Wednesday, January 27, 2016

No Spend Month

In February, I am making an honest effort at doing a "No Spend Month." I had been thinking about doing this for a while (especially after I went a little spend crazy through the Christmas season), but I wasn't fully committed until my friend told me she was thinking about doing "Frugal February," and well... I'm a follower.

I still have to make my house payment and buy gas and stuff, obviously, but other than the necessities, my aim is to spend as little as possible. I'm allowing $10 a week for produce and milk, but other than that, there's no food budget. This means I have to start using up the stuff in my freezer and pantry that I've been ignoring in favor of Papa John's and Chinese food for the past... um... forever. I'm going to try my hardest to not have to dip into that weekly $10 cushion, but after two weeks, I think I'll really want some milk and fresh veggies. My commitment level is not such that I'm willing to use dried milk.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been prepping for No Spend Month, which is, in many ways, like prepping for doom's day. It was a little eye-opening, as I realized that we use roughly 250 diapers in a month. I briefly considered going all out and returning to cloth diapers, but my cloth diapers leak really bad, so I'd pretty much be subjecting myself to being peed on repeatedly for 29 days. So I bought diapers. I also made sure we have plenty of other necessities like toilet paper, laundry soap, tampons, Motrin, etc. I also bought Valentines and a baby shower gift.

I went through all of our food and made a list of 25 meals. I threw out my old, expired yeast and bought some new stuff in case I end up in a bind and have to make bread (have I told you how much I hate making bread? I used to make bread twice a week... back when I was crazy... a different kind of crazy than I am now).

I even signed up for a medical study so I can make fifty bucks... which I will spend in March.

Bring it on, February!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


I'm not emotionally stable right now, nor have I been for a while. Things just aren't so peachy these days. I'm struggling. "Drowning" is the term that comes to mind. In fact, tonight for my public speaking class, I'm doing a speech that I based on Jim Gaffigan's quote about having four kids:

I'm pretty sure my face is going to look just like his while I'm giving the speech. 'Cause that's how I feel.

At any given moment, I am on the brink of tears. Here are some things that have the potential to make me cry (again) today:
  • Having to change another Amoxicillin-induced diarrhea diaper 
  • Anyone asking me for food (lunch has happened - no one needs food. Stop telling me you're hungry!)
  • Having to fight Zoe to get her to go to preschool (we decided to take today off due to a minor cough, which was a huge relief because she refuses to get in the car EVER, and she's the worst about going to preschool. I would just take her out of preschool, but she is there for speech therapy, which she desperately needs).
  • One more battle with Nicky about wearing shorts to school. The rule is that he can wear shorts if it's going to be 45 degrees or warmer. Every day he puts on shorts. Every day I define the rule AGAIN. Every day he has a complete melt down and tells me that I just don't understand, and my skin is different than his skin.
  • The baby hitting the keyboard or crumpling my paper while I'm doing homework.
  • Another vomiting episode. You know when your baby has mucous in her throat and she coughs until she pukes? Then you wash the car seat cover she spewed all over, and ten minutes after you reassemble the car seat, she coughs and throws up all over it again? I have a photo, but I'll spare you.
  • Someone showing up unexpectedly. I can't let anyone in my house right now. 
  • Being asked for money. My kids have been begging for $60 for the past week. I told them exactly what they would need to do to earn $60 and how long it will take, and they aren't willing to do it, so NO! You don't get $60, and NO! You don't get to ask Grandma. 
  • Anyone needing a bath. They have been bathed already. I can't do it again today.  
  • Another phone call from someone who wants to know how many miles are on Scotty's Honda Accord. You know, the car he's owned NEVER, and this isn't even Scotty's phone number, and I know Scotty didn't give you this number to inquire about life insurance so leave us alone!
  • Anyone arguing with me, looking at me wrong, or giving me advice I didn't ask for. 
 I'm on the fritz, folks. On the fritz!

