Sunday, November 22, 2015

What Do I Do All Day

I ask myself this question often.  I remember the words of mothers who walked before me in the beauty of all day school for their children and they would always say, "the day is not as long as you think it is".  I never could wrap my brain around how 8:15am -4pm was not that long. I spent 12 years with kids at home.  Mondays were hard because it started another week of ...what will we do this week.  I did enjoy all of the road trips to the zoo, parks and movies.  I have spent endless hours having tea parties and picking up little pieces of play dough out of my carpet and rugs.  I miss the play lands that we would frequent in hopes of tiring out the kids so they could take a good nap that day.  A play date?...that rare occasion they would get invited over (not often because who invites 3 boys one) and I would wonder what I would do with my 90 min of freedom.  The anticipation of the free time was better than the actual 90 min because I would catch myself daydreaming of what I could possibly do for that precious time.  I would dream about hitting a craft place or a market and just slowly browse.  The reality was a quick trip to Costco.

Back to what do you do all day.  The days go fast and they are just busy.  As of lately I am slowly updating my home from all of the damage of having kids home all day..everyday destroying  my world.  We are slowly replacing all of the shoe molding that was taken off the walls and broken at nap times.  I am repairing window sills from the holes that were poked in them with the door stopper that was unscrewed during another nap time.  I walk around the house with my drywall mud and I repair the divots and holes in my walls.  Someone was trying to play hockey in the hallway and missed the ball..caught the wall though.  Lots of painting and scrapping of dried buggers that were wiped along the wall.  The trim needs new white paint because of all of the spilled stuff on them and how badly they are beat up.  It is truly amazing at how badly stuff gets torn up with 8 people living in a home.  Some new carpet to rid ourselves of the vomit stains that have accumulated over the years.  We even added some hardwood in the upstairs because lets be honest...the vomit is not over and hardwood hallways is much easier to clean up at 3am.

The early years are somewhat of a fog so I am going through closets and sorting and boxing clothes.  This is a full time job within itself.  I just went into the triplets room and pulled out their jeans that were stuffed in their closet.  I made a pile of 6 pairs of hole ridden, faded, dirty jeans to be thrown out.  I shutter for a moment to think "did I let them go to school with these on".  I proceed onward, deeper in the closet to find a pile of clothes that I forgot about and are now too small.  I am notorious for stuffing things in places (and forgetting where I put them) because the right box is not accessible or I don't have the time at that moment.  Time to put away the shorts and t shirts and get out the warm clothes and this is tough because now I need to unload boxes in order to refill them.  My home has boxes of clothes stuffed all over.  My older boys are in a size 16 and I am searching for the boxes marked size 7.  These boxes have been put away for quite sometime and often they need to be washed before they are ready for use again.  I digress......

The hampers always seem to be full and the main floor always seem to have pieces of clothing or items that need to go upstairs.  The kitchen is in constant need of sweeping and something is always in need of repair.  The older boys had a bar mitzvah the other night to attend and they arrive home with suit coats minus the buttons.  How do you lose buttons in that short of time?  "I don't know mom, we were just hanging out and a friend grabbed my jacket and it fell off".

Oh shoot I forgot I still need to make the 2 dozen treats for the 8th grade bake sale tomorrow morning.  Oh bummer..Need to ask David if he can take boys and Mairin to school tomorrow and get in line early to turn in the ski club form..first come first serve.  Thanksgiving is approaching and I need to gather the supplies for the craft.  I really need to get that new carpet cleaner out of the box and get the basement carpet cleaned this week.  Oh I almost forgot that peanut oil is on sale this week at Gordons..must get for the turkey fryer.  My appointment is today to get my ipad looked at and I almost forget that I need to be at the elementary school at 2 to volunteer for the book fair.  Oh and lets find some time in there for me to grab some more milk..we are out. Dinner?  yep that slipped my mind....Oh and lets take a look at my calendar...Let's round out the evening with a hockey game.  Clearly I have stuff to do.  I must go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

6:30am - 8:09am A Small Window But Very Busy Window!

