Labor of Love

Hailey received a mansion of a doll house from Grama Helen two years ago. It has been a treasure in our house since then. Hailey has spent hours upon hours playing with it. All of the dolls have names and personalities and she changes the decorations for the various holidays. As Karlie has gotten older she has become very interested in the doll house. However, Hailey and Karlie have different ideas about where people should sleep, how the house should be decorated and where the furniture should go. You know it is always trouble with two women in the house. So much bickering. Karlie decided it was time to get a place of her own. She never felt entirely welcome at Hailey's house. Even though they shared, it was Hailey's first, so she never really felt equal. I hear this happens with couples sometimes. :)

I got a great deal on one at Hobby Lobby. The only catch was you had to build it yourself. Max is very handy so I had no worries about his ability, it was going to be more of a time issue. Where could we keep it hidden so he could work on it once the kids went to bed and when would Max find the time? He was working 13-16 hour days and was gone for a week in the beginning of December. This instruction book was more like a novel than an instruction manual. He was going to need days, many of them to allow the glue and paint to dry. We had 9 days until Christmas and this is how it started.

5 Nights Later
We decided to keep the doll house in the shed out back and bring it inside each night to work on it. That was fine until the cold snap rolled through. One night after gluing the foundation together and placing it in the shed the temperature was so low the glue froze before it had time to dry. Since that wasn't going to work anymore, we moved the project to the basement bedroom and locked the door. It was too cold to paint outside. The paint would freeze, not to mention Max might too.

My husband is brilliant, the smartest person I have ever met. However, it's as if he has so much intellect he has lost his mind when it comes to common sense and safety. He decided to spray paint the doll house in the basement. He didn't want the fumes to smell up the whole house so he shut the door. Considerate fella, isn't he? He opened a little, itty, bitty window and started spraying away. I came down stairs after awhile to find the room a fog of pink. The man was practically hot boxing the room with NO protective gear on. No mask, no eye protection, and he had his good jeans on. This guy is a doctor and yet he was mindlessly huffing away on pink spray paint. His very livelihood depends on his eyes, yet he did nothing to protect them from the ruthless paint. It was so bad that after he came upstairs his nose hairs were solid pink. He blew his nose and you guessed it, pink boogers! The next morning he had a coughing fit and guess what color he coughed up? PINK! Was this a self experimentation in pathology or what? I was fuming to say the least. The next morning I drug the kids to Lowe's and purchased the OSHA certified drywall protective pack. At least for the white trim and staining the shingles he was protected. I wonder how soon until he develops lung cancer?
Anyway, Max spent countless hours building and painting this beautiful doll house. He patiently painted each little window trim and shutter. He glued each shingle in place and cut them to fit the angles around the roof. It was truly a labor of love for his little lady Karks.
I got to do the easy part, shop for the furniture. I always love a good bargain and Hobby Lobby had a sale where all doll house accessories were 50% off! This allowed Karlie to move to Park Place. She has already logged many hours setting up her new house. We are discussing wallpaper and what color to paint the rooms.

Now Hailey has requested an new coat of paint. Hopefully Max will wise up this time around so he will still be around to build Kaitlin one!

Wii Had a Wonderful Christmas

Santa was good to MKHKKH this year! It was very domestic. The girls each asked for a doll. Karlie and Hailey wanted twin dolls. They were thrilled with their twins complete with matching outfits. Kaitlin wanted yet another baby doll (she only has 10) so I entered the world of American Girl. I didn't even know this world existed. Now I think I want a Bitty Baby. This is the cutest baby doll I have ever seen. I guess I will just have to buy one for myself when Hank grows up and is no longer filling that baby need.

Kaitlin also got a double jogging stroller just like mommy's. Karlie's other present was a doll house. Tomorrow I will post about the labor of love Max did to create this gorgeous doll house. Karlie was beside herself with all the furniture and little people. Hailey had the domestic dream of a Christmas. She got an Easy Bake Oven, a kids sewing machine and a cup cake maker. We have been baking up a storm. I am having so much fun reliving my childhood. I loved my Easy Bake Oven and now I get to do it all again! It is not quite as cool as I remember it (the stuff taste horrible) but it is fun watching the girls get into baking.
Per specific instructions from Uncle John, I got Hank the most "boy" item I could think of, a fire truck! Hank was mesmerized by all the lights and whistles. This fire truck should last him a few years. He also got books and the ring stacker. I have now purchased 4 of these things. Inevitably one of the rings get lost and we have had to get a new one for each baby. Luckily they are only five bucks.

