Friday, August 29, 2014

Forty winks torture

My encephalon (thank you Thesaurus) is refusing to make any consistent effort today so I'm just gonna launch straight into it.
Mr. Sandman, can you please ensure you have our address on your list tonight. The kids need you. Though if you could keep well clear of myself that would be much appreciated. I don't need any help falling asleep. In fact quite the opposite after last nights efforts from the younger four minions. Most nights see us catching a few decent hours of shut eye & it has been a while, maybe three weeks, since the minions have chosen involuntary insomnia as their weapon of choice. The day following an all nighter when you are thirty is nothing close to the perky bounce back when you are twenty. Today I am hurting.

Last night was a shocker. Within the first hour of crawling my weary derriere in to bed the little beasts had me up six times. I didn't bother keeping score after that. I also didn't keep count of the times that my head remained glued to my pillow & Doug got up in my place. It's a well known fact keeping someone awake for extraordinary lengths of time is a form of torture. I thoroughly concur with this statement. Waking someone within minutes of them falling into a decent state of slumber is inhumane. Based on personal experience, three minutes is the peak time to wake the sleeping person to reach optimum levels of brutal,cold blooded torment. 

Blake kicked it off with a nightmare. Then Jack woke up & needed a drink. Then Blake was cold. Jack got me out of bed again because he tripped over his blanket going to the toilet. Will was next with his headbanging. In the middle of the night to lull himself back to sleep he will rock on all fours hitting his head repeatedly against the wall or the bed head while humming to himself. It is noisy, & a little disturbing. After waking Will enough to settle back to sleep normally without bashing his head against the wall, I dared to hope that this was the end of the night waking & could now try to achieve a state of REM very very soon. Nope. Blake was up again & wanting to sleep in our bed. Knowing, based on previous nights, that if this were to occur my quality of sleep would be right down there with the quantity I was (not) getting. With Blake tucked back into bed & on my way back down the long cold hallway I stopped to check all the other minions - with the hope of preempting any further wake ups.

Crawling back in bed, finally warming up & beginning to drift into a state of blissful oblivion, Clay wakes. Kill me now. I lay there for what felt like ten minutes, but was likely only one minute, listening to his grunts & whinges before giving up all pretense of hope & got out of bed to feed the ravenous little cherub.

Now 2am & I'm positive I can now get four solid hours Z time in before the alarms start their invasive racket.

Negative. Blake comes running down the hallway & into our room. By this stage I'm a desperate woman & regretting those extra hours of reading time back at 10pm. I throw in the towel & open up the bed covers for Blake to crawl into. At this point I'll take even just the illusion of sleep, to keep my eyes closed but my level of conscious firmly in place, & be grateful for it. There's little choice with a miniature sleeping body right next to me, breathing in my face & dribbling on my hair.

The wee hours of the morning finally saw me achieve my first cycle of rapid eye movement. 

4am & I was up again to take a blissfully sleeping Blake back to his own bed.

5am kicks off with Doug's alarms.

6am greets me with the sounds of Blake & Will awake, already starting their day down in the lounge room. Somehow they have synced their internal body clock with Giggle & Hoot.

If you see me today & notice that I look exactly as I feel, do not say anything. 
I feel tired, I feel exhausted, I feel haggard. You have been warned that I am feeling a little stabby. I'm doing my best to rein it in, given I have little people surrounding me & their bedtime isn't approaching for another four hours (& counting). 

However if you wish to bless me with a super soaker size of pure caffeine you are more than welcome too. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's not easy being green

The third wheel.

Stuck in the middle.


Our courageous, sensitive, funny, empathetic, insecure third child.

Poor Jack endures both metaphors. Not only is he the third child, he is also a middle child. 

