Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Park Slide Parenting

Today I witnessed a mother give her three year old little girl a very stern time out for going up the slide...but no other kids were using the slide. Mom seemed really angry about it, which is what bothered me most. The kiddie area wasn't busy when it happened, in fact once in a while Sebastian and Penelope ran up the3ft slide, but did mostly other things. Everett went down it a little. Pretty much it was really empty.*

I was really trying to not judge, but I was a little. I felt bad for the little girl. Parents with follow through and well behaved kids are refreshing...but so are happy-go-lucky kids blowing off energy on a playground. I feel that good parents also explain why they demand something that seems hard for the child to follow; clear reasons why the demand should be met by the child complying. A three year old also often greatly benefits from distraction. Examples: Don't climb up the slide, let's _________ instead. Ideas for the blank: swing, climb, run to the next playground, look at the birds, feed the geese, climb the ladder, show me how you do it right...

I pick my battles carefully... ones worth winning. I save my battle gear for my girls when they need to wear proper underwear or shorts under dresses, when they have to be buckled into their car or booster seats, when they do something rotten to one of their siblings or when they need to wash their hair. I'm careful about picking battles because later on I really need to win the ones about shorts/skirts being too short, or no make up until 15. I need to have good reasons to back up my requests when they are 3, 5 or 9 --I need GREAT reasons when they are 12, 14 and 16.

If I would have been bold I would have told the three year old that her mommy is just worried about someone getting hurt and that I only let my kids run up when no one is using the slide. I'd tell her that when people are on it my kids can't run up either and I'm going to tell my kids to stop now too. I'd also tell her, her mommy is doing the best job keeping her safe. Then maybe instead of sitting on the edge of the playground sad looking and very, very confused she would have learned something. Instead (and since the three year old girl wasn't in direct eye shot of us anymore but her mom was) because I was just in a cantankerous mood I said,
"Hey Penelope, Come here!?
She skipped to me, her blue eyes sparkling and her hair blowing in the spring breeze, "What, mom?"
"I want to watch how fast you can run up that slide!"

I'm just really into letting kids be kids.

*kids running up slides IS a pet peeve of mine, and it can be very dangerous for little kids. But in the toddler section of a playground I just felt rather apathetic about it. My kids never run up slides when the playground is busy, if some one is waiting, or if you can't see the top.  If they do and the playground is busy I remind them. It's something I taught them over time, simple common sense I had always thought. This is totally about the angry attitude the parent displayed than a stupid slide, it irritated me!

So as these parenting in public things go I probably have people sitting at home judging me because Sebastian threw a big fit at the park. It's hard to pinpoint what it was about, but he had a melt down. He's three. It totally happens. So I tired to help him but he'd just cry louder so put him down and let him wriggle and roll on the pavilion floor for 10 minutes as he wailed. I'm sure lots of people wished I would have done something different. I offered snacks, I offered distractions, I asked him if he wanted to go to the car... Nothing. He was mad. He stayed mad. It ruined the whole quiet park for a really solid and loud 10-15 minutes. Finally I distracted him by showing him a bird that hopped by. He didn't stop because of the bird, he stopped because he was ready. I bet someone somewhere thought man my kid will never do that. :) LOL.

Thank You for Spring

How to do yard work with a baby

Waiting for a ride while daddy digs up irises for mommy to replant out front
 At our house smells and sights of spring mean raspberry shaving cream engulfs the bathroom more frequently, happy kids leave a smearing of dirt on whatever they touch --especially in the bathroom. I secretly love that dirty hand prints lurk out from the side of the tub and onto the faucets and counter tops.

The feeling of a dress swirling at my knees, the gentle rhythmic motion of swinging on the porch, black soil thick with wiggly earth worms, and an entire season of goals and dreams fill up conversation time.

Early morning or late evening coffee on the porch with the one I love slows down time...

just for a moment...

On warm afternoons a box fan vibrates in the window as a backdrop of sound. Thunder, rain, birds, tender frogs and laughing kids take center stage and consume longer afternoons and evenings. Thoughts of gratitude, beauty, and many blessings fill me up. Thank you for spring.

Me in the tulip tree in our front yard

My beautiful daughter Charlotte

Sebastian enjoying spring days

The chicken on my shoulder isn't the best thing about this picture

Penelope starting tomatoes

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Puppet Theatre: Do it yourself repurpose job!

Charlotte (15) had a wonderful idea to turn this small old broken bookshelf into a puppet theatre for Penelope. She painted the chalkboard paint on it and I hung curtains and made a back drop. It's so cute! The kids love it! We can't write on it yet, the chalkboard paint has to cure one more day. I can't wait to write Penelope's Puppet Theatre on it! So fun!

