep to take over, I think these thoughts in an open-ended prayer:

I want to love more. I want to feel more compassion. Why don't I always feel bad for the kids when they fall/get hurt? Why do I roll my eyes when they sometimes cry? Why isn't it easier for me to reach my arms out when the kids need me? What quality do I lack in those situations? How can I obtain that quality? Why do I hold on to things so long? Why did I throw the fact that Elle peed in the closet over a month ago again in her face today? How do I forgive her? I desperately want to get over a handful of things. Where do I find the strength to let go? Why did I look at my phone instead of listening to Mya's story? How dumb of me! Why didn't I take time to be still today? I hope I'll find time again tomorrow. I want to be a more spiritual person. I want to feel more connected to God, but I don't give him enough time. Where do I squeeze in a few extra minutes for Him? Why do I have to squeeze him in at all? Shouldn't He come first? I want to be a better person. I want to love myself more. I want to love my husband more. I am so lucky to have him. He saves me every single day. I want to love my kids more. Lots more. I want them to have the best of me. Are they getting even a sliver of the best part of me? Or do they just see me frazzled? I need to be better. Please help me be better.

Do you think similar things?

The stillness of nighttime allows me to be honest with myself and with God. I'm not sure if it's the darkness and the inability to see myself in any mirrors or have anyone see my face, but I feel more free with my thoughts. I realize I am incredibly hard on myself. I think most humans are. I think sometimes it's justified. Other times I think we need to give ourselves a break. But I do think we can be better than we currently are. There is always room for improvement. And that's what I think about in the stillness of night. I think about who I am and who I want to be. I ask for forgiveness for falling way short of my expectations, but I give gratitude for how far I've come in 7 years as a wife and mother. Thank goodness for time. I am so grateful for it.

I finally feel sleep taking over my brain. My fingers are moving slowly now, and I'm finding it hard to transition between paragraphs, so it's my cue to go to bed. But at least my thoughts are on paper now. I know I'll look back one day and smile as I read them.

Stages



Motherhood is a crazy ride; so often you look forward to that next stage of life (ie, no more spit up, no more diapers, no more binkies, summer to begin, summer to end, kindergarten, middle school, high school, etc.), but once you finally arrive at whatever long-awaited stage, you begin to back pedal and desire to go back in time. But you can't. You're stuck unless you move forward and enter the new stage of life.

Moments ago my girls came bounding in the front door with white and blue postcards in their hands. "Mom, mom!!" They yelled, nearly out of breath. "Mom, look who our teachers will be this year!" The excitement in the air was palpable. I had been looking forward to those postcards all week, but suddenly my heart leaped into my throat, and I thought, Wait, you can't go to school. You just can't. How silly is that--all these days dreaming of when school would begin, and now the time has come, and I find myself alone at the kitchen table dreading Monday. Because truth be told, as much as summer was ridiculously hard for me this year, mostly due to the babies, I have loved the tender moments of summer, watching my girls chase each other as they play tag or read to each other during learning or doing hair and makeup tutorials in the bathroom. My girls may be a handful, but they're my handful, and I happen to like how full and rich they make my life.

Mya noticed my hesitant smile and said, "Mom, aren't you excited? You'll finally have some time again." (Apparently, I've vocally wished for that a little too much over the past week or so.) And although I nodded, I said, "Oh Mya, I'm tired, but I fear I'll always be tired. That's life. But man, I'm going to miss you girls." She and Genevieve will both be attending school this year, and I can't quite wrap my head around having a 2nd grader and kindergartener.

The stages in life come and go so quickly. I always shake my head when people whisper "You're going to miss this" referring to when the girls run up and down the aisles of Target or cling to every limb of my body when we're out and about because in the moment all I'm thinking about is how I can get the girls to act like human beings instead of monkeys, but the truth of the matter is that I will miss it. Someday--a day I fear will come sooner than later--my girls will ask me to drop them off at Target to shop with their friends or they'll avoid my hugs and kisses because of the "not cool" factor, and I will feel sad. I will miss these days.

Our days feel a lot like this lately:

Mya is really into brushing her hair (we're talking obsessively). She just discovered a sports bra in the bottom of a bag of hand-me-downs, and she doesn't want to take it off. I've caught her looking in the mirror at herself a lot this summer. And yet as vain as she is, she is incredibly thoughtful and kind. She loves me completely, and she tells me so every day. She reads like crazy. She rolls her eyes at my jokes. She's constantly trying to one-up my jokes, and if I don't laugh she gets rather cranky so I've improved on my fake laugh.