By 8:09am I am ready for a break.  I am amazed at how much has to be done before these 6 little bits of bones and skin can leave the house.  I bring most of it on myself but it is only because it is important to me.  Why is it important to me?  Not really sure but we all have a "things" that we pay attention to.

The alarm goes off at 6:30am and I head down the hall and flip on the light in Eamon and Liam's room.  I make sure they answer me in some sort of a way even if it is just a grunt.  I move back down the hall and walk into Mairin's room.  I have to turn on the light for her and find her.  She is never in the same place in her bed.  She can be hidden under a mound of pillows or scrunched in the corner.  She doesn't say much so I usually lay with her for a quick minute before I leave her to get ready.  The walk down the stairs in my final opportunity to wake up before I enter the kitchen for a full on meal preparation.  It is early but I pull out the 7 lunch boxes and prepare my mind for what I will fill these rectangular canvas zip up to go bags with.  There are those who like ham and not bologna and some who prefer chicken breast over turkey and I do make some mistakes but most often I can put together some mean lunches.  Liam is by far the easiest of all.  He doesn't really care what I pack and never complains about what I pack.  Eamon is pretty laid back but he is more particular about including healthy items.  He likes certain bread, needs a bag of chips and will go without yogurt.  Throw him an apple and carrots and he is good.  Mairin takes some creativity at times.  She wants the salami and cream cheese roll ups or the little cups of ravioli or something completely off the wall but she is 100% mood based (haha just like me...)  Colin likes ham but not bologna and Finn prefers bologna.  Declan will eat almost anything and Colin has to have green apples versus red apples.  Plain vanilla yogurt for Finn but any flavor for the others.

The older 3 leave on the bus at 7:10am so usually while I am waking up the Blendtec is mixing smoothies and the toaster has a waiting line.  I don't make breakfast and the kids know that they need to stay out of my way so that they will have a lunch.  My counters start to fill up around this time because my mind is going in several directions and if I jump ahead to the triplets lunch I end up having lots of ingredients out.  Throw in some permission slips that need signing along with The Today Show you have a rumbling morning.   "Did you brush your teeth"?  and "make sure you comb your hair".  Peat and Repeat is the standard over here.

I have a 10 to 15 minute gap between the older 3 getting on the bus and the littles coming downstairs  (that is only if the older 3 were somewhat quiet which is rare).  The trips hate it when I make them go back upstairs and change their clothes or when they forget their socks.  They will come down in some obnoxious outfit that is either mix matched, too small or dirty and I simply say, "try again" and they know that means to pivot on the right foot, turn around gracefully and retrace steps back to their room for a redo.  I remember as a kid hating having to go back downstairs to retrieve something that I had forgotten.

By this time I am in full swing of making lunches for the trips and they usually consist of a roll up or sandwich, bagel, hot dog or even a salad.  Throw in a fruit cup and some sort of crunch and they are good to go.  The snack is tougher to figure out.  I often resort to the fruit cup and a cheese stick.  I stack their lunches on the floor in the kitchen and that is their signal to pack their backpacks.  We encourage looking for our shoes and coat at this time so that we don't get to bus time and we can't find our coats or shoes.  When they are complete they can then watch some TV...Oh and they are also on their own for breakfast preparation.  They can do toast, bagel and/or cereal.  I can assist with a milk pour, opening of a new box of sugar cereal or spreading some cream cheese on a bagel but that is the extent of that.  The bus arrives at 8:09am and the house is then quiet.  Time to fill the dishwasher and put away what looks like a complete disaster.  Oh and David was in this mix as well.  He comes down in the midst of all this...kisses whoever is left and grabs his coffee and lunch before he heads out for a day of "breaking rocks for the man" as he would say.