Under Construction

Under Construction

As of January 18, the Brittish household is officially under construction.

We modified our living room to temporarily be our "everything" room, and we got rid of two nasty couches (I had a hard time getting rid of them until I remembered that one of my children finger-painted all over the back of them with her own poo last year).

Two nights before we began this project, our super old, big screen TV started going, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!" We were planning on getting rid of that, too, so the timing was perfect.

We're building a bedroom and a storage room, and hopefully by the end of the year, we'll have a new family room as well.

Maybe, maybe, we'll even upgrade our forest green carpet from 1998 (not pictured).

In the meantime... yikes.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Phases and Things

There are hard times I can look back on and breathe a huge sigh of relief and think, "Phew! It was just a phase!"

For example: the phase where Nicky would pee in random places around the house, like in his toys, in the bathroom garbage can, and in the muffin tin. Or the phase where Daisy would take off her night-time diaper every morning and throw it behind the TV.

The thing about phases is... sometimes you don't know it's "just a phase" until it's over. When you're in the thick of it, it's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are phases you can assume your child will grow out of, like the booger eating phase, you just don't know when.* Then there are other circumstances that might not be "just a phase," like the anxiety that makes your son's stomach hurt and keeps him awake all night. You begin to realize that it's not a phase at all but a "thing," and it's not going to go away.

Phases and things overlap, they pile up, and sometimes they even repeat.

Right now, I'm not dealing well with our "phases" and "things." Some are minor, like the booger eating. It's gross and humiliating, but by itself, it's not a huge deal. Piled up with everything else, though, seeing my kid eat a booger is a catalyst for an emotional breakdown because it reminds me of everything I can't fix.

We've hit a point in life where our kids' problems are starting to get bigger and more worrisome. I've seen a few things happening lately that are red flags, and I feel like, if we don't get them managed, we will be in big trouble in the next few years. I don't know how to help my kids with their problems. I feel like their phases (or are they things?) are beyond my parenting ability. One of the worst things about parenting not knowing what to do. The only thing worse is when you do know what to do, but you're incapable of doing it.

I'm really struggling keeping everything together right now. The phases and things are spreading me very thin, and I feel like I can't take care of my children's needs. I have to pick and choose between them all the time, and as a result, everyone is suffering. Somehow I was fooled into thinking it was possible to have four kids and take care of them all. I was duped into believing there was enough of me for all of them. There's not. There's not enough of me. I can't meet their needs, and it's a horrible feeling. 

*It doesn't help that the child prefers to eat boogers with an audience, like at the grocery store or in sacrament meeting. And it also doesn't help when the audience tries to talk your kid out of eating a booger. Really, audience? Thank you for your input. My child will now quadruple the booger intake due to the attention you just gave her.

Monday, January 11, 2016

I could really benefit from some Disneyland therapy right now (and ten other random facts)

Fact #1: There's a pretty good chance that my blog banner and my facebook profile picture are going to reflect Christmas until June-ish. At least I'm being intentional about it. Laziness is not truly laziness when it's planned.


Fact #2: I recently discovered that my hair is turning gray. In fact, I learned this truth on the eve of my birthday. I'm a little stunned. I realize that many people my age have a few gray hairs, but I honestly thought it wasn't going to happen to me.

Fact #3: I don't know yet how I feel about having gray hair. It doesn't bother me, necessarily, but I do worry that people are staring, and I am the type of person who will likely yell, "Stop looking!" out of paranoia when a person is not actually staring at my gray hair, and then things will be awkward between us for the rest of our lives.

Fact #4: I have every right to think people are staring at my gray hair because I ran into someone I hadn't seen since high school a few months ago, and I stared at her gray hair.

Fact #5: Speaking of things I'm paranoid of, I don't dare to use to the bathroom in the morning because I don't want my kids to wake up.

Fact #6: I've been "holding it" since 5:00 a.m.

