The girl likes to shop.

Once every two years, I meet Neil at the mall and we go shopping. Maybe two years is an exaggeration but probably not a huge one. I stopped taking kids to the mall when there were two of them, and I never really started going again. I go on my own a couple times a year, but I pretty much never take the kids, unless it’s to see Santa.

Today we went to Polo Park. Oliver was like, “Whoah! What is this place??” Because, no malls, just Superstore for my children.

We went to H+M because we never had before. As soon as we entered the (big) store Oliver said, “Let’s split up!” Ha! Anyway he got pretty into it and somehow roped us into buying him several t-shirts and he was on the hunt for more, all like, let’s get way more stuff! He didn’t seem to realize that we actually had to pay for everything.

Ivy went crazy in there. “OHHH! Look at this shirt Mom! It’s sooooo cute!” I grabbed some leggings for her and she had to sit down on the floor and place the pants on top of her legs to see if they would fit. She just loved everything. She needed the hat, she needed those shoes, and those shoes, and those shoes too, and that dress, and that shirt. She loved everything. We mistakenly wandered into the children’s accessories section and that was the end of it. She grabbed a little box of rings and just had to have them. “I WEE WEE need these wings Mom!” (Wee= really.) No, you don’t need those rings Ivy. “But I have nooo wings!” That’s not even true, actually. Oh she begged and pleaded non-stop. 

We stopped at a fitting room so I could try stuff on. While I pulled the curtain closed, she asked, “Why we havin’ a bath?” #firsttimeinafittingroom Made me laugh anyway. 

As soon as I was done in there, she was back on the case for the rings. The responsible mother in me knew I needed to hold my ground but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t! I’m powerless against her! Besides, Oliver was convinced we were getting him the Big Hero 6 t-shirt, and so I just got both of them their wants. Hey, first trip to the mall deserves a purchase right? 

Anyway, it was fun, and I’m looking forward to more girl shopping trips with Ivy this fall when Oliver is in school. He totally lost the passion after one store, and I know Ivy could have shopped all day.  

Bronuts, sunshine, and snow on the long weekend. Plus, a screen free day.

The forecast for the May long weekend was pure junk. So on Saturday morning when we woke up and the sun was shining, we and headed straight out the door to get donuts at the new place in town, Bronuts. We got there at 9ish and then waited in line, outside, for 30 minutes. It was fine, though. It was already a really nice morning out, and the line moved fast. 

  
We got our donuts and coffee and then headed across the street to enjoy them at a picnic table in the sunshine. They were so good! I’m usually a chocolate over vanilla kind of girl, although I will eat both indiscriminately. That vanilla glaze though! I think it beat out the Nutella donut, and that’s something. So yummy.
The kids ran around in the green grass while we sipped our coffee. Once 10 am rolled around we walked over to the best toy shop, Toad Hall. I always forget about that place, and then every time I go back there I’m like, why do we ever go anywhere else, ever for toys or gifts for kids? Seriously, so much great stuff packed in there. I love exploring in there.

  
We got home and the warm weather just held on, even though the forecast was all “weather warning! weather warning!”. I did an Ikea run and returned and picked up a new rug while the kids played outside with Neil. Seth went for his first ever “real” sleepover at a friend’s house (where he allegedly stayed up until two am! but “slept in” till 8, Mom!), and we ate french toast and bacon and peanut butter sandwiches for supper. Neil and I finished off the evening with wine and scrabble, and it was great.

The rain started after 10 sometime, and it just kept on coming. We stayed home Sunday morning. It was still raining, sometimes hard, and it was getting cold. By noon it was seriously windy and still raining like crazy. I went to work that evening and even shelled out for parking because I couldn’t imagine walking in that horrible wind and rain. By the time I left work at midnight the rain had turned to ice pellets, so that was nice. The drive home was a little dicey, but I made it.

When we woke up Monday morning there was snow. Hello Manitoba May long weekend. Classic, with a little edge this year. We had decided Monday would be a screen free day. This isn’t really a huge deal for our kids, who often have little to no screen time. It was a big deal for Neil and I, who check our screens more often than I’m comfortable with. Well, wow, no screens equals far more time to be productive. Neil put up some baseboards and installed blinds. I read a book! We played Settlers, Uno, Dutch Blitz, and Yahtzee with the kids. 

