Menu Subject To Change Without Notice

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I am not good in the kitchen. I’m much better than I used to be though. Seriously, the only things I ever made in the kitchen were a huge mess and few small fires. If it didn’t come in a box or couldn’t be cooked in the microwave I didn’t make it. And when the “Holiday family get-togethers” rolled around I always brought the ice. But I brought the good ice!! It was Sonic Ice!!!! I know, right? I was good at ice!

My mom blames herself for my lack of skills in the kitchen. I think my lack of interest is to blame. I always had more desire to eat the food than cook it. Wait, I’m still like that. I wasn’t your typical little girl either. You were more likely to find me outside in a tree, swimming, riding motorcycles or playing in the mud than in the kitchen. Unless I was eating then you’d find me there. And I think I had an Easy Bake Oven but I’m pretty sure I baked more insects instead of cakes. What? I was a curious child.

The only real ‘cooking’ memory I have as a child is Christmas time. Nana used to do a lot of baking at Christmas. I never actually helped her, mind you, but I remember sitting in the kitchen watching…and smelling. The one thing I do remember helping with was the Buckeyes. My favorite!! I remember rolling the peanut butter into cute little balls. Then we would stick a tooth pick in it on top so we could dip it in the chocolate. I didn’t know they were called Buckeyes because they resembled the nut. I always thought we called them that because they looked like eye balls after you dipped it in the chocolate and took the tooth pick out. I think I was in my twenties before that revelation finally hit. Anyway, I love those memories of making Buckeyes with my Nana!

Today things are much different. I actually cook. I only use the microwave to melt butter and reheat items for left over night. I even make a few things from scratch. And they’re yummy!! Those of you who know me can pick your chins up off the floor now. Get this~ I actually enjoy cooking . I find pleasure in taking all these ingredients, putting them together and creating something that smells so good and makes my family smile. I have to be honest and say that some days, most days, I still see it as a chore. I would rather be relaxing on the couch playing Scramble with Friends, reading The Hunger Games series or working on this blog. However, we gotta eat. And I found out that things that you actually cook taste way better than things you get out of a box or microwave. The other thing that I enjoy so much about cooking dinner is that Gary and I usually do it together. One of us is usually the lead chef for the evening but the other is always right there to help and most importantly to spend time with. Gary and I use the time it takes to prepare dinner to talk about our day, share things, vent and encourage each other. Granted, we’re interrupted every few minutes by a kid asking any number of random questions . But we still enjoy it and it’s still great time together!

Dinner time can be extremely stressful in any home much less in a home with a large family. Before Gary and I were married we would eat dinner together at least 4-5 times a week. We would always email each other during the day and ask “So, what’s the plan for dinner?”. Then one of us would go by the grocery store on the way home. This happened every day. Occasionally we would get smart and plan two meals and buy both in one trip. I just knew that after we were married and living in the same house dinner would be so much easier. And it was. Sort of. We still did the emails of “So what’s the plan for dinner?” but instead of meeting up for dinner I ran to the store with all the kids before Gary got home from work. Yeah, the grocery store with five kids under the age of 13 is not fun. No matter how short the trip. So after a while of almost daily trips to the grocery store for dinner I realized there has to be a better way. That’s when I decided we needed to plan our meals out for the week and do a weekly trip to the grocery store.

I have to admit that meal planning is not my favorite thing to do. It’s a little tough finding seven meals that seven people agree on. I do realize that we can’t make everyone happy, but the kids need to realize they can’t have their favorite meal every night either. It’s very hard to teach young kids compromise. It doesn’t help that we have two very picky eaters. That is frustrating! [Apparently it’s some kind of payback. According to my mom anyway. I don’t know what she means by that exactly but whatever.] I struggle with how to handle Emma and Cullen and their finicky-ness. I really do, because I can see both sides of the situation. I have strong preferences when it comes to food too and I don’t want to force someone to eat something that revolts them. However, if you just don’t feel like having lasagna tonight because you’d rather have baked chicken and green beans, well, you’re out of luck. That’s where the compromise comes in. There are plenty of nights I’d rather have something else instead of what we’re having but you roll with it!
We’ve finally figured out a way around all of this. First and foremost, we are not short order cooks and you’re not going to have another meal prepared for you. Also, if we know it’s something you have eaten before, that’s what you eat. When it’s something we know they just won’t eat we make sure that we have some leftovers in the fridge that we can heat up for them. They don’t go hungry, we don’t cook two meals. Everyone’s happy.