Max and I got each other a Wii. We have had so much fun, although embarrassingly, I am a bit sore. You know you are out of shape if bowling and tennis on a video game make you sore. We have created little Mii people for our whole family and have enjoyed a lot of quality time knocking each other out boxing, beating each other at bowling, golfing and fishing as a family. I can see there will be a lot of Wii in our days over the break.

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Between school and church Christmas programs we were able to experience a bunch of classic little kid performances. Kaitlin had a "meltdown" right before she was to go on stage. Her teacher asked me to come try and calm her. After hugs and kisses and LOTS of bribery with candy, she made it on stage. I held my breath waiting to see if she would crumble under the pressure and all the people staring at her or if she would sing. She sung her little heart out and stole the show as she blew kisses and danced about. Karlie was an loving big sister and held her hand the whole way to give her courage.

At Karlie's preschool performance there were boys doing karate chops, a little girl with a soft velvet dress who kept rubbing her chest, and when they handed out the Jingle Bells a little boy said, "Oh, not the Jingle Bells, I hate those things!" We all laughed so hard.

Hailey was a cheerleader in her Christmas musical. She signed up in September and faithfully attended every practice. She put hours and hours into learning the songs and her part. She has more rhythm than either her mom or dad (which isn't saying much) and was so cute as she sung and cheered for the Lord.

The little girls sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and we have taken them caroling to our neighbors house as we delivered cookies. So We all Wish you a Merry Christmas!

3 Stooges

Larry, Moe, and Curly

8 Months Old

At 8 months old Hank has two teeth and is working on 2 more. Even through teething he is a generally jolly fellow. He has started to become bashful and will smile at everyone and then bury his face into my neck. He has earned another nickname, Mr. Grabbykins, as he likes to pull on long hair, earrings, necklaces and anything within his little radius. He has finally figured out how to open his mouth when eating and is eating almost 2 jars of baby food per meal! He can sit up for long periods but still falls over if he gets too excited or loses his concentration. I have heard that boys develop slower but this is ridiculous. His peers are crawling!Hank has yet to roll over from his back to his front (spoiled). All he does is fuss and one of his ladies come running to tend to him. This boy has no chance of growing up unspoiled. He is showered with love from his adoring sisters. His mom isn't much better. I have tried to let him cry it out for weeks now, but ultimately surrender to his pitiful whimpers. His cries are so sweet and sad I can't not go and swoop him up. The minute I pick him up he stops crying. All he want is his mama. How do I say no to that? Hopefully by kindergarten he will be sleeping all night in his own bed. Hank is packing on the pounds and now weighs 20 pounds. He is wearing 12 month old clothes. I have started to get joint pain in my hip and shoulder from lugging my Marshmallow Man (the official winner) around.

Thursday 13 ~ 'Tis the Season

Here is a song for the season.

1. Celebrating the day my Savior was born. As a mother and now to a son as well, I wonder the feelings Mary had as she carried the son of God in her womb. It was such a heavy experience giving birth to a mortal, what must have been like to give birth to God himself?
2. Christmas lights. The soft glow of houses all around always puts a smile on my face.
3. Little kid Christmas programs. The more goof-ups the better.
4. Snow. We always hope for a white Christmas.
5. Christmas Trees. The smell, the way they light up the room and the feelings they conjure up.
6. Stockings. I have made all of our stockings. I am such a crazy planner that when I bought the material for Max 's and mine, I bought enough supplies for 4 more. I always wanted four kids, and have been planning it many ways for many years.
7. Christmas cookies. Making cookies with the kids is one of my favorite parts of Christmas time.
8. Deserts. There is always a party in need of baking and I really enjoy baking.
9. Shopping. I love to do this all year long, but especially at Christmas.  I have become quite the on-line shopper.  No toting kids around, no waiting in line.  I can do it during nap time.  I can do it while nursing.  I am crazy for deals and can window shop till my hearts content!
10. Family. Around the holidays we all make an effort to spend time with our loved ones.
11. Christmas Cards.  It is so fun to receive all the cards from friends and family and hear about their lives and see how they have grown.
12. Packages! The UPS man and I are on a first name basis (see #9). I ran into him at the grocery store and we recognized each other. He told me all about his 8 grandkids. He didn't realize I had 4 kids and I informed him that was because some are usually sleeping at nap time when he comes. He is now knocking very softly.:)
13. Presents. I love to give presents! I restrain myself during the year. The kids rarely get toys or stuff during the year. It has to be a big deal like getting potty trained or getting on the honor roll to get a toy. However at Christmas I lose all self control. I just keep picturing their little faces lighting up with joy and surprise. Max is eagerly counting down the days until Christmas as the bank account continues to dwindle.