It is not long before I need to get serious about what is for dinner. (I get so tired of food being such a big part of my day but I have not figured out how to get away from it).  Nothing good comes out of 6 hungry kids that jump off the school bus, barge through the front door and say "I'm hungry" and I have nothing for them.  

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Rest Of The Story. 8 Motts and A Pop Up

  Finally we were off to Yellowstone.  The place the triplets were anticipating.  They didn’t really know what it was going to be but they were eager to see it.  We arrived and got all settled in and were able to do some exploring.  We received many warnings at check-in about the bears in the area.  Two nights prior to our arrival there was a bear hanging around in our camp area.  They know how to freak out a Midwestern girl like myself.  I had to transfer all of our food to our vehicle or to the locked metal boxes at our campsite.  We were not allowed to wash any dishes or brush teeth or do anything that would leave any sort of smell around our campsite.   At night you had to have everything put away and no food was to be in your tent camper.  I was not allowing much snacking from the kids.  They were not going to leave a trail of Cheetos and risk my life...nope not going to happen.  Nothing like laying your head down at night with 6 lovely children and wondering if you might hear or heaven forbid feel the claws of a bear. 

We cooked all of our meals during our 3 day stay in Yellowstone and did lots of exploring.  The scenery was amazing and worth the long trip.  We drove the entire circle around Yellowstone and it took most of the day.  We pulled up to Old Faithful just moments before it erupted and our timing seemed to be right on track.  

On our way out of the National Park we headed to the Grand Tetons National Park which is just south of Yellowstone.  The view was again breathtaking but the forest fires in Montana and Idaho left us wanting clear skies. 

We kept on our route and drove to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I was very geeked about this visit.  The town is very cool and is literally in a hole with ski resorts all around.  The town is very swanky and I could have spent a couple days there browsing the stores.  We were stopped by the police on horseback and were issued a wonderful welcome.  We grabbed some lunch and David decided to take the kids to the ski mountain and take them on an alpine slide ride down the mountain.  They all liked it so much that they wanted more more more.  We had to keep going because our destination was a good 5 hours beyond.  

We finally made it to Vernal, Utah.  Why you ask?  I asked too.  Vernal is a popular location to do some white water rafting and is just outside of Dinosaur National Monument.  It was the first night in a hotel since we left home.  Everyone just wanted to flop, watch TV and enjoy the temperature controlled room.  Hotel staying can be stressful for David because of the cash he has to drop on 2 rooms and for me it is merely the stress of keeping 6 kids quiet so that we don’t risk getting kicked out.  We rarely find the hotels that have the adjoining suites (in the price range that David is comfortable in) so we ended up getting 2 rooms next to each other.  We put all 6 in one room with cartoons and we hung out in the neighboring room with a cocktail and some TV.
The alarm seemed to go off sooner than we wanted in the hotel.  We had to be at the White Water Rafting Location by 8:30am so we got up and gathered all of our crazies and headed off.  Upon arrival we had to sign away our life with the liability waivers and then we were fitted with helmets and life jackets (helmets…ok we are not kidding around here.  This is just a trip down the river on a tube.  The trip began at 8:30 with a bus ride that took out to god knows where but we didn’t see another vehicle for 30 minutes.  We stopped in the middle and took a quick hike to check out some petorglyphs (drawing on the side of the mountains from the Fremont Indians 2000 years ago).  We arrive to the river and it is literally a canyon through Dinosaur National Monument.  Amazing views and wonderful rapids.  We all stayed in the boat, had a rocking guide named Ross and he made sure we all got wet.  They were classified as level II and III rapids and that is the highest we could go with 6 year olds.  We stopped mid day for a picnic lunch and then ended our trip around 3:30pm. The sun was shining and the temp was around 90 degrees.  The kids all loved it.   

We had to keep moving and get to our next campsite in Dinosaur so by the time we located our campsite and toured the Dinosaur quarry it was 6:30pm.  We cooked dinner and we David took the kids to the ranger program.  I needed to catch up on some house keeping.  It was that time when I needed to repack the trips with clean clothes in their backpacks, put things back in order, organize and go thru the coolers and get the camper ready for sleep.  

