Sleep Trouble

The past few nights I have been waking up and sitting bolt upright in a panic, convinced that Lily is about to crawl off the edge of the bed. I frantically feel around the blankets only to discover that she is sleeping peacefully either in the pack and play or right next to me.

It finally occurred to me this morning at 4am when it happened again what this is all about.

Paisley is in the process of moving out.

It is not my youngest daughter that I am hunting for frantically in my half-sleep, but my oldest. This wide span of milestones has finally just fried my brain.

As of right now I have one child moving out, one learning to drive, one who is newly a teenager, a couple in normal childhood, one who is potty training, and one who is learning to walk and becoming more mobile all the time. No wonder my sleep is disturbed!

It began with mozzarella

My Graduate
When I was pregnant with Paisley, I craved mozzarella sticks from Denny’s all the time. As we drove away from her graduation, we stopped at Denny’s again and had a nice round of them with Posy and Ben and I thought, how fitting, to finish off Paisley’s childhood in a similar way to how it began, with mozzarella sticks.

The busyness of the last few months has kept me from really focusing on the hugeness of the changes that are afoot. There has been the usual Spring craziness of Lent and Easter, and there has been the rush to finish up college and financial aid applications and a little bit of surliness left to assert who is an adult and who is not. I kept getting a glimpse of what I was going to have to face – that my oldest child is… nah, I can’t say it yet – I haven’t had time to process any of what was going on.

Last Wednesday was the Baccalaureate mass for her class. They have been together to celebrate mass over the last few years so many times and now this was it for them. They left with a song about praying for each other and it left me wondering what things will be like for each of them when they come back for a reunion ten years from now. That mass was very special and showed me that all that sacrifice for tuition was well worth it. (When asked, Paisley’s take on it was that it was cheesy and lame, but I think it meant more to her than she was willing to say.) At one point I got all teary eyed and worried that I might become a quivering puddle of tears, but Jay’s mom fixed that by leaning over and whispering that one of the girls looked trashy. That was it, my tears were gone as I stifled a laugh.

Then Thursday was the graduation. It was hot in the church and the speeches were hard to hear, but it was amazing to seem my little girl, a high school student no more. Just that morning she had attended her Freshman Orientation for college. She graciously posed for pictures afterwards and then went off with her friends. I felt so happy for her, but so sad that my little girl was… nah, I still can’t say it.

I am grappling with the reality that one of my children is moving on to the next stage of life. Just when I was kind of getting the hang of having teenagers, THIS comes along. I remember being pregnant with her. It seemed like that first pregnancy would last a lifetime, I just couldn’t really imagine having a real baby to care for all the time. It was a totally alien experience and I wouldn’t know what it was about until I was there. Now here I am at the bridge to adulthood for her, feeling the same way. I can’t even imagine what it might be like to have one of my children grown, no longer under my roof. I know I will be her mother forever, and my job as a meddling, annoying, bossy, parent is still in full force, but it seems there has been another umbilical cord to sever. And it hurts.

This time is full of joy and tragedy, pain and excitement all at once. I am sure there will be more to discover as the summer moves on.

Family Picture, Christmas 2007

Christmas Greetings from the Groft Zoo! Things are crazy around here as always, but here is a brief update about what we have been up to.

Paisley – A senior at Bourgade this year, she is looking forward to turning 18 in March and moving out to begin living the college life. She is working two jobs right now as well as keeping her grades up. She directs two children’s choirs and is working at a skateboarding shop. In her free time she shops and hangs out with her friends.

James – 15 now and itching to be 16 and drive! He is active in the youth group and continues to make trips a few times a year to help build houses for the poor in Mexico. He plays bass, guitar, and piano as much as he can, and has been performing monthly at an Art Walk downtown.

Posy – Nearly a teenager! She will be 13 in February. Posy loves to help people, she is always at her Nana’s helping her out, and she is invaluable around here. She works very hard in school to keep up her grades. She loves to read and hang out with her friends. She is involved in two choirs, one with her Grandpa and one at our parish.

Ben – 10 years old and always has his nose in a book! He has a wonderful imagination and way with words. He is always a joy to be around. He started band in school this year and is playing the trombone.

Tessa – started Kindergarten this year! She is so grown up and is definitely all Girl! She loves to play dolls and house and has discovered arts & crafts. Her favorite activity right now is coloring. She loves to give her creations to anyone she cares for. She recently began violin lessons.