I also want to share with you our Menu Board. I found this idea on Pinterest from The Creative Mama and I love it! [Visit this cool mama’s website for directions on how to put yours together] It works great for us. Before I just typed up a little boring list of what we were having for dinner each night and stuck it on the fridge with a magnet. Now we have this adorable, and functional, board on our fridge that makes dinner planning a breeze!

I'm so thankful for our menu board!! It makes a huge difference in our routine!

There’s two things I love about this type of menu board. One is you have all the meals you make already written out on little cards and all you have to do is flip through them and decide what to have that week instead of wracking your brain for ideas. The other is how easily you can switch the meals around if you need to. Sometimes things come up and you need an easier dinner to prepare or you decide to do left overs instead. However, you may get some back lash for that. To avoid a mutiny because we’re having lasagna instead of pig in a blanket I added a little disclaimer to the bottom in smaller print~ “Menu is subject to change w/out notice.” It keeps all the griping to a minimum. I would highly recommend it. You may have to explain it the first time but after that just point.

Once the menu is done it’s time for grocery shopping. Another necessary evil. I have a whole system for that too. I can’t wait to share it with you! In the mean time you should go have a snack!

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A Single Smartie and Other Junk From My Couch

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I’m not so sure life is slowing down any time soon. I mean, I know our life is never going to slow down. What I mean to say is it seems to be busier than normal lately and I don’t see any signs of it slowing down any time soon. I’m not really sure why it’s so hectic these days. I can’t decide if it’s because of increased extra-curricular activities for a couple of the kids, the small “home improvements” we’re working on, or the four milestone birthdays we’ve helped our friends celebrate over the last two months. None of which is a bad thing. Nor would I want to give any of those things up! I love my life even when it’s super hectic. But I am missing American Idol people.

So our furniture came in last Wednesday and we were all super excited! Still are. We actually stayed downstairs all evening that night. We watched a tv show together as a family and no one had to sit on the floor! Except for when they were eating their popcorn of course. Gary and I even went back downstairs after the kids went to bed. We just sat there on the new couch and recliner. It was great. We still have to wait a couple more weeks for the media console. Which kills me. I’m so ready for the living room to be put together and finished! Of course, I still have to do the two art pieces for the wall. So I’ll need the next two weeks to do that anyway. Funny~That makes me sound like a lot more of an artist than I really am. Crafty is more like it. Anyway, I’ve been scouring the interwebs to find accessories [in my head I hear Gary saying that in his fake ‘sweet little lispy voice’ every time. Cracks. Me. Up]. I’m on the hunt for the perfect throw pillows. I actually already found them but apparently I’m the only person who likes ruffles. I got the ‘no go’ from my husband AND my best friend. She’s not a ruffle-y kind of girl apparently. I just know that I don’t want plain boring pillows. I also know that I don’t want patterned pillows. Or pillows with buttons. All I know is I get these visions in my head of how I want something to look and I don’t stop until I find it. Or something else that I end up liking just as much as what was in my head. Speaking of which is probably a very scary place. All dark and cob webby probably. Who knows. I’m sure my family and friends have their own guesses. Anyway….I have some great ideas that I hope are just as awesome in reality as they are in my alternate reality that is my head.

Now that we have our new furniture there are a few new rules for the living room. Well, really just one.

1. DON’T RUIN THE NEW FURNITURE

This includes all old rules [no eating or drinking in the living room, no climbing on the furniture, no sitting on the arms] and a few new rules [no popcorn on the couches on movie night, no Beyblades on the coffee table at any time]. After cleaning out the old furniture to move it upstairs I realized that our kids believe that our rules don’t apply when Gary and I aren’t home. I wish our friends had been there to witness us cleaning it out. Because no one will ever believe how much crap was on the inside of that couch. I am not kidding you. Here’s what we found~
*almost two dollars in quarters that went into our vacation fund jar
*a match box car that was pink and apparently belongs to Paige
*a pocket knife that we’ve never even seen before
*the iPod Touch that we may or may not have accused people of stealing
*lots of, and by ‘lots of’ I mean a bajillion, snack wrappers
*Tootsie Rolls and wrappers -some still in the wrappers, some not. some half eaten.
*and a single Smartie that looked more like a teeny, tiny Petri dish. Yeah, I didn’t know they could grow mold either. But they do.