(It's now 7:08, and my kids are still asleep. It is very rare for them to sleep past 6:30, so this is beautiful).

(I really need to go to the bathroom).

(I have to wake them up at 7:30 at the latest, so I only have to hold it for 22 more minutes).

Fact #7: I should have known that the second I typed that, kids would start waking up.

(7:13 a.m.)

Fact #8: I normally cope okay with winter, but this year things have been a little rough. My kids' anxiety is through the roof right now, and I think it's because of how dark it is. Their anxiety is triggering my anxiety, and as a result, our house is a psychological mess. We can handle the cold, but we need daylight.

Fact #9: This semester I am taking a public speaking class, and I have to come up with ten speech topics (5 informative and 5 persuasive) this week which I will then narrow down to one of each. I'm supposed to pick topics I'm passionate about. I can't think of a single topic. Where is my passion?

Fact #10:  STOP LOOKING!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Easy Like Sunday Morning


Oh, are they rough.

Lately I've been thinking I should document what Sunday mornings are like so I can look back someday (possibly as an empty nester) and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Maybe I'll even be able to laugh a little.

Being religious folks, we do the church thing on Sunday. This year we have church at 9:00, and that's really not a problem. My kids wake up between 6:00-7:00, so getting out the door by 8:40 isn't extremely difficult. I mean, it is extremely difficult because there are children involved, but it isn't any more difficult than getting them out of the house at 11:00 or 1:00.

This morning, we gave all the girls a "quick bath" (this is where we make them stand in a few inches of water and we give them a scrub and a rinse, but we don't let them sit in the tub because we don't want them to get their hair wet, and once they've sat, they think they get to linger in the tub for an hour). After Zoe got out of the tub, she started throwing a tantrum (I can't remember what it was about, but rest assured, it was over something ridiculous). When Zoe is throwing a tantrum, we just ignore her and go on with our responsibilities, so I worked on getting all of the other kids and myself ready. Zoe stopped screaming at some point, and the next thing I knew, she'd had a total mood change and came skipping out of her room wearing a Minnie Mouse t-shirt, jeans, Minnie Mouse slippers, and a fire fighter hat.

Not church clothes, of course.

If there's anything to know about Zoe, it's that you can not make her change her clothes once she's gotten herself ready. Not only does it set her off on a tantrum that may take hours to recover from, it also completely crushes her spirits. Thus, she often ends up wearing unicorn shirts and Elsa shoes to church. I've decided that the way my three-year-old dresses for church is not a priority right now. I'm sure that there are people who judge me, but I don't care. It's more important to me that I can actually get my child to church, and if she's having a complete meltdown over clothes, we'll never make it there. I wasn't however, going to let her wear a fire fighter hat to church.

So, the fire fighter hat... It's pink, and her cousins just gave it to her last night, so it's new and exciting, which means Zoe is overly attached to it right now. Luckily, at some point, she took it off and forgot about it. Phew! But then she decided she wanted to wear her snow pants to church, and thus began a series of screaming, stamping her feet, and yelling about her snow pants. I ended up letting her put her snow pants on, then when we got to church, I took her in the coat room and said, "Which hanger do you want to hang your snow pants on?" It was just dumb luck that it worked (that whole "give your children acceptable and logical choices" parenting tactic has never worked on my kids - they usually just throw it back in my face. "Mom, would you like to buy me a Barbie or would you like to buy me Shopkins?" "Don't you Love and Logic me!"), and she was excited to take off her snow pants and hang them up. Worst case scenario, she would have swished through three hours of church. We've seen worse.

Scotty has church meetings before and after church, so he does as much as he can to help get the kids ready before he has to leave, and then I finish up and get the kids to the church on my own. A few minutes after we arrived, Scotty took Eva out of her car seat, and she was covered in poop. I had to run her to the bathroom and get her cleaned up. This was a real doozy - the kind that warrants going home, but I refused to go home because it was too much work getting everyone there just to turn around and leave.