Children/ babies with high needs & sensory issues...our little Layla-bug

I pulled my now 15 year old out of public school when she was eight because she was dreadfully unhappy; oddly seven years later Layla was dreadfully unhappy at home. She was restless, defiant, moody, and miserable. Since enrolling her in the school down the road she’s been excelling rapidly. Her teacher is impressed and has so many good things to say .Her dad and I are both surprised and not surprised at the same time. One of the biggest surprises for me was how quickly she has taken to spelling. She prefers to spell her spelling words out to us verbally. She’s thirsty to read the phonics books she brings home, books that I thought may be hard for her age and ability, but really she can read almost all the words without help. I knew that she was doing well at home already, but stubbonness and moodiness got in the way a lot!  Also, her desk at school is in an immaculate straight and tidy order. She likes the structure, she likes the work, she doesn’t mind sitting, she loves observing.

When she was at home she would ask to be taught all kinds of things, but once we started she quickly got mad at us. We still don’t really know why. I had her on the verge of telling time two years ago because she asked me to help her learn. Then one day she just would not listen. She is just a very moody and sensitive child. Layla has always been a high needs child. From the time she was about three months old: she cried, she was restless, she had to have routine, she wanted my long hair touching her face when she nursed. She had to have order and security. As an infant and toddler she acted as if something horrible had happened to her, but we were the only ones caring for her. She would only sleep at night with no naps, no resting, no breaks during the day. She screamed hysterically if she was taken away from me. A few times we tried to just let her cry and "get over" the separation from me. This would only last 5-10 minutes because the screams were uncontrollable; in a way that no child should ever be made to cry. She needed me. Her own dad couldn't hold her hardly at all until she was 18 months old. She got frustrated easily. I wouldn't describe her as an unhappy baby because she looked happy and was joyful a lot, but she was very, very picky and needy. If she was in my arms she smiled and laughed at her dad and siblings. She was and still is an avid observer.

As she got a bit older we could finally see some of the things that were upsetting her and making her scream: bumpy socks, most shoes, underwear, seams inside the armpits of shirts, certain types of ruffles on clothing (she called them curtains). Before two years old she could dress herself, and when she did she tore through her closet and drawers to the point where I had to eventually box most her things up because the ones she didn't like would just end up all over the floor in a mess. She would try everything on until it had the right color, texture, cut, and feel to it. It’s unbelievable to recall that at just two years old she would throw huge fits over the way her clothes felt. At three and four years old she would collapse into a puddle of angry sobs several times a week. She had/has sensory problems. She has not outgrown this problem completely, but she has made so much improvement. She’s able to cope with it most of the time and her problems with clothes seem at a more manageable level. Starting school concerned me, but so far she is getting ready in the morning great and has only had two minor getting dressed issues since she started. One morning she freaked out because she missed the bus. She refused to go to school. She won't admit it, but I know it messed with her routine. Ricky and I helped her through it even though she was very mad with us and we took her to school. She went in the car unwillingly (Ricky carried her), but she walked into school willingly once we got there.

As the clothing issues got a little better her tantrums over other things got worse. Things embarrass her, but you never, ever know what. If she wants our help sometimes she will get mad and storm off frustrated and cry. She had and still has a very hard time with problem solving her feelings. Like anything though with the negatives also come positives. Although she hates problem solving her own emotions, she’s fantastic at problem solving in an academic way. She’s also extremely attentive and helpful to her siblings. When she’s happy she’s a funny ball of energy and delight we love to be around.

She’s always been hardest on me. She’s left me feeling so very hurt and abused at times. She made me cry when she turned four because she refused to look at the darling cake I made for her. If something catches her the wrong way it will ruin her for at least an hour. She loves routine. I can’t imagine what this child would be like if something bad had ever happened to her. If she had been: mistreated, abused, in a home that was anything but stable and loving, or If she had been made to cry uncontrollably until she passed out from exhaustion as a baby.

Dear Layla,
I hope we can help you through your toughest times while you are young. We have many more years to help you learn self control and how to cope with the unexpected. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come. Some kids are born blank slates and some are born with high expectations. Keep reaching high because no one gets far on low expectations.

Thank you for the school papers you bring home; your drawings, your journals, your sentence papers. They are almost all about ME. I haven't pointed them out to you, but I've noticed. Over the past 7 years your anger is sometimes  directed to me and it hurts me, even though I know I'm your safe person. These papers you bring home heal me and remind me during tough times that you love me.

Recent papers:
I Love my mother.
The moon glows at night.
I love you.

just a picture i love

My ball is in a big meadow, perhaps I will get it back.
I heard my mom in the meadow. She was getting my ball.
Then we saw a dog doing funny stuff...

free spirit

My mom is fun. She does fun stuff with me. I like that my mom takes me places. I like when my mom buys me puppies and kitties. I love my mom.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Just Because Party

We haven't done anything outside the home as a family in a long time, so Ricky and I were brain storming ideas today and we came up with pottery painting. We found the perfect place because they let you reserve a party room which is perfect for a family of nine that values privacy and has little ones wandering around. Even better, food is allowed!

This morning we called a family meeting. The kids shouted out various curious ideas about our meeting. The most popular of which was, "Moms pregnant!?!"

Hah. :) Nope.
It's cute though, this is their first guess no matter when a family meeting is called.