As a toddler & still the youngest of three, Jack was always keeping me on my toes as he tried to, no scratch that, as he kept up with Ben. Anything you can do, I can do better. Hanging upside down on the curved monkey bars, sure but I can do it on the highest bar. Climb up a tree, sure but I will climb higher & to the flimsiest limb. Go out chest height at the beach with a body board, no problem. The fact that Jack stood a good fifteen centimeters shorter than Ben was no deterrent either. We always thought that Jack would be the first of our minions to break a bone, based on his fearless & can do personality.

He has the nickname of 'incredible Jack-Jack', based on the character in the movie 'The Incredibles'. A seemingly quiet little baby who is full of mischief & love for his family (see the Jack-Jack links)

But somewhere along the way all this bravado & confidence began to cover up a tangle of self-doubt & insecurity. Around the age of four & a half, & perhaps when his bladder problems (Jack has a low capacity & over active bladder) became more apparent, we noticed the anxiety masked behind the over confidence, the loudness & attention grabbing antics. The seeking of approval that was more than just wanting attention or praise, but searching for validation of self worth & reassurance that he was awesome just as he is. 

Every time I glimpsed that sad, haunting look in his eyes, only for a second but still there none the less, made me feel like I had failed him. It isn't every day that his doubts about himself shine through, often he is a happy little boy, but they are there often enough. He still has a lack of self esteem & self worth that we are trying to help him with. To show him with more than words how much we love him. Especially the times when he is feeling his worst & says "Everyone in this family hates me." 

God it hurts to write that. To know that our son feels this way. 

I look back & wonder what could I have done differently that would take away the looks of hesitancy & self doubt from his eyes. That would give him the reassurance that he is loved & cherished. Adored & admired by his siblings.

It is easy to get lost in the mix in a large family, to be glanced over or have your voice brushed aside & unheard. But I thought that we were doing a pretty alright job in giving each of our children our attention, both divided & undivided. We always acknowledge them when they are talking, give them little moments of affection - whether it be a cuddle on the couch together, or just a hand caressing the top of their head as they walk past. I 
make time each day for some one on one time & conversation, whether it be three minutes, thirty minutes or on the odd occasion three hours. I thought I had been attentive to their moods & responsive to the little signs of body language that show they're upset about something. I thought we were on the right path to raising happy & confident young people. But I've missed a step & coming up short for our incredible Jack-Jack. 

Jack truly is an incredible little boy. He is funny, he is adventurous, he is so sweet & affectionate. He is caring & empathetic, he is gentle & patient, especially with Blake, Will & Clay. He is helpful, he is clever & creative. He is an individual who is full of life, full of energy his legs need to burn & his mind needs to run. In his moments of self doubt he forgets all this. He doesn't hear all seven of us in his corner, cheering him on. For that moment all he hears is that disheartening voice in his own head that makes him feel like the whole world is against him & that he isn't any good.  

It's so distressing to hear words like pathetic & no good coming out of your child's mouth when they are expressing how they are feeling. It rings great big giant alarm bells on my Mothering radar. The current default Mothering when any negative talk is uttered is to immediately hug him tight & tell him that he absolutely is not any of those things. That he is awesome, he is great at soccer, that he is so much fun for Blake & Will to play with. That he is good at learning to read & can draw some amazing pictures. To remind him of everything good & wonderful, incredible & amazing about himself. To color in all those empty words with so much love they disappear.

He is only six years old, seven in a few more months time. We need to make sure his cup is full & over flowing with self assurance & self confidence before the big wide world of adulthood comes knocking on his door. I want him to know without a doubt that he is a great person - even when that pesky irritating voice in his head is talking mean. To know that he isn't bad or worthless or any other horrible feeling that's churning in his chest. I want his adolescent years to be filled with good memories & fun mischief with friends, not depression & dark thoughts, or following the wrong crowd because he doesn't have the self-worth or the confidence to step away. To not be a sheep but to feel an equal among his peers.

Ever feel like you're just floundering about in the dark, looking for that light switch that will suddenly illuminate everything? Yeah, I'm looking for that light switch. I want to make all the right words, all the right actions, all the right responses shine so bright, that I don't make any more missteps. That we can give a guaranteed magic fix for our incredible Jack-Jack.

