It’s that time of year! Birthday season and the annual blog post. Each year I’d like to think I’ll remember all the little things and write and document more often than the occasional facebook post, but I do not. So buckle up my friends, it’s going to be a long one....
Since last April:
It has been a year, right?! Threw me back to the toddler skipping a nap potty training days of juggling chaos and being absolutely done with all the days. Quarantine plus virtual school plus no volunteers plus Dave working at home... I pray never again. The pack’s bond grew stronger, but so did the fighting. My parenting style became mostly- figure it out, work it out yourselves, that’s enough, everyone to separate corners, etc. I tell myself they are going to be the best people to have on group projects and as coworkers thanks to this genius approach. Solve all the group dynamic issues. You’re welcome future world.
The Virtual School Experience:
I’ve said I would never ever homeschool. Not for me. Unless I absolutely HAD...like... HAD TO for the sake of my kids. And then the whole pandemic thing happened. And, ya know, since I never ever learn to never say never ever.... the first 9 weeks we kept them home and did virtual school. Ugh. We turned our dining room and office space into a school space with laptops and bins and folders and a supplies closet. The kids liked being able to go to school with their shoes off- ha! Learning to navigate all the zooms and virtual classrooms at the same time was as nightmarish as it sounds. The first few weeks I believe there was someone crying at all times- usually Allison. Andrew took every opportunity for extra snack breaks, Ben would only turn on his video if absolutely necessary, Caroline had as many panic moments of missing something or getting behind as Allison did (a lot), and then there was Levi who loved the camera and often had to have his video turned off by the teacher because his antics distracted the class. Levi and Andrew also found changing their Zoom names entertaining (i.e. Andrew the Hugger, Cool Guy Levi... you get the picture). Andrew missed people so much he was excited to raise his hand and share whatever popped in his head (typical Andrew); my personal favorite: “I don’t have any questions, but I’ve got something to say!” And then there was that one day we had Safety Dave the hall monitor. It was one of those seasons I’m sure the reality show producers would’ve loved loved loved.
Then there was poor Leah. She HATES the sound of voices through Zoom, so that posed its own challenges for virtual school. Ultimately, I had weekly Zoom meetings with her teacher and therapists and did my best to create activities based on her goals and similar to what they’d do in school and sent in videos and pictures. All of the above plus what I typically do- again- as exhausting and insanity inducing as it sounds. All of their teachers were wonderful and so supportive, but by the end of the first 9 weeks, even though we had a good routine down- I was done. Back to school they went and their grades went up, their smiles got brighter, the fighting decreased, and I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Bless all you teachers and homeschool parents out there.
I’ll admit it wasn’t all tears and trauma. I did enjoy the extra time with Leah and seeing how the other kids work and not rushing around in the morning was nice... but I also wasn’t sad to see that time end. And since going back to school, the kids have all acquired the ability to completely get ready for school on their own!! From packing lunches and homework to making breakfasts and personal hygiene- It’s AMAZING!!!! Makes the mornings fairly calm and we make it to school the minute the doors open for kids to arrive.
Since last year’s birthday wasn’t exactly what we all had planned, this year we went all out! From actually going to the grocery story to pick out cereals to the double slumber parties they’d been begging for. We fit in all the traditions and it was a whirlwind week of celebrating!
However, there was one tradition that had to be altered. The birthday lunch. It’s too funny not to remember. Typically, I bring them restaurant food and eat with them in the cafeteria. It’s the only day I’ll agree to do such a thing. However, this year none of that is allowed. So, I had a backup plan. Take each kid out to lunch throughout the week. But NO! I was told that was a TERRIBLE idea. I believe the exact words were, “Why would you ever think that was a good idea?!”. Ok.... Plan B: check them all out on their birthday and do a group lunch date. “You’re going to make us miss recess!!! NO!!” Ok. Fine then. Plan C: leave your lunchboxes at home, I’ll pick up food, put in lunchbox, and bring to school saying you forgot your lunch. Again, NO!! So we went with their plan. Plan D: pick up happy meals the day before so they can just pack them in their lunchboxes the morning of their birthday. All 5 kids agreed this is by far the best idea and exactly what we did. Cold French fries and all. And they were so excited!!
