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Heather's Parenting Journal

Entry 14 ~ May 2007
~ May Flowers

Hello all! I am desperately waiting for that nesting instinct to kick in, or maybe I should say my house is waiting. Brian so graciously hired someone to come in every other week to clean, so I don't have to worry about the cobwebs, dust, and bathrooms as much, but the clutter will always plague me. I really need to get after the toys. For some reason I've noticed, that is the key to the entire house. If things are quickly and easily put away, every thing else just seems to fall into place. All and all the cleaning help has helped to motivate me to keep after things.

My OB appointment went well the other week. The baby is measuring normal now and maybe it will be a July 8th baby after all. All my babies seem to pack it on in the last month, so we are about a month or so out now. I am sure she will start her growth spurt. She is super active to almost a nauseating feeling. I am so glad she is healthy and moving, but sometimes the squirming is almost a little too much. I've moved to sleeping about 3/4 of the time in bed and the other 1/4 in a recliner chair. With Sydney and Isabella I also had to do this otherwise I can't walk in the morning.

Alex's birthdayThis month was packed full of fun with Alex's 8th birthday, mother's day, my dad's birthday, Brian's grandma's birthday, Maria's last day of pre-school with a parade and picnic, Alex's 1st grade musical, and the Indy. Whew. It has been a lot of running. We chose to have family only birthday parties this year. Last year Alex had an Olympic theme party with many games as Brian painted the lawn with lawn paint. This year I thought it would be nice to just have us. With 4 kids, there is still plenty to do and we can still play games. This year he asked for a plain chocolate birthday cake with chocolate icing. He said no to any kind of characters and such. That kind of made me realize that he is really getting older. Although 8 is not old, he is the oldest and the first to round this bend. All the others are planning their parties and what theme they want. So to not have a theme or color scheme was different.

Mother's day was nice. I think Brian handled it well. I did not need the kids to do anything for me this year; I really wanted them to be sensitive and supportive to Brian. The kids all made me gifts which were really sweet and nice. Maria's pre-school had a Mother's day tea so she and I could spend about 1 1/2 hours together at school while they baby-sat the other girls. Then Brian and I had a wonderful date night at a local Catholic School's Gala event. It was a really fun black tie optional event with live and silent auctions. It was nice to get dressed up for a change. Brian did not have a chance to go buy a Mother's day gift for me so he bet and won a Pampered Chef basket and gift certificates and a spa gift basket with manicure certificate. I am truly enjoying both. Brian's mom was never really brought up or mentioned, but I know she was on many of our minds that day.

IsabellaLast weekend Brian went back to his mom's house and began the process of cleaning it out. There is still a lot left as it is for sale and the kids did not want it to look too empty. But, when he came home with boxes and bags of things it was kind of hard. The smell of her home and the treasures (even though they were just knick-knacks) were hard to see sitting in my home and not hers. We still have not found homes for everything. In fact only a few items have made it to special places in the house. I think we should pack the rest back up for now and look at it later when wounds are not as fresh.

Maria had an end of the year pre-school parade and picnic and Alex had a first grade musical. Both were a lot of fun. I was really surprised how organized both were. The 150 first graders sang at least 8 songs with movements. Each class took turns on the stage acting out a song and there were speaking parts too. It was a musical about the Tortoise and the Hare. Maria's picnic was also fun. Each family brought a side dish to share. All my girls enjoyed eating and seeing Maria on her scooter in the parade. She got a fabulous gift from her teacher. It was a photo album of the entire year. I've never seen such a wonderful gift. And Maria treasures pictures so I think she has slept with the album almost every night since she got it.

Alex, Maria, and Sydney with their horse friendWe have a new neighbor. If any of you have read my previous journals you might remember that I mentioned that in the summer we have cows in the field behind our fence. I think I even included pictures of them. Well, this year the farmer did not lease the property and a new person leased the huge property for their 1 horse. So, "Maddy" comes to the fence daily to visit the kids. I have enjoyed her so much. Having been raised with horses since I was 5, they have such a calming effect on me. She is such a sweet horse and is so loving to the kids. I watch her behavior for any signs of them annoying her, but she always enjoys the pets and a few carrots. Lately she will come trotting to the fence when she hears the kids out back and she will stay at our fence until the kids go inside for the night.

We are in the middle of van shopping. With the new state car seas laws, I will still have 4 in car seats when baby Kate arrives. Alex just moved out of his booster and into a normal seat at his 8th birthday. He is thrilled! I currently have a Dodge Grand Caravan. With 5 kids, I can't get 3 car seats across the back without major pushing and squeezing while strapping them in. And even then I have to take arm rests off booster seats in order to get them squeezed in. I also can't have Alex go in the center between 2 booster seats (which would be thinner) because I don't have a head rest and shoulder belt in the center seat. A new mini-van will give me those options, but Alex is really squished in between the 2 car seats. With 5 kids, that would be his seat, not a 'make it work temporarily' seat. We will be a family of 7. I imagine I will own this vehicle for a while and he will not be getting any smaller. So I just feel a mini van is out as an option.

Sydney, Maria, Alex and IsabellaFor the past 3 weeks I think I've looked at about every option out there. I need a car to seat 5 kids, with head rests and shoulder belts, give them enough room to actually strap in, and not cram too close together that all I hear is 'he's touching me,' and yet allow me to access the little ones to help them when they need me. These requirements have brought me to a full size van - passenger van. Not the prettiest things I've seen. A conversion van is also an option because it is made from a full size van, but they seem to be very difficult to locate used with low mileage. Purchasing new is about $50,000 on up and I can't or don't want to make that fit my budget either. So, that brings me back to the passenger van again. It looks like a plumbers van (cargo) and such, but with windows and seats. Then the next obstacle to overcome is the lack of head rests. I guess due to its size it qualifies as a commercial vehicle so therefore it does not need head rests. I guess anything to save a buck on their end. So, long boring story short, I think I have it all solved now, but it has taken me a while. I found a company that does conversion vans. I can buy the bench seats with head rests for the passenger van through the dealer so I can get it at a wholesale cost which is really not unreasonable. This will give me a total of 8 headrests and shoulder belts. That should serve my family for many years safely. I know, I'm sorry how boring to type this all out. We have not bought anything yet as we are still making sure we've explored all options. I also think I will enjoy the extra space in this larger van. I'm not in a huge rush to make this new purchase, but I'd like to have the van by the time school starts in mid August so I can run easily and safely with all 5 kids. If any of you have found other options that work, please feel free to email me. Suburbans do not have enough head rests and they would be very difficult for me to strap in the 3 little ones that can't do it themselves. And I have to have 'installed' 5 point car seats in the first row for Isabella and baby Kate so I can't flip seats forward for the other kids to get to the second and third rows.

Sydney's haircutOH! I almost forgot to tell you about Sydney's hair! Last week when I went to get Alex from the bus stop (at my drive way), Sydney decided to take the scissors that her sister was using to cut paper with to 'trim' her hair. In the 3 minutes or so I walked out front she managed to cut the entire top of her hair off. I truly mean the entire top from bangs to the back of her head. I tried my best to salvage her hair to some kind of a style, but after many attempts the only thing to do was to give her a buzz cut, shave it all off, and start over. At least she is in a dress wearing phase and will only wear 'beautiful dresses' - as she calls them. And she also will wear headbands with bows on them because her hair is too short for bows. Surprisingly no one has really said anything to her about. So, we are also growing out hair here this summer in the Totten home.

Enjoy the Spring! Maybe I'll have some impending news for you next month. I will guess that baby Kate will not yet be here, but she will be very close.

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