Max – turns 3 on Christmas Eve. He loves to talk, although his lisp makes him hard to understand sometimes. He is very loving and very much a little homebody. He also began violin lessons with Tessa. We were blessed to find a lovely teacher who is working patiently with both kids.

Lily – the newest Groftling. Lily is now 3 months old, she was born on September 14, delivered by her daddy because the midwife hadn’t yet arrived! Thankfully the midwife arrived only a few moments later. She is a beautiful baby who loves to be swaddled and snuggled. Her siblings all adore her.

Jay & Jenni – Jay is working hard testing tanks and every spare moment Is taken up by singing. He is putting together a CD and hopes to have it out early in 2008! Jenni stays home with the kids and tries to keep the peace and keep the house from being condemned. She sews, scrapbooks, and reads when she can but those times come seldom with a tiny baby in the house.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you! May you be blessed and safe in the coming months!

Away in a Groft House (Our Christmas Card to You)

Away in a Groft house the littles are in bed.
The family’s all home and the kitten’s been fed.
The older kids fight over internet time
But all must be turned off by the ten o’clock chime.

Jay loves to sing and can be seen on TV,
Cantoring masses for homebound to see.
Testing underground tanks, he works hard outside,
We think he’s the best dad to be found worldwide!

Jenni makes rosaries and sells them online
Check out her website when you have the time!
She drives back and forth, lots of time in the van,
But she’ll snuggle down with a book when she can.

Paisley’s a junior and now she can drive
We pray every day that she gets home alive.
She’s super involved both at church and at school
She directs a kids’ choir, they all think she’s a jewel!

James is a freshman and doing so well,
Always wants to arrive long before the first bell.
He works on his music most every day,
Piano bass and guitar he is learning to play.

Posy’s in sixth grade; she’s getting so tall,
Childcare and housework – she helps with it all!
She loves shopping and movies and fashion and crafts,
Her quick wit and smile always bring us all laughs.

Ben is in third and he’s always outside
He walks and he skates or goes for a bike ride.
He likes to play game boy but still loves to read,
His mind and his body are growing like weeds!

Tessa is four and she sings in the choir,
She loves to dress up in her princess attire.
She talks all the time or at least so it seems,
She fills up our days with her bright, warm sunbeams.

Max will turn two on this Christmas Eve
‘tween tempers and climbing he may not see three.
His blue eyes, they twinkle, his pink cheeks, they shine,
Climbs in bed with a passy with nary a whine.

Our hope is that Christmas brings with it much cheer,
Our prayer is for good health and happiness next year.
Remember the season’s about Jesus’ birth,
And we are the reason he came down to earth.

Just Another Day in Paradise

Ben is reacting to Amoxicillin. The kids told me on the way to school that he was covered with a rash. So I took him in to the nurse who wasn’t there. I decided to take him home since he might be uncomfortable and I wanted to get some benadryl into him.

I got home, called the Dr office who told me NOT to give him the benadryl just yet, but to bring him in and let them check the rash. No point in putting him down as having a allergy if it is something else, right? Still, that makes for an 18 mile round trip (yes, I counted it out!) at $3.15 per gallon (in our gas guzzling, 11 mile-per-gallon van) for them to tell me what I already know: penicillin allergy. And poor Ben. He has to miss Buck-a-Jean-Day for this. (He doesn’t seem terribly distraught; he settled right down into watching Dragon Tales without a lick of complaint.)

Max, that precious, happy, jabbering, baby-signing toddler, is standing on my last nerve when it comes to night time and sleep. Last night he resumed his Head-Butt-of-Love routine, giving me a bloody lip in the middle of the night. I think he blasted Jay too, but I am not sure since I was trying REALLY hard to pretend to be asleep so Jay could deal with him for a bit. (Not that he ever shirks that duty, he shares it pretty equally. But hey, I was injured, right? Don’t I get to sit on the bench for a little while for an injury?) So I consider again the idea of sleep training. But to be honest with myself, I can’t give up the rocking and nursing to sleep. It is such a peaceful, cozy, cuddly time. Except when it’s not and Max decides that even though he is drop dead tired he will fend off sleep until either his last drop of energy is spent or mine is. Then it is not so fun.

