Quality Over Quantity

What up Almost-December???

Time is flying by, and I’m getting all “Doesn’t it seem like the year JUST started???” in my grocery store conversations like the old lady I am!

Between eating all the Thanksgiving things and decorating all the Christmas things, rolling around in all the germ things and washing all the clothes things, I got lots of things happening, as I’m sure you do.

I remember being in college and skipping an Educational Statistics Class (bleh! I threw up in my mouth a little just typing it) when there was a Dirty Jobs marathon on Discovery or if my roommate, Erin, felt like we needed to visit World Market for imported chocolate.  The few (maybe more) times I decided not to show, I made sure to make mental notes about being at a THAT place in my life; to be thankful I was able to do nothing for a bit.  I told myself I was going to remember as much as I could about those adventures or couch sessions and shouldn’t forget how great it felt, since you know, adulting and stuff was right around the corner.emanderin1.jpg

Who even has time to hang out in tiled waiting rooms for pedicures in airports now?  Sure as heck ain’t me!

This season in my life has me shuffling through those good memories pretty often since I can’t do stuff as reckless as waste time.  That go, go, go, got me like “MEH!!! I JUST WANT TO BINGE WATCH THE CROWN” and sometimes I think “WHY CAN’T I JUST EAT A PACK OF LIPTON BUTTER NOODLES AND EVERYTHING BE GOOD IN THE WORLD???” when I’m having to make 3 separate dishes for dinner time.

But the chaos and lack of down time has made me hyper aware of how intentional Pat and I are in our parenting.  We’re really starting to notice how the choices we’ve made in how we spend our time with our children is affecting them.

Listen, I’m working on my segues, but until then, just go with it.

I think we’re a little old fashioned with how we raise our flock.  We don’t waste much time around them unless it’s reading Chronicles of Narnia together or watching some of our favorite family YouTubers before bed.  Pat is constantly explaining how things work for Hank.  I’m constantly trying not to pull my hair out over the latest Marnana Disciplinary Committee Advisory Board Meeting (that’s “you bout to get a whippin’ “for short).  Amos is always watching what the others are doing, sometimes picking up the bad habits, and other times making us laugh.  And sweet Porter?  I’m at the best possible point in my mama life to enjoy every second of him because I know how fast it ends.

We’re all about quality over here, not just quantity with our time with them.  And that philosophy is spilling over into all parts of Ferrell life.20161107_192150.jpg

Hank and MH have tablets but I’m so strict with when they get to play with them that it doesn’t really count. I have first hand experience from the daycare and classroom of what too much screen time looks like, and I want to protect my bunch for as long as possible. No one is ever allowed to play with our phones unless it’s to use the app SoundTouch (if you have kids, it’s totally worth the money!) when we’re reaching meltdown levels in public or to reward somebody.  And I just finished the biggest toy and clothing purge of my life that I feel like even that lady that started the capsule wardrobe movement would be proud.

Some of that purge has to do with making room for the LuLaRoe my good friend, Lauren Elizabeth, and I have started selling.  But the rest of it was because our lives had become so cluttered with STUFF that we were forgetting to enjoy each other.

The TV we watch is void of commercials, so they don’t know about what toys they should be demanding for Christmas.  We encourage them to dig and run and explore, unless it’s through the Tupperware cabinet, then I’m liable to lose my mind with them.  There’s a steady stream of cardboard coming through our house, so somebody is always coloring a masterpiece or building tunnels. And Pat has enough sawdust on the floor of his shop to ensure HOURS of scattering, sweeping, and “sandprints.”

With all the good stuff going on in our parenting lives, this weird sense of depravity grabs hold of me from time to time when I look at these awesome tiny people.  Like, am I doing them a disservice by not giving them all the things?  Hank has no clue what a Hatchimal is, and I’m ok with it, but that also means he hasn’t asked for anything for Christmas besides another pack of nerf bullets.  Margaret Hannah has no interest in dolls, apart from the 2 she’s had for years, but also zero knowledge of the American Girl franchise.  Is she going to feel isolated and left out when the girls club comes back to daycare in a few weeks telling all about who they got and what she was wearing?  I feel like that’s a strong no, but I seem to be the one having the trouble with her being left out.