And don’t even ask how we got all that stuff out. It was a job. I felt like I was playing that claw game where you get stuffed toys as a prize. Only I was using a pair of tongs and a magnetic pointer with a much less desirable outcome. Needless to say I have threatened the kids within an inch of their life to keep the new couch…well, new.

So, now that the living room is semi-done we have to start working on the guest room down stairs. My brother and his wife are coming to visit for a week over Spring Break which is just under a month away. Right now the guest bedroom looks more like a junk drawer rather than an acceptable place for two people to sleep. The walls are covered in spackle, we still don’t have a frame for the mattress and….. yeah, you get the idea. Did I mention they’ll be here in 18 days?

Things will slow down. When I’m 80.

A Baby, a Cold, and New Furniture

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I would like to apologize to my millions of fans and followers….wait, I don’t have millions of fans and followers. Ok, so I’d like to apologize to my two friends, my husband, and my parents for my absence and lack of ability to get anything posted for the last two weeks. In my defense, it’s been a crazy two weeks. And someone needs to invent a handy little gadget that can convert my thoughts to text while I’m driving, laying in bed sick or cooking. On second thought that may not be a great idea.

Last week was mid-winter break for me and the kids. I’m not sure why we got it but I’m glad we did because, quite honestly, I don’t like to work. Ok, I dont’ mind work. I really love my job actually. But who wouldn’t rather be home? Anyway, since I was off I was able to help out our best friends by watching their little one for a few days. He’s one year and one month old and the cutest thing in the world. He was so entertaining! And best of all I had an excuse to watch Blues Clues and The Backyardigans again!! One of those nights their daughter Bug (yes, we really call her that) spent the night with us and we all went to the zoo the next day! I took 7 kids to the zoo by myself. Call me crazy! My niece (she’s actually my ex’s niece but I love her and I’m still claiming her) went with us but she had two of her own ages 3 and 1 so I was still on my own with my 7. It worked out great though. Tank (yes, we really call him that and there’s a reason for it) was contained in the stroller the majority of the time and Bug was attached to Emma the entire time. The other’s are old enough and fairly easy to keep track of. If I ever do ‘lose’ anyone it’s almost always Matt and it’s usually for only a few minutes. So I was good. This trip was very successful though! No one was lost, a great time was had by all, everybody was happy, one took a long nap and everyone else was too tired to fight when we got home! SCORE!

Last week wasn’t so fun. I was sick all week with a sinus and ear infection. I know it’s bad when Gary looks at me and says “You don’t look so good. Kinda like death. But warmed over.” Yeah, it was that bad. My house didn’t get cleaned and I didn’t care. Which is huge. I went to work all week. At least I think I did. I’m hoping I didn’t screw anything up too bad. I do remember getting aggravated and a little offended because people kept coming in my office asking me how I felt and then saying “…because you look horrible.” Well, thank you. Then why did you ask? I mean really people?

I finally started feeling better on Friday. Just in time for the weekend baby!!! Yeah, a weekend full of work. We’re getting new furniture on Wednesday. So crazy excited I can’t stand it! Our first furniture purchase together. My first ever! I’ve always had hand-me-downs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m all about free [or cheap] stuff. But this is furniture that I actually chose myself! Specifically for me and my house. Anyway, the living room needed a few small improvements. So after a weekend of spackling, sanding, painting, grocery shopping at ten o’clock at night, moving furniture and shampooing carpets, the living room is now ready for the new furniture. That won’t be here for three days.

So hopefully I now have everyone’s sympathy and I’m forgiven for being slack unable to post for the last two weeks. If I don’t post anything for another two weeks it will be the furniture’s fault for being so pretty to look at and too comfortable to get off of. Just sayin’.

Kids Will Do Anything For A Puffball

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Even though we have so many schedules and routines it takes a lot of work for things to run smoothly around here. Just so you know….I do not do it all myself. There’s no way I could. I would be a) completely and totally exhausted 24/7 and 2) a mean person. To save us all from the heartache everybody pulls their own weight around our house. There are too many people in this house for one person to take care of everything. And everyone in this house is capable of helping out. This is our home and everyone is responsible for helping to take care of it.