  
We looked at photo books and read some of my blog book from 2010. We stayed in bed cuddling. We relaxed. It was nice. The kids actually spent a good portion of time spontaneously playing duck duck goose in the basement. Ivy thought it was the funniest game ever and really, so did all of the kids. Their giggles and laughs all mixed together were the best sound in the world. Neil and I DID watch Mad Men after the kids went to bed, but still, I didn’t check my social media or look at my phone. I actually watched the show. Sadly, because how is it over already? It feels weird to me. I’ll miss you Mad Men. Anyway, screen free day was a success. Besides the fact that Oliver jumped off the couch and landed on his face, resulting in a big fat lip.

  
And then right before bed he slipped on a blanket someone left on the floor and landed hard on the side of his face. Thankfully by the time the bruise showed up today, the swelling from his fat lip had gone down, so he didn’t look quite as battered as he potentially could have.

And that was our May long weekend. No exciting adventures or anything, but a long weekend is a long weekend, and we love them.

Hope yours was good too.

Oliver :: Five

Oliver turned five on the 8th. He was so excited, and woke up an hour earlier than usual. He climbed into bed with me and said “I’m a little nervous about being five.” But we had a great day planned, where he was the birthday boss, and we would do whatever he wanted, so there was no reason to be nervous about getting older.

I had been collecting gifts for Oliver for months, starting when Target started closing down and clearing out their toys. When it came time wrap gifts, I realized we had A LOT of stuff for Oliver, but what the heck, you only turn five once. Part of me is definitely trying to make up for his super junky birthday last year. I still feel the major mom guilt over that one, even if Oliver has never ever complained about it.

Neil drew up the chalkboard and we hung up balloons and a banner. I woke up early to make breakfast pancakes. You can tell right there how deep the mom guilt runs, because no one in this family gets pancakes on a weekday. (Even though they’re really not that hard, I don’t know why.)

We stacked up the sprinkle pancakes and covered them with glaze and more sprinkles, and stuck all those candles in them. Oliver was happy while we sang happy birthday. Then, as in all birthday candle events, it was time to blow the candles out. Oliver could NOT figure this out. Seriously, he must have attempted to blow them out like 15 times, then finally gave up and called in the reinforcements. So that explains why he failed swimming lessons too. The kid can literally not blow bubbles in the water. Hey, it’s super challenging right? We’ll cut him some slack, and try to figure out how to teach him to forcefully exhale through pursed lips before his next round of lessons.

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He opened some presents, which were quickly hijacked by all of his siblings, but especially Ivy. Story of Oliver’s life, really.

After the boys went to school we went to the children’s museum, where I spent two hours continuously losing one child and then another. That is one place where my kids have absolutely no concern or regard for my whereabouts. And of course, they don’t actually want to be in the same places in there either. One wants to be in the train, the other one wants to be in the water area. Then switch. Anyway, Oliver had fun, and that’s all that mattered yesterday. I even sat in the play structure for ages, because its slightly too big for him, so he could get up and around in there.

After the museum, Oliver had planned for us to go to Pineridge Hollow for a cinnamon bun; a choice I was personally thrilled with. But on the way there, he changed his mind (noooo!) so I grabbed him a sprinkle donut at Tim Hortons instead, and we went home to make soft-boiled eggs, his current favorite lunch. (Mine too!)

In the afternoon he picked his favorite movie to watch, Despicable Me 2, then, when the boys got home from school, we went to McDonald’s for supper. My sister and a couple of her girls met us there, and so did our friends the Downies with their. I give kudos to those wonderful grown-ups who gave up two hours of their time to hang out with Oliver in a McDonald’s play place with 25 screaming children. Oliver had a great time and was so excited to get a whole bunch of Trashies for his birthday, and a new whale stuffie too. He named it Blue and couldn’t wait to introduce it to the stuffed giraffe he got for his birthday last year.

After McDonalds we came home and Oliver opened his last few birthday presents. He now owns basically every Jake and the Neverland Pirates toy in existence, and over 30 Trashies and a few garbage trucks. I don’t know who invented tiny squishy toys shaped like pieces of garbage with funny faces, but whoever did clearly understood the mind of a five year old boy. Anyway, I think Oliver’s birthday was a huge success. He was very happy.