Andrew Noah Perkins
My Andrew Bubba or Bubs... he hates those nicknames, but he just seems like the Bubba of the family to me. The oldest. The biggest brother. The goober. The quarantine was hardest on this people loving kid. He’s extremely outgoing, loves to give hugs, and ask lots and lots of questions to new people. He also loves dogs and guessing the breeds and yelling at people while we’re on walks “Hey! Is that a chocolate lab?” He’s complimentary to all and has a way of making friends wherever he goes. And a way of including everyone and doesn’t care about different needs his classmates have. He talks about all of them as his good friends. He has a sense for when I’m having a bad day or a rough moment and he’ll just come give me a hug. Sometimes saying nothing, sometimes with a “you’re the best mom”. I love that he has that ability. Of course, he will also do that after asking for something, but I know the difference. He’s much much smarter than he lets on. He works that to his advantage. He’s not going to put in extra effort for any sort of work. He’s there for the snacks and the fun and to be where the people are. He can lie with the best of them and is sneaky sneaky. One time I caught him sneaking screen time and when confronted immediately said “I was making sure your iPad was charged and working Mom.” I mean, I wasn’t fooled for one second, but I was impressed. He also has a gift for spinning just about anything into a positive light. Some recent examples from PE class : “My timed mile goal was 16 minutes, but I did 17:30!!! Yeah!!” And “The required push ups were 2, but I did 4! Doubled it! Yes!” One big big change in Andrew this past year has been his behavior at school. I’m not sure what prompted it, but one day he told me and his teachers that he was going to change and not be naughty anymore. And you know what?! He has done exactly that. All Es in behavior across the board ever since and no phone calls to me about anything he’s said or done. Super proud of him!! He loves legos, Minecraft, watching TV, anything that involves a screen, hugs, dogs, snacks, dancing, music, and people.
President Perkins in the making. But he wants to start out as a YouTuber.
Benjamin Luke Perkins
My Benny!!! By the way, it’s just Ben now. He curses those 3 years he made everyone call him Benny Boy. Quarantine was Ben’s jam. Introverted to the max. He loved virtual school and not having to deal with all the people. Got his work done faster, more time for reading, it was amazing. He’s very shy and quiet until you get to know him and break through that thick shell. Or ask him about something he loves or something he’s knowledgeable about. He’s happy to correct you. “Well, actually...” is one of his favorite phrases. He’s extremely competitive- especially at Gaga and dodge ball and running races. Lots of natural athletic ability, but only uses it on his own terms and when he wants. He’s creative and makes up games, science experiments, and inventions all the time. Loves to tell you every single little detail. Detail oriented is an understatement. Also- analytical. Even bigger understatement. All things must make sense. If it makes sense, he’s all good. Change isn’t his jam, but if you warn him and explain why, he’s ok. He’s my night owl and absolutely not a morning person. He knows the exact minute he must be ready for school and he is ready at that minute- no sooner, no later. This trait of his drives his sisters CRAZY and that fact alone gives him much satisfaction. One of my current favorite things is our almost nightly conversations. He waits until the other kiddos are asleep and then comes down to chat with me. Or on the nights I work, he waits for me to get home so I can go chat with him before bed. He shares whatever thoughts are in his head and I never know what to expect. Then every time he ends with, “And what do you want to talk about Mommy? What’s on your mind?” I love this time with him so much. Ben loves his few close friends and his family but he’d never ever admit it. I know I’m his mom, but Ben is crazy smart. He LOVES to read. Loves it! Hard to get him to stop sometimes. I believe this is why his vocabulary is that of an adult. Ben wants to be a scientist or an inventor when he grows up and he eats a PBJ for lunch everyday. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a recipe for success.