V is such a pleaser. She was born a natural born nurturer, and she lives to make people feel better and happy. She can be very overwhelming at times (ie, when I'm trying to let Timmy cry it out and she can't stand the thought of him crying so she runs to pick him up moments after I lay him down or when she carries Birdie everywhere even though she is kicking and screaming in protest), but she truly wants to help. The other day she came downstairs while her sisters were watching television, and she begged to help with chores. We sat at the sink washing dishes together, and we had a really great time. There are things that drive me crazy about her--mostly when she picks up the babies as I just put them down and when she chews on her hair, but I wouldn't trade her for the world. I need her to survive this crazy life.

Elle is in a stealing phase. It is a phase I hope to see end immediately. I wish it never started. She stole my credit cards a few weeks back and hid them somewhere she couldn't find them. It took us all weekend to find them. I could've killed her. She then proceeded to steal several pieces of jewelry from my jewelry box and lost a few earrings and a very expensive ring. (I have very sensitive skin so my jewelry is expensive). I still can't locate the ring; my heart is still a little bruised from that one. She has also been peeing in random places, which makes my blood boil. She peed in a doctor kit and left in a closet for two days. I rarely go into this particular closet so when her sister came walking out with pee sloshing out of the doctor kit, I am not going to lie, I lost it just a bit. I still can't escape the smell of pee in that room. Don't worry, I have carpet cleaners coming just as soon as school begins. And just yesterday I found a kitchen towel wet with pee. She peed on it and then hung it up on the stove handle. I kept walking through the kitchen looking for a dirty diaper, and when I couldn't find one, I started looking for a pee puddle on my hands and knees. As I passed by the stove, I found the towel and just gasped in disgust. I would've screamed, but it was before 7am, and I didn't want to wake Timmy. I immediately threw the towel in the garbage and sprayed 409 all over the kitchen. Let's just say, I am actually ready to move on from Elle's stage. We are in a bit of a rough patch, and growing pains are felt everyday. Pray we make it through this.

Birdie is an absolute delight when she's not destroying things. She has the ability to rip apart a book within seconds and can throw her entire plate of food on the ground just as I set it on the table. She refuses to talk, using only grunts and giggles to work her way through conversations, but man, her "yes" giggle is just the best. Tim and I decided that if chipmunks giggled, they'd have her laugh. "Do you want grapes Birdie?" Chipmunk giggle. "Do you want your blankie?" Chipmunk giggle. "Do you want some vegetables?" Negative grunt. And so on and so on is our life with her. She is tormented relentlessly by her older sisters, but when they are not around, she runs around the house with her blankie in hand screaming, "Dahhh, Yaaaaa, Dahhh, Yaaa, Boooo." It's my favorite.

And Timmy my buddy. Oh how he has my heart. His thigh rolls are forever increasing in size, and his smile is so reminiscent of his father that I can't help but smile whenever I hold him. I think he babbles more than Birdie. We joke that he'll talk before her. He loves to be the center of attention, and I can tell he already has a thing for his sisters. He loves when they play with him.

These are the stages we are passing through right now. They will likely change as we again adapt to a new school year with new friends and teachers, but for now, we are in this stage--for better or for worse, and I am trying to love it before it changes.

the things they say

My girls say the funniest things. The older they get, the more they make me giggle. Mya reads so much these days that she is always growing her vocabulary, and sometimes the things she says just catch me so off guard that I can't help but burst out laughing, and although Elle's vocabulary isn't as extensive, she can say some good stuff too. 

The other day we went to the mall, and as Tim and Mya were walking by Victoria Secret, Mya peeked in and blurted out, "Oh dad, this store is highly inappropriate." He laughed and they quickly found a more "appropriate" store to enter. Hopefully we can remind her of these words in a few years when she gets more interested in that sort of thing. Heaven help me I am going to try my hardest to keep the word "PINK" from ever being bedazzled on her sweats. 

This morning Genevieve and Elle were playing volcano, and I heard Elle yelling to V, "Hurry Ya-ya, the hot llama is coming! The hot llama is coming!" They then ran quickly down the stairs to avoid the hot "llama" (lava). And I smiled the whole time. I see no reason to correct them. 

V was talking to Timmy on the bed a few days back, and when I heard her laughing, I came in and asked her what she was talking to him about. She said, "Oh I was just telling him that he had a weird pee-pee that looks like a stick, and I told him he won't ever be able to get rid of it." She then looked at me seriously and asked, "Wait...mom...will he really have that thing forever?" Yes, honey he will. And yes, it will always look funny.