Because he really is incredible, flaws & all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life with six

For a while I've been playing around with a post detailing what it's like having a large family, beyond having at least double the little bodies to tuck into bed at night. Really, whether you have two children or six children we all have the same daily tortures - tantrums & food battles. Mother guilt & toilet training. Identity crisis & nap time warfare. Rescuing octonaut figurines from the toilet & saving books from turning into shreds. Maintaining a facade of alertness & lucidity in the face of three hours broken sleep. Juggling one on one time between each child, date nights with our other halves & finding conversation that doesn't solely revolve around the little people.

So what is different now compared to when we just had Ben & Rianan? What does (our) life entail with six children?

The obvious one is our food budget. Over the years as we've doubled the size of our family so has our grocery bill. The only thing that's remained constant is the packets of nappies in every over full & precariously stacked trolley I take through the check out. If I knew then what I know now I would have bought shares in Huggies back in 2004. Or used MCN's - aka cloth nappies. I have a dozen excuses why we have used a disposable nappy for every three hourly nappy change over the last 85,440 hours...or nine & a half years. MCN's really only became more user friendly around the time Jack was born, & back then we had figured he would be our last baby (because 'everyone' stops at two or three children we thought there must be a universal reason why & that it would also apply to us. Approaching Jack's first birthday we knew that we definitely wanted another child & realised there was no reason not to add to our minion count.) Back to the topic at hand though. Figuring Jack would be our last there wasn't much point in selling my left kidney to fund an MCN stash for just one child. Then Blake came along. At this point I seriously considered abandoning the nappy aisle at Coles & going the environmentally friendly way. But with four children aged four years & under time was a little scant & our little washing machine was already spinning at a 1000rpm 16 hours a day. So for my sanity & our poor washing machines last legs (that managed to hold on for a further 18 months. We've never had a more faithful washer, 8 years & 5 children later she finally gave up. Bless her 5kg white cotton socks) So lack of time & a surplus of washing dictated we continue our regular walks down aisle eleven. 

Clearly my attempts at appearing alert & lucid are falling a little short today, I've gone from talking about food budgets to justifying (to myself more than anyone, even after all these years) why we have used a hoard of disposable nappies instead of doing our bit to neutralize our carbon footprint & go the alternative way. 

Back to food. Our quota of bread & milk has reached ten loaves of bread & often eighteen litres of milk a week. Forget the 275gm boxes of cereal, which barely stretches between five bowls on a good morning. I reach for the 800gm suckers - half a dozen of them at a minimum. We've dedicated an entire pantry shelf just to house our weekly breakfast cereal requirements & even then I have to employ my tetris skills to get them all on the same shelf. You will never find a single box of cracker & cheddar dip LeSnacks in our house - you'll find several. Even then they rarely see the school week out. Our weekly fruit quota is equal to the combined weight of our six minions. By now you've probably gathered that we buy double or triple of everything. Extend that line of thinking a little further & we come to cooking. Dinnertime is not unlike a catering event. A 30cm fry pan & two 4lt saucepans are barely adequate when cooking a basic meal in our house. At this stage we can manage, but give it a few more years & I will be sourcing catering sized cooking equipment to try & keep up with the nutritional needs of several growing pre-teen bodies. I don't know what we're going to do yet when they are teenagers, devouring & digesting more food than a herd of elephants.

Bath & shower time is reminiscent to running a gauntlet on a Japanese game show. Dodge the sweaty, putrid socks discarded haphazardly around the bathroom, narrowly avoiding the dirty & stinky undies as they are thrown in the air with gleeful abandon, while launching forward to catch the two year old as they attempt to bomb dive into the bathtub. Only to be foiled by the tube of toothpaste on the floor & end arse up in soggy towels. This is only round one, there's still more bodies to reach a state of cleanliness yet. Then the real fun begins, cleaning up the bathroom & revealing the floor tiles once again beneath all the water logged clothes, soaked towels & soap bubbles.

