2011 – The Year in Review

How to sum up 2011?  It was a complex year.

It was by far our most medically challenging year as a family, and as a result financially challenging as well.  And the financial upset of that will last all through 2012 as well, I’m sure.

We began the year with a new family member on the way, which is always exciting and always a little overwhelming as well.  Thankfully I experienced only mild (normal) morning sickness.

In March, Jay lost the tip of his right middle finger in a work accident.  It was a very painful injury, since the finger had been crushed off instead of cut off.  Weeks of pain and recovery followed.

In April, Molly was hospitalized for dehydration resulting from a stomach bug.  A bright spot in our year was Tessa’s first communion and a visit from her godparents.  Then in the summer I had my big illness, with a kidney stone, sepsis, emergency hospital transfer, near miss at an early delivery of the new baby, and weeks of recovering.

Soon after we headed into the last weeks of pregnancy and one of my hardest births ever.  But Gus was finally in our arms and we could move on with “normal” life again.  Or so we thought.  Gus, it turns out, is one of those babies who needs to be held, by MOM ONLY, at virtually every moment of the day.  Don’t get me wrong, he is a sweet, precious baby.  He’s just a little on the demanding side.  And with Molly being barely two… well that has kept me from doing much else.

As for the rest of the family:  Paisley is working retail these days, and while the pay is not great, she is so wonderful with people.  She really does a fabulous job at it.  And I am certainly enjoying the makeup perks!  James just finished recording his CD and is busy copying it and distributing it.  He quit Hot Dog on a Stick in October after working there for two years and is now just working sound for masses at church.  Posy has been eyeball deep in school work and has a driver license now, but still needs more practice before we set her loose on the roads.  Ben is busy with school as well, and excited to finally have a cell phone.  He works on his music too every day.  Tessa is headed straight into the pre-teen years, half child, half teenager.  She is still everyone’s sweet heart, but she is sick of being lumped in with the younger siblings.  Max loves to read and draw and dirt seems to follow him around and jump onto his body.  But that may just be what being a 7 year old boy is all about.  Lily is desperate to learn to read, and anything else she can learn about her world.  Molly is 2, defiant and lovable, still enjoying being babied, but wanting to do impossible things all by herself (like put on socks).  And I’ve already told you about Gus.

Jay is working hard at Westest still, and working hard at the church, and working hard around the house to pick up my slack when my arms are full of babies.  That man never gets to rest!

And so, 2011 is done and we can only hope and pray for what is to come in 2012.  May God bless us and protect us, bind us together as a family and draw us closer to Him.  Only He knows what the next year holds for us.



Gus is 2 months old

Augustin, 2 months 1 week

Gus had his 2 month well baby visit today and, aside from being another Groft with ridiculously sensitive skin (covered in contact dermatitis or pre-eczema), is as healthy as can be.

Our doctor was entertained during the visit by Molly and Lily who crawled around on the floor and acted like cats and dogs.

Gus’s 2 month stats:
13lbs, 4oz
23 inches long
15.75 inch head

He is a sensitive guy and gets overwhelmed easily in loud situations. He wants to be held all the time and only rarely will sleep after being put down. He hates the car, I think mostly because he is not being held. Most of the hair he was born with has fallen out and he is pretty bald except for an old man fringe in the back. When he is not fussing he is full of smiles, so I think he has a bright, happy personality just waiting for the tough newborn stage to pass. He loves to be naked and have his diaper changed. Even when fussy, he will often smile when put on his changing table.


Our Chaotic Days

My arms have been perpetually full lately.  I have had tons of bloggable thoughts that have slipped through my grip as I waited for the time to set Fuss Gus down and really type some things out.  But there is no time that will just happen.  Gus has been passed off to Ben for the moment, and from the sound of things is not yet screaming, so here is my moment.  I must blog as fast as I can, blog like the wind…

Here is a sample of how life looks like in our home right now.

On a weekday the alarm goes off on my phone on my nightstand.  I hit snooze a couple of times and Molly starts begging to nurse.  But Gus is still nursing, so Jay takes Molly to the bathroom, wakes the rest of the kids, and tries to convince Molly to eat some oatmeal for breakfast.  I finish nursing Gus and reluctantly crawl out of bed.  Very often Gus will stay asleep in bed for a few minutes.  This will be the only time during the day that he will sleep without being in direct contact with a body (usually mine).

