About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

"That Family"

     We are officially "That Family".  You may know us better by our other names; names like "The Late Ones", "The Loud Bunch", or even (dare I say) "The Dirty Gang". We are the family that arrives to church frazzled and harried, still trying to catch their breath by the second worship song and spit-washing that pesky coffee stain that got spilled somewhere between the 3rd diaper change and the 2nd tantrum. We are the family that enters a restaurant and can have you calling "Check, please!" within 10 minutes of our arrival. We are the family that tells you that we'll try to be there by noon, but that is fully subject to change based on the day's ever-changing nursing schedule, everyone and their uncle forgetting to brush their teeth/get their potties out/put on underwear/etc., OR the toddler's nap (because God knows you NEVER wake a sleeping toddler, even if he fell asleep upside down and buck naked... just put down a rubber sheet and pray he survives, but DON'T WAKE THE TODDLER!).
     I hate to say it, but I'm part of "That Family" that I always dreaded when I saw them in public. In fact, I'm not only a part of them, I lead them... I'm a co-founder of The Crazy Bunch, struggling to stay afloat (and just a little bit sane) as each day brings on a whole new set of humbling, chaotic, and messy events. (Although if you have complaints, feel free to address them to my business partner - AKA Husband, thanks!)
     This weekend, I ambitiously set up and tackled a garage sale (better known as "Hey! Let's spend hours doing a ton of work and then sitting here for another FULL DAY in order to make $35 AND still have a garage full of stuff that you simply don't want!" Sale). Only five weeks out from my C-Section, and still a bit sore and easily tired, I found myself wondering what sort of mind-warping drug someone could have slipped me to think a garage sale was a good idea. Because surely someone in their right mind wouldn't attempt such lunacy with a newborn, incredibly active toddler, and two older (yet equally active and mischievous) siblings. Throw in two cousins, two in-laws, and a grandma and you've got sheer madness! I was so exhausted that when I came out of my room from feeding the baby, my 8-year-old son assessed my appearance and said, "Um, Mom? Your shirt is kind of up...." I looked down and noticed that my long tunic was actually tucked up under my nursing bra.... which I hadn't even bothered to re-attach apparently. Beautiful. What if it had been the mail man that got an eye full, for crying out loud? Nothing says "That Family" like a little under-boob accompanied by a stretch-marked kangaroo pouch!
     And even on Sunday, the blessed day of rest, it takes our brood hours... literally, hours.... to get ready and arrive at church "on time". Each Sunday I find that I arrive sweatier and hungrier than the week before. And I'm not sure what it is about the House of the Lord, but every time I arrive, I am suddenly and painfully aware of the fact that I haven't had time to move my bowels in the last three-five days and that, right before I'm supposed to start leading worship, this is a deed that needs immediate attention! Needless to say, I'm even late for church once I'm already in the building! Then, once we finally are settled in, all children in their seats, Husband corralling the toddler, and Mama entering the third song of the worship set, Littlest Man starts crying. Uh oh. Because a nursing mother knows what that means. I mean, she knows what that means.... because suddenly there's an river flowing, not from the floodgates of Heaven, but from her swelling bosoms. And she knows there's still two and a half songs to go before she can calm her baby and relieve her aches, and pretty soon she finds herself hunching lower behind the piano, you know, just in case her leaks become "obvious" to the rest of the congregation.
     Finally, after having "survived church", one of us has the brilliant idea to take the family out for lunch! (I really must find out who is lacing my coffee....) And not only are we going to put an entire restaurant out, but we are going to invite our friend to join us for an unrelaxing, frantic lunch. Not that I was able to enjoy my friend's company, since I was busy feeding the baby in the van while the rest of "That Family Plus One" went into the restaurant. But not to worry, my clan made up for it by dripping salsa on her, licking tortilla chips and placing them back in the bowl, running through the restaurant and trying to climb on tables, crying uncontrollably (sometimes in surround sound if both the baby AND the toddler got going at the same time), and talking incessantly. To top off the meal, we let her sit in the way back of the van (the seat that "has a seat belt" but that no one larger than an anorexic munchkin can actually use), in between the 6-year-old and 8-year-old, with the two smaller ones in the row separating her from the adult conversation up front (which really only consisted of talking about naps and diapers anyway). Once inside the car, Husband chipperly announces, "Hey, that was fun!" (Obviously he's taking the pills, too....). All the while, I sat there wondering if I should run back into the restaurant and offer to pay for everyone else's meals, and if my newly-wed friend would still want to have children after this lunch was over....