The amount of washing our crazy tribe creates these days is more than enough to keep me struggling to maintain a hold on the cotton-poly blends that procreate by the hour. Not unlike us - so we've been told. Our washing machine works harder than I do, often churning through four loads on a good day, or ten loads on a bad day. The amount of dishes we go through isn't much better either. I thank my lucky stars for our dishwasher everyday - because it wasn't all that long ago I was still doing them all by hand. The dishwasher job I had in my early teenage years at our local popular restaurant gave me a valuable skill set that I never dreamed I would be needing again once my dish-lackey days were over. Back then I also never imagined I would be a Mother to six.

Between our minions they have enough shoes to rival a Betts & Betts shoe store. A couple of those shoes may be a little lonesome, with their other half swallowed up somewhere. Probably where all our socks & teaspoons have ventured off to. There's often little point of packing away clothes that have been outgrown, instead they simply get shipped from one wardrobe to the next. If I can't find a specific shirt of Blake's in his drawers inevitably it will be found in Will's - sometimes even I can't keep up with what item belongs to who. I think it's only a matter of time before we're entertaining thoughts of a communal wardrobe for the boys. Maybe not, that's a little to extreme larger family style for my liking.

Always a hot topic when it comes to families greater than five, cars. Clearly the average family sedan is too small. Heck, even the people mover we drive at the moment is still too small. My automobile dreams are not filled with Dodge's & Jeep's, but mini buses that don't look like a childcare or community bus. Given that's the next step up for us after the people mover category to have any spare seats available.
Twelve seats, ten child restraint anchor points, tri zone air conditioning & enough boot space to rival any wagon, plus all the bells & whistles included in any luxury vehicle, on top of tinted windows & any paint job that isn't white. Oh, & doesn't come with a Mercedes Benz price tag. Surely I'm not asking for much.

Family movie nights with bodies strewn haphazardly around the lounge room, with piles of pillows, blankets, teddies & little people taking every available space. Weekend family soccer or cricket games with enough people to make teams bigger than two on two. Knock knock jokes at tea time coming from all sides of the dinner table - some making sense & others just adorable as they make no sense at all, but have us all giggling regardless. Every Mothers Day & Fathers Day see's our bedside tables covered in drawings of round bodied, stick legged families, love hearts & smiley faces & homemade card upon homemade card filled with misspelt words, back to front letters & being their favorite Mummy & Daddy in the whole entire universe.

My heart feels like it has grown bigger than a full term pregnant uterus. Each time both my heart & my belly expanded beyond belief with every tiny body we have bought into this world & each time I never imagined I could love any more than I already did, or fall deeper in love with Doug as I watched him hold his new son or daughter. I figured after three children it would all feel the same, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

We may be busy, whether we're busier than others I honestly couldn't say. Regardless, in no way does it compare to the happiness, pride, love & memories our family is filled with. Every now & again Doug & I will say to each other "Can you imagine if we stopped after Ben & Rianan, or after Jack. Not having Blake, Will & Clay in our family." 
I can't imagine it, I honestly just can't. Impossible. Unfathomable. Unthinkable. Inconceivable to think they may not have been conceived. Life truly would be so different if they weren't here. Which has me thinking, who else are we missing in our family? What will the future look like if we call our family complete now, or what would it look like with another not yet conceived little soul. Can we imagine our lives without them, even though we don't know 'who' they could be? 

Seeing five toothbrushes lined up on the kids bathroom sink this morning made me a little mushy & indescribably grateful for each & every one of our little minions. Imagining seven toothbrushes all lined up made me a little clucky & has Doug genuinely questioning my sanity. 

Not that this would surprise anyone. The cluckiness that is, not the sanity.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Before the Minions

Very quiet & unexciting week here at HomM. Just to prove how mundane our week was, I present the top four highlights of the week -

1. The washing has been conquered! A fight was waged, & what a dirty battle it was. Alas I have emerged the victorious winner...this week anyway. I couldn't have done it without my illustrious sidekick, an appliance worth more than it's weight in Milo. 