In the bathroom, I began to strip Eva down. I made a pile of poo clothes and then started to wipe her off which resulted in a pile of poo rags which sat upon the poo diaper which was too full and leaky to roll up and secure for disposal. During the process, we got poo all over the bathroom counter. I ended up giving Eva a little bath in the sink (where the water ran and ran but NEVER got warm - poor thing). Then I left all the poo everywhere so I could take her back into the chapel and have two free hands to clean everything up (I crossed my fingers that no one would go into the bathroom during the thirty seconds I was gone) (it looked like a crime scene) (but substitute poo for blood).

When I arrived in the chapel, Scotty and Zoe were gone, and Nicky and Daisy were sitting there alone. Not having any other choice, I handed the baby to Nicky and ran back to the bathroom, but first I stopped at the custodial closet and got some garbage bags and disinfectant. I bagged the mounds of poopy things, then I cleaned the counter and sink, washed my hands, and went back into the chapel.

Scotty was still gone when I got back, so I asked Nicky where he went. Nicky told me he had taken Zoe to the bathroom, and that's when it dawned on me that Zoe hadn't worn a diaper to church.

A little info about Zoe's potty training progress: there is none. Zoe has been sitting on the toilet for over a year and a half of her own will, but she WILL NOT "go." The kid pretty much diapers herself (save for poopies), and sometimes she will put underwear on for a few hours and then switch to a diaper when she needs to pee. All of my kids have self-diapered at some point. Isn't that bizarre? It seems like a kid who can change her own diaper (and put a diaper on when she knows she's going to pee) should be able to just go in the potty. But whatever. I haven't been able to solve this strange problem.

I left the chapel again and went to the men's bathroom to find Scotty. I was worried Zoe'd had an accident, but fortunately she hadn't. She'd told Scotty she needed to go potty (which she does often), and Scotty took her to the bathroom and patiently waited for several minutes to see if she would pee (as we always do), but she didn't (as she never does). While I was talking to Scotty, I caught a sniff of my hands and realized that I still smelled like poo, so Scotty took Zoe back to the chapel, and I went in the restroom to wash my hands again.

When I got back into Sacrament meeting, Zoe crawled up on my lap and said, "I need a diaper." When Zoe says she needs a diaper, she's not kidding, so out we went. I took her in the closest classroom because, at this point, the Sacrament was about to be passed, and I didn't want to miss it. I put a diaper on her and ran walked briskly, yet reverently, back into the chapel.

About halfway through the meeting, I looked down and realized that my off-white sleeve was covered in poo. At that point, I didn't care what I looked or smelled like. I knew I was a champion for still being there, so I looked over at Scotty, smiled, glanced down at my sleeve, and mouthed, "Poo!"

Then I looked around at my fellow church-goers and wondered if any of them had any idea what we'd been through in the last half hour.

This made me contemplate the possibility of starting a forum called "Tales From the Pew" where people can write in about what really goes on in their pew.

And thus, another challenging Sunday came and went, and I just have to laugh that the phrase, "Easy like Sunday morning" even exists.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Story of 2015

If I were to give 2015 a title, I think I'd call it "The Year of Chaos." Part of me hopes that some of the chaos is left behind as the new year begins, but unfortunately, that's not really how things work.

For the sake of documentation, here is how the morning of the last day of 2015 went.

Zoe woke up early and told me she was hungry, so I started making pancakes. As the pancakes were cooking, Eva started crying upstairs. She'd eaten three times during the night, so I knew her diaper was going to be soaked through. Sure enough, she was wet, so I stripped her down. She needed a bath, so I didn't see the point of diapering her for only a few minutes. I was optimistic that I could carry a naked baby downstairs to flip the pancakes and then give her a quick bath in the kitchen sink without incident. As I was flipping the pancakes, I heard a splash of liquid on the kitchen floor. Sure enough, Eva had peed on me, on Zoe who was standing next to me on a step-stool, and all over the floor and step-stool.

