August 30, 2013

Eleven.

Happy Eleventh Birthday, Patrick!

You got to spend your birthday at the local lake with some friends.
Lots of sunshine for your day and that is just what you are to us--a lot of sunshine in our day!
We love you lots!

August 14, 2013

Planning ahead.

So, we were driving in the car yesterday.  The older kids were at the dentist which is a rare opportunity for Nick to just speak whatever is on his mind without interruption.

Nick starts, "When I grow up I'm going to name my kid DarthVader."

"Oh, really."  I say.  Secretly, I'm thinking, "Why would you want to name your kid Darth Vader, don't you realize he isn't the good guy?"  But anyway.

There is a long pause and Nick says, "I'm going to name one kid Darth Vader and the other Applesauce."

"Okay, those are interesting choices...."  I say.  I'm trying to navigate city streets in my big white van at this point which really means, I'm listening but I can't really converse.

Another long pause.  The wheels are turning in his head and Nick wonders aloud, "Mom.  How many kids do you think I will have?"  Probably because he is wondering how many unique names he is going to have to come up with.  "Well,"  I reply, "I don't really know how many kids you will have.  How many kids do you think you want to have?"

Long pause as he thinks about it.

"100."  Nick answers.  "But that means we'll probably have to drive two big vans everywhere we go."

I love it.  "We" will have to drive 100 of his children around together because in his young mind, he can't possibly imagine that "we" won't always be "we."  Sweet, sweet boy!

(I really hope he doesn't name any of them Darth Vader.  Applesauce I can handle.)


August 8, 2013

{PHFR}

round button chicken

Pretty.

Bees n Flowers.
The little carpenter bee butt in the morning glory makes me giggle.

Happy.
Six kids watching our new trees being unloaded.
This is sort of the before shot.
Except the toys and balls are "always" there.
After shot.
Two blue spruce at the end of the drive and two pin oaks.
We put the blue spruce in ourselves.
Hard to sense this in the picture, but the trees make the front yard much cozier.

Funny.
Peter got nervous about the bobcat and strange men working.
So he took up residence under the umbrella for the duration of the day.

Real.

First foods.
Caroline knows we all have good stuff at dinner.
She wants something but doesn't have good enough motor control to get it herself.
She isn't totally crazy about stuff coming off the spoon either.
Growing up is hard stuff! 

August 7, 2013

Keeping house and lots of children.

See, it was dirty even before we moved in!
(And, I can't get over how little Jacob was!)
Three years ago, when we moved into this house, we doubled our square footage.  We've also added two new people to the family since then (and countless furry, feathered, and scaled creatures).  I've never quite gotten the cleaning routine tweaked to how I'd like and organization is still floundering at square one.  Pregnancy, baby, broken ankle, pregnancy, baby, surgery=crazy.  But the basic problem is that I didn't have the routine in the first place.  And, I don't want to spend my life cleaning.  I want to enjoy all these crazy little people I have.  And I want to feel like I can have company over.  Whenever.

As much as I like to have organization and as much as I like to plan, I have never quite gotten to the scheduling of tasks beyond "clean the whole house on Friday or Saturday or right before a party".  Oh, my kids have assigned rooms to pick up every day before Dad gets home so the house is somewhat presentable, and chores they complete every morning.  And then there is the aforementioned attempt at cleaning the whole house once a week.  Mostly, I have previously thought I could just keep up little by little.  Increasingly, I feel overwhelmed and more like I am just spinning my wheels.  Hectic schedules and bigger messes makes me think I need to lock myself in to more of a schedule.  Merry Maids really wasn't that helpful (other than the glorious sense the house was clean and I didn't have to do it--the reality is that it wasn't any more clean than when my kids do it).  The fact is, my life doesn't look anything like it used to three years ago when I had more little people than big (and less running and more staying home).

So, I went looking for some concrete advice.  I found this book, Large Family Logistics, and thought well here you go--a mom of 9 who says she's got some good ideas.  And, she does.  But, like anything else, it is going to require some tweaking.