2. Catching up with some friends over a caffeinated beverage, or four. It was deceptively revitalizing to get out of my own headspace & re-connect with others & find out what had been going on in every one else's lives. 

3. Enjoying an entire week of sleeping in our own bed, & not a fold out arm chair. Never again will I take for granted my own mattress, no matter how lumpy it seems, & the comfort it holds. 

4. Clay has a chest infection. Poor little mite can't catch a break - though he's proving more than adept at catching everything else. 

That's it, see like I said, B. O. R. I. N. G. 

We also had exciting plans this weekend - including a night minus five minions, to celebrate our twelfth wedding anniversary. But once again immune systems have tripped us up.

Given this week was uninspiring & a little lean on blogging material, in honor of our wedding anniversary I'm going to take you all back to the very beginning before we were a family of eight & our names didn't extend to Mummy & Daddy.

It was the summer of '69, sorry had to be done - whenever I hear 'it was the summer...' my mind jumps ahead & breaks into the Bryan Adam's classic. But I digress. Our story really starts back in the summertime of 2000 during December, when a friendship was struck up over a common commodity, sunburn, short change & a little yellow scooter. I don't think either of us imagined just what destiny had in store for us when we first started chatting over that counter. But boy am I glad that our fates intertwined. 

I was on my way home after a day at the beach & stopped in at our local petrol station to fill up the fuel tank on my bright yellow moped scooter. Doug's familiar face greeted me as I went in to pay & hang around for our customary chat. The difference this time was the painful scorching sunburn I was sporting on my upper legs all the way up to my bathers. To this day Doug can still clearly remember the moment I showed him half my butt cheek. In my defense it was simply to show just how bad I had unintentionally gotten burnt, moving a portion of my bikini to flash the white skin compared to the fiery red skin.

The next visit that clearly stands out in both our memories is the day I was twenty cents short when paying for my fuel. Forgetting that I only had the handful of change on me & no bank card I filled up my scooter, coming to a grand total of $2.80. Yep, the small size of the fuel tank meant that a) I had to fill up frequently, & b) I had ridiculously low running costs. 
Walking up to the counter, smiling sheepishly as I emptied out my coin purse & explained I was a smidge short, asking was there any chance Doug could lend me the twenty cents & I'll bring it in sometime over the next two days when I was sure to need petrol again. To this day it is still a running joke between us how I flashed him some leg & bought my way out of paying for my fuel. Nice to know my legs are worth so much. 

The weeks went by & our friendship continued to grow. Then the beginning of February 2001 saw me hospitalized with pneumonia & the day I was finally discharged the only person I wanted to see was Doug. From that point, each day that passed found us spending more & more time together, when inevitably our friendship turned to romance at the end of February when Cupid struck his bow.

Even now, just as it was back then, one of our ideal ways to spend time together is with a bag of hot chips down the beach watching the sunset. We spent so much time together down at Silver Sands beach, sitting on the tray top of Doug's Holden ute, often with his dog accompanying us. More accurately, JoJo was accompanying Doug & merely putting up with my presence or glaring at me through the back window, where she was relegated to the ute tray after I took 'her' front passenger seat

It's a little cliched, but I soon knew that Doug was 'The One'. Even though I was yet to hit my twenties. We just clicked on so many levels & I can't describe it beyond it was a soul deep knowledge, the jigsaw was complete we just had to paint the images together. (Sorry for the sap.) He was the first person I thought of when I woke in the morning, & the last person I would think of at night. For me there was no doubt that I would marry this man. Evidently Doug felt the same, proposing a few months later on a large rock one afternoon while we were walking along the beach. When I saw him go down to one knee, take my hand & begin talking about the future we would have together...The memory still makes my heart flutter just as much as it did that day. Pretty sure I was saying Yes even before Doug had finished asking me to be his wife.  

Fourteen months later & to the lyrics of 'How do I live' by Leann Rimes, we said "I do".