So instead of a chore chart we have a RESPONSIBILITY BOARD. I’m not fond of the word chore because it implies that you are going to get paid for doing it and we don’t do allowance. I’m not going to pay you to pick your underwear up and put it in the dirty clothes because it’s something you should do anyway. It’s your responsibility. Now if you want to pick up dog poop or wash the car then yeah, I may give you a little something. But don’t tell the kids that…I won’t be able to afford it. Our responsibility board has the bath schedule on it as well. Their names are magnetic so we can switch them around at the beginning of each week. There is a list of daily responsibilities for morning, afternoon and evening and each child has a weekly responsibility as well. One lucky kid gets a ‘bye’ week. Only because we couldn’t think of a fifth thing for them to do. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. And don’t say vacuuming. I thought about that but I like my vacuum lines to be a certain way and I know the kids won’t do it right. Wait…when I actually say these things out loud it does seem very obsessive compulsive. Anyway, the weekly ‘responsibility’ is also magnetic and we’re thinking about adding more but I can’t let any of the kids do anything else around the house without going behind them and doing it over again. There it is again, did you hear it? Anyway, the board comes in really handy. And it’s super cute too, which as we all know, is what matters the most. Am I right? We also have a reward system to help motivate them to take care of their daily responsibilities. They each have their own jar and they receive puff balls for completed tasks, when they do something super nice for someone or help with something that’s not their responsibility. They’ve all set goals and when they reach said goal they receive their chosen reward. Gary and I had to give them guidelines on what a reasonable reward is. Chalon’s first goal was 20 puff balls for a PlayStation 3. Try again buddy! In the end, they did pretty well.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter how many schedules or responsibility boards we have. If we don’t work together it just doesn’t work. I am only one person and there are 7 living here. It’s just not possible for me to do it all by myself. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not Super Woman. Thankfully I have a husband who knows that. Gary sees what I do for our family and he values that and appreciates it.

My job in this house is to submit to my husband. I am to put his needs above mine and serve him. Ephesians 5:22-24 says 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. It continues on saying 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.t28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

As I submit to Gary and act as a servant to him he in turn desires for my happiness and loves me with the same sacrificial love that Christ has for the church. He also puts my needs ahead of his own and longs to serve me. It’s this kind of love and obedience that keeps things running smoothly around here. As I said before, the reason why it works for us is we put God first.

Tissues, Soap, and S’mores…or How To Make Memories

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I grew up as an only child even though I have two brothers. Actually all three of us grew up as only children. We each have different moms and share our biological father. So technically we are only half siblings but let’s not split hairs. I actually didn’t meet my brothers until I was an adult. I knew they existed but had never met them. How we met and grew to know one another is another blog for another day. And this ain’t the day.

I was kinda spoiled growing up. And by ‘kinda’ I mean extremely. I was the first [and only] child for my mom and the first grandchild for my grandparents. Plus, my mom and I moved in with her parents when I was about six months old after my biological father left us. We lived there for 5 years. Needless to say I ended up becoming very close to my Nana and my aunt and uncle, who were both still kids themselves when I came along. At five years old my mom married my new dad. A wonderful man who loved me like his own and proved it by legally adopting me. He’s my daddy and I’m his little girl. I am so blessed to have him as my dad. And as a Papa to my kids. Between my parents and my Nana, who am I kidding…my aunts and uncles too, I was spoiled rotten. The thing is that even though I totally enjoyed all those things that I got I cherish all the memories that I have even more.

I grew up out in the country on a dirt road that only my family [and some family friends that are family too] lived on. We didn’t have cable tv or the internet. We had four-wheelers, a dirt road and the woods. My best friend Brian and I actually used our imagination and played outside. We were ninja’s some days, veterinarians on other days and then we were scientists one day. But only one day. We blew up mom’s bathroom and that was the end of that. So we went back to being ninja’s. We had chickens, horses and pigs. It was my job, at least occasionally to collect the eggs and I learned that roosters aren’t exactly the nicest creatures. The pigs were pretty cool. I would feed them scraps over the fence and I think I even named them. Then one day a big truck came and they loaded the pigs up on the truck. That’s the day I learned what the word slaughter meant. Sad day. I look back on the days of me and Brian exploring the woods, almost killing ourselves on riding the four-wheelers, climbing trees and building forts and wish that my kids could have those same experiences.