The evening was hot but cooled down rather quickly.  Of course we were at a campsite that had no electricity.  It was the cheapest one of the trip.  $12.00 got us a slab to park, a fire ring, picnic table and a couple of poopers.  Oh and a spigot for water.  The location of this campground was rather dusty and dirty.  The trips made it their job to climb the hills and search for fossils (they claimed).  They were so dirty that David took two 5 gallon buckets and filled them with cold water and bathed the kids that way.  It was quite the way to bath but at least the little toes were clean when they dug deep into the sleeping bags. 
Pancakes and sausage for breakfast and by 10am we were on the road again…destination Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  Steamboat Springs was on the route and it came just in time to stop, grab some lunch and we let the kids buy some trinkets at the trading post.  

Another 1.5 hours to the next park. 
This trip is going great but honestly I have seen enough nature to last me awhile.  I have cooked enough meals outside with minimal utensils to last me a long time.  I have yet to do anything beyond shower at night (when we have the ability) and wake up only to put the hair in a pony tail and grab my ditty bag that sits in the console of the vehicle and slap on some deodorant, brush my teeth with a bottle of water and use a cleansing wipe for my face and off we go.   The toughest thing is keeping the little ones quiet when everyone else is quiet.  Colin is usually in his own world, Finn is asking what adventure is next and Declan is usually agitating someone.  Mairin is mothering and telling on them while Eamon and Liam are the real troopers in  this whole adventure.  They are great sports and have thanked us throughout the trip for taking them on this adventure.  David reads every flipping sign he can and has been very very aware of when the rest of the family has lost interest or needs a change of scenery.  I am taking lots of driving time too.  It is amazing when you get used to pulling a camper it losses its scariness. 
We have 7 days left before we should be home.  I thought we would be gone until Sept 3 but David needs to be back to work on the 2nd.  Wish us well as we continue our journey. 
At this point in our trip we have no reservations and it is up to the co-pilot to look at the map and decide where we should stay.  I was kind of burned out of National Parks so when I read up on Estes Park (just on the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park) I decided that is where my recommendation would be.  The ratings for the campground were great so that is where we were headed.  We pull in and I just knew it was not a typical “Mott” campground.  It had a pool and a playground.  David went in and checked it out and he agreed to book 1 night. (no worries though…we would stay 2 nights if I had any say and I did).  We get our assignment and as we drove to it we both saw another camper literally 2 ft away from where we were to back up and park our camper.  We both look at each other and say, “nope not gonna do this” and we drive back to the front office and get another spot.   We got ourselves all set up and all seemed well.  We slept well and the next morning we walked to the little office where hot coffee was brewing and I took a hot shower.  Guess what..we stayed another night.  

When you are that far into a camping experiment it is all about the little things that are important.  I was sold on the coffee,  the dish washing sink outside with hot water, a pool and the playground for the kids.  The second evening we were done with our hike in the Rocky Mountains (a 3 mile hike that lasted 2 hours because we climbed to 10,000 ft elevation.  It was not what I would wake up in the morning and dream about doing but we did it as a family. )  and we thought we would let the kids swim.  I went and got some beer and we did a couple loads of laundry.  We eventually went out to dinner and then called it a night. 
Up and off again the next morning to head south to see more of Colorado.  We stopped by David’s cousins house Ron and Barb Mazur in Highlands Ranch, Colorado for a great lunch.  