These last twelve years have been incredible & beyond belief. We've had our roller coaster moments of euphoric highs & devastating lows. We have a magnitude of memories together, from our early friendship & blossoming romance, to our honeymoon of spa baths, chocolate m&m's, monopoly, champagne & chinese food. From six positive pregnancy tests & all the experiences the following pregnancies & births held for us. To just this week, when we've both been grateful to be back in each others arms again after a stressful experience.

Twelve years of unconditional love...& I owe it all to that glorious, life changing summer.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Vitamin D...& washing

We have broken free!

Clay & I have been home for 4 days now, & I could somewhat say that it's almost as if we never had our nine day hospital sojourn. Now that we're home life has just about settled back to business as usual. Doug is back at work, Ben, Rianan & Jack are back to school, Clay is healthy & happy, Blake & Will are no longer miserable little zombies. Everyone is sleeping in their own rooms, no longer playing musical beds as they sought reassurance & comfort from the parent & siblings who were still home & not holed up in a 8 x 5 beige color schemed, temperature regulated room complete with a double glazed window.

I tell you what, you really do lose all sense of time & passing days when the only sense of daylight you receive is through said window. I am certain that my Vitamin D levels are horrendously below recommended levels, based on the fact that I hadn't felt the sun shining on my face or the wind wrapping itself around my hair for nearly ten days. If I had been sporting a tan I certainly would have lost it last week. As it stands my skin is a healthy pale white, correction - last month it was. Now it's just a shade above translucent. 

Once it become apparent that our admission into the pediatric ward was going to last longer than 48 hours, I imagined all this time I would have on my hands to blog, to read, to just relax. Clearly I had some rose colored glasses on, as very little of the above happened. Those imagined hours were replaced with standing watch over Clay, eyes switching between vigilantly watching Clay & the monitor filled with important & informative numbers. The reality was far from relaxing. I thought our hospital stay would inspire a myriad of blog posts full of deep & meaningful insight, with the occasional recount of a humorous experience here & there. (I underestimated how uncomfortable it would be getting ready to sleep for the night when you have a nurse sitting just inside your door not three meters away, their entire shift dedicated to your room. Or waking up in the middle of the night to help Clay get through a coughing fit that caused the monitor alarms to sound off while trying to discretely wipe my dribble soaked cheek in front of said nurse. Yep, there ain't no wakin' up glamorous here. I'm just grateful that the pregnancy induced snoring has stopped.) I thought I would be able to read almost to my hearts content. Normally I finish a book every three days, thereabouts. The book I started on day two, I only just finished it the other day - eleven days after laying eyes on that first paragraph.

Instead my days were filled with re-positioning Clay while he was asleep because his oxygen saturation levels had dropped below 93. We found changing the way his head was positioned was the best way to bring those numbers back up, if only for the next ten or so minutes until they dropped again. Unfortunately there wasn't much more we could do for his high pulse & respiratory rate, that was in line with the level of care Clay needed beyond the support he already had. We just had to allow what we already had in place time to help Clay recover until he could be detached from each device. For the first five days nurses or doctors were in every hour or less - either for an alarm going off due to one number or another going too high or too low, coming in to chart Clay's obs, or for thrice daily reviews. When I wasn't wrapped up in all of Clay's tubes & wires (either mentally or physically) I was worrying about what was going on at home, talking & messaging with Doug, or Skyping with the minions.

The brief yet long enough experience of juggling a baby who had an oxygen stats sensor, Hi-flow air tubing & a drip, then for a few days adding in respiratory & cardiac patches & a nasal gastric feeding line, gave me a brief but intense insight to the struggles & heart ache so many families go through as part of their daily life. It's heartbreaking when your little baby is so unwell that they just sleep for hours on end or can only manage to stay awake for half an hour before getting tired, too tired to breathe easily which then creates a cascade of fluctuating numbers on that attention grabbing monitor with its flashing lights & pinging alerts. There is so many others for who that is just the beginning of their health implications. I've never underestimated how intense their experiences of having a home away from home in a pediatric hospital ward would be. How distressing it is to see your baby, your child, so unwell. Where the most you can do is hold them while the medical teams do their best to help. Sometimes you can't even hold them though, as it causes too much over stimulation on their little systems or gets in the way of the access required by the medical staff. Trying to comfort them while gently rubbing their head, encouraging them to suck on a pacifier to try gain comfort from some silicone instead of their Mother's arms. 