Family CEO

December marked one year on the job for me as a Stay-at-Home Mom. In one sense I can’t believe a year has already gone by and in another it seems like so much has happened and the kids have grown so much that it couldn’t possibly have been just one year. I have this over active imagination that had me dreaming about how perfect staying home would be. For nearly 6 years I worked long 12-16 hour shifts with most of them being over nights. I was always tired and dreamed of the day when I wouldn’t have to work and could stay home to raise my babies. I imagined time to work out, time to keep the house tidy, time to always get those Thank You cards out, time to knit, time to read some good books, time to play lots and lots. Things are not just as I had imagined…
I haven’t worked out at all in the year I have been home. Somewhere between the sleepless nights with Hank, the running kids here and there, and the constant battle to just keep this ship afloat I have lost all desire to go make my heart accelerate, my lungs scream for more air, and my body sweat. No, sitting quietly alone on the couch sounds more like it.

I have never been one of those anal cleaners. I have imagined that one day I would, but alas some things never change. The house is still a pit, even more than when I worked. At least when I worked the kids would be out of the house for a brief enough period that I could actually pick it up and it would stay that way longer than a nanosecond. With all of us being home, it is just one big cycle of mess and clean, never really getting a hard core clean unless company comes. I just keep dreaming of a clean house, but a housekeeper is starting to become part of that fantasy.

As far as the Thank You cards, knitting and reading goes, I haven’t made much progress there either. How do I just have no time? Who am I kidding? I don’t even get to pee by myself. There is constantly some little person needing something, even when I am on the pot!

It starts around 5 am. Little Kaitlin wakes up hungry as a bear and wanting out of her wet diaper. I stumble out of bed as quickly and quietly as I can so as not to disturb Hank who is taking up ¾ of the bed because if he gets up now he will be fussy and get the whole morning off to a rocky start. I change Kaitlin, tell her all the names of the cereal we have and then fix the one she chooses. Then its time to make lunches for Karlie and Hailey. Quickly I try to fit in sips of coffee as I can. Karlie comes stumbling out of bed rubbing her eyes and wanting me to hold her so she can wake up nice and easy. The morning continues with feeding, dressing, fighting about hair, packing backpacks, finding coats, brushing teeth, and rushing out the door to try and make it on time.

The amount of loading and unloading with car seat buckles can be overwhelming at times. A simple trip for a normal person takes 15 minutes. The same trip will take me 45 minutes as I hold a baby, hold a little hand, and be sure my other little one holds on to me or her sister’s hand. We have to walk slowly for those little feet. We have to stop as they start to jump in the puddle. We have to have a mediator for which cart we will use. We have to discuss everything in sight and why we can’t get a balloon or candy or why the penny horse doesn’t work today.

There are always snacks in my purse to avoid the potential hunger meltdown that can turn any trip into a disaster. There are emergency trips to the potty. There are diaper blowouts. There are two-year old tantrums, four-year-old meltdowns, seven-year-old sensitive feelings, and a teething baby. The days seem to fly by and the biggest thing I will have accomplished is moving the laundry on. Staying at home is much harder than working.

At least when I was at work I could process things and have time to think. These days there is a constant level of chaos that never allows you to get a completed thought. Before I can finish one task with one child another needs something. While working I had time to be alone, take a lunch break. There are no breaks at home, not even bathroom breaks are alone. Even at naptime you are forced to decide between taking a breather or doing the thousands of things that you should be doing since you don’t have a little one demanding your attention.