Paisley has decided that barring any formal, planned family activity, she has no use for being home, except maybe to do her laundry and dump some papers on the table. Is it really in the Teenager’s Bill of Rights that they should be allowed to go out any time there is not special family time planned? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Some kind of limit needs to be set. Especially since the rides are still coming from us. Jay and I will have to discuss this one. I think we might have some time to sit down and do that in August. Maybe. In the mean time, surly, fit-throwing teenagers don’t get rides anywhere. At least not until their attitude changes and they do some chores. Lots of chores.

James was offended that he didn’t get TWO full days off of chores and school work for his birthday. When I informed him that he was luck he got ONE full day off he exclaimed that I just didn’t understand. You betcha I don’t. I don’t claim to understand any of this anymore. Was I really this difficult? (Oh yes and then some!) But he has cleaned up his attitude a bit since then. Removing all privileges does that to a kid. Then add in the carrot of getting to spend the day with Nana (who will probably buy you lunch) and it’s all good again.

Let’s see, who have I not updated on yet? Tessa and Posy! Tessa is so very FOUR and spends all her time playing doll house and begging me to play it with her. But when I play doll house with her it is really just me playing doll house for her entertainment. I have to do all the talking and figure out what the characters are doing. She just sets up the scenes and tells me when it is morning and night. I worry that I am misshaping her idea of play by my doing this, but what is a mom to do? Never play? There is just always some way to worry about them and some new way to wreck their lives and send them into permanent therapy later.

Posy is busy and getting more grown up every day. She is 11 now, and if I remember correctly it will be sometime this year that I will look at her and she will have changed from a little girl to a young lady overnight. For now, I just cherish these last few moments of being smarter than she is and of her being willing to play and do childlike things. The hourglass is running out on childhood for her.

Me, I have just been trying to get enough done around the house to justify sitting down to some scrapbooking or rosary making. neither has happened in forever. This past week has been a gathering up of all my homeschool books and getting ready to sell them. I have no idea where the funding for catholic school will come from for next year, but even if that doesn’t work out I don’t think I am going to homeschool any more. It just became too much for me and I wasn’t doing a good job. I am NOT of the mindset that poor homeschooling is better than public schools. Homeschooling was good for our family while it lasted and then it just wasn’t going to work any more. Selling the books is my way of letting go. Mostly I feel good about it but there is still that panicky feeling of burning that bridge behind me.

Poor, hard working Jay. Summer has set in here with our first official 100 degree day. Since he works outside the first couple of weeks are always the hardest for him. 100 degrees doesn’t actually describe the conditions he works in, since the official temps are taken in the shade over grass. Jay actually works in the sun over concrete or asphalt. It is so much hotter for him. We have stocked up on Power Ade during that last sale but that is small comfort to him, I’m sure. But still he will suffer outside every single day so that our family can eat and live in comfort. Thank God for his sacrifice!

Dare I say?

Could the illness be over? Everyone seems to be on the mend, although Jay’s doctor called two weeks AFTER the thick of his illness to tell him he had pneumonia. Uh, thanks. Paisey was hit with the stomach flu last and then she had her trip to Mexico to build houses just a couple of days later. I hope her stomach feels better! The puking seemed to only last for a day but the rest of us had messed up tummies for over a week! It just sounds like a miserable way to feel when you don’t have even a real bathroom. But Paisley insisted she was well enough to go…

Max has a new FACE that he makes every single time we try to take a picture of him.

All he has to do is hear the camera beep, and all traces of a normal looking kid are gone and are replaced by this super-cheesy fake smile.

He is also up on the whole digital camera thing and expects to see his picture on the back of the camera whenever his picture is taken! Kids understand technology WAY faster than anyone else!

Max is able to sign Please, More, and Eat, but he adamantly refuses to do any other signs even though he knows them, responds to them and will do them in his sleep. I guess pointing and grunting is working too well for him!

January: The Month of Change

One year has passed since our fire, and what a year it has been. The last claim has been submitted and with the last check (Oh, when will it come?) we hope to put this chapter in our lives behind us. We lift up our eyes and look towards the future finally and not on what has happened in the past. We can take stock of where we are now and not where we were before the fire.

James is still dealing with some pretty severe depression. He is being treated for that. I have also had to reevaluate who I am and what direction I am going, and so have been in therapy myself.