I asked him a few questions, just to help me remember what he’s like at this age.

What is your name?

Oliver

How old are you?

Five.

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What’s the hardest part about being a kid?

That you got to wait in the car so much and some kids aren’t good at waiting. Clearly I leave my kids waiting in the car too often. Don’t call CFS.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A artist.

If you had a million dollars, what would you buy?

I would buy a Jake Lego set that has 102 pieces.

If you could change one rule our family has, what would it be?

I would change the one where everyone interrupts me. #thirdchildproblems

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Do you have any pets?

I do a giraffe-y and my gigis. I guess the real pet doesn’t count?

What do you think they would say if they could talk?

I love you Oliver.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Easter.

Why?

Because you get to get candy. If somebody stays up they might be able to hide and quickly take a picture of the Easter bunny and go back to bed.

What’s your favorite hair color?

Black. Because it’s so dark and I like dark things. Um..Trying not to let this worry me.

What is your favorite food?

Pizza

What is your favorite animal?

A giraffe.

Who do you want to marry?

I wish I could marry you.

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Who is your best friend?

Gage.

What is your favorite book?

The boy and the penguin. Also known as Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. A real good one; I highly recommend!

What is your favorite place in the whole world?

The dino museum. Remember that one, at Dad’s birthday?

What do mom and dad do after you go to bed?

Pray to me.

What does your mom do?

Takes care of babies.

What does your dad do?

Builds stuff. Is that true?

Oh Oliver, I love your five year old self so much. You are compassionate and kind, quick to forgive, and generous with your love. You’re truly a gift to our family. Happy birthday bud.

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Ivy gives me a run for my money.

Generally Ivy is a good kid. Usually well behaved. Keeps herself entertained. Helps out around the house. Uses her manners. Etc.

Today, though, she gave me a serious run for my money.

It started yesterday, really, I guess, when she scooped handfuls and handfuls of oats and sprinkled them all over Dotty. She told my dad (who was babysitting) that she was feeding Dotty. It resulted in oats all over the place, combined with marks all over the floor where Dotty was licking the oats up. End result: my floor looks even worse than it normally does.

This morning I couldn’t find Ivy. She wasn’t in her bedroom, or the boys’, or mine. I called downstairs for her. Then I heard a muffled voice coming from behind a door. “I”m EATING SUGAR MOM!” She was in the pantry, with the door shut, eating handfuls of sugar out of my bin. Her hands and mouth and my pantry floor were covered in sugar. At least she was honest about what she was doing??

Later on I went downstairs to my sewing room, where I found my chair completely covered in black ink scribbles, a la Ivy. I put her in a time out while she cried to me that she would “never do it again!”

When I came upstairs, I found her at the kitchen island, stuffing her face as fast as she could with icing sugar covered mini donuts that I had bought for dessert. As soon as she saw me, she spit the donut that was in her mouth back into the box, like I might not notice.

And now, the kitchen, dining room, and hallways floors were covered with granola and dog licking marks. COVERED. Ivy was covered in granola too. I reminded her AGAIN that Dotty eats dog food, not people food, then I swept the floor for what felt like the hundredth time, then put Ivy in the bath. I washed her hair and got her out and dried off and in clean clothes, then I went to get supper ready.

She called me a few minutes later because she had a hair stuck to her hand. It was stuck to her hand because she had glitter nail polish ALL OVER her hands. And her shirt. AND her hair. Literally five minutes after I washed her hair. I scrubbed her down with nail polish remover while she apologized profusely, then sent all the kids outside to play, popped some tylenols, and put myself for a nap on the couch before I killed her.

I mean, really.

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Oliver says.

Okay first things first. WHY does a week only last 7 minutes now? I know people kept telling me that time starts going by faster and faster as you get older but what. the. hell. is happening?? Are elderly people just going along doing life at warp speed? Honestly it’s always like, oh, it’s Friday again. Even though I swear it was just Friday yesterday. And that’s my excuse for only blogging every ten days. Because every ten days is actually three times a week.

Moving on…

Oliver.

