Since Afton left her digital camera (which I use) in the van (which Rich took to work to get a new DVD player installed) I have no new pictures to post today. Oh well. I'll just have to write an entry this time, which as most of you who know me well know that this could get long, as I am a fast typer (thanks to my many years in court reporting school) and I have a lot to say (thanks to all that is always going on in my life with a husband, eight kids, a dog, a cat, fish and a horse!)
So tonight I hosted a jewelry party for a friend of mine. It was a "open house" kind of party where people would come at different times and "shop". There was beautiful silver jewelry displayed in my house and people could try the pieces on and place an order. I don't usually entertain, so a party like this is a stretch for me. The party started at 6:30 and ended (or was supposed to end) at 9:00pm. The party went very well, many friends showed up....so I'd say it was a success.
But what a crazy day I had getting ready for it.
Rich, of course, was working. And Tony (16) is gone visiting family, so my next biggest helper was gone, too (Rich being my first biggest helper!) The older girls helped me with babysitting while I went to Costco to buy food and supplies for the party, and also food for our household as we were getting very low! I was gone about an hour, and when I came home the house was a wreck! We spent all last night trying to clean it, and it looked pretty decent before I left for Costco. But in an hour that was all undone. I tried not to get angry with that, although it did put some pressure on me, but I'm sure the girls did the best that they could while I was gone. It isn't easy watching 5 children, 2 of which are babies! But they could tell by the look on my face that I was disappointed in the way the house looked, and without my even asking they all started to clean up. That was nice.
I took Afton to soccer practice at 5:45 and rushed home to get into the shower. I got into the shower at 6:10 (with Aislynn because she insisted on getting in with me) and was ready and back downstairs by 6:30. I clean up quick when I need to, luckily. My hair is so thin it dries in about 4 minutes with the blow dryer!
People started arriving for the party at 6:30. I tried to bribe all the kids to STAY UPSTAIRS while my guests were here. Yes, that lasted about....I'd say 15 minutes. Soon I was hearing, "mommy?" from the top of the stairs. When I would go to see what they wanted, they always wanted food. Figures. They had already eaten, and what I had downstairs was for the guests. But...to keep them from coming downstairs and to keep them quiet, I got a few plates of strawberries and whip cream, some crackers and cheese, some celery and carrott sticks with ranch dressing and some grapes and brought it up to the hungry pack. Then I went back downstairs to try to mingle with my guests.
Ten minutes later Aislynn is standing in the middle of the living room wearing nothing but a diaper. "Hi Mommy!" she says. I quickly scooped her up and carried her back upstairs. (remember, if one gets out then they all will break free....hey, that reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Breakfast Club, where Judd Nelson says, "Hey....how come Andrew gets to get up? If he gets up, we'll all get up -- it will be anarchy!") (okay, a trip back to the 80's there for a minute, sorry about that!)
Once I get Aislynn back upstairs she starts to whine and I know it's only a matter of seconds before that whine turns into a full blown cry -- or worse-- an Aislynn fit, which is not pretty and there's no recovering from. So I quickly say, "What? What do you want? Tell me." and she simply says, "I want Bob."
(sidenote: Once Aislynn stopped nursing she started taking a bottle, and she called her bottle "bob" because she couldn't say bottle. So it's been Bob ever since! Her favorite saying around here is "I want Bob.")
So I go back downstairs and quickly fill up a bottle of milk for her.
Back upstairs I go, only to hand it to her and see a very displeased look on her face and the whining starts in again.
"What?!! What's wrong now?" I ask.
And she simply says, "Ju Ju" which is her word for orange juice.
Ugh! I forgot to ask her what she would like IN her Bob. My mistake! So I try to play it off and tell her, "Milk is better right now....it's late. Just drink the milk." and her whining gets louder as she hears me say this, so I grab Bob and march back downstairs to get the Ju Ju. I have about 8 women in my house at this time, and all I keep doing is passing by them. I try not to get impatient. Afterall, Aislynn is just 2 years old. But I really want to talk with my friends, some of them came a long way to see me. And one lady is a new neighbor who just moved in and doesn't know anyone but me...so I wanted to be there to make her feel comfortable. But my time is spent going up and down the stairs catering to Aisy. Great.
So I get the Ju Ju in the Bob and go right back upstairs and hand it to Aisy, and she is happy. The house heaved a great big sigh -- yes, I heard it - and finally I go downstairs.
No sooner do I get down there and I hear Audriana (14) calling from the top of the stairs, "Mom! Don't forget Afton." and I look at the clock and it's already 7pm! Time to pick Afton up from soccer practice. Since Rich is at work and we do not have a carpool for this, I have to leave my own party to go pick up Afton from practice. So I make a brief explanation to my friends and dash out the door. Aislynn comes running down the stairs crying to come with me, so I scoop her up and put her in the car and we head off to pick Afton up.
Twenty minutes later I am back at home. And guess what? Five kids are downstairs eating the guest food. They broke free when the warden was away! I shuffle them all back upstairs and promise them a cookie if they stay up there. Afton carries Aisy upstairs for me, and I once again join my friends. I noticed there are some new people who arrived while I was gone, and I noticed one friend left while I was gone (but I knew she was leavning early so this didn't surprise me, but I felt bad I didn't get to say good-bye) I started a conversation up with my friend Ruth, who had driven about 40 minutes from her home to be here.