Caroline Grace Perkins
My Caroliney! She’s really come into her own this year. It’s so fun to see!! She’s still quiet at first, but so much more talkative and open in sharing her thoughts and ideas. She’s much more social than she used to be amongst her classmates and girlfriends. She’s turning into quite the athlete and bookworm. She’s most likely to be found running, swimming, kicking the soccer ball, “shooting hoops”, climbing trees, reading, or writing. She loves her screen time games as much as her siblings, but she’s more content doing the other activities. She’s even been my little workout buddy quite a bit lately and loves getting to do the grown up stuff with me. Caroline loves to learn and set goals for herself. During quarantine she decided she wanted to write in cursive. She followed a handwriting book and taught herself! Same with basic piano. Used my old primer books and taught herself a few simple songs. We’re working on her Heart and Soul duet skills now. But, really, it’s time she gets a piano teacher who’s not me! She’s also learning a lot about cooking and grocery shopping and nutrition. She’s always wanting to know what’s healthy and why or why not. She’s my little sponge! Caroline is driven and determined and has such self discipline and admirable work ethic in her plans and routines to accomplish what she wants to. She’s also my one that needs assurance in what she can do though. If she convinces herself she won’t be perfect, she won’t try, but 98% of the time- she succeeds! She sets her alarm way way way early to make sure she’s up and ready to go long before it’s time to leave, sets the routine, and bugs her brothers to follow along and does not appreciate when I try to brush her hair before she brushes her teeth... or whatever the order is. She’s still moody and if she’s tired or just up from a nap- it’s best to stay away. Monster Caroline can still rear her ugly head. She and Levi often butt heads, but at the same time, are super close. In a lot of ways, she’s my little mini me. Which is as terrifying as it is fun. However, 10000% unlike me, she wants to be a soccer or basketball player when she grows up.
Leah Michelle Perkins
My Leah Peah! She’s the best. Her gigantic smiles and infectious giggles light up the room and bring joy to everyone who knows her. Her sheer excitement at hearing the same songs everyday makes me smile. This past year we discovered her absolute LOVE for AC/DC. Classic rock is her jam. We go back and forth between the Laurie Berkner song collection and the complete AC/DC collection- minus Hell’s Bells. That one makes her cry. Not everyone so easily switches between Old McDonald Had a Farm and Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, but this girl does! Music continues to be her happy language, her motivation, her source of calm, and pretty much everything else. Needless to say there is ALWAYS - and I mean ALWAYS- music playing in our house. It also helps keep my advanced tuning out ability in check. Leah continues to work so so hard. She still receives therapy at home multiple times a week after school. She gives all her effort until she’s wiped out and literally rolls over and goes to sleep. Now, she will play possum from time to time to get out of work like any kid, but most of the time, she’s going strong. She loves her gait trainer and cruising through the house and being pushed around the neighborhood. She’s completely calm and content riding along hearing the nature sounds. I’m grateful she has an extraordinary team of teachers and therapists who are always working and creating new ways for her to achieve goals and communicate. They help us out so much and she’s always making her tiny progress goals. Leah has also physically grown a ton this year! We’ve had to get new everything to accommodate her growth spurt: wheelchair, bath chair, gait trainer, and van with a wheelchair lift! It’s been an adjustment for sure. With her growth spurt has come new challenges within her diagnoses as well as the added physical challenge of lifting and moving her now that she’s almost 4 ft long and almost half my weight. If you haven’t tried to lift a heavy dead weight moving object- it’s hard. I’m grateful I’m capable, and I work at it, but it’s also one of the things I worry about it as I’ve watched most of the people in our lives not be able to hold her and move her anymore. But, as with all of the things, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
What will Leah be when she grows up? Who knows. But I like to say she’ll be a rock band groupie.
