The Great Debate

Let me start by explaining that I realize the current strife we’re experiencing in our household is entirely my fault. It is of my doing. I accept full responsibility. Because, I was the one that purchased the Keurig coffeemaker over which Bob and I are currently arguing.

Back, many years ago, when we were renovating our first house, I bought a Keurig thinking the single-serve set-up would be convenient for us since we were going to be without a kitchen for an extended period of time. It proved very convenient and we loved the ease of making coffee with the Keurig. We used that machine exclusively for well over a year.

When I left full-time employment to stay at home with the boys, I started (for obvious reasons) to need A LOT of coffee. I also prefer strong, full-bodied coffee, which I never thought the Keurig was good at delivering; something that you can really only get in a traditional brew design. I remember purchasing a little four-cup coffeemaker at Target and mixing my own ground coffee to make really good, really strong coffee.

We continued like this, in relative harmony, for years. Bob with his Keurig, drinking mediocre coffee on demand. Me with my drip coffeemaker mixing beans and varietals like a laid-off barista. He would occasionally comment on how stressful it must be for me each morning to have to wait a full five minutes for a cup of coffee while he has to only wait about three minutes but, for the most part, our household was at peace.

Until now.

Our current home has the least amount of counter space of any of our previous homes. In our other kitchens, there was always a large enough, logical spot to accommodate all of our assorted caffeine machines. In this kitchen, our coffeemakers take up one entire span of counter space from the wall to the kitchen sink. I think this is ridiculous and have therefore decided the Keurig must go. I arrived at this conclusion shortly after we moved in and unpacked but I knew Bob wouldn’t give up his beloved coffeemaker without a fight so I’ve had to carefully plan my approach.

Also, for a brief shining moment, when we had a ton of friends and family visiting during Bob’s recovery, the Keurig was sputtering under the weight of the coffee demand. The pump wasn’t pumping enough water to make a cup and the lights just kind of blinked at random. I pronounced the Keurig officially broken and was silently rejoicing. No such luck though since it miraculously began working again like some reanimated zombie in a horror movie.

So, I was forced to go back to my insidious plan to manipulate Bob into agreeing to go back to a drip coffeemaker. I first tried discussing the environmental impact all of those used K-cups must be having since they’re not recyclable. He didn’t take the bait because Bob must hate the outdoors and sunshine. Next, I tried showing him the insanely expensive per-pod cost of each K-cup. He immediately changed the subject because Bob obviously doesn’t care if our kids go to college. My last attempt at convincing him to part with the Keurig held the most promise. Bob is extraordinarily health conscious so when I brought up the fact that our neighbors don’t use a Keurig anymore because they were concerned about drinking super-heated water that was shot through cheap plastic, I knew I stood a chance. Bob hung his head and accused me of many lies and trying to take away the one, true thing he’s ever loved. It was a tough and uncomfortable situation, however, it was all for naught since the Keurig is still sitting on my counter.

Do you see how cute my kitchen coffee station could be without the Keurig? So light! So bright! Yes, please come over for coffee anytime!

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Instead, it looks like this. Bleh. It’s like the entire kitchen has a black eye. (Too dramatic?)

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Bob said he can tell when he’s not wanted and has threatened to relocate the whole Keurig operation to the basement where we have a super cozy sitting area. Despite absolutely ZERO exclamations of protest from me, he has yet to actually take it down there. I hate the term, “man cave” but I am actively encouraging him to create one downstairs.

After Bob explained that he had consulted with his crew at the office, who had immediately risen to his defense (because of course), I told him I was taking it to the Internet who collectively, I assume, will wholeheartedly validate my position. Right? RIGHT? Your future coffee consumption while visiting hangs in the balance so I would choose wisely.

Three is More Than Two and Less Than Four

I can vividly remember the nurse handing a newborn baby Charlie to me as I rested in the surgical recovery area of the hospital following his birth. Charlie’s arrival was the exact opposite of Henry’s in that it was incredibly calm, extremely joyful and mercifully brief. I didn’t know delivering a baby could be like that. That… relaxing. I cuddled Charlie in my arms for the very first time and I thought to myself, I cannot wait to do this again.

That feeling of wanting a third child never relented. Even Bob had to eventually concede that, yes, Charlie, even as a baby, seemed destined to become a middle child. He was born with the personality of one.

For as much as Charlie seemed predetermined to be the second child of three, Millie has always felt like she was meant to be our youngest. As if her slot was there but simply unfulfilled until her arrival. The new hire, so to speak. When she was born, I gleefully celebrated that my last ever pregnancy was over. Everything about her birth and first few months solidified that our family was complete.

We wanted three children together and are profoundly blessed with three children.

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So, then, here’s the rub. Turns out, three kids is… a lot of kids.

I vaguely recall a survey that some media outlet conducted last year that basically asked parents, when did your life go off the rails: was it with one kid, two kids, three kids or four or more kids? The gist of the results were that the official Chaos Tipping Point seemed to occur for most parents when they had their third child. Anything less than three and you had adequate coverage to meet demand. Anything more than three and parents just seemed to admit defeat and embrace their destiny of complete bedlam.