It sounds so petty, I know.

I worry that Hank isn’t wearing the same stuff as other kids at school.  I fret over Amos being in hand-me-down shoes.  Porter wears pajamas a good friend gave me when I was pregnant with Hank.

None of this matters, because my pack is mostly happy, well fed-ish, and have good manners.  They know how to have conversations with adults and typically behave.  But that doesn’t always keep me from thinking they’re missing out on  STUFF.

Having to constantly stay on top of 4 revolving wardrobes makes me want to scream, “I’m never buying anyone ANY clothes EVER.AGAIN!”  Living in a 3 bedroom house makes me want to scream, “NO! You cannot save another chicken feather/trophy/rock you found in the parkinglot!”  Trying to keep the toys from multiplying during the night makes me want to scream, “NO SOUP FOR YOU!” when there’s a reason to give somebody a gift.

And all of that is why Pat and I have been trying to be really specific with what we give everyone.  Especially this Christmas. We want to be sure that if it’s time, or objects, or services they’re getting, it’s quality time, objects, and service.  That occasionally leaves me at a loss for what to tell someone who asks what they might like for Christmas, or make me stutter when someone asks what do they play with.  For two seconds I panic that they don’t have enough stuff in their little lives, and then I think back not on those times of sitting around doing nothing in college, but on those times I had to change out shorts for pants in everyone’s dressers.  That’s when I remember that for as long as they’re happy being with each other, I’m going to encourage and embrace it instead of compare our lives and playroom to someone else’s.  I know we may have some people beat in quantity of children, but if we’re talking quality, this bunch we’ve got can’t be beat.20161113_153825.jpg

Things I Want to Remember: About Amos

23 days since my last post.  I would feel bad about it but I’ve been too busy fighting freaking IMPETIGO.  It started with a scratch on Margaret Hannah’s nose and made its way through all 3 big kids.  No bueno.

Guys!

It was yuck.

But I’m here now, and that’s what matters.  Here to dish out a little mush about Gregory Amos Hamilton Ferrell (Or Gregree AaaaaaMOS Hamten Perrah if you ask him) on this fine Wednesday.

He’s pretty much just growing up like WHOA!  His vocabulary has exploded, he likes to pretend, and he’s out of diapers  PAH-RAISE THE LORT!

He replaces his D’s with G’s so when he says “Don’t do that” it sounds like “Gon’t goo that” and it’s the cutest.  Or “Ungawear.”  He wears those now, instead of underware.  But backwards.  Always backwards.20160925_174801.jpg

He doesn’t like when you mock him, either.

When he wakes up or we get home from the daycare, he says “I think I need sumptin’ to eat.” EVERY.SINGLE.TIME he walks past the pantry or refrigerator.  I’d be hungry all the time too if I kept deciding I didn’t like things I was eating just a few days before.  Inside either of those places lives 3 or 4 things he will consume, and it’s frustrating FOR REAL.  But hey, he’s pooping and growing like normal. He’s cool.

For now.

He doesn’t like to watch TV.  Only to sit all over you.

I don’t mind.20161022_084722.jpg

In his classroom, they’re learning colors and days of the week.  He is constantly asking if things are green and singing “Se-ben days in a week,” while he dances around holding up five and two fingers.  The best! Some days he has to sit in timeout on the playground because he collects acorns like it’s his job and throws them at passers-by.  And bites his sister.20160928_104130.jpg

He sleeps on the bottom bunk right by himself with his 4 blankets.  It’s never ok for Margaret Hannah to be on the bed with him either.

We have chalk paint on the pantry doors and a chalk board at kid level in the playroom that he always asks if it’s ok to go chalkin’ on.  That’s code for “Mom, I’m gonna bang on the wall and see how much chalk dust I create.”