     So, yes, we are "That Family", and we may accidentally spill our craziness on your carpet or talk a little too loudly in your direction while out in public. And for this, we are sorry. But "That Family" is My Family and, for better or for worse, we're stuck with each other... and we probably won't be any less crazy for a good many years still. Maybe we yell more than we should, and the occasional item gets thrown across the room in sheer frustration, or maybe we're just so tired that we stop bathing for a while. But maybe that's okay. Because right now, all my kids are blessedly sleeping while Hubby is out mowing the lawn, and I find myself having just a few moments where things are Still.... Quiet.... Peaceful. And I think that it will all be alright. Who needs cloth napkined restaurants with their 6 forks, or watches that are just a constant reminder that you're failing at that whole Time thing yet again? Who needs that when you can have my life? Yes, I do believe it's all gonna be alright.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Parent Lingo

     As a parent, there are many things you swear you'll never say to your kids.  My mom and dad whipped out a lot of good ones in my childhood, and I promised myself that I wasn't going to use the traditional "parent lingo" no matter what my kids did (um, yeah right).  However, we have all found ourselves in situations where the words escape us and we can still see them hanging in the air above our heads in a conversation bubble as we silently scold ourselves for falling into this verbal parental trap.  Many of these classics that slip out of our mouths from time to time include "Don't MAKE me come back there," or "If you keep screwing your face up it'll stay that way" or the ever-famous "Just wait until your father comes home!"  But you wanna know what you never expect to come from your lips?
     "Who in the heck POOPED ON THE RUG???"  Yeah, when I was younger (and apparently naive), this was not a sentence I envisioned yelling at the top of my lungs.  You wanna know what else I never envisioned when I was childless (and happy, I mean, sane)?  That I would find this poopy rug by STEPPING in it with my bare feet.  When I felt the squish under my toes, followed by the brown smear that appeared on my foot, I found myself whispering "Please be chocolate, please be chocolate...."  But since I was in the bathroom, and the rug was directly next to the toilet, AND the toilet had poo poo floaties still in it (remnants of a poor flush), I was pretty certain that it wasn't chocolate.  Yet, in true motherhood fashion, I had to be sure.  I slowly removed my piggies from the slop and bent my face closer to the rug.  Somewhere around the halfway point, my fears were aromatically confirmed.  Indeed, someone had pooped on my rug.  (I puked into the toilet, poo poo floaties splashing up the sides of the bowl.)  And someone was going to die.
     I called both children into the house and set them down in the living room.  It was trial time.
     Me: "Children, who went poop in the downstairs bathroom?"
     In unison: "Not me, nah uh, no way, I didn't do it!"
     (Oh, the lies we tell.....)
     Me: "One more time, who pooped in the downstairs bathroom?"
     Cameron (my 8-year-old): "Well, I pooped in the toilet...."
     Me: "Cameron, it's interesting that you would have to qualify that you pooped in the toilet, since that's where most normal people poop when they "go to the bathroom".  So tell me, Cameron, why the heck did you poop on my rug???"
     Cameron: "I didn't poop on the rug, I swear!"
     Me: "Lie number 2. Cameron, would you like to lick my foot? Because I stepped on the rug that you "didn't poop on" with this foot (pointing dramatically at my right foot for effect) and I would be happy to let you take a taste, since my foot is obviously clean and NOT contaminated by your crap!"
     (I was desperately hoping he would make the smart choice and NOT lick my foot.... that would've freaked me out even more than stepping in someone else's feces.)
     Cameron: "But I didn't know that I pooped on the rug....."
     (Tears. Nice trick, kid, but you gotta do better than that.)
     Me: "Oh, you didn't know that you pooped on HALF OF MY RUG? Then please, tell me, son, WHY is the poop smeared into the fabric and chunks of rolled toilet paper are all over the huge stain?  'Cause it kinda looks to me like someone pooped on my rug, tried to clean it up, did a pretty "crappy" job of it, and then just left if for someone else to step in and clean up for them!"
     Cameron: "Well, um, well, uh...."
     Me: "WHY IS THERE POOP ON MY RUG?!?!?!"
     Cameron: "BECAUSE I pulled my pants down and got a drop on the rug! (Sob) I didn't know!! (Sob)"
     (A drop? Seriously? It looked like a mud-made snowman had melted all over the floor.)
     Me: "Cameron, for crying out loud, this was MORE than a drop. You know it, and I know it. You, for whatever reason, got a large amount of poop on the rug and then tried to clean it up with toilet paper. Then, because you wanted to ride your bike so badly, you left the mess for someone else to clean later, which is pure laziness. And what's worse? You lied about it the entire way instead of just telling someone you had an accident and asking for help. And you wanna know who had to pay for your laziness? MY FOOT. Clean the rug.... NOW."
     (More sobs....)
     Cameron: "I'm...(sob)...sorry...(sob)...for lying...(sob)...and for pooping...(hiccup)...on your foot...(sob)"
     (This same child decided to eat snack without washing his hands after he scrubbed the soiled rug clean. I'm really very concerned about the likelihood that he is going to die an untimely death from some sort of bacterial disease.)