...& I'm crying again.  

Our temporary walk through their neck of the woods just gave me an even deeper respect for everyone who manages oxygen tubes & feeding lines, living their lives with daily hospital visits & admissions (brief or extended). My hat goes off to all the families who have to spend so much time apart, divided into two halves as one parent stays with the sick child & the other parent juggles life at home with the other siblings.

Doug certainly didn't have it easy either. Ben, Rianan, Jack, Blake & Will were all desperately worried about Clay. Plus this was the first time that we had all been apart for more than 24 hours due to an illness, & previously the longest I had spent apart from the other minions was three nights, when Blake was born back in 2010. With our time apart reaching eight nights it's no wonder they were all highly emotional. There was no chance in hell they were going to go to school, & I agreed with Doug on not forcing the issue. It was only just yesterday that my brain came back online & the internal dialogue that keeps me company decided it was safe to return once again. Prior to this, any time I thought of blogging, mentally I was met with the sound of crickets chirping. So I doubt the kids would have fared much better than I with any intense thinking & attempts at learning. Times tables, dictionary meanings & spelling words temporarily lost their importance last week. 

The Gods of inconvenience & misfortune were not holding back on Doug last week either. On top of holding down the fort at home, comforting tear streaked little faces & worrying about Clay - three days later Blake & Will crash completely with a horrible cold (we suspect the same one that struck Clay. Luckily their bodies are bigger & were able to support them while their immune systems fought the hard battle) That first night when they became sick Doug went to bed anxiously coming up with plan A, B & C for if he would have to take either Blake or Will into hospital at 2am. Thank goodness for the staff & Doctors at our General Practice, who got Doug & the five other minions in the next day at the last minute. They checked over the two sick ones, looked over the older three just to be certain, & reassured Doug that all was ok & they should be fine to rest & recover at home.

Kids are hard enough to look after when they aren't well, let alone when their world is upside down, so it was a new & unwelcome experience for all of us - Me dealing with the guilt & heart ache of not being able to look after our other sick little ones, Doug for having to look after Blake & Will who really were quite sick, along with everything else that was going on, without me there to back him up. While Skype is fabulous at helping to bridge the gap between distances, it doesn't even compare or come close to being there. Seeing a little face crumple, or sick bleary eyes from a toddler hot with a fever & not being able to do anything but try & come up with what feels like empty words. It's enough to make me cry all over again. 

But the Gods were not yet done with Doug. On day five, in the middle of washing a load of vomit covered blankets & pillow cases from Blake & Will who were up all night coughing & gagging to the point of regurgitating, the washing machine began bleating alarms & flashing error codes. I'm surprised Doug didn't pack up & volunteer himself to the nearest loony bin - 'cos at that point I sure would have. Luckily we have an over abundance of blankets, kids clothes & towels, because that is the only reason they survived without burlap bags & rope drawstrings through the following four days with no washing machine. 

Not so lucky for me though. 

Since Doug had to go back to work the day after Clay & I were discharged, & our new washing machine has only just recently been delivered, I'm now wading my way through piles of towels, sheets & pillow cases, darks, lights, jeans, socks & underwear. I think I'm slowly winning the battle - the tides have turned & our clean washing pile is greater than the dirty washing pile. 

Right now, if I could have one wish, given that we are all healthy & together under the same roof again, I would wish for a Rosie robot from The Jetsons. She could be my washing fairy, or washing robot, whatever.

Fairies & robots aside, I'm just glad I got the blogging mojo back.

...Plus a new washing machine.