I don't even know how to describe it. Frazzled, frustrating, frugal, ferocious, funny. That's actually quite accurate.
Let's start with frazzled and frustrated. Our morning and evening routines have changed a lot since our move. We moved about 30 minutes away from our old neighborhood. My husband and I now travel in opposite directions to work. Jacob stays in town for school. Ryan is sometimes in town at his preschool and sometimes in another town with his babysitter. Jon is mostly with the babysitter. Most days, the five of us are in four different cities (yikes). Logistically and economically, it makes most sense for me to take all the children to their various locations in the morning.
I'm doing all the morning routines myself and the new routine is still...well, new. Tuesday I forgot to bring Jon's play pen to the babysitter's. On Thursday, I forgot to leave his car seat. On Wednesday, I dropped Jacob off an hour too early for school (schools: hey, let's start an hour later one day a week just to eff with all the working parent!). On Friday, I forgot to put all of Jacob's weekly homework in his homework folder. On top of all this, I had two court hearings on Friday. Each one was in a different city and they were only two hours apart. I didn't eat a single morsel of food until 2pm that day.
It's challenging to remember to pack all the kids' lunches, my lunch, my breakfast, my purse/work bag, and Jon's diaper bag. It's also challenging to dress all the children, dress myself, feed all the children, change the baby's diaper, make the baby's bottle, check backpacks for homework, and load everyone in the car. My husband used to do this half the week but now that I'm doing all the morning driving, it's automatically fallen on me (because he leaves an hour earlier). I'm clearly going to need to start training him to pitch in. Because this craziness is not working.
On to frugal. As soon as I had just about paid off both Ryan and Jon's c-section bills, Ryan had to have a LOT of dental work. (I paid HOW MUCH for teeth that will just fall out in three years?) And it was expensive. I long for the day when I do not owe any medical bills. It will honestly feel magical. Out of all the bills to have, medical bills are simply the worst. If it was a credit card bill I could at least enjoy the purchase I made. I guess I can enjoy the fact that Ryan has a perfect mouth of teeth. But that's just not as exciting as a new (or, in this case, SIX new) pairs of boots.
My student loan payment is set to increase at the same time we owe our first mortgage on the new house. And we need a couple big ticket items for the new house- like a pantry. Right now, all of our food is in boxes (how can a house just NOT have a pantry?). And a dining table (we're eating all our meals at the kitchen island). And the big boys need beds. The old bunkbed won't fit. They are currently sleeping on mattresses on the floor: CAMPING!
All this prodded me to scrutinize our spending a little more closely. Holy wow. I spent way too much on chocolate and groceries. I have put myself on a tight chocolate budget. You guys don't understand. Chocolate is honestly my only vice and addiction (ok fine, Diet Dr. Pepper too). I don't drink a lot of alcohol. I don't drink fancy lattes or coffee in general. I don't go on shopping sprees. I don't spend money on entertainment or music. Chocolate is my thing. I'm an addict. It's normal for me to eat a bite-sized piece of chocolate at 9am. I wake up in the morning and my first thought is....how much longer before I can eat a piece of chocolate and not feel too guilty? The answer is usually: 45 minutes. So my chocolate budget is a huge deal.
I've also imposed a cap on grocery spending. I can easily (without trying) spend $200 a week to feed our family of 4.5 (Jon is the .5). That's insane. But I like to cook. I pride myself on quality meals with fresh and quality ingredients. I don't like short cuts in the food category. I like to have all the real ingredients rather than just making-do with what we already have (which is my mom's specialty). But I decided that it will not be the end of the world if I make my family eat hot dogs and canned soup once (or twice) a week. According to the kids, this is what they serve for dinner in heaven.
Ferocious: I've suddenly settled into an amazing level of self-confidence at work. Things have just kind of clicked. I used to hate speaking up in meetings. I used to hate oral arguments in court. I used to be very hesitant about making suggestions. A flurry of court appearances and the benefit of new experiences have given me a new footing in my self esteem.
Finally, funny. My kids drive me up the wall 50% of our time together. The other 50% it's complete and utter joy. Parenting seems to come at me in the extremes. The mix of utter exhaustion and loss of sanity with immeasurable love and pride makes for unpredictable parenting weather. At the end of each day, I'm completed drained, with barely enough energy to brush my teeth with an electric toothbrush. But when I collapse into bed and think of the highlights of the day, I know there is no other place I would rather be. Someday the boys will be older and need me less. I will be very much less a part of their every day functioning and routine. I only hope I will love that phase just as much as I love being their everything right now.
Some of this week's kid highlights:
We bought Ryan a second-hand dinosaur costume for Halloween. He will NOT take it off. Want to put a smile on a stranger's face? Take a dinosaur to the grocery store. Or the bank. Or the mall. Or the park. Smiles followed us everywhere.
Ryan is the funniest person I have ever met. When Jacob tells me a story about his day, Ryan will hijack the story halfway through with his own (very similar) nonsensical made up story about HIS day.
Jacob: "At school, some kids don't get a long with Spencer. Today, Zack actually slapped Spender in the face and ...
Ryan: "Guess what. At MY school. There's a kid named Spincher. And he jumped on the table and threw his stinky socks at everyone's face!"
When we try to interrupt him, he scolds us, "you have to wait your turn!" He told me he has five kids named Matt in his class (not true). He then told me that they were all actually named "Manis." (not true). He told me that one kid punched him in the face at the playground (not true). When I told him he was tricking me he said, "He DID punch me! I saw him!" He wants to eat yogurt and "granilla" (granola) for breakfast every morning. And he refuses to eat a hot dog unless I call it a "cold dog." Because DUH he can't eat food that's hot.
Photo-collage of Ryanosaurus
It's going to be a LONG month before Halloween.
Also, I present to you, Ryan's favorite socks. Ryan recommends that any good pair of snowman socks be paired with plaid shorts and light-up Avengers shoes.
Today we celebrated Jacob's 7th birthday at Chuck-E-Cheese. He got to go into a ticket blaster- a hurricane simulator machine that shoots tons of prize tickets all around the birthday child. The joy on his face just cannot be described. He emerged from the blaster with tons of tickets in his shirt (he had strategized ahead of time making his shirt into a pouch to catch the tickets) and with two hanging from his mouth (he caught them with his teeth). All morning long, he had been begging me to let him put his face into his slice of cake. I think he saw someone on TV do it. My response was, "why not?!" So, when it was cake time, he shoved his face into his frosting, then proceeded to run around the entire Chuck E Cheese yelling, "I'm HYPER! I'm HYPER." I wasn't mad because: better at Chuck E Cheese than at home, right?
I don't have any Jon stories tonight. Other than I'm 95% sure that he is actually calling me "mama." He's said "mama" and "mamamama" for several months but this week he's been doing it when he clearly wants me to hold him. He will crawl up to me, pull himself up to my leg and say, "mamama." It seems very intentional and it melts my heart. So, let me have my fantasies.