Ivy is over at my sister’s for a couple nights, so Oliver and I are going to have some extremely rare alone time tomorrow. In real life Oliver gets alone time approximately never. In theory Neil and I would love to spend one on one time with each child on a very regular basis. In reality there are FOUR of them. We had too many kids and the consequence of that is no alone time ever. Sorry guys but we’re not made of time. (See previous paragraph.)

But tomorrow, tomorrow Oliver and I will be alone. Obviously we need to go on a date. Oliver suggested the zoo, but since it’s winter here again apparently, I said no to that. Then he suggested a home date. Where we just stay home and hang out. That’s basically my favorite date ever but I really want to take him out somewhere, since it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity here. While I was tucking him in tonight I told him he needs to think of some good ideas for our date tomorrow.

He told me, “I’m going to think of ideas in my brain. Then, they’re going to come out of my mouth. Then…….PARTY TIME.”

Clearly it’s going to be a great date.

While I kissed him goodnight he wanted to tell me how much I love him. It’s a little game we play. I told him I love him to the dinosaur museum and back. He told me he loves me to heaven and back. Followed by “I win!” Then he said, “Because you’re my heart.”

And you’re mine Oliver.

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The world’s biggest dinosaur.

On our first official day of our spring break vacation, we hit up Drumheller. It also happened to be Neil’s birthday. What man doesn’t want to see the world’s biggest dinosaur on his birthday? It was a beautiful, sunny, and warm day, and he truly was really excited about everything and on more than one occasion said he was having the best day ever. Who woulda thought. But really, the world’s biggest dinosaur really is pretty freaking awesome.

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Look how big!!

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We spent the morning at the Royal Tyrell Museum, which was also super awesome. We went through it twice, with a break for a picnic lunch and a play at an awesome playground in between. I didn’t get too many pictures inside because it’s pretty dark, but that place is epic. Dinosaur fossils are kind of insane. I mean, I just can’t imagine what they were like in real life. Cray cray.

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(That’s my kids holding a fossilized dinosaur poop. Although how they “know” it’s a dino poop and not any other kind of poop is questionable to me. Either way, they held some poo. Also, see how the museum lady tricked them all into closing their eyes before she put poo in their hands? Ha!)

After the museum we hiked around the grounds for a bit. Seth and Ben were just having the best time climbing everything and exploring off the beaten path as much as they could get away with. It was 17C out and it was just glorious to be out in that weather!

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After that hike we drove over to the hoodoos, which were kind of anti-climactic. I think that happens when it’s been 20 years since you’ve been somewhere. What you once remembered as just ginormous, really isn’t. They are definitely still cool though. At that point Oliver and Ivy had fallen asleep in the car (where they continued to sleep for two solid hours despite us stopping repeatedly and Seth and Ben and Neil climbing in and out and over them. They were sooooo wiped. I hung out in the car with them while the bigs explored.

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When we’d had our fill of badlands, hoodoos, and dinosaurs, we drove to Calgary, about an hour and a half away. We got there around 4:30, planning to spend the evening swimming and watersliding, only to find that this hotel pool, too, was out of order! And they had no hotel next door for us to use. We ended up getting some poutine and then heading to the theatre to see Home. Thank goodness the movie was so cute and funny because it cost us a small fortune. Apparently movies cost 50% more in Calgary than here, and even here we usually only go on cheap night! Oh well, all good and still fun.

And that was the end of our first day of spring break! It was a good one!

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Road trip!

We’ve been sort of planning a road trip to the mountains for this coming summer. I had been hoping to go last summer, but then driving that far with a two year old scared me too bad, plus Neil was still so sick, so we postponed plans to this summer.

Then a few weeks ago I thought, hey, why don’t we just go at spring break? Neil had already decided to take the week off work, so that wasn’t a problem. And the nice thing about going at spring break instead of in the summer was that Neil and the boys could still go snowboarding. Neil took some convincing, but he finally, reluctantly, got on board. (By the time we actually left for our trip he was super excited, I promise.)