I think I will talk to my employer about a raise. I mean, I am on call 24-7. I don’t get weekends or holidays off. I cook, clean, feed, teach manners, potty train, tutor, do accounting, run a child taxi service, am the entertainment committee, nutrition counselor, provide constant vigilance and safety management, and nurture.

Being the family CEO is the hardest and best job I have had. I am here for all those priceless moments. The first smile, step, and poop in the potty! I have grown so close to my kids and have realized that these precious moments (as busy and wild as they are) are blinks in time. Before I know it they will be grown and I will long for the days when I craved a little alone time because my days were so filled with holding and caring for them. I am thankful for this job even thought the pay sucks and its not quite as I had imagined it. ☺

Hank's Dedication

While Monty and Jeanette were visiting we had Hank dedicated at our church. It was a special day for Max and I as we dedicated his life to the Lord. We vow to teach him about Jesus and encourage him in his faith as he grows into a man.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Home Alone

Just imagine me screaming instead of Macaulay Culkin. Max left to Pittsburgh on Sunday and its been me and the kids ALONE. It has been a lesson on being outnumbered. Even the dog has sided with the kids. Daisy is in her final years and has become incontinent. As a result I have the option of either euthanizing her or washing the rugs daily and trying to remind her to go outside. When ever she stirs, day or night, I leap to the door to get her outside before she has an accident. Here is a sample of one night home alone.

While making dinner I hear the click clack of her nails on the hardwood floor and jump on Daisy to get outside. I am holding Hank while tending to the stove, taking orders from the girls on how they want their burritos and trying to get drinks ready. I serve kids, sit Hank down and start getting my plate ready. Just as I sit down Daisy barks to come back in. I hop up and let her in. I sit back down and Karlie asks for some milk. Right, I left all the glasses on the counter. Get up and get the glasses and sit back down. Kaitlin drops her food in her lap. I get up and get napkins and clean up the mess. Hank starts to fuss as his food and mine are getting cold. I shove some green beans in his mouth and attempt to take my first bite. Like a wild animal I shove as much food in my mouth as possible because you never know when you will get another bite and you know for sure it will be much colder than it is now. We finish dinner with the normal hussle and bustle of feeding four kids.

Later while quizzing Hailey on her spelling words, nursing Hank and correcting her math homework, Kaitlin cries out that she needs to go "poop in the potty!" I tell her to head to the bathroom and I will meet her there. Throw one more word at Hailey while going to the bathroom. Too late. Poo-poo in her big undies and she is crying hysterically. I want to cry too since I now have to clean her and the toilet up that got smeared in her attempt to get there on time. Waaahhhh! Not to mention that Hank is now crying because he was interrupted in his nursing. Hailey yells from the family room that she is ready for the next word and Karlie is thankfully no longer singing her best Hannah Montana rendition. Get that fiasco cleaned up and its PJ time.

I am getting Hank's PJs on when I hear a huge thud and then a second later Kaitlin screaming. I run into the girls' room to find Kaitlin holding her head. As reported by her sister's and RJ she climbed up the bunk bed ladder and jumped off of it into her bed and bounced her forehead into the wall. I see the wall now has a circular dent in it and Kaitlin has a bright red goose egg. Only one more hour until bed time! I get Hailey in the shower and keep getting the other ones ready for bed. RJ and Kerrie are getting ready to leave and RJ is showing Karlie what a good baseball player he is going to be this spring and takes a nice swing with the T-ball bat. Little did he know Kailtin was sitting on the floor behind him and as he swung through he connected with the back of her head. Do you think the doctor is going to believe me that I am not abusing my kid? LOL. Now its time to dry Hailey's hair, brush teeth, diaper, and potty before bed. I tuck in the little girls while Hailey does some reading. I rock Hank to sleep and then tuck Hailey into bed. "Yes, Karlie I will get you a drink of water. Yes Kaitlin, here is a drink for you too. OK, Hailey I will heat up the rice bag for your growing pains." Ah, they are all in bed. Phew. Oh, I still have to finish grading homework and do the dishes.