Aside: It's been a long time since a baby has peed on me in such a way. I've been very cautious over the years and haven't put myself in a position to be peed on. I found it interesting that the pee came out much like it was being dumped from a cup. It just sort of "splatted." There was no stream. Just "Splat!" in less than two seconds. 

Zoe started crying, "Pee on me! Pee on me!" and I started hunting for the nearest towel. I got things tidied up and sanitized, then went back to working on the pancakes thinking, "Well, at least it's out of her system. Surely I'll be safe for five more minutes."

I decided to forgo the sink bath and finish breakfast since I hadn't brought the baby soap downstairs. I was just about done with the pancakes with still-naked Eva on my hip when "Splat!" She peed again. This time, though, the utensil drawer was open, and the pee splattered over all the silverware and pooled in the drawer.

It just goes to show that, in parenting, there will never stop being "firsts." You can have four kids, or innumerable kids, and there will still be times when you are utterly shocked.

As I started to clean up the mess, that's when I realized just how chaotic this past year has been.

I live the kind of life where my silverware gets peed on.

Story of 2015.

"The Year of Chaos."

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016!

Yay! It's 2016!

I'm 32 (I've reached that phase in life where sometimes I can't remember how old I am, so I'm actually really excited about being 32 because for the past few months, I thought I was already 32, and it was kind of cool to realize that I was only 31).

(I am 32, right?)

Regardless of my age (2016 - 1984 = 32), I'm glad that it's a new year. I love starting fresh! Here are my resolutions for 2016:

No soda. This one should be easy because I'm already mostly soda-free. I just want to make sure I stay that way, hence the resolution. It's usually in the summer at BBQs and parties that I start my pop habit up again.

Stay in school. I'm so close to finishing my degree (90%), but it is going to take me two more years. Right now I'm really discouraged about school. It's overwhelming, and I just want to be done. Having two weeks off for Christmas has given me a taste of what it's like to not be in school, and I really like the flavor, so I need to commit to keep going.

Cultivate the talents in my patriarchal blessing. I think a lot of my gifts and talents are things that aren't measurable, and sometimes that makes it hard for me to recognize them. I've gotten in a habit of neglecting my gifts and talents, so I want to focus on nurturing them and not worrying about the talents I don't have. I've made a list of them in my journal.

Send 25 hand-written cards or letters. I used to be really good about sending cards and letters to people, but technology has inhibited that practice a bit. One of my best friends gave me stationary and address labels for Christmas, and I just made an updated address book, so I'm ready to go!

Have a $0 balance on my credit card statement each month. I use a credit card for most of my purchases so I can get cash back rewards. I've never accumulated interest on my card, but I don't do the best job keeping track of my spending, so sometimes when I go to pay it off, I have a lot more on there than I realized. Committing to a $0 balance will encourage me to track my spending and pay it off immediately rather than when the statement arrives.

Maintain or improve my exercise habits. I currently workout about 5 days a week. A year from now, I want to still be exercising regularly, and hopefully I will have increased the intensity.

Weigh less on September 29 that I do right now. I don't want to put a lot of pressure on myself to lose weight, but I'll be honest... I want to lose weight. In September of 2015, I weighed more than I've ever weighed in my life - even when I've been nine months pregnant. I felt really crummy, so when I got back from Disneyland, I sucked it up and started working out again and eating better. I've lost about 15 lbs since September 29. It's a good start, but I still have a lot of work to do to overcome my bad habits and get healthy (plus, I enjoyed the holidays a bit, so I need to make up for that). I don't want to set my goal in a specific number because I don't think the number really matters, so as long as the number goes down and I improve my habits.

Re-read five books. I haven't been able to read for leisure lately because of life's circumstances. I have a tendency to start books and decide they aren't worth my time, but I can't get back the time I already wasted. This can be remedied by reading books that I already love.