Life With Nine Kids

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Vigil for Blake Litton

Penelope rght after adding her doggie to our box-sign
We held our own personal vigil for Blake Litton tonight. I was proud of my kids gathering favorite stuffed animals and setting up the candles (blue for child abuse awareness). I didn't act like the little kids were going to participate at all. Since they are so young I mainly asked the older kids to help get things ready. The younger kids pitched in on their own though and wanted to take part too. We don't normally discuss violent crime with the younger kids (unless it were to accidentally come up). However, in this situation I saw a teachable moment and even though it was hard to say I told them the truth about what happened. Penelope brought her stuffed doggie to me and told me she was ready. It was really sweet.

I talked to the kids about child abuse in many forms: neglect, endangerment, verbal abuse, and physical abuse. I talked about how this wasn't a stressful situation in which a child was hurt and killed, like some children are a victim of, this was a deliberate and real case of child abuse; where children were harmed purposely and repeatedly many times. (All types are inexcusable.) I talked to the kids about broken homes, broken marriages, trusting others to care for our children as well as and making wise decisions before having children. We've been teaching that to our kids for years so that was more of a 'this is why we've told you that before' type of point to make. We talked about speaking up against child abuse in any setting. We talked about the fact that someone usually knows when kids are being hurt; family, neighbors, friends sometimes know so we need to pay attention so we can help kids if we ever suspect abuse in a home. Lastly I told the kids that five or more children die everyday from child abuse. They were all silent and shocked with a couple mouths dropped open. Sage asked me if that was in the United States alone. I told him yes. They were shocked to think about the fact that every day we could write 5 new kids' names on our board and do this over and over again each day. In fact, we had a picture of another recently killed baby tucked under a stuffed animal on our sign. There are so many children.

We said a prayer and we told Blake we were sorry his life here was so short and painful. I told him I wished I could have helped him and I hope he is feeling our presence and love for him, even though we have never even met him.

The kids then talked, played with the candles (lighting tiny twigs with them), and hung out together out front. Their dad got home from work during the vigil and slowly drove by us to say hi and admire our sign and effort before pulling into the driveway. It was a beautiful night to be outside. We had a cup of coffee together and enjoyed our corner of the world, which is free from pain and sorrow in our own lives, all while wishing Blake and many other children could feel that same security.

We took our sign in because it's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow. I plan on putting it back out after the rain passes in a day or so. I wanted to leave the candles burning but Ricky said the leaves were too dry around the front garden bed and it was windy. Charlotte said something like' burn down our house mom, that'll get our message out then' and we laughed.

After the vigil I don't feel much different (proud of my kids though). If I think too much I still feel hollow, speechless, lost and sad. I feel good about sharing time with the kids and talking about an important and unpleasant subject with them. I don't like unpleasantness, sadness and violence so I avoid it a lot. I taught the kids to pour loving energy outward instead of keeping it inward. They learned things about child abuse. I guess my gloom has a little less to do with Blake at this point. I try and imagine him wrapped in love now, free of pain. I guess now I just feel defeated, there are so many kids out there hurting. I feel the sting of a selfish society with a slipping moral fiber. (Although I know we've always had pain and abuse so please don't tell me that if you read this and think that.)

Sometimes this planet is such an amazing place, sometimes it's nothing short of horrible. Our world, our lives, our society is only as good as the people that are in it.

Teach your children well... show them how to love. Tell them why.
My commitment in life is to teach my children how to love, how to protect themselves,
and how to help others

I was surprised not one kid smiled for this photo, since it's usually habit
Rest In Peace Blake
We think of you and all other children whose lives were silenced because of the
selfishness and hate carried by the adults you trusted.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blake Litton

The morning after I wrote this happy, fun post about dealing with Sebastian when he was being a rude crazy kid I woke up to the news of a three year old boy who was beaten to death. The mother's boyfriend beat him to death for pooping his pants. Here's one detailed news story.

Last night at about 6pm I accidentally read the full police report online. I hadn't intended to, but as I was skimming it online and looking for answers I just could not stop reading. When I was done I burst into tears and sobbed until my husband got home from work. He found me in bed sobbing deep uncontrollable sobs. I felt like the world was crashing down around me as I tried to wrap my head around such horror. I felt like air was being squeezed out of me, like how you feel when some one you love has died.

Children being abused hurts me greatly, but there are a couple reasons this one hit me so hard. It happened just a few hours after I wrote about keeping our cool with Sebastian. An attitude problem with him occurred that could entice the type of anger that some parents hit, spank or beat kids over. In my blog I actually said, "I love NOT HITTING my three year old..."  
Sebastian is the exact same age as Blake; whenever you have a point of reference with your child and a victim it hits you extra, extra hard. Blake was brutally beaten and killed by a monster and it wasn't the first time he was beaten. His sister had a broken wrist and multiple injuries/bruises from God knows when, which was discovered when the boy was finally taken to the hospital. She was missing a patch of hair, too.