Thanks to my parents I was quite the traveler. My dad was in the military until I was in high school and even though we didn’t travel the world we did live in Colorado several times. And I’ve seen most of the United States. I’ve road tripped across the country several times and it was amazing!! From what I understand my grandmother was less than pleased that my parents did such a thing to me. I believe that’s because she was just mad that they were taking me away from where she was. Which is understandable. I’m extremely thankful to have had the opportunities that I had though. I had driven across the country [at least twice], skied the Rocky Mountains, spent the night in Vegas, went deep-sea fishing in the Pacific, saw the Hollywood sign, been to Disneyland [and Disneyworld], went to many Braves games, went to a home Dodger game and went camping in the Rocky Mountains [and lots more]. All before my 16th birthday. How many sixteen year olds can say that? Ok, I know I’m not the only person who’s done that much by that age and I know that some have done more than that. I’m just thankful to have been blessed with the opportunities my parents [and the military] gave me. Those memories will be with me forever and my kids are going to hear amazing stories of things I’ve been able to do and things I’ve seen. I’ll never be able to give my kids those kinds of opportunities. My plan is to give them everything I can. Not material things that will rust and break. But memories that they will cherish forever. I want to give my kids stories to amaze their kids with some day.

Soap Carving


We haven’t road tripped across the country. We have been to Disney World though! Just for a day. But it was the best day EVER!! We don’t need lavish vacations to make memories though. We build fires and make s’mores in the backyard. We fry candy

Best day EVER

bars and Oreos and pickles. We buy bars of soap and carve them into soap sculptures. We tour our State Capital and feed the birds and squirrels [we were mistaken for a school group when we went in for the tour, I took that as a complement about my organizational skills]. We do fun science experiments too. One time we made ice cream in a zip lock bag. Another time we made Mentos fountains and a cool video! We have the coolest kids and we love making memories with them.

Here’s a video Gary made of one of the memories we made with the kids. We bought 8 boxes of tissues, moved the furniture and told the kids to have at it. You can see the confusion on their faces turn into sheer bliss. And one day over Thanksgiving dinner they’re going to say “Remember that time our parents got us all those tissue boxes…….”

Fun With Tissues from Blending Chaos on Vimeo.

Come And Get It

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As I sit here thinking about what to write about dinner at our house I realize that it probably does look crazy and chaotic from an outsider’s perspective. Gary and I fixing plates [side note: that’s what we say in the south. The plates aren’t actually broken just so you know], the kids coming in and out of the kitchen, the fridge opening and closing. I see it all in my mind, sped up just enough to make it comical and the Benny Hill song playing in the back ground.

Our dinner routine has evolved over time to suit our needs. When we were first dating there were only 4 chairs at the table so we had to use a bar stool as well. Which caused arguments over who was going to sit on the stool….and our first schedule was born! Everyone had ‘assigned seats’ at the table [alright, alright…I might be a bit OCD] so the stool just made its way around the table giving each person a turn to sit on the beloved stool. Which I don’t know what the big deal was. It was too high for the table and you had to lean over to take a bite of food. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, dinner routine. The table was only large enough for four, five with the stool, so Gary and I would feed the kids first and play waiter while they ate. Once the kids were done we could enjoy a peaceful dinner, and I use the term peaceful very loosely. This routine continued on for quite a while. We still use it when we have our friends over so the adults can sit together and converse over the meal and the kids can run off and play. However, we now eat together as a family every night!

Our first meal as a family was on Memorial Day. Gary had made the best looking ribs, I made potato salad and baked beans…the whole nine yards. The food looked fabulous!! Gary looked at the ribs and then looked at me and said “We’re all eating together today. There is no way I’m going to sit and watch them eat these ribs and have to wait on mine.” So we had our first meal together as a family, all at the same time! All joking aside, Gary and I truly value our faith and family and we decided that we needed to start eating our meals together as a family to reflect that.

Our dinner routine runs rather smoothly I think. When dinner is almost ready we call one of the kids to set the table. Depending on the type of dinner we have we either go ahead and fix [prepare for you northerners] the kids plates and put them on the table. Usually the child that sets the table helps with this part too. Sometimes we put all the food on the table “family style” and serve them there. If we have tacos or something like that we either call each child to ask for their preferences or send a child to take orders just like a waiter. Don’t laugh, it works. I even write their names on the edge of the paper plates with my sharpie sometimes to keep track. Those of you who know me are laughing now because they know all about me and sharpies. You are aren’t you? Once all the plates are ready and everyone is seated we say the blessing and enjoy our time together. Sometimes the discussions are silly, sometimes intriguing. Some nights we have wonderful discussions about right and wrong, our faith and how great life is. And we almost always learn something new about each other. One by one the kids finish and ask to be excused. We have to be a little strict here because we have a few who like to inhale their food so they can return to their xBox game or television show or drawing or whatever. They know up front that if you finish first you will have to sit and visit for a little while before being excused. So you may as well slow down and actually taste your food. Everyone clears their own spot putting their cup in its spot on the counter (yes, I even have a certain place for their cups to stay), trash in its place and the dishes in the sink. Then a child wipes down all the place mats and puts them away, wipes the table and pushes in all the chairs. Gary and I are left to clean the rest of the kitchen but together we knock it out in no time. Plus, it gives us time to chat and I really cherish that time. On the weekends, school holidays and summers we do the same for breakfast and lunch except I’m doing it alone sometimes. Those meals are a little more laid back but still pretty much all the same rules apply.