There was still a problem though. Our car. Yes, our car. No, we don’t have a van. Yes, we do have four kids. We have a Mazda 5 which is like a teeny-van that just barely fits all of us plus one purse and nothing else. It works for us because we don’t usually all drive together, besides to church or to go do something fun. On those occasions we don’t need a lot of cargo space. When I do need the space, like for groceries, I only ever have two kids with me, and the back seats fold flat to fit all my groceries. Plus, the Mazda costs literally half as much for gas. Main selling feature for me.

Anyway, how to fit a family of six plus clothes for a week plus outerwear and shoes for two different seasons plus three snowboards in a Mazda 5…

Roof rack! But, what- those things are like $450!!! And then you need a carrier- and those are like another $400! No, I can’t do that. I might as well just buy a new van. Sort of.

Google. Universal roof rack. $40 instead of $400. Semi-good reviews. Ordered off Amazon, shipped to the border, and picked up. $58 Canadian even with the crappy exchange rate and shipping. Yes, that’s more my style. Now, rooftop carrier. Hello Kijiji and $60 later we’re in business.

It took a lot of maneuvering and light packing to fit everything we needed, but we did it. By we, I mean Neil. I had nothing to do with that roof stuff.

We decided to drive straight from Oakbank, MB to Drumheller, AB in one day.

So at 4:30 am on March 28, we set off. The kids were super excited. They compared it to our trip to Mexico, when we also woke them up in the middle of the night. Ivy asked, approximately every 25 minutes for 16 hours, “We goin on a tip??”. Yes, Ivy, we’re going on a trip! “Yay!” Repeat times a hundred.

The roof top carrier was whistling a bit, and Neil was super paranoid about losing everything off of the top of car. Between our street and the next street, we stopped like three times to readjust things. Neil looked like he might have an aneurysm, and for a few minutes I thought he might totally cancel our trip and we would lose all the money I spent booking non-refundable hotel rooms through Expedia. But then he calmed down. Until 7 minutes later, when straps starting knocking against the side of the car. Neil looked like he was going to kill the roof rack. He pulled over and tucked the straps in, and it was mostly better, although he tugged on, tightened, and checked on the straps like a complete neurotic for the next 10 hours.

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So, straps tucked in, our first stop was Brandon. All the kids plus myself had slept for about an hour on the way there. We pulled up at McDonald’s for breakfast, unloaded all kids. Then noticed the sign on the door that says cash only. Reloaded all kids. Noticed that Ivy is soaking wet from about mid-back to her knees. Ivy did you pee?? Oh no please no. Oh thank goodness, it’s water. Her water bottle spilled. All. Over. Her. Carseat. And we have 13 hours to go. And of course, all her clothes are packed away very deeply in the rooftop carrier. Even though the internet told me to have an extra set of clothes handy for everyone. I didn’t listen. Okay well, she doesn’t seem bothered by being wet. So we got some Tim Hortons, ate some breakfast, then reloaded all kids. Ivy is placed, completely naked from the waist down, in her carseat, on Neil’s hoodie, which is then wrapped around her. Neil put her wet pants and sweatshirt on the vents of our car so they could dry. It worked remarkably well, just so you know, if you’re ever in a similar situation.

We carried on. The kids watch half of a movie that skipped over and over again and finally quit, and then a whole movie, and then read, then dozed. We made it to Moose Jaw for lunch. The kids ran around in a play place and then we reloaded and keep going.

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I put a movie in the dvd player for them. Then realized the dvd player wouldn’t turn on. At all. Oh shoot. We had like seven hours to go. No! No! No! Thankfully the kids didn’t seem to be as upset as I am, and they kept reading or playing with the little toys they brought along.

We stopped in Swift Current for gas and to readjust the roof top carrier and tighten straps again. I ran into three different stores as fast as I could looking for a replacement cord for the dvd player. I found one, but it didn’t work, so I returned it. We were screwed. It was gonna be an old-fashioned road trip. No dvd players. Okay, we had one iPad, so not totally old fashioned.

It started raining then. It didn’t stop for a long time.