It just makes me so, so sad. People DO NOT understand children. This is especially true when the child does not belong to you. Something has to be done about the anger adults carry while they care for children. I think it should be common practice and well accepted for parents and caregivers to take anger management classes. The classes should be specially designated for getting through the hard times of children under age eight. Babies, toddlers and children are not "bad." They are little people who want what any adult wants: to be loved, to be respected, to be listened to, to not be pushed around, to not be hit, to be free. I have been interested in teaching newborn and toddler care classes for a very long time and still think about it often.

It can be extremely frustrating dealing with children, but the the anger people carry is pure selfishness.
 Reading the recent news report again makes me so sick and sad. I just want to take little Blake Litton and his sister home with me. I just wish I could have known and somehow convinced those horrible people to let us take them into our home. Why do people hate children to the point that they kill them? How can this happen in a civilized society? All because children cry and have accidents in their pants? It's beyond comprehendable.
Maybe I'm weak, maybe I'm overly sensitive, maybe these stories are so horrible they pass through the news quickly with only a glance because we don't want to acknowledge humans are killing little kids. It hurts to think about it, but I can't stop, 5+ kids DIE everyday from child abuse. This chart makes me desperately sorrowful.
Blake Evan Litton
Last night I went to bed thinking about Blake and woke up this morning thinking about Blake. I just can't stop being sad for this little boy. I love this toddler more than his mother. In general I find myself wondering about parents who kill their children. What they said, did, or felt when they held their baby for the first time. I wonder if they kissed their feet and played peek a boo and laughed with joy like I do. Did it ever happen once? Did they ever feel that pure love feeling once? No they just couldn't have. There's no way for one second Blake's mother ever looked at her child and felt the way I feel about mine, and then let her boyfriend beat them. I don't see how it's humanly possible to be such a monster if you ever really loved your child. (I read online, unconfirmed, that she's had three other children taken from her care)
I'm going to hold a vigil this Wednesday evening for him and talk to our kids about child abuse before hand. I thought we'd place candles and stuffed animals by the road. I just don't know what else I can do for this child or my heart - it hurts.
I sat with our four littlest kids on the couch today for hours. We *played building brains, *love sandwich, *I am, we hummed together in harmony, we sang, we tickled, we laughed. Every kid deserves that kind of childhood. They just do.
*made up games I should write about some time 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Working through the fits... without hitting our treasure of a little boy

Sebastian is a fierce, tough, man-boy. He's very, very dependent, very confident, and he has an ego to take care of. All of this makes dealing with him and his fiery personality very, very trying! He's the poster child for "boy." He is the stereotype toy companies are selling to when they make building toys, tools, trucks, cars, swords, plastic guns, plastic knives, and mini John Deere ride-on's. My kid was born the stereotype, and he's adorable. This kid has his own set of real tools and could use a screw gun and a hand saw by himself at exactly three years old. He's my little dude. He was just born this way. Apparently he was born with my childhood temper as well. I know because in time-out the other day he dumped the contents of my desk onto the floor as well as lots of folded clothes waiting to be put away. He also hit a picture off the wall and the glass in the picture popped out.

I took a picture to show him later so we could talk about it when he was calm.

Little turd even knocked the chair over

Tonight Penelope was taking pictures with my camera when Sebastian decided he wanted a turn. He tried to take the camera, he threw a fit, he yelled. We tried to reason with him to wait for a turn but he just didn't want to take a turn. He had been happily playing "pirate" and was in a great mood but suddenly he was just caught in one of his real defiant moods. He wanted the camera and he didn't care who he hurt along the way to get it. I put him on the bed in our room and told him to sit; he wouldn't sit and started yelling so I held him against his will. He screamed, yelled, and freaked out. I gave him space but he continued to yell. I left the room and Ricky took over for a minute. He told Ricky to leave and Ricky said what we always say to that, "It's our room we aren't leaving, you can go to your room if you want though." He kept freaking out. (We've tried leaving; it never helps he just throws stuff.)

So at this point; Choice 1: We can either spank which does nothing but frighten, and it also makes kids feel weak and us look like big bad asses (in every sense of the word). Choice 2:  We can look for an opportunity or a way to get him out of the completely insane, uncontrollable, anger-fit he is having so at some point we can have a rational discussion about what happened with the camera (which has long been forgotten about in the fits of anger).