Jay works on fixing kids’ lunches and breakfasts while I seize the moment to jump in the shower, get dressed and comb my hair. I might even have enough time to brush my teeth.  Sometimes Gus is up at this time and gets passed around to whoever is least busy while I shower.  Then I nurse Molly while checking email on my phone, Gus is changed and nursed, potty stops are made and with much hustle and bustle, everyone is loaded into the car by 7:20.

We drop kids off at their respective schools and head home to start our day there.  After getting home I nurse Gus and Molly, attach Gus to me in the sleepy wrap, try to eat breakfast  and make an attempt at the laundry or other household chores.  James usually handles the kitchen in the morning.

And then… and then I can’t really say what happens.  That is the frustrating part of my time right now.  I know I breastfeed quite a lot.  Help Molly go potty, change Gus’s diaper, think about how I should switch the laundry and ohmygosh I’ll need to make dinner, what should I make?  I find shoes, kick the girls out of the kitchen a few times, sometimes I even get Molly and Lily’s hair combed.  In and out of the car for preschool co-op or a doctor appointment or an errand.  I listen to Gus scream any time he is in the car or not in my arms.  But the morning is nebulous and passes in a fog of bouncing the baby and a vague feeling like there is something I should be getting done.

The lunchtime passes and we eat a little bit too late for Molly to have an effective nap.  It never fails, I can’t get lunch on the table on time, even though I haven’t been able to quantify anything (besides nursing) that I have done all morning. So I give up on the nap and put a movie or show on for the girls.  In the blink of an eye it is time to load everyone in the car again and do the pick up routine.  So I have to find the girls’ shoes (again) and make sure they are wearing essentials like, oh… underwear, change a diaper, make little people visit the potty and we are off and running.

Once home again, everyone is famished and needs a snack.  So the kitchen is ransacked and they all scatter, lest they get asked about homework.  Thankfully this means that Molly and Lily will have someone else to play with for a while.  So I nurse the baby (duh!) and sort mail, finally switch the laundry, make some phone calls, ponder dinner again, and look at all the things left undone again today.

Jay gets home, the older kids get home, and the house is running now at full volume.  Poor sensitive Gus begins to get overwhelmed with the commotion just as dinner prep is becoming crucial.  But somehow, it gets done.  Only occasionally do I give up and resort to pizza.

Then the party starts.  Dinner is the best time of day.  It’s loud, it’s messy, someone always hates what was made, and someone declares it their favorite, someone spills, someone drops their fork.  Poop or vomit are discussed, inevitably.  When dinner is over, it gets about 75% cleaned up and then it’s homework time.

Homework time is filled with Max’s protests, Lily and Molly begging to color or do workbooks, Ben trying to sneak to one of the computers to watch something on Netflix and get on Facebook, Tessa slinking off to her room – I hope she is doing homework in there, Gus fussing and needing a quiet and dark room, and either Jay or me presiding over the whole thing trying to keep things on track.  Kids get shuffled into baths and showers (sometimes) and get a book (usually) and then its bedtime.

A bedtime snack is begged for, teeth get brushed, medicines and water bottles are passed out.  One parent sits in the little kids room and one rocks Gus.

After all that, we are exhausted and brain dead and ready for bed ourselves.

So there you have our “typical” day.  But few days are fully typical around here.  Sometimes there is a meeting for one of us in the evening.  Sometimes Jay’s schedule is different for the day or he is out of town.  Sometimes kids need rides places in the evening or a trip to the store for emergency school supplies.

In the midst of this chaos, this post has taken me fully two days to write.  Part of my purpose in writing this was to show you why I plan to post much shorter posts.

I’d like to include some acknowledgements here – of people who make these difficult days easier.  I offer my sincerest thanks to:

Jay – he gets me through my days and allows me to have a crazy meltdown now and then when the frustration gets to be too much.
Lucy – she’s always available to be a grown up to touch bases with when I feel like I have been sucked into the Twilight Zone of Toddlerhood.
Meg – who brings my older kids home from school and prevents an hour of baby screaming, brings a playmate for the little girls, and is always available for an interesting and stimulating conversation.
Nana – who bails me out when the kids need a ride if I can’t get to school in time.
And last but certainly not least: James – who is another set of hands around the house whenever he can be.  He knows when I am losing my mind and jumps in to help.