They had so much to entertain the kids and quite frankly I enjoyed being in a home, temperature controlled and good conversation.  A couple hours there and we were off to continue South to the Mueller State Park just past Pikes Peak.  It was at that point when we finally found the state park and it was far enough out of town AGAIN and it was raining and as David is checking in for not 1 but 2 nights I check my phone and see “no service”.  I look at David and use my index finger and thumb to make a gun and put it to the side of my head.  Let me paint the picture for you.  It is 6ish in the evening.  The rain is coming down and the temperature has gone from the mid 80’s to the high 50’s (this is what the weather seems to do in those parts).  We just checked into a campsite with canvas sides.  There are 6 children who have been sitting in a car for several hours and it is no where near bedtime.  We have no Internet service to keep myself or anyone else busy …..Yep …Time for the vacation to end.
The next day we decided it was gonna be a good day for the girls.  David really wanted to go to the top of Pikes Peak and quite frankly I had no interest.  I had a hard enough time with the trek over the Rocky Mountains and we only hit 12,500.  Pikes Peak is a whopping 14,111 ft.  Fearful of getting altitude sickness I took Mairin and we spent the day shopping in Manitou Springs.  We had a ball and the boys enjoyed driving to the top.  Finn and Eamon both had headaches at the top and David said breathing was a challenge.  

They came back to town to pick us up and we all headed to The Air Force Academy.  What a cool place.  We took a self guided tour, checked out the bookstore and the famous chapel.  We had to be off the property by 5pm and it gave us just enough time to check it all out and show Eamon and Liam what it was all about.  This was really the ending to all of the site seeing of the trip.  

The next morning we were packing up and heading East.   We stopped off at Walmart and I went in to restock snacks and lunch meat for our 3 day adventure home.  We got back to camp and had a campfire while I made a ton of sandwiches for the trip.  At the campfire we asked everyone what their favorite event was on the trip and we all concluded we had fun but we all were anxious to get home. 
We woke up at 7:30am, threw on our clothes and had the camper taken down and ready to pull out by 8:10am.  Everyone ate donuts and breakfast bars on our way out of the park.  We were off.  The day ended up being much longer than we anticipated.  We drove through the rest of the state of Colorado and made it through a big part of Kansas.  We planned to camp when we drove into thunder storms and so we just kept going.  We ended up driving til 8pm with only 4 stops all day and getting a hotel room in York, Nebraska.  We scored 2 rooms at $47.00 each and enjoyed hot showers and good old TV.   The kids had cold pizza from Pizza Hut for a late dinner and no one complained a bit.  We had stopped at a rest stop mid day and a man told us that when we passed him he noticed that our trailer tire seemed to be bouncing a bit.  Maybe it was out of alignment.  David didn’t think much of it until we got going again and the control panel beeps and says “trailer no longer connected”.  I am driving at this point and my hands just tighter on the steering wheel.  We take the next big exit and we stop at a tire store where they fix the tire (this is when I take the 6 littles to Pizza Hut to eat while David fixes the vehicle).  It cost $5.00 to repair and 40 minutes later we are back on the super slab.

The easiest passengers are Eamon and Colin.  Colin will sit for hours and often you won’t hear a word. Eamon is quiet but make sure when you are eating you are not making noises and please please leave him alone when he has had enough.  Liam is always the one who is revving the triplets up and wonders why he gets into trouble.  Mairin is the one who lets everyone in the car know if Declan is doing something wrong.  She talks to Declan loud enough to ensure that I hear her in hopes of me backing her up and getting after Declan.  Declan is often the one is being devious but we all know he can’t help himself.  David has a soft spot for Declan and while I raise my voice at him, David will talk to him softly and request his cooperation.  Finn is the one always telling us how bored he is or the one who is asking the deep questions.  These kids are great travelers and although I provided a fair amount of movies for our trip, they are the ones that were patient and cooperated with each other and sat in close quarters for endless hours.  Troopers for sure..Hut
We left York, Nebraska at 8:30am and little did we know we would sleep in our own beds that very night.  We made great time and just kept driving and driving.  I made lunch out of the back of the Expedition in the parking area of a gas station.  We pumped as many movies into the kids as we could and by 12:30am we rolled into our driveway.  832 miles for the day but we were home.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Chapter 1 The Details - 8 Motts and A Pop Up