Quickly it became a face to face battle of Sebastian screaming and Ricky telling him we weren't leaving the room because he hurts our room. Sebastian was SO mad he started verbally threatening our bedroom, he said, "I'll knock down your pictures!" Ricky sternly said, "NO! You WILL NOT." Sebastian and his dad then had a stare down. Sebastian's blue eyes gleamed with defiance. When Ricky didn't blink or say a word Sebastian closed his eyes and thought a moment; when he mustered up the nerve he opened his eyes slowly and then blinked three times before opening his mouth, then Sebastian said, as if saying the most important thing ever in his short life, "Yes. I . Will."

He was confident, he was cool, he was serious.
So at this point we beat 'em till they know who's the boss, right?

Wrong! :)

I actualy started to crack up cupping my hand to my face; Ricky hears me and his straight face starts to quiver until his teeth show and a tiny laugh sound comes out. We run to the next room to compose ourselves and just laugh with each other.

I had no idea Penelope was still snapping photos but Ricky told me she brilliantly snapped a photo the second after Ricky and I took off into the other room to laugh and regroup.

Ricky sat on the couch and I returned to Sebastian without a plan. He was slightly calmer (no yelling) -his dad and I broke the ice with our laughter I'm sure. Sebastian not knowing what to think or do looked at me sadly. He looked tired. I felt an impulse and went with it.  I exclaimed, "Wow Sebastian, you are the bravest kid ever. You acted brave and tough and strong for what you believed in just now." He looked at me with a mixture of surprise, pride, and relief. He cracked a very small smile. We hugged sweetly and then went in the living room to finish watching America's Funniest Home Videos with the family. Sebastian crawled right up on his dad's lap and we all snuggled down.

After the show was over Sebastian asked about a turn with the camera. We told him no because of the fit he had. He paused and then said, "Ok."

Three year olds can be hard work...but they are worth it.
 I love NOT HITTING my three year old...
even if he is an ol' scurvy dog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Picture journal...Around the House

 I made chocolate covered pretzel heart necklaces with Penelope and Sebastian earlier this week. They loved them. To my dismay they love candy necklaces in the summer time (yuck) so I knew they'd love these!

"Stained Glass"

Everett trying to help with "stained glass"

What you do is put saran wrap on your freshly cleaned window. If it's freshly cleaned it'll stick like a charm. Then you take squares of tissue paper and use a glue stick to glue them all over the window. It's really cute and fun.  I want to do a 3in x 3in patchwork one in my pantry window. When you are sick of it pull the plastic wrap down...easy.

Lots of people ask how I homeschool so many ages. In this situation the little kids make a craft; the big kids help if they want or if I need them to help out. The big kids then learn about stained glass, hows it's made, it's rich thousand year history, Etc. Now you have: social studies, history, religion, and science all rolled into one craft project.

Did you notice in the picture above one of my kids ate a few bites of apple and then placed it back in the fruit basket?! lol.

I love when my kids love when I make mini grilled cheese on fresh baguettes from Panera/ St Louis Bread Company. They are golden buttery nuggets of deliciousness!