The night is not much better. Between Daisy, Hank (who is still not sleeping through the night) and bad dreams I have been up anywhere between 3 and 10 times each night. It has been a long week of flying solo. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. It sure does. I miss my partner in crime so much. Even though he is usually only home for a little while before the kids go to bed, it is still so nice to have another member on your team! Someone to share in the delight and trials of raising so many little kids. My admiration for military families has grown this week. What a whimp I am. I had one week solo and realized what a tremendous sacrifice they make for much longer periods. I am fortunate to have family near that have lended a hand to help keep me sane and I am so thankful for each of them. Tonight Max comes home, so I will be home alone no more!

Thursday 13 ~ Nicknames

We have always been a nickname family, maybe that is why Hank appealed to us so much. So here are a few of the terms of endearment we use.
1. Hank
2. Mr., Mr.
3. Chubb-a-Wubb
4. Sir Pukes A Lot
5. Hank the Tank
6. Jo Jo Bean
7. Shuggie
8. Shugs
9. Kar-Kar
10. Karks in the Darks
11. Hay
12. KT KTz

You Be the Judge

I will have a poll going on the sidebar for you to judge if Hank looks more like The Michelin Man, the Marshmallow Man from Ghost Busters or a Sumo Wrestler.

Poo-Poo Potty!

The long awaited day has finally come! Over the summer we tried to encourage Kaitlin to potty train by taking away the diapers. That resulted in pee on the floor, the carpet, outside, and in her pants. I gave up. It was too much with a new baby too. Everyone says when they are ready they will do it. So we waited and waited and then one day while her best teacher, Karlie, was instructing her on how to poop in the potty, she did it! I thought it was a fluke but she has decided to stay dry, even through her naps, and has repeated the glorious poop in the potty! We danced, we sang and we delivered our promises. I had bribed her with the promise of getting to go to the toy store and pick out a new baby doll and Grammy had promised a day out with her. So at 7pm one night I trudged out to the toy store to let her pick her poo-poo potty baby and last night Kaitlin got to pick out a bassinet for her new baby and then go out to eat with Grammy and Grandpa. Big doings. I am almost down to one kid to diaper! Whoo-hoo!!!

Ma and Pa's Visit

I am in a post Pops and Grammanette valley. Two weeks ago I was filled with excitement and about one hundred different To Do Lists, my in-laws were coming! There is nothing like company to force you to clean your house the way you always want to but never seem to quite put forth the energy to get it accomplished. I mean Max doesn't notice the dust on the bottom, backside of the toilet, but I just know Jeanette would wind up on her hands and knees looking for something the kids dropped and spot it. Then there is the fridge, the windows, and the list goes on and on. As a woman, you just feel this compulsion to clean like crazy even though 5 minutes after they arrive it will look like a holy terror, but at least for 5 minutes it will be perfect.

Anyway, so two weeks ago I was busily cleaning and getting groceries for Pops and Grammanette's visit. I was full of anticipation and the excitement was building. Then they arrived and we ate, and we ate, and we drank, and then we ate some more. We laughed, we ate, we talked, we ate, we played, and we ate.

It was so much fun to have TWO adults in the house. I had grown-ups to talk to! Grown-ups that didn't mind the constant chatter and babble of kids and babies, grown-ups who love my kids, grown-ups that changed a diaper here and there, grown-ups who played with my kids, grown-ups to go to the museum with, grown-ups that could hold down the fort while I ran to the store or went shopping with Jeanette, and grown-ups that could find humor in Hank's constant spit-up problem.

I had such a wonderful time, but now they are gone. Max even came home on time to see them. It was great. But now they are gone and Max is back to living at work more than home. Sure we still eat and laugh but its just not as festive and fun as last week. Conversations about shapes, letters, 7 times tables, and poop in the potty aren't quite as intellectually stimulating. I am not the only one missing them. The girls keep asking when Pops and NannaNette, as Kaitlin says, will come back. All I can say is soon, I hope.
A sample of some of our eating. We did Thanksgiving on Saturday since they would be back in California for the actual day.
Kaitlin couldn't get enough of NannaNette. They were two peas in a pod. Kaitlin resembles Jeanette more than anyone else in the family.

It was Pops and Ma's 35th Wedding Anniversary ! Of course we celebrated by eating! Prime Rib, Popovers, Cesar salad and a German Chocolate Cake. What a beautiful example of marriage and two loving people whose sum is greater than their parts.