I'd say about15 minutes go by and I hear, "Mommy! Andrew's got a poop!" So I excuse myself once again and back upstairs I go. I change the baby and hand him off to one of the kids... and immediately he starts crying. So I take him back, put him on my hip, and head downstairs. So now I'm trying to mingle with a baby on my hip. I decided to put Andrew in his highchair and give him some crackers and cheese.
I'm free to mingle again!
It's now about 8:3 and A.J. sneaks downstairs while I'm busy talking with someone. Oh, the heck with it...I decide not to say anything to him and just let him be. Maybe he'll just fade into the background and people won't notice him.
Because I'm not saying anything to him, he pushes the envelope a bit further and gets his Legos out and dumps them right in the middle of the formal living room, and I look over at him and he gives me a look that says, I know what I'm doing is not what you would like...but are you going to do anything about it?
(A.J. has such a devilish look sometimes, it's so funny. He has this way of lifting his eyes up and rolling them up and out to the sides. Anyway, I decide not to say anything and let him be.)
I return his look with eyes that say to him, I'm watching you and you are treading on thin ice, buddy, so you better behave.
I let him be at this time because I feel we have a connection and a mutual understanding. He knows that I know he's there, and he knows I'm trusting him to play quietly. And I know he's thinking I'm a pretty cool mom at this point, and I know he will behave just because he knows that I am trusting him to be good. And he plays quietly for about 10 minutes.
Soon a friend comes with her two boys, ages 5 and 3. They are two blond cuties and quickly run upstairs to play with the other kids. A.J. -- curious now to see who these new kids are -- follows them, leaving behind his Legos on my living room floor.
Do I call him down to pick them up? Maybe I should have, but I didn't.
Do I clean it up myself? Nope. Just left it there on the floor.
I'm telling you, by this time I just didn't care. I figured everyone at my party knows me well, knows my life with all the kids, and seriously....what's a few Legos among friends?
So I go back into the kitchen and all over the floor are pieces of yellow cheddar cheese and a bunch of crackers. I look over at Andrew in his highchair, and he's giving me "the look" he gives when he knows he's thrown all his food down and he's going to get a reaction for that. It's all about 'cause and effect' for him lately.
So I said, "Uh oh...did you throw all your food on my floor?" and he smiles, and his smile just melts my heart every single time. And so I just step over the food and get him out of that chair, and now he's toddling around the place. I kick a few of the pieces of cheese and crackers under his highchair so that no one will step on them, and leave them be. Afterall, what's a little food on the floor among friends?
Now Andrew is running all over, and guess what? My friend's two boys and my boys are all downstairs. One starts playing with the Legos that are still on the living room floor, and the two-year-old starts playing the piano. Woo-Hoo...now we've got some live entertainment. Of course he's had years and years of piano lessons and so was very easy on the ears to listen to.
But did I care about that? Nope. He's having fun.
Aislynn comes downstairs at that point and is angry that the 2 year old is on "her" piano bench playing "her" piano. I explainto her that we need to share with our friends, and she furrows her brow and yells "NO" at the top of her lungs. (You just gotta love 2 year olds.) So I take her over to the dessert tray and quiet her with a brownie.
She's now walking around the house with a brownie that is crumbling all over my carpet.
Do I care? Nope.
I'm talking with friends, having a good time -- meanwhile my house is fallin apart, as ALL the kids are downstairs now. And ALL the strawberries and whip cream are gone in about 2 minutes when they attacked.
My friends are busy trying on jewelry and filling out order forms, and drinking wine.... no one seems to notice all these kids. There are 9 children downstairs --no, make that 10. Audriana's best friend Brooke is here, too-- so that's my seven plus three extras. All downstairs during my party.
Do I care at this point? Nope.
Okay...so 9:00 finally comes. There are two guests left and the jewelry consultant -- Heather - who was great during all this. I was worried that the chaos of my home would cause her not to have a good outcome at the party, but apparently things still went well.
At this point in time, Afton is beginning to give me grief because she was supposed to spend the night at a friend's house as soon as my party ended -- I was supposed to drive her over there as soon as the party ended, and I guess she expected to leave at EXACTLY 9:00. I could hear her quietly saying, "Mom....let's go!" and every now and then I would hear a heavy sigh coming from her. I finally shot her "the death eyes" and she stopped. My house was emply of guests at 9:45, and I took Afton to her friend's house, came home, bathed the little ones and put everyone to bed.
Even though it sounds like I spent most of my time chasing kids -- I really did have a nice time! I managed to visit with my friends, and everyone was busy visiting with each other. I could sit around and huff and puff about having to tend to the kids, but really...where would that get me? The FACT of the matter is that I DO have a house FULL of children. And entertaining at my house is hard because of that reason. Which is why I don't do it often! So on the rare occassions that I do entertain, my friends expect this kind of a party from me, because they know my life and how it is with all the kids.
And you know what? I do what I can do, and that's just the best I can do.
And considering I didn't have Rich's help with this, I think things went pretty good.
The key to it all is not to STRESS OUT! Just go with it...even if it's not going perfectly, just go with it.
And you have to know when to bend the rules a bit, and you have to know when to just let go and almost have the mentality of "if you can't beat them, join them" which is why after a while I just let A.J. dump his Legos on the floor in the living room. I figured that the kid has been upstairs since 6:00. He did pretty good for 2 hours. It's not like he was misbehaving. He was quietly playing Legos. In fact, none of the kids were wild banshees or anything. When they all came downstairs, they were very well behaved.
So that was my crazy day and I'm tired so I'm going to bed :)