Allison Kate Perkins
My Allikins! What would I do without her? She’s the little mother of the group as she has been since she was 2. Incredibly organized and responsible, she’s got it together and likes to make sure I also have it together and her siblings. We’ve had many a conversation this year on how she is indeed NOT the mom and need only worry about herself and if her siblings don’t do what they’re supposed to- it’s not on her. These conversations also occur when I hear her parenting her siblings. She’s not wrong, mind you, she’s saying verbatim what I would say and in a motherly tone- but stay in your lane little one. She, most of all, cannot stand Ben’s snail speed in the mornings. Probably because this girl packs up her lunch and backpack at 4pm the day before. Prepared always. She’s most likely to do someone else’s chores for them and take care of everyone else’s stuff if they’re taking too long or not doing it to her standards. Little mothering adult in a tiny little body. Allison loves loves loves animals! Finding all the baby turtles and ducks and geese around our neighborhood is one of her current favorite activities. As well as watching the birds in the backyard and the squirrel that frequents our bird feeder. She even names them all. She’s my girly girl. All the pink and purple and sparkles and unicorns and sloths- her favorite animal. She loves to do crafts! All kinds. She’s really into helping me cook lately too. She recently learned to use a knife and chop, so any opportunity to chop things- she’s all about it. Her favorite books are Babysitter’s Club and her favorite show is Fuller House and both of those facts make my heart happy and full of nostalgia. She not only keeps track of all us, but all her little girlfriends too. Those girls know how to talk and share- that’s for sure! Allison often flies under the radar as she’s shy and quiet and just so darn well behaved and doing everything as perfectly as she can. If she thinks she’s wrong or not doing something perfect, she’ll shut down and only speak in what I call her dolphin sound. No one likes the dolphin. But then she’ll surprise you with a swift kick to her brother or run a 9 minute mile or something else equally impressive and stick up for herself. She, like Andrew, is smarter than she lets on. And, unlike Andrew, always gives 100% effort. She’s so fun and dainty and very very sensitive and wise beyond her years. She really does make being her mom so easy.
Allison wants to be a zoologist when she grows up- or anything involving animals!!
Levi Thomas Perkins
My Levi Guy! He’s currently watching and waiting for me to finish so he can read what I wrote about him. It has killed him that I go in birth order and he’s last. He’s just had to wait forever. Patience isn’t his virtue. If you recall from an earlier statement about distracting his class with his silly antics- that’s spot on. He’s a ham and a half, loves the camera, and loves to make people laugh. He’s silly and goofy and has the little kid humor down. Say the word butt or fart and it’s a guaranteed laugh. During quarantine he perfected the armpit and behind the knee fart sound. He’s also SUPA creative (his words) and crazy smart and quick witted. Too smart for his own good if you ask me. He still loves to draw and is constantly drawing his own comic strips and characters. He’s outgrown the Lightning McQueen obsession, but he still loves cars, just a more sophisticated taste these days. His artistic ability is quite impressive and I’ve heard other people say that too! Not just his mom. He’s gotten just as into sports as Caroline has this year. He really enjoys “shooting the hoops” and playing catch with me. He’s way beyond my throwing and catching ability already and often gets frustrated with mom’s bad throws and inability to catch a football. But I’m all he’s got and it’s our thing we do together for now. Levi still loves music but has gotten quite particular. Everyday he tells me what to play and requires music from TODAY- not my old 90s stuff. If he finds out a song came out more than 2 years ago- it’s OLD! CHANGE IT! ...How rude. Levi often has a quick temper and gets mad mad mad but he gets over it quickly and moves on. (As he’s watching and reading he said That’s not me that’s Caroline!- told ya those two butt heads). We often say Levi can be so stinking cute and sweet but then be an absolute poop head. He probably gets in trouble the most. When not playing sports or drawing or entertaining the masses, he likes to read and play all the video games - especially racing- and, some days, he still likes to cuddle with me. He’s also into fashion and his hairstyle and is SUPA COOL! Not surprisingly, Levi wants to a YoutTuber when he grows up.
So here we are entering year 10 of parenting sextuplets. I’m soaking up these next couple of years as I’m a little scared of age 11 and on. But as they age, I absolutely love seeing their individuality and having real conversations and talking over issues with them and how they do that with each other. I so often forget how remarkable our family situation is and how unlikely it was that we’d make it this far. As anyone who knows us knows, we’ve received so much help and love and support along the way and we are ever so grateful for every bit of it. There have been many times I’ve doubted how things would work out, but every time it does. And I’ve learned to be faithful and trust that good will come.
Until next time... Happy 9th Birthday!