~ Having bigger kids ~

I never thought I would only have three kids.  I used to joke that I wanted my own reality show "Jim & Kel plus 12"  Okay,  I didn't really want 12.   Maybe 4…or 5….6 at the very most.  Jimmy and I both come from big families and I expected I would have the same.

After Libby Lu we tried for nearly a year to have baby #4,  when that didn't happen it didn't bother me too much.   Jimmy and I had been talking about adoption since we were dating,  so I figured if we were suppose to add to our family it was meant to be through adoption.

Just when we were beginning to take that journey, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer.   We dropped everything to focus on his well-being for a year.  After he passed in late 2013 Jimmy and I talked  about the road of adoption again, and decided that 2014 was our year.

I'm not going to bore you with our stories,  I'll just tell you that our road to adoption ended in a big fat dead end.  We pursued both foster care adoption and regular domestic adoption.   Door after door was closed in our face,  I knew adoption wasn't easy but seriously,  what a gigantic disappointment. 

Suddenly, I found myself looking at my 3 little marriage trophies and knew for sure, for the first time, that our family was complete.   At first the thought of never having another baby in our house was heartbreaking.  But once the adoption door was officially closed it allowed me to accept it, and I started letting myself enjoy the next chapter of my life.

It didn't take me very long to come to the conclusion that having bigger kids is pretty fun.  Actually it's kind of awesome.  So I wanted to celebrate some of the things you get to look forward as your kids grow older.

My youngest is still only 4 1/2.  We still refer to her as "the baby" But she's no longer a "toddler" -

Let's start there.   Parents should get some sort of trophy, award, or all expense paid vacation for surviving toddlers.   Having a toddler is pretty close to having a drunk, suicidal, leprechaun that you are in charge of 24 hours a day, for 3 years straight.   They are completely irrational,  destroy half the things you own, and attempt to harm their self daily with basic household objects.  But damn they're cute,  and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps you from jumping off a cliff.

So once you've graduated from the drunk-lephrachaun-stage things start to change pretty quickly.

Let's start with the basics.  

First,  and most importantly.  I sleep,  through the night,  every….single….night.   It is freaking GLORIOUS.

Glorious…but not glamourus, because none of the little fart-knockers can stay in their own beds.

My bed looks like Grants Farm every morning with kids and animals everywhere.  But still,  it's sleeeeeep!  Wonderful, beautiful, sleeeeeep!
We can get to the grocery store and back without looking like a circus side show.

Sure, Libby Lu will ram me in the heels with the cart 15 times  and Rocky will slap the refrigerated hamburger packages and shout "Mom it feels like a butt", but still, no one craps their pants in the produce aisle, baby steps people. 
Speaking of crap.  I haven't wiped anyones butt except my own in over a year,  I don't think we need any further explanation there.

You start having a teeny, tiny sliver of a social life again.  And when you go out you don't feel the need to talk about your kids 24 hours a day.  Toddler moms will seek out other toddler moms just to talk about their toddlers.  I did it,  and you will do it.  But when they're older they're much more boring and you find yourself talking about things besides them.   It's pretty refreshing.
When you DO leave the house to catch a movie or have dinner with your hubby,  your choice of a babysitter is MUCH broader than when they were babies.

When Rocky was a born we were extremely protective of who could watch him,  it was pretty limited to both grandma's and one Aunt.  We would leave a huge list of his schedule, when he should eat, sleep, play, poop,  how he likes to be burped, make his bottles, lay out pajamas, and we would seriously call home once an hour to check on him. 

Now….if we have somewhere to be, we will literally call the devil to babysit…  

"Ring! Ring!,  Hey,  Satan,  look I know it's last minute notice, but we're really in a bind we only need you an hour, and we'll order pizza"  
Okay,  I've never really called Satan but we do have a responsible teenager or two that we can use if I need to jet out for a quick family shoot or client meeting and it's awesome!

And finally, I can actually watch one of Rockys baseball or hockey games without distraction.  Who knew he was such a great pitcher?  I've been chasing a screaming toddler in the bleachers for 5 years.  Rocky's been in sports since he was 4 and I just bought my first nice lawn chair for the sidelines.  Because who needs a chair when you never get it sit?

They can do stuff for you!!!   It's like your own little army that you built yourself!  I bark commands like a general in the military.   "Carry in the groceries, let the dogs out,  bring me my phone"
 But you should know they will generally screw up even the easiest task.  If I ask Luci to carry in the the groceries from the car there's a 99% chance I'm backing up over a ketchup bottle in the morning.

(Photo above:  Libby Lu accidentally wore her sisters bikini top to the pool,  it was like a 3 hour episode of "Girls Gone Wild")

No more cartoons.  Oh sweet Jesus if I had to watch Bubble Guppies one more time I was going to stab myself in the eye with something sharp.   Your kids watch real shows with real people them and they are pretty funny.

My husband and I will find ourselves in conversations like "Did you see the other day on Sam and Cat…"and you can start doing family TV nights and follow a show like "The Voice" or ""American Idol".  It's really fun bonding.

They start liking your food.   The days of picky toddlers are sort of behind you, you can't always please everyone but they start asking for things like "mom will you make your burritos"  or "your lasagna" and it makes you feels soooo appreciated.

I start daydreaming about their days at college eating ramen noodles for months at a time,  and then excited to come home to ME…supermom…in her super apron…with their favorite casserole dish in hand!!!    Note to self….buy an apron. 
You start seeing a glimpse of the friendships you are going to have with them in the future.  And you get to see how much your kids really, really love each other when the chips are down.   They will try to kill each other within the walls of your own house,  but step outside those doors and they're a team.

Please don't mistake,  I'm not saying raising older kids is easier.  It's true what they say "bigger kids, bigger problems" -  Sure your armpits are shaved on a regular basis now,  but instead of laying awake  pondering whether or not to send them to pre-school you lay awake because they are having trouble in school,  or had a fight with a friend,  they have real problems, real heartbreak,  and ask hard questions that you're not ready to answer.   But like every change in life,  I'll be up for the challenge and take it one day at a time,  and if I learn anything along the way I'll pass it onto you. 

Don't get me wrong,  I still love little babies,  they are adorable and squishy and cute and their smiles can melt your whole heart in an instant.  I'm sure someday I will miss having babies in the house. But  not right now.  Right now is awesome.

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