The girls were playing a game the other day, and somehow Mya's turn got skipped and her face got so serious and red when she realized it, and she yelled, "Who bamboobied me?!!" Knowing she used the wrong word, her hands immediately shot over her mouth and she switched her word to "bamboozled," but for a quick second we all had a good laugh. 

I'm telling you what--my kids are nuts. They are driving me bonkers with only a few days to go, but I will miss the funny things they say when they are gone all day so I am trying to note them down in my phone as often as they throw them out.

horseback riding











In an effort to keep my girls busy this summer, I found a place north of my house that offers affordable horseback riding lessons. The girls learned how to groom horses before mounting them, and it was such a good experience. I was even able to hop on a horse at the end, which made me so happy because if I could have an extra hobby, it would be horseback riding. I love horses, and I love how free I feel when I ride them. I'm so happy my girls got to have this experience (I only wish it wasn't a million degrees out during the lessons.)

Summer: 1; Janine: 0













Summer needs to end soon. If it doesn't, I'm afraid I'll have to throw in the towel. The scoreboard already reads--Summer: 1; Janine: 0. But I'm not going out without a fight.

Even though I've managed to keep my girls busy all but 6 days this summer (meaning we left the house and found adventure somewhere), I feel like I have failed on so many levels. Yes, my kids were entertained. Yes, they appeared mostly happy. Yes, they learned new skills. And yes, I think they felt loved most of the time. BUT I have been slowly dying inside, and therefore I have failed myself. It has been incredibly hard on my body, mind and heart to keep up with the girls each day. Having Timmy just weeks before school ended was quite possibly the worst-timed event of my life. It has been so hard to lug him everywhere and keep him cool or in the shade while the girls play, swim, ride bikes, etc. He has battled heat rash nearly every week. The poor guy has learned to hold his sweat on the ridge of his nose and just above his upper lip like a champ. He doesn't enjoy nursing under a blanket in the heat outside. He doesn't really love being splashed at the pool. And he doesn't like skipping naps (and neither do I). We endure each summer day whether we like it or not so the girls can have fun and be active.

But now school needs to start. We need a schedule. We need regular nap times/bed times. We need to avoid the pool. I keep telling myself only 2 weeks left. I can make it. We can make it. I absolutely dread the fact that V has to attend full-day kindergarten. I never thought I'd be a mom that would say that, but full day seems so long for her. I'm curious to see how my free spirit will fit into such a tight regimen. And I'll miss how much she helps with the babies. Elle and Felicity will miss her terribly (with the exception of the first week when they roam around the house freely without having V there to direct their every move. Once that initial week wears off, they'll be begging me to keep her home). And oh my Mya. I will miss her too. School is so, so good for her and for our relationship, but I do love learning with her within the comfort of my own walls.

Oh summer, how fun you've been for the girls, but it's time to part ways. But please be kind as you exit because I know I'll miss you when you're gone.

Learning to be brave


Genevieve learned to ride on her bike without training wheels a few weeks ago; it was a task I thought she'd never be able to do. Tim and I have spent several mornings working with her, but she refused to try without us holding onto the seat. Needless to say, our patience ran thin and and our backs wore out rather quickly, and we decided to put the goal of getting her on a 2-wheel bike on the back burner until we felt she was really ready. This, however, drove me nuts because I knew she'd be able to do it once she tried, but the trick was (as it always is with her) getting her to try it. When her grandparents were in town a few weeks back, we asked Pop-Pop to work with her one morning and within a couple of minutes and with lots of happy squeals from a very proud mama, she figured it out. I am still beaming with pride.

You see--Genevieve is unlike her sisters in so many ways. She fears nearly everything--bugs, heights, boats, unknown spaces, water slides, unfamiliar moving objects, etc. She wasn't always this way, but in recent years she has become more timid. I have tried to be patient with her fears, but sometimes it is hard because I know her fears are baseless. She has no reason to be afraid, but she works herself up until she is almost paralyzed. With the exception of motherhood (because everything about being responsible for 5 kids makes me nervous), I have always tried to be brave. And it is a quality I have tried to instill in my girls, but I haven't always been successful with Genevieve.

So that riding a 2-wheel bike is a such a big deal. She is doing something that is very hard for her. Just today she fell off her bike and skinned her hands, but I made her get right back on her bike so she wouldn't lose her excitement of riding. She did it begrudgingly, but she did it, and she made it the rest of the way home. I am always so proud when I see my kids accomplishing hard things; it is a life lesson that should be taught from an early age because life doesn't get easier, and they're going to have to confront the ghosts in the closets or the 2-wheel bikes sometime.