He really likes to eat pistachios and cashews.  Not chicken nuggets or a potatoes.  Just the expensive nuts.  And party food.  ALWAYS party food.20161031_085744.jpg

Now that he understands that ABC’s isn’t just a song, he likes to call out letters and spell things.  Mostly everything is spelled A.M.O.S. or P.E.B.O.S.4, but you have to drag out every letter when you say them.  You get a high five if you just went back and read those letters in his voice.

He killed it as John Hammond from Jurassic Park for Halloween, too.  He didn’t let that walking stick out of his sight, and I’ve only found a few packs of skittles hidden in his bed.received_10207645855129025.jpeg

He’s also funny.  And he knows it.  AND he likes to keep toys in his underwear.  He’s a keeper for sure.img_20161015_215029.jpg

We love this kid so so much.

 

 

Phone Dump… Again.

I know I always start out the phone dump posts with “I can’t handle much more blah blah blah,” but like, that’s the truth.

We’re back on the sick train, and I’d just like to say how much I LOVE having a big family except for germ sharing and getting in & out of a vehicle. Stuff never really goes away, and it’s like herding cats.

If we could all have the same thing and get over it, I might have more of my sanity intact, but as it were, the last 5 weeks have been filled with 11 co-pays, 3 antibiotics, a round of eye drops, a topical cream, and 8 different diagnoses. 

I’m over it, yall!

So here, look at some pictures and give me a few more days to work on a legit post, ok?

Pat took all kinds of initiative and white washed the fireplace. We’ve been talking about doing it since we moved in 1 whole year ago, but we couldn’t find the right time to do it. He cleaned grout like a boss, scraped up tons of candle wax (Wha? Why?), and we had an entire uninterrupted conversation about how each other’s week went. Straight up date night, really.

My boss won a runoff and is now our towns’ mayor. 

Legit.

Charming had to move out of the coop because he’s too dang loud. The full moon in August threw him off so bad that he pretty much never stopped crowing. Pat put up some solar garden lights on the ramp up to the coop and even those got his feathers ruffled. He’d catch sight of them at 2 am and step out to protect his ladies, crow 7 times, and go back in to wait until he looked back outside at the soft glow he thought might be daybreak and come out to crow some more. 

He’s enjoying his new family and hen harem from what we understand. 

We had to make a quick trip to Birmingham for an orthopedic appointment for Amos last week.  Everything checked out pretty well, and that led to a stop at the lego store, 5 orders of cinnamon sticks from Cindy Cinnamon  (Don’t know her? Poor you), and his chance to ride the carousel by himself.

He picked the frog because he knew that’s the one MH would like best.

Hank had the chance to pick anywhere for dinner the night of his birthday. He chose pancakes from my mother’s house and a cake from IGA that he could read. Easy enough.

He turned 6. I can’t even.

I spent DAYS in labor, almost starved to death in the process, and pushed out a baby with a 17 centimeter head. I love him so much and am so proud to be his mama. Except when he farts in line at the checkout, then he belongs to his dad.

These two have forged a new bond that is the funnest thing to watch. They play together almost every second they can when we’re home, pretending to take their toys to the water park (they’ve never been to one so it’s extra fun to listen to what they think happens there), driving to the bank, and playing daycare. I relish the sweet moments and they’re giving me lots here lately.

And to wrap it all up, this boy has done lost his mind when it comes to sleep. He spoiled us big with sleeping from 8pm to 4 am almost as soon as we got home from the hospital. Then he had croup last month and just can’t seem to find a good rhythm. He’s good for a solid 4 hours until 11 or 12, then it’s up almost every hour until finally, he konks out for that good sleep 28 minutes before the alarm goes off.

But he’s so dang cute that I promise to forget this bump in the sleep patterns as soon as he gets back on track.

How about you guys? Yall got the gross germs percolating at your house, too? I’m sending you lots of good thoughts and ecoupns for my favorite disinfectant right now if so!

Kids in Cars Making a Mess

Have you guys seen Jerry Seinfeld’s series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?

No?  Go watch this first.  This is my favorite episode, because Miranda Sings speaks to my 14 year old sense of humor.