At one point, I was driving, in the pouring rain, and I noticed that the snowboard bag that was strapped to our roof was suddenly visible out the driver’s side window, over my head. I didn’t want to say anything to Neil, but I had to. I silently pointed to the snowboard bag, and Neil not-so-silently cursed while I pulled over. He got out of the car, in the hard rain and the strong wind, and stomped around, pulling and tightening straps. He muttered very loudly and swore several times. Awhile ago I told the kids if they hear Neil or I swear, we owe them a dollar. The kids were all “a buck for me! two bucks for me!” and I was trying hard not to laugh, because honestly, it was funny, even though it wasn’t. I told them that yes, Dad owed them money, but please not to bring it up until the next morning. Neil got back in the car, soaking wet. He pulled an Ivy and sat pants-less for awhile. Thankfully he kept his underwear on.

We drove through probably four hours of rain, but it stopped before we got to Drumheller. It is really really cool driving from mostly prairies to boom! badlands! You kind of go down a big hill and all of a sudden the terrain is 100% different than what you were previously in. It was awesome. Plus, there are dinosaur statues basically everywhere in Drumheller, making it even awesomer. We found our hotel and checked in. The pool and waterslide were out of order. Thank goodness because Neil and I were so exhausted the thought of going for a swim made us want to throw up.

Most of our clothes, that were in the soft shelled roof top carrier, that was in the rain, for four hours, were very very wet. No harm done though- the hotel had a dryer. We ordered some pizza, the kids jumped on beds, and then we went to sleep. We had made it through a long day on the road and it really wasn’t too bad. Besides the wet kids, the wet clothes, the lack of a dvd  player, and the cursing husband, it had gone so well. Our kids were seriously so well behaved, with no complaining, and no fighting, and no whining. By none I mean a little bit. But so little it’s not even worth mentioning. We were in the car for 16 hours, and sometimes the kids didn’t get out for over 7 hours, but they were total champs.

We tucked in, three to a bed, and slept till morning.

Except for those 15 times Ivy kicked me in the face, neck, and legs. And the rest of the night where she basically rotated 25 degrees every 19 minutes. Except for that, it was a good sleep.

Why haven’t I thought of headphones before?

We’re going on a big road trip tomorrow (Banff!), and in an effort to preserve our sanity as much as possible, I picked up headphones for each of the kids yesterday.

Oliver and Ivy wanted to try them out right away, so I plugged them into the iPad and my iPhone.

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And then, it was QUIET. So quiet that I went to bed for a nap. And actually slept.

(And yes, that is a Sophia the First set complete with crown and a Guardians of the Galaxy set with fur and ears. Obvs.)

When Seth and Ben got home from school, it was their turn. Tunes on, headphones on, and again, quiet.

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And happy, too. They were having the best time. Seth loves those headphones so much, he said, “They’re like REAL headphones. Like TEENAGER ones!” The new headphones kept them busy, and momma happy, until supper time. Although I was concerned by the fact that they had appeared to have aged four or five years instantly. Well, not Ben maybe. The lack of teeth keeps him looking young.

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Now I’m wondering why I never thought of headphones earlier!

This bad day.

I feel like I’m in a depressing rut, just spinning my wheels every day but not getting anywhere. Laundry, housework, sewing work, hospital work, cooking, answering pointless questions from preschoolers, etc., etc. Repeat times a million. I need a fresh start. A clean house. A menu plan. A blank slate. And I feel like it’s never going to happen.

Sometimes it just feels like too much. Like I just can’t do it; I’m drowning. Or like I just don’t WANT to to do it. 

And then I’m going crazy. Feeling like I’m going to snap, then snapping. Raging around, yelling, swearing, fighting, and crying.

And feeling like an absolute failure. Like the worst mom ever. 

Then apologizing to the sweet kids who have taken the brunt of everything. To the three year old that I actually got in a screaming match with, both of us yelling and crying and me knowing just how she feels but doing nothing to help her. 

I hug them and I tell them I’m sorry and they forgive instantly, like children do. Their grace is astounding, really. And I need it, and I’m so thankful for it.

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Thank goodness for the gift that is my children, and thank goodness that tomorrow is a new day. 

Ivy draws.

Ivy drew a picture.



And then she said, 

“Awww, that’s baby you, Mom! That’s when you were a baby!”

(I was so cute, right?)

Then her picture took a dark turn…

“And a bad guy is gonna come cut your cute arm off. You will cry.”

Um, should I be concerned here or is this just a side effect of too many brothers? Hopefully the latter.