I never knew how many channels there were on Sirius Radio.  I let my subscription run out and waited until they contacted me over and over and offered me the deal of the century to come back.  I knew that this trip was coming and when you are ticking 4,000 miles in a small enclosed area……You might want to spring for Sirius Radio.  I put the triplets in the far back with a double DVD player and gave them a big sleeve of videos and told them to have at it.  The second row encased the older 3.  I got my laptop loaded with some movies and got a splitter for the headsets so at least 2 could watch a movie in the second row.  I went on Amazon and made sure everyone had a head set.  I turned the radio to the front and it was like we had a house within our car.  The trips were in the basement, the older 3 were in the family room and mom and dad were sitting in the living room having coffee.  Well maybe not quite that perfect.

My job is the food and ever since this morning at 6:30am when I was loading the coolers in the camper and all I heard was, “this is too many coolers”. I am praying that I can prove someone wrong and we can consume this food before it goes bad.  I have 2 full size coolers (normal size but not those gigantic …enough to hold beer for 200 people size) and a little one for drinks.  I have one that is for frozen items, mostly meat and the other is cheese, condiments, sandwich stuff, eggs and milk.  I thought I was doing well since 8 people are eating out of these coolers. 

The trips did exceptional today.  David made it clear that the word “stop” was not allowed on the trip.  It was funny to hear everyone come up with different ways to stop one another from doing something they didn’t like.  Eamon had the best one, “Declan can you please refrain from kicking the back of my seat or I may have to get father involved”.  We all laughed and enjoyed Eamon taking it to the next level.  Back to the triplets.  They sat in the back of the Expedition all next to each other and did amazing.  We got into the car at 7:30am and we stopped 3 times all day.  We arrived at 5pm at our campsite in Northwest Illinois along the Mississippi River and there were no moments when any of us thought we might lose our minds.  I actually know why this happens.  They wait until you are far enough from home so you really can’t threaten to turn the car around and go home.  I’m sure tomorrow will be a completely different story but let’s hope for the best.  Time for smores.  Peace out.

It is now day 9 and we are all speaking.  We have done so many things and I feel like I may forget.  Cody Wyoming was a hit.  We were able to roll in early enough to set up camp and get over to the longest lasting nightly rodeo in the country.  The wind was whipping as we pulled into the campsite and I really thought the camper might tip over with the gale force winds and rain that we experienced.  We almost bailed on the rodeo but the skies cleared up just enough for us to feel like we could venture out.  By the time the rodeo ended it was in the low 40’s and we were all freezing.  Everyone slept in everything they had ….a sweatshirt and long pants.  It was a very cold night for all of us.  I made sure and tucked everyone in to ensure everyone was deep in their sleeping bags. 

We left Cody in the morning and made it to the road to The Badlands.  Before we entered The Badlands we were able to see the Decommissioned Minute Man 2 Missile.  That was very mind blowing and very cool to be able to see. 
The Badlands of South Dakota were our next stop.  The approach to the Badlands is very desolate and eerie.  It is not until you enter the National Park that you get a feel of what you are about to see.  David explained it very well to the kids.  The Native Americans explained to the early explorers that these were just badlands and to avoid them.  It was miles and miles of badlands.  The kids loved every minute of the climbing.  They didn't care that it was nearly 104 degrees.  They just wanted to climb.  It was cool that the National Park allowed you to climb anything you wanted.  Imagine camping in the Badlands.  Yep it was liking setting up camp in a dust bowl.  Not much too it but glad we had electricity and glad we had air conditioning that evening.

The next trek was to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.  It was definately a site to see and we enjoyed a couple days there and we camped in the Black Hills.  The campsite was at the edge of a a mountain and the kids climbed and climbed and climbed.   Crazy Horse will take another lifetime to complete so we told the kids that when they bring their kids back it should be much closer to completion.

 Right above my head you can see the sculpture of a face.  That is the beginning of the crazy horse carving.