We decided at the beginning of this month that Posy and Ben really did belong at their school. They started attending again in the fifth and second grades. They are very happy there and we think that our time of homeschooling is coming to a close. They are so happy to see their friends every day, and I am very relieved to have the complete burden of their education off my shoulders. Homeschooling has been a blessing for our family. But we always said we would do it only as long as it was the right choice for our family. It no longer is. So we move on.

Paisley is doing great! She has one of the leads in the school play, Bye Bye Birdie, this Spring. She is sharing the role of Kim with another girl. She has moved into another honors class and is getting fabulous grades.

Tessa and Max miss Posy and Ben during the day. But we have had some fun on our own. Tessa’s favorite pasttime is to play dress up. Max’s is to climb and dismantle anything in his path. He has learned a couple of baby signs now: More, please, eat, nurse… we are trying to teach him more, but he is pretty stubborn!

I don’t ALWAYS complain

It just seems like I can hardly get a break around here!

Anyway, things are looking up. Kathi brought over her carpet cleaner today, and I cleaned the carpets already. It still stinks to high heaven in here but it is noteably better.

Today is my Jay’s birthday so we get to go out to dinner SANS KIDS!!!

Generally, can I just say that my kids are so awesome? I had to take them to a dermatologist appt with me last week. Only four of them came with me but the derm is in Sun City (a whole city of over 55 year old people) so I knew that it had the potential for disaster. But they were as good as GOLD. They walked into the waiting room, sat in their chairs, and when we went into the teeny little exam room, they lined up on the floor out of the way and didn’t make a peep. (And then they got candy bars on the way home!)

I know that I can always count on them to really behave themselves when I need them to.

Like at a wedding this past weekend. Jay’s cousin was getting married and his family was coming from far and wide for the festivities. Turns out that at the reception they sat my family and Jay’s brother’s family (both with 6 kids) WAAAAAYYY over in the back away from the whole rest of the family. I was a wee bit offended to say the least. But I didn’t have to tell my kids to behave at all! It was the other family members who have two or so kids who’s kids were running amuck and spoiling things. (Not that all families with fewer kids are like that – it’s just ironic that they thought mine would do that and the ones who were seated in the thick of things were the ones getting into the bride’s pictures, tearing down decorations and getting up on the stage and pulling cords.)

And this morning, I saw Paisley walking down the stairs to go to school and was overcome with how blessed I am. She has such style and poise. And not only was she THERE, but she was walking down the stairs in our OWN HOUSE, which we missed so badly for so long. It was one of those moments when everything was accounted for, KWIM?

Moving Right Along

Things are picking up speed again in the Groftzoo. Paisley recently returned from a 10 day stay at a Carmelite convent. She and other girls worked there while the nuns put on retreats. Paisley is VERY glad to be home, and very glad to be able to take a nice LONG shower after 10 days sharing a shower with 7 other girls! She had a good time and missed her family all at once. The rest of us are very glad to have her back.

I am still feeling nauseated several times a day. Some days are better than others, but I am able to do more and more of my usual duties. Everyone is relieved to have real dinners made for them again! (Well, at least sometimes!)

Summer is in it’s fullest, hottest swing right now with daily temps ranging from 106-112 or so. The monsoons blew in this week with a doozy of a storm while Jay was out of town. The kids all slept through it, but the dogs sat by my bed and cried the whole darn three hours of thunder and lightning! Big babies!

I love to watch the clouds grow around the edges of the city as the afternoon wears on. There is always a little suspense about whether or not there will be a dust storm or even a bit of rain. It is interesting that after a big storm like we had a few days ago, it takes a few days to kind of charge itself up again. But today driving around at noon, I already saw some thunderheads forming! It is so exciting!

Tessa is talking up a storm and always surprises us with new full sentences. The other day she came running around the corner and ran into me in the kitchen, falling on her bottom as she did so. She looked up at me and exclaimed, “Look what you did with me!” I hemmed and hawed a bit and then she pointed her fat little toddler finger at me and accused, “You did it on PURPOSE!” I tried to plead not guilty, but she would have none of it!

Her other favorite thing right now is to walk around the house saying, “Rock, Pa-PER scissors” over and over. She doesn’t understand the game, but she knows it must be fun since her brothers and sisters play it!