     And now, having found myself yelling out a phrase requesting my children's help solving the poopy rug mystery, I will grant myself just a little bit of leniency when I slip up and tell my kids that they will have children just like them someday, or that the dentist knows exactly how many times they "accidentally" forget to brush their teeth since the last visit. Because, honestly, once you've yelled about poop on a rug, it gets a lot easier to forgive the everyday "parent lingo". (But seriously, they see the dentist tomorrow, so no one spill the beans about the dentist thing, ok?)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Surprise, Surprise!

     Kids are always so full of surprises. Some surprises are awesome and some completely suck... and what I've noticed about these surprises is that they seem to correlate with developmental stages that my kids are in at the time. For instance, Wyatt, being a newborn, leaves me surprises by the hour... in his diaper. These surprises are kind of sucky but are largely understandable, due to his stage of development. Newborns poop (constantly). Surprise. Or when he sleeps for 5 hours straight and I'm able to rest or actually complete a household chore in an appropriate amount of time because I don't have a baby in my arms. Surprise! Or the fact that I feel an overwhelming need to protect this little person, more than I've ever felt before (hey, adults have developmental stages and we surprise ourselves, too!). I remember all too well how long it took to get pregnant, the ever-so-lengthy 10 months I carried him, and the 4-day labor I experienced to get him out of me.... if this one drops and breaks, I can't exactly run to the store, hit the clearance isle, and grab a new one in ten minutes. So these Mama Bear tendencies? Yeah, surprise!
     Another example would be Isaac, who has now entered his independent stage (pre-terrible-two's). He LOVES to be a good helper for the new baby... he likes to gently place (aka "shove") the binky into the baby's mouth, get Wyatt a clean diaper (aka fling the diaper at him with great force), and play independently while we attend to the baby's needs (aka jump off very tall furniture). He loves Wyatt, but he is very aware of his de-thronement from Baby-Land. So, he's happy to see the baby when he comes over, but he certainly acts out when his immediate needs and routine are not met to his specifications. Surprise (but not really).
     And then there is Taylor. Ah, the wonderful stage of development that is a 6-year-old-girl. Maybe it's just her disorder, or maybe it's the change of having an infant in the house once again (although this has been going on for quite some time), or maybe it's simply being 6 years old (afterall, I can remember wanting to put Cameron's head through a wall repeatedly when he was that age). But it's never a fun surprise when you awaken to find that your daughter has drawn all over a bunch of the toys in her room with marker... marker that shouldn't even be in her room in the first place. Nor is it a fun surprise when she lies to your face repeatedly about this situation, making it seem that small Marker-Trolls are living under her bed, planting markers in her room and destroying her belongings with them when they get bored. And it's an especially sucky surprise when this follows yesterday's devotions on Honesty and Doing What's Right so that our lives will be blessed instead of destroyed by rebellion. And the surprises continue to come as she has lied about almost every little daily event for the past several months... my 6-year-old may not live to be 7 if this continues, because Mama doesn't like these kinds of surprises!
     Finally, there is Cameron. He is 8 years old and a bumbling goofball most days (as most 8-year-old boys are, I'm told). But there are days when he gives the most awesome surprises. Instead of fighting with his sister and using harsh words to her (as he has done in the past), he spent his morning sweeping my floors, starting and completing his school lesson independently while I fed the baby, and he made us all grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch (under close supervision, of course). He's been a complete dream! (SURPRISE!) To further puff up this Mama's chest, a utility worker came to my door today in order to tell me how great my son is (I'm not even kidding!). He said that when their work vehicle pulled onto our little street, Cameron immediately rode his bike into the grass and stayed to the side until the van was well ahead of him, and then he asked if they needed any help. The man was so impressed by Cameron's politeness and safety awareness, he just had to come up and thank me for teaching my son these things. (I stood there, dumbfounded and beaming.) Just last year, Cameron was riding his bike in front of cars and lawn mowers like it was going out of style! We must've grounded him from that bike a thousand times for his inability to make safe choices while riding it. And then he turns 8 and  suddenly becomes Mr. Safety! This is an awesome surprise.
     I know that life stages change frequently and rapidly. (Afterall, I did  study this in college, once upon a time when I had time, brain cells, and a life outside of my house!) And I also know that children swap roles, mimic one another, and push parental buttons just to test limits. So, by tomorrow, my entire little world of numerous children with varying behaviors could (and probably will) completely change. Wyatt's feeding, sleeping, and pooping schedule will change (thus, effecting every part of my schedule as well), Isaac will either learn to master the tall furniture or gain acceptance of his new big-boy role in the family, Taylor will get her needs met through negative attention or learn that positive attention feels sooo much better, and Cameron will continue to make awesome choices some days and be a bonehead other days, because he's a weird little boy and that's what they do (no matter what their stage of development they're in, really!). But for today, I will enjoy my awesome surprises while choosing to pray (and scream into pillows) over the sucky ones. I will praise positive behavior and discourage the negative, hoping that eventually a utility man will come to my door again and thank me for raising four amazing kids.