Some students (Thanks Alex Ann and Madi) showed me a video of hers on YouTube way back in 2011.  They thought she was being serious, and I recognized the genius of her act right way.  I’ve been silently taking all the credit for her success among the tween crowd in the years since.  I feel like I  helped her get there by sharing her videos when someone needed a good laugh.

*sidenote* If you don’t laugh at her, we can’t be friends.

ANYWAY. Long way to get to my point.

Letting children in your vehicle can be about as eventful as Miranda’s ride with Jerry.

There is always so much complaining. Someone’s too close.  He’s touching me.  She just threw my sunglasses in the back.  It never ends.

Throw in a stale muffin and a rouge sippy cup that has turned into some minimum security prison hooch and it can be down right RANK when the wind is just right.

We had been getting whiffs of something that smelled slightly off for a few weeks that we just could not find.  I mean, it’s not like I went on some massive hunt for it or anything.  I just asked “Do you smell that???” every time someone got in the truck with us.  Pat was especially tired of it after we had a load full of farty little boys in every available seat this weekend for Hank’s birthday movie trip.

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I’ll be back Thursday with a total recap of how much fun this trip was for our boy, but for now, I WISH I had a picture of them all together when they were in the babies room at the daycare to put next to this one.  I’m so thankful he’s got such a great group of little boys to call pals, and that I’ve been able to watch them all grow together.

After we dropped everyone off to the correct homes, Pat broke out the shop vac, and we purged that Expedition like nobody’s business.  FOUR socks with no matches, two pair of tennis shoes, handfuls of raisins, a piece of a poptart, exploded Chic-Fil-A Polynesian sauce, 15 ink pens, and 3 packs of wipes.  All just in the back seats.

The smell was located as well:  A moldy floor mat that Marnana SWEARS she’s never poured her capri sun out onto. She volunteered that information.  I didn’t even have to ask if she’d spilled something.  Her honesty is admirable.

I’m very thankful I have a husband who thinks clean vehicles are important.  I do not.  But he does, and he knows acts of service is one of my love languages.  Think flowers and candy are the way to this girl’s heart?  No way.  Unload the dishwasher and vacuum my truck without me having to ask, and I’m yours pretty much.

Also thankfully, his love language is quality time. So in a way, me parked in a camp chair watching the kids lure a stray kitten into the yard next to the passenger side of my truck while he threw socks and raisins out the window was the ideal date night.

I wish I would have taken pictures, but I reconciled that with knowing we’d be back in this same situation in a few months.  I’ll just take some then.

As long as there are children in the back seat, I figure I’ll always be trying to sniff out that strange smell and sweeping chip crumbs off the console.  I also think I could resurface our driveway with the amount of gravel that accumulates on my drivers side floor mat.

And that, my friends, is the universe’s way of saying to enjoy life, time with loved ones, and loud music when your drive, I think.

Leave me a comment with a random item you’ve found in your vehicle.  Bonus points for only hearing Miranda’s voice from now on when you read the words “Hey Guys,” or want to say “Stop asking me all these qwesshins” when you feel like you’re being interrogated by your children.

OH!!! And since we cleaned a lot of stuff this weekend, I came across the first picture Pat and I took together.  Babies, pretty much.  14 whole years ago at the end of October.img_20160925_202416.jpg

 

Places I’d Rather Be

Pink eye is disgusting.  I need to get that off my chest right out the gate.

It was a tough weekend.  I’ll keep whining to a minimum and just say we spent so much time resting and hand sanitizing and proclaiming to the world how much we HATE being sick.

Also wash your hands, keep sick babies at home, make the world a better place.

Ok, so I might have needed to get more than just 1 thing off my chest…

We battled it all like champs, and after one more visit to the pediatrician for Porter, we’re on the tale end of all the germs.  We have to be, I’m pretty out of Lysol spray.

And since I’m pretty much wiped out from all the things this week, I’m turning this post over to a nice list of places I’d rather be than in muggy, south Alabama this weekend.

Feel free to leave me a list of your own in the comments.  I’m sure you could think of something good if it meant you didn’t have to deal with sticky weather.

Unless that’s your thing.  Then just never mind.  That’s weird.