We have a cold going around the house. Ricky slept in a little one morning because of it so he got to see Layla get on the bus for the first time since she started school. I had to snap a photo...memories! (plus I love my husband in his work clothes)
~~~*The coat Miss Layla chose to wear on this day is my little sisters old coat.
This coat is over 22 years old!*~~~

This baby. I'm gah-gah about him.

Sometimes he does this though. ^ He's mad about me getting him dressed, but he's teething too poor little guy. He's been doing fairly well. It's no fun being cooped inside for winter, teething, having mom tell you no climbing on the bathroom sink 14 times a day, and no climbing on the stools/chairs/computer desk/kitchen table 45 times a day. This kid is wild.

Crafty Home Decor Projects

I am in love with this shower curtain , so to tide my cravings (I totally intend to buy that someday by the way) I printed a bunch of photos/ads from the 1800's and framed them in frames I've been collecting.

Light glare in this, but the wall color in this shot is a little closer to what it actually is

This frame was ugly, modern, and white so I dressed it up with a glue stick and a paper doily that came from a box of pastries. Am I completely resourceful or what??

Teaching the little kids to sew

Penelope says, "Sewing is easy and FUN!"

Her finished project. We bought these kits . Most of the the embellishments is ours, you really have to get creative with these (which I like) and they are really fun. I'm helping Sebastian finish a pirate one tomorrow.  

I was touched that Layla drew and colored this fantastic picture for me. It's a picture of me sleeping with Everett. Love.

Ahh here's that climber now. Up the ladder, alone at 1 year old

Ready, Mom!?

Hilarious. lol. (He loves this!)

He heard the chickens when he made this cute face. It seemed as if he was saying to me 'ohh my.' 

Took this as I walked back from getting the mail.

Our puppies have stayed the perfect size so far!!! They are fun.
Chip is smaller and is on the left. Ranger is the bigger and is on the Right.

Last week when it was so beautiful and warm I cleaned the porch off of a bunch of junk. I've been decluttering and spring cleaning lately. I love a tidy space.

Aslan one of our Great Pyrenees dogs

I love  Not that I needed more projects to start...but it fills me
with happiness all the same. I made this in honor of being crafty and pinteresting everyday.

Eye love you Penelope Juliet...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Many Layers of Sky and Sand

I have a really good habit of sending my children out to play on nice days. Limited school work (or none) on nice days. Just go and play...

Yesterday we played all day. Charlotte and I also worked on sanding an old neat desk we are going to paint this weekend and make new again.

Charlotte sanding
It was Ricky's desk and I've kept the beat up, scratched up ol' thing all these years waiting to make it new again. I started sanding it when Everett was about five months old. That didn't last long. I quickly gave up when the loud sander wasn't compatible with baby. I have lots of projects, like hundreds, I don't finish because a baby won't let me. I also get too tired of doing 10 minute jobs here, 20 minute jobs there during naps. It's tiring trying to sand a desk in 10 minute intervals every other day! But I always keep dreaming up projects and gardening and painting and doing...slowly. I love it. Every year I also daydream of times when I won't have interruptions from young children needing something -and pulling at me to nurse while I'm busy. But when I daydream I don't do so because that's what I really want. I don't really want it to happen at all. As much as I want the freedom to get done what I want to get done when I want to, it doesn't compare to  these moments right here ...

When I'm with my children I breath softer, enjoy more, laugh louder,
play harder, and live more fully through innocent eyes

The sky over my world

nursing in the sky

I enjoyed a day to do what I wanted outside; I enjoy watching the kids and working on a project for me. When Everett wanted me we just laid down right there on the blacktop for a nurse break. When I finish this desk I'll always remember it as one of the last things I did while he was a little baby. On beautiful days under beautiful skies slowly I sand, and nurse, and sand, and nurse... and I'm so content.

The most important thing is to enjoy your life - to be happy - it's all that matters. -Audrey Hepburn
I promise there isn't a day that goes by that I don't appreciate this life.... these kids, my husband, the freedom I'm given, the family I am blessed with, the joy I feel, the magic and love *I* get to hold from my babies and children. I'm so thankful for the time I get to reflect on it now, to photograph it, to write about it...because time is whirling by, but not without me knowing it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Honey Badger Don't Care!

This morning Sebastian was whining, mad and sniffling because he has a little cold. He didn't want to do anything even with me. I took his little cranky self and we laid on my bed together. He resisted me and kicked his feet. I told him he can stay in here all alone and be cranky or be cranky with a friend. He resisted.

He whined and yelled a little about not wanting anything. I knew all he really wanted to do is watch TV or play video games. Problem is the more screen time he has the worse his ability to entertain himself becomes, so I like to wait until the afternoon for tv time. I told him I knew he didn't feel good so maybe we should make a little den/cave and be honey badgers because honey badgers don't care. He smiled. I told him honey badgers are mean and cranky, too. He listened on. I told him honey badgers eat honey and mean snakes and they don't even care if the snakes bite them! He totally smiled and laughed when I told him about it. I told him the honey badgers steal honey and they don't even care that bees sting them! He was in, "I wanna be mean honey badger!" Penelope chimed in, "I wanna be a nice one, are there nice ones too Mommy? I told them there were all kinds of honey badgers. Just then Everett came in with three oranges and he started throwing them at us, as we laughed at his orneriness Penelope and Sebastian said, "Everett is the baby honey badger!" Then we peeled juicy drippy delicious oranges in bed and ate them and said we didn't care. After a bit we cleaned up our mess (because mommy honey badgers really DO care) and watched the real honey badger educational video that this honey badger parody was made from. (parody not kid safe, lots of foul language)

The kids were hungry so we made some eggs, which Penelope called our honey eggs. Penelope dropped her fork while she was eating and said, "I dropped my fork but honey badgers don't care!" Charlotte heard this and cracked up. (She's the only kid that has seen the parody.)

After that we headed outside for some playground time. The kids ran around having fun still pretending to be honey badgers. Penelope went down the slide yelling, "Honey badgers don't care!" I was in total stitches laughing. I hope people at the grocery store don't think I let my 3 and 5 year old watch the honey badger video! Because you know it's going to come up one of these days, LOL.
Sebastian my little sweet cranky happy honey badger