There were a couple of points that really hit home with me.  The first was my attitude.  I've noticed a whole lot of huffing and puffing from my children when I ask them to help.  Then I realized....they got it from me.

Yup, me.  I huff and puff.

Well, darn it, I'm tired.  Exhausted, really.  But they don't get that.  They only get the impression that Mom doesn't want to do what she is doing and is huffing.  So, I'm working on that.  And working on not getting cross when something doesn't get done the way I'd like and just requiring it to be done again with lots of positive comments.  Kim Brenneman does a great job of really explicitly describing a task--even the task of training your own children how to clean.  And I think that is a great refresher for those of us to forget that children forget and need to be consistently trained.  Children don't know how to automatically "see" what needs to be done --we need to clearly teach them.
The second was a little point but important.  She talks about cleaning the bathroom and just wiping the floors with a rag.  

Whooooaaaa.... what?  No mop? 

Then, I thought about it.  How many times do I skip mopping the floors because a) I can't find the mop or both mop heads are currently dirty because someone decided to mop the garage floor or b) I don't want to go downstairs/upstairs to get the mop and bucket and find the Lysol and fill it up and then mop the floor and wring out the mop and dump the bucket and put. it. all. away.   Yeah, you get the point.  
She does suggest having all the cleaning supplies you need for each bathroom IN each bathroom.  Novel idea, I know.  But I can't keep a mop and broom in each bathroom.

(I digress).  But you know what?  I cleaned my bathroom and I wiped the floors with a rag.  BOOM! Done.  15 minutes tops.  And then, when I gave Nick and Peter a bath, I did the kids bathroom.  I used to always clean the bathroom while I gave someone a bath and somehow I have fallen out of that habit.  And I cleaned the floor with...wait for it...a rag!  All that splashed-out bath water was actually helpful!  (I think I also got into the corners better than the mop does.  I'm just sayin'. I'm good at something).
The third thing I took away from this book was having an assigned day and assigned helpers for tasks.  I'm not sure I'm good at the assigned days.  I already do the Laundry day thing--Mondays and Fridays but then it doesn't always get folded, just run through.  But she says to have a Laundry day, Kitchen day, Office day and an Errand Day.  This week, I tried for the Laundry, Kitchen and Office days--and it didn't go so bad.  I didn't get as much Laundry done as I would have liked but we had an unusual amount of really icky laundry from the weekend that had to be run through.  The success was that I managed to get sheets off the kids beds, hung on the line, and back on the beds by dinner.  This week, I had Patrick and Jacob assigned to be laundry helpers (they all hate the laundry, I don't know why) and Nathan is on dishes.  So, Patrick and Jacob help me switch loads and fold, Nathan is emptying the dishwasher every time it runs and helps with loading.  So far, the assigned helpers are doing okay.  We'll see if we can keep up with it.

My ultimate goal is to come up with some systems that work for us.  And keep me sane.  Nobody wants a crazy mama.  Nobody.

So if you've managed to read this far, what works for you?  And have you read Large Family Logistics?


August 2, 2013

6 Months.

Caroline at 6 months old.
This first year just goes way too fast. 
Her first tooth just broke the skin yesterday.
Hence, the tongue.
You still can't see the tooth but you can feel it! 
An aquaintance of ours at church had a little boy the week after Caroline was born.
I saw her with her little boy in church last week and couldn't quite wrap my brain around the fact that these babes were 6 months.  It seems like yesterday that we were staring at each other and asking how we were feeling and if we had any signs of our babies being born!  I literally felt a bit like I have been in a time warp! 
And, just in case you thought it was just Caroline and I out in the grass doing our own little private photo shoot..... 
Not so. 
Elizabeth, Peter, and Nicholas (not in the picture--he's next to me) all had to be a part of it.
As well as a couple of chickens, which we had to repeatedly shoo away because Caroline is scared of them and then she cries!
Funny, funny, this life of ours.
The blessing is that they are all still just as excited about every little thing Carrie does even six months later.