We announced that we were going to do something fun today. We told the kids we reserved a party room at a paint your own pottery studio to have a "Just Because Party." We've never done pottery studio painting before so I explained to them exactly what we were going to do and how it works. I talked slow and specific to the younger kids so they understood we don't make the pottery, we pick it out, and we don't take it home right away, they have to fire it in a kiln. Then I had to explain a kiln is a oven capable of heat of several thousand degrees. After explaining the process in detail the kids thought it sounded fun. The last words were from Layla who said, "Yea, sounds fun. But I still think mom having a baby would have been more exciting." Hahaha. LOVE these kids.

We ordered a huge party platter of Jimmy John's sandwiches and a bucket of their delicious deli pickles to pick up on our way. We put together a platter of cookies for dessert and packed up some drinks and chips.

The pottery studio was really nice inside, the people were friendly, and the private party was a hoot. We had a lot of fun. Everett was a small challenge at first but once he learned his boundaries he settled in just fine. I was pleasantly surprised that even I got to relax and paint in peace without Ricky needing to pry him off of me.

The kids had received some Christmas money from Ricky's Grandma and recently a Valentines card with some spending money in it from my Grandma Smith. This helped to pay for the things they wanted to paint. For those of you wondering just how much pottery for nine people costs, it's a lot. :) (We've spent more at Build-A-Bear in the past though.) I'm going to send photos of our fun time to our Grandparents, they'll love to see what a fun family time we had and what the kids picked out.

Sebastian (3) picked out a Hulk head that is hilarious. As he's picking it out it's one of those moments where we really just want him to get a plate or a cup to paint. Something he can use daily. Something that isn't going to be and mad looking... and something that isn't five dollars over his projected pottery budget. Hahaha. But we let him pick out what he wanted because we know he just loves superheros (and a little bit because he's so tired he could be on the verge of a meltdown at any moment.) It was really a good thing for him to paint because mixing or running many colors together wasn't an issue and we could touch up all the spots he missed easily. The top hair piece comes off and it's hollow inside, so he can use it as a piggy bank.

It was quite interesting that Sage and Ricky both painted mugs that are very, very similar to each other. Like practically the same. They weren't sitting near each other and each had picked out their own colors on their own plate. So funny. I was surprised that our kids that tend to finish art projects quickly spent a good amount of time on their projects. Our "Just Because Party" was a lot of fun! We are excited to see the vibrant glossy glass versions of our pottery in ten days!

At bedtime Layla snuggled into her bed and the last thing she said to me in a yawning voice was, "That was fun mom, but I still think another baby would have been more exciting." Cute, crazy kid. I'm so very glad the kids like being a part of our big family as much as we enjoy it.

Private Party Room, VIP only!!!! :)

Shelf-full of paint and a one year old; what could go wrong?

This little troll guy Sage painted really turned out cute

Slinging & nursing baby while mommy paints his cup. I'll always treasure this picture.

And this picture. Ohhh my love.

Ethan's painting a Sword in the Stone on his plate, turned out neat!

Charlotte's underwater giant mug

Such a creative idea adding a castle

Add caption

We don't have a buter dish! I'm always throwing butter on a plate and in the fridge.
 So I knew this was the perfect useful thing for me to make for myself.

See the two mugs? Ricky and Sage didn't have any idea they were painting nearly the same thing. Weird! (Ricky's has a cloud and brown handle.)

I can't wait for the kids to see how bright and shiny their projects will be after firing!

Leaving to load up, Charlotte stayed inside a few extra minutes to finish detail work on her mug.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Brain freezes, Painting, and Dr. Seuss

The Best of Brain Freezes

We were eating frozen grapes, and the kids were eating them too fast, I can tell Layla's was staged...but the next two were not LOL....

Love it! See the freeze behind the eyes!

I told Sebastian this is the best brain freeze face I'd ever seen

                                    Home Projects

This desk was finally all sanded down!

This lil guy was running around getting into everything

He crawled under the desk and grabbed paint, but somehow I managed to paint the desk that will go in our hallway soon

I like how it turned out

I only posted this picture because it had Ricky and I laughing at my shadow, what's with the sexy side pose?
 LOL, awesome.

Ta-Da! Gray and yellow.

I still need to buy and add really neat knobs. I am also eyeing vintage looking scrapbook stickers or stamps for a extra something to add. I need to add some green someplace to make this yellow and gray flow with the creamy vintage green hallway-room it's going in.  I can do this easily with floral designs. Once I have it decorated to my liking then I can apply two coats of clear finish and it will be done!

He was cold, had paint on him, and was sad by the time I was done.

  ~Happy Birthday 108 bithday Dr. Seuss Feb 2, 2012~

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! We had a Seuss breakfast party with green eggs and ham. Then spent the morning at a really fun science show.

Penelope drew green eggs around the Cat in the Hat

Layla shows her very nice green eggs and ham drawing
                                                            I like green eggs and ham!

I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!

And I would eat them in a boat!

And I would eat them with a goat...

And I will eat them in the rain.

And in the dark. And on a train.

And in a car. And in a tree.

They are so good so good you see!