Our friends are amazed at our dinner routine. They watch in awe as we float around the kitchen, and each other, as we spoon food onto plates, pour drinks and herd five kids to the table. The real challenge is finding something everyone likes to eat. Especially when you’ve got two picky eaters in the family. One day I’ll share with you the many ways to serve pasta with butter and plain hotdogs. I’m sure you can’t wait to share those recipes with your friends and family.

My Daily Nightmare

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So there’s this book. It’s written in the style of a children’s book but it’s not for children. It’s a parent talking to their child begging them to go to sleep. It has bad words in it. I don’t use those bad words but my 12-year-old self thinks it’s hilarious. And my 37-year-old self thinks it dead on! If you’ve ever had difficulty getting your child, or any child for that matter, to go to sleep then you might appreciate this book. If you can get past the language. I don’t want to offend anyone in the Blog-asphere so I’m not going to post a link to it. If you’re feeling rebellious and want to take a walk on the wild side let me know and I’ll clue you in. *wink*

Up until recently I completely hated bed time. It was the most stressful, drawn out, painful event. Of my life! There were almost always tears involved. And sometimes the kids would cry too. Yes, it was that bad. There was no routine in the world universe that could make bed time work for us. And I was losing my mind.

I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t because we have so many kids. It was all because of one child. That I love dearly. But he was killing me. Matt has never been one to sleep well. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure he sleeps at all. No wait…he does. But I think he waits until about 45 minutes before it’s time to get up. Then he won’t wake up. Ugh. He was born 5 weeks premature and, although perfectly healthy otherwise, had some fluid on his lungs. He spent the first 9 days of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Apparently that’s where he acquired the motto of ‘Sleep? Who needs it’. Apparently NICU babies grow accustomed to all the soft light and noise that goes on all during the night. And then they expect that to continue when they get home. He also had sleep apnea and came home with a heart/apnea monitor. He was attached to this thing for 6 months and would make this horrible ear-splitting noise when he stopped breathing for a certain amount of time or his heart rate slowed. Or when the sensor pad moved off of his skin. Which was why it went off the majority of the time. He also had what the doctor called “night terrors”. It’s like a nightmare but not. They start crying like they are awake but they aren’t. You can’t wake them up during one so you just stand there with your hand on his chest and wait for it to stop. They are terrifying, which might be how they got their name. Luckily, the child has no recollection of them the next day. That pleasure is reserved for the mommy (or daddy in some households). Matt never really was the best sleeper-through-the night but the real problems started when he graduated to the toddler bed. It didn’t matter in the crib. He couldn’t get out. Once he figured out that he could get in and out of the tiny little bed all by himself all bets were off. The child would not go to sleep. I would start the bedtime routine at 8 and he might have been asleep by 12:30. He would call my name, repeatedly. Ask for water, repeatedly. Ask amazingly awesome questions that I would need Google and a PhD to answer. He would want me to read a bajillion books. It didn’t matter what time he woke up either…wake him up at 7, he still would stay up till midnight. I was going crazy. The whole situation was stressful in and of itself. It didn’t help that his dad would get very angry when Matt didn’t go to sleep like he was supposed to. That added even more pressure on me which lead me to give in to Matt’s whims to keep him quiet so his dad wouldn’t get mad. That certainly didn’t help the situation and turned it into a different kind of problem. A few years went by, I was now single, and the problem still persisted. It would get better then it would get bad again. I finally talked to his doctor about it because I just knew there was something wrong with him. It just didn’t seem right for a young child to have the type of sleeping patterns he did. The doctor said it was a discipline problem~ ‘Give him consequences and he’ll get better’. I was so disappointed. And I knew the doctor was wrong. Ask me if it got better. Go ahead. Ask me. NO! It didn’t. It seemed to get worse.