1. Blue Mountain.  Because it’s empty, full of shallow areas for this kind of fun, and you can manage to drive on 98 without the fear of being run out of a lane by someone with a Louisiana or Arkansas license plate.  Yall!  Don’t lose your mind when you come to our slice of the Emerald Coast. Be better drivers!

 

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2. Driving through this amazingness. Today is the first official day of fall, so it’s only fitting.  Plus, I’m part Sanderson Sister, sooooo…

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3. I hear this place is all kinds of magic during this time of year. I’m not brave or rich enough for a real trip with my pack, but maybe one day.

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4. If you’re gonna have a fire pit, you might as well have one like this, right?  I mean, why even go through the trouble of setting one up if it can’t look like this?  I would like to be here, with cozy socks and apple cider yelling at my children to get away from the fire, telling Pat to stop making the fire so big, and jumping from my seat to save the things being thrown into it.

So maybe here isn’t a good idea…

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5. And here!  A cable knit comforter and a good sound machine?  I NEED the kind of sleep that could only come from flopping down into this bed.  You don’t even know, guys.

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Your turn.  Where would you rather be right now?

Lysol is Good for the Soul

I’m using you guys as my Complaint Department today, ok?

If I could have a redo on this beautiful Thursday, I would seriously consider activating it.  Porter has croup, and his little cough is about the saddest thing in all the land.  His first sick visit to the pediatrician had us leaving with a round of steroids and at least 3 days home from daycare.

I took Amos with us as an afterthought because he’d ran a tiny bit of fever early Thursday morning, and woke up with really puffy eyes.  Turns out he was the sicker of the two.

I’m skipping the specifics and letting you know that he’s been drinking spinach and fruit smoothies for the last few days (I was afraid he might starve after a 2 week-long boycott of our real-food-go-to’s for him) and coupled with his illness, it did not end well.  The icing on this disgusting cake is that we’re a week and a half into operation “get that boy outta diapers quick-like!”

Bad, guys.

It was bad.

When he came to our bed at 6 this morning, he was smelling a little ripe.  I followed him back to his bed, and it was that scene from dirty jobs where Mike Rowe has to clean a basement that had seen a pretty bad sewage backup.

REAL BAD.

For. Real.

We were already germ-xing like, whoa! but I needed the big guns to help with this.  I know that between the daycare and sick days at home, I’ll never be able to smell Lemon Lysol and not think of all of the germ fighting I’ve done in my life.

The disaster zone was wide spread thanks to Amos tossing and turning during the night. We learned the hard way that green smoothies aren’t meant to be ingested when you’re sick.  Take that nugget of advice to the bank.  Or the toilet, whichever is closer.

Pat and I got things cleaned up as fast as we could since school doesn’t accept tardy notes that say things like “Hank’s little brother exploda-pooped all over the bottom bunk and his parents were busy praying and screaming about it.”

This gross morning didn’t end with toddler sick belly.  No way, that’d be too easy.  I got round 2 when I went outside to let our big dogs out of their crate *Side note* PLEASE! SOMEONE LET THEM COME LIVE WITH YOU!!! THEY CAN’T STAY IN A CRATE FOR EVER!.

Pat had to go on to drop Hank off, and my mom was on her way to help with the little boys, but I couldn’t leave without letting Simon and Suze try to escape while I stood in the enclosure with them (or pee, whatever you want to call it).  I let them out SIX TIMES yesterday.  More times in 1 day than I have since they had to be banished to the crate last week. They managed to knock over their water dish during the night, and the short version is they were brown when they rushed out at 7:24 AM.  I don’t know if you’re familiar with how big of a poop a 65lb dog can make, but it’s big.  And what they’d churned up in that crate was a level of Dante’s Inferno, I’m pretty sure.

I put that fire out…uh…NO!  I washed that poop up, ran inside to change clothes, doused myself with more Lysol, and Bo Duked my way across the hood of my Expedition to make it to work on time with Margaret Hannah.