But, three kids is a sort of no man’s land, stuck between the manageability of two and the inevitable mayhem of four. With two kids, I was able to stay organized, stay sane, maintain order and a somewhat dignified household. With three kids, I’m intent on staying on top of things, just like when I had two, but completely incapable of actually doing that. With four kids, I think I would probably just get really good at letting certain things go. (But, let us never speak of a fourth child. Unless you want me to cry.)

Three kids was definitely our family’s tipping point. It was our Big Adjustment. The point where Bob and I switched gears into survival mode. Our expectations lowered and our resolve hardened, full of sheer determination to just make it through.

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The noise level with three kids is completely absurd. There is never a time in my house when someone little isn’t talking. Never. Someone is always talking. They are usually talking about Lego. Or, Star Wars. Or, Lego Star Wars. Add to that, at any given time in my house someone is probably, most definitely, crying. And, they are most certainly crying over something ridiculous. Usually, when someone steals their Lego piece. Or, their Star Wars piece. Or, their Lego Star Wars piece.

Just keeping three kids in weather appropriate clothing is basically a part-time job. There are bins and bins of clothes in the basement yet no one’s pajamas seem to fit quite right. Why is that? Also, everyone is always losing hats and sweatshirts (Charlie lost TWO last week alone). Add to that the fact that no one ever seems to have shoes that fit, despite the towering pile of them in all shapes and sizes by my garage door. It’s maddening.

Also, did you know that kids should see doctors on a regular basis? That you have to keep track of who needs a check-up with which physician, who needs their shots updated, what month that one is supposed to see their eye doctor, which one did I forget to follow-up with the orthodontist about, who had the appointment coming up with the dermatologist and so on and so forth. With three kids, I need a spreadsheet people.

I could also use a spreadsheet to keep track of the last time everyone bathed. School is back in session so we have a renewed focus on hygiene around here. Boys get smelly. Very smelly. With three kids, I spend a lot of time sniffing things. I think bath night would become 78 percent less stressful if I taught a couple of the kids how to shower all on their own. Also, how to cut their own fingernails. Henry is a nail biter and I’ve never held it against him because it’s ten fewer talons I have to trim.

And, on top of everything else, it appears our three children are legitimately bottomless pits of nothing but hunger pains. They are always eating. Or, talking about eating. Or, inquiring about eating. The carts at Target are, legitimately, not large enough to hold the food I must purchase to keep the ravenous tenants of my house satiated. It’s embarrassing when I round the corner and things actually go careening off of the cart, cartoon-style. I can feel people staring and saying to themselves, “Wow, lady. Have some self-respect with the Goldfish cartons there.” I feel like wearing a shirt that says, “FEEDING FIVE!”

Yes, they are adorable. Yes, they are totally worth the effort. Yes, we love them to the moon and back. And, yes, according to everyone else, they all look exactly like my husband which is incredibly unfair to the person that actually gestated them.

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When Bob and I sat down to dinner on the back porch one night last week, we both noted that it was nearly dark. Our day had been a busy one with a doctor’s appointment, soccer practice, homework wrestling and a grocery run, all sandwiched in between the many other ordinary tasks we completed that day. As we dug into our meal, I looked at him and said, “It was a long day, wasn’t it?”

Bob replied wearily, “They’re all long.”

We are tired. All of the time. There is almost never a time when we are not tired. We work hard at this parenting thing. We are diligent in the care of our three children.

Maybe the fact that we’re so tired is a good thing. Maybe it means that we’re doing something right. I can only hope.

All in the Family

Forty-seven years ago, a man and a woman got married. That man and that woman went on to have four children: Julie, Jon, Janet and Joanna.

(Picture taken by Henry)

(Yes, our names all begin with a “J.”  Twas a 70s thing, right?)

(Also, it should be noted that their youngest child is their favorite.)

(I’m their youngest. It’s me. I’m their favorite.)

Then, those four children each went and got married.

(Picture by Charlie)

Eventually, those four children and their four spouses went on to have a combined FOURTEEN children of their very own. Isn’t that math amazing? From what was once only two, now there are fourteen.

(I think I remember taking this photo.)

(Did you count them all? Well, you’ll notice only thirteen grandchildren are shown. One is away at college.)

My family came together over the Labor Day weekend to celebrate my parents, who each had a big birthday this year. Our get together happened to also coincide with their 47th wedding anniversary. We attempted to keep the party a surprise but my mom was pretty suspicious when she found out we were only going to be visiting for three days.

It was a whirlwind three days, for sure, but well worth the drive since the last time my siblings and I were all in the same place together was back around this time in 2008. SIX YEARS AGO! There are so many of us now and so many different schedules to coordinate and big responsibilities to manage that getting together is a challenge. (We started planning this family reunion back at the beginning of the year.)

But, it certainly didn’t feel like six years since we had all been together. The same thing, that same underlying DNA, that same common denominator, that makes us clash sometimes is also what makes us click all of the time. We have a lot of fun when we get together. We know how to laugh. A lot. And how to be silly. And how to talk about Big Things. And how to celebrate little things.

The whole weekend was a tremendous amount of fun and I was delighted to be a part of it. Even if family reunions look a lot like this these days:

We are always with the phones.

We are always with the phones.

You should also note that my brother labeled his Solo cup, “The Cool One.” As long as I’m still the favorite, I’ll give him that.