A couple more years went by. We have a great bedtime routine in place in our new home with our new family. Matt still won’t sleep. He constantly gets out of bed, knocks softly on our door and asks completely random questions.

Matt~ “Mom, is it going to be cold tomorrow?”

Me~ “No, you can wear short sleeves. Now go back to bed please.”

A few minutes later…soft knock on the door

Matt~ “What about tomorrow’s tomorrow?”

Me~ “We’ll deal with that later go to bed.”

A few minutes later…the 6th soft knock on the door

Me~ “OMG, what?”

Matt~ “When we went to Disney World last summer what was the name of that guy that helped us on the Space Mountain ride? I can’t remember.”

Me~ “GO TO BED!!!!”

I’m not kidding. This is what we went through every single night. On top of the constant knocks on the door and random requests and questions he would have complete and utter meltdowns when told to go to bed and given consequences. And it didn’t stop there. The meltdowns would continue the next morning as well. He would be so tired when it was time to get up from not sleeping much the night before. I would have to dress him and he would fall asleep in the car on the way to school. Well, when he wasn’t sobbing and getting angry at everyone in the car.

There was one night in particular that I had my own complete and utter meltdown. I was completely stressed out. Once the kids go to bed it’s supposed to be my time. This is the only time of the day that Gary and I have to focus on each other. Instead, we had this little guy coming in every few minutes stalling for time. I was completely stressed out. Not only did I dread having to deal with Matt avoiding sleep every night but I worried Gary would get angry and that stressed me out even further. Gary never did get angry. But I had been conditioned over the last several years to expect that from your husband. It all came crashing down on me that night. I was standing in Matt’s room telling him that he needed to ‘get in that bed and stay in that bed and you need to just close your eyes and go to sleep’. And as he lay there in tears listening to me with his little arms crossed in disobedience I dissolved into tears myself. I couldn’t even finish my sentence. I just turned around and walked away. I sat down on my bed and started sobbing. Gary got Matt to sleep that night. There’s just something about a strong, loving man who can get kids to listen when their mom [or bonus mom] can’t. From that night on Gary took care of that situation. I would say Matt’s prayers with him, kiss him good night and walk away. Matt still would come knock softly on our door but Gary would talk with him. Not me. And it got a little better. But there were still meltdowns. At this time Matt was being evaluated by the school psychologist because his teacher had seen some signs of Dyslexia. I decided she needed to know about his sleeping issues. I didn’t know if it had anything to do with Dyslexia but I wanted her to know. She was really glad that I shared this with her and added it into her notes. After months of observations in the classroom and one-on-one time in her office the psychologist called me in to go over her report which I then took to his doctor. It wasn’t Dyslexia after all. Matt was diagnosed with ADHD. We also found out that Matt has ADHD induced insomnia. You have no idea how badly I wanted to stand up and scream “I knew it!! I told you there was something wrong with him!!!!” in Dr. Cabiness’ face. But I love him too much to do that so I sat quietly as he explained everything to me. Matt’s brain won’t shut off so he lays there thinking about all this stuff and he can’t fall asleep. This totally explains why he wants to know what weather is going to be like on tomorrow’s tomorrow and what the dude at Space Mountain’s name was. I felt this huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. It was all going to be ok. Dr. Cabiness suggested a natural supplement that helps you sleep called Melatonin. We were instructed to give Matt a half of a 3mg pull about an hour before bedtime. I was willing to try anything at this point so I picked some up on the way home! We gave it to him about eight that night and by 8:30 he was so calm and quiet and by 9:00 he was almost asleep on my lap. When bed time actually came around he climbed in bed and we never heard a word out of him again that night. He was sound asleep in less than 20 minutes. I could not believe my eyes. Then it hit me. “Wait, you mean all these years and all I needed to do was give him half of this little pill and he’ll go straight to sleep? If I had only known.” Matt actually got complete, full nights of sleep. And because of that he would actually wake up in the morning. Cheerfully! Well, most mornings. His meltdowns went away almost completely. We still have some rough days. But don’t we all.

I don’t dread bed time anymore. I finally get to relax and enjoy the time Gary and I have to focus on each other once the kids have gone to bed. And when I count my blessings each night Melatonin is always in the top 10.