I was there long enough to live it up with my class on our first color party day and came home to be with the little boys before 10.  It only took about 20 minutes before the next wave came over our house, and for the last 4 hours, I’ve been toting around my Lysol in one hand and a sick boy in the other.  You can’t be around too much Lysol, can you?

Surely not.

Pray for us, will you?  And spray a little Lysol out at your house for the homies caught up in this evil, please.  It’ll do your soul and immune system some good.

Patience is Overrated

I REALLY wish I was a super mama.  Like the kind  who are always put together and killing it at meal prep.  Instead of being dressed in age appropriate clothing, I’m almost always schlepping it in athletic running shorts and t-shirts older than my children.  AND I DON’T EVEN RUN, guys!  The extent of my meal planning is to write out a bunch of supper ideas, grocery shop accordingly, and then not fix any of that junk because it takes too long.

I’m also kinda bummed that I don’t have a sweet voice that never gets loud when my sweet children run through the house alternating between making clicking sounds with their tongues and whistling.  There isn’t enough patience in all the land to deal with a 4 year old learning how to whistle.  Promise.

I get a lot of compliments on how well behaved my children are, how it seems like I’ve got it all together (whatever IT is, I’m still not sure), and that Pat and I just look so happy.

I thank you for all of that, but it’s a farce.

For some reason, my children think scratching and pinching each other in the eye sockets is the only way to effectively communicate.  I was up twice this week after 11 pm dragging dogs back into a crate they’d busted out of while I was in my pajamas.  Pat and I fight at least twice a week about how long he takes getting out of bed every day.

Farce, I tell ya.

I don’t have the patience to deal with children who misbehave.  That’s why mine act like they’ve got some sense when we’re out in public.  I don’t have the patience to get 4 humans dressed every day, so three of them have been taught how to mostly do it themselves.  I don’t have the patience to hear Pat hit his snooze button for a fifth time, so that’s why there’s a good bit of yelling during the morning rush at our house.

Life at my house is loud.  No matter how much I PLEAD for it not to be.

We’re always in a rush.  You try getting all these people out of the door.  That patience I felt like I needed to stay sane flies right out the window on the daily.  Sanity will come later in life, I figure.  For now, I’m just surviving.  Seriously, I’m not really parenting, I’m just herding flippin’ cats.

We eat breakfast in the car and at work because ain’t nobody got time for more than a pack of muffins or a handful of dry cereal on week days.  I’ve accepted that and am at peace with having to do one less thing like eat breakfast at a table 5 days a week.

I thought all of my experience with teaching children would just do wonders for me as a mama.  In all actuality, these babies we’ve got don’t wear my patience thin…It was never that thick to begin with.

I did think I’d be able to handle EVERYTHING that comes our way with some much grace and poise, but again, I’ve found my peace.

How, you ask?

I brought Amos to the daycare one day last week without any shoes. I sat a pizza box on top of the blanket Porter takes every week, so it smelled like Little Caesar’s for a few days.  I let Margaret Hannah wear her dirty tie-dye socks 3 days in a row because it would have required patience on my end to deal with the meltdowns she was working up.  Hank’s lunch money balance was low and I didn’t have any cash, so he at Peanut butter and honey sandwiches 4 days straight.

At peace with every bit of that.

It’s not easy, and I don’t want other mama’s to look at us and think that it is.  Being in the trenches is stressful and trying and character building.  But I’m a total PRO at picking my battles.  At maintaining a level of sanity that works for all of us.

What I want other mamas to see when they look at us is how much we love each other DESPITE the yelling.  To see the life lessons we’re trying to teach our pack EVEN THOUGH one of them is picking their nose in the checkout line.  To see that patience isn’t really a virtue when you’re raising children, it’s a way to get your walls colored on.

And nobody wants that.

So be loud together, teach your babies good manners and how to put their shoes on by themselves, and go out to eat so you don’t get too stressed over having to cook and clean up after a meal if you can.  Find that level you need to stay sane, to call “being patient.”

That way we look a little more normal, ok?

What are 2 things you do that seem like patience and good parenting to the outside but are really just your ways for coping with mama stress?  I can’t wait to read them!