Life With Nine Kids

Monday, December 22, 2014

You Have to Love Four Year Olds

Today we were unwrapping Hershey's Kisses to make peanut butter blossoms. As little four year old Everett helped he soon noticed there was a paper with writing attached to each one. He started asking us what his "fortune" said. It took me a minute to realize that he thinks they are similar to fortune cookies!

Ricky and I are just beaming with grins on our faces now and just laugh at the cuteness. The other kids thought it was so funny and cute too.  So I start the game... I read him some of the "fortunes" he handed me. I tell him different things like:
Your family is special
Siblings are friends
Soon you will bake cookies for holiday fun

Each one I "read" he smiles at and full of pleased excitement yells "yay!" at whatever I say. He is having a total blast.

He hands me yet another paper and this time I say: "Cookies bring sweetness to life"
Everett: Yay!!! WAIT. Wait. So my cookies will come ALIVE?
Ricky: No, cookies will bring SWEETNESS to our life.
Everett: Oh phew, I thought mom said they would come alive.

Then Everett gets in on the fun. He tells us he will read us some fortunes now. 
Everett made up the following great fortunes off the top of his head:
When someone wears a hat they are a dad.
When snowflakes fall Santa will come to your house.
When you wear a firefighter hat then you have to help the firefighter put out the fire. 

We had such a great laugh. He is so cute!

We had quite the surprise today when Santa and his mother were across the street visiting loved ones at the cemetery! I went outside with Everett as they were leaving and Everett yelled, "Santa! Merry Christmas Santa!" then Santa came over! Santa got a teddy bear out of his car and gave it to Everett! Everett gave it a big ol' hug and was so, so happy! It was just great. Charlotte is the one who thought to run out with the camera! (Thanks Charlotte!) Everett didn't ask, but Santa told him he didn't have his Santa hat on because it falls off when he is driving. We know it was the real Santa because 1. He obviously loved children 2. He had toys with him 3. He had real beard and number 4 is the weirdest of all... Layla pointed out that the dogs did not bark at him! Our dogs bark like crazy at everyone. Merry Christmas to all! 
Everett clutching the teddy bear

 Everett, like most kids, likes to play with tape. He got a hold of some tape and taped his plate to the table and taped his banana back together. This pleased him so much I had to congratulate him on his ingenuity. I have never had a kid tape a banana back together before. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adventures & Fun With Our Baby Bea

Yesterday just as we were next in line for a picture with Santa, Beatrice grabbed her diaper and loudly said, "Uh-Oh!" She gets the most funny expression on her face when she is concerned. Charlotte, Layla, and I were cracking up so hard as we looked around to see if anyone heard. She was able to get in the picture with Santa just fine. Lucky for us and Santa it was not that urgent and we made it for the picture first. Sometimes her uh-oh's are urgent, sometimes false alarms.

Beatrice stared at Santa long and hard before deciding she was then done with him. She just looked at me reaching out and whimpered when she was ready after a minute. Everett's face was priceless. He looked right at Beatrice watching, enjoying her, and smiling at her reaction. I thought it was really cute.

Beatrice has been such a joyous little baby. Time has been spinning out of control as it often does. I thought this month she turned sixteen months old. Ricky told me nope...18 months. My mind was blown.

The way she interacts with our family is amazing. She lights up all of our lives in ways I can barely put into words. When she was about nine months old she started getting up with Layla (10) in the mornings. She would wake up and crawl around our bed jabbering at her tired mom and dad until Layla would hear her and reach her arms out to her. Little Bea would reach out to Layla and off she would go. Layla would change her diaper and play with her. (And we got to sleep a little more!) Soon Bea started letting Penelope get her out of bed too. It didn't take long for Beatrice to expect her sisters to get her every morning. Between 6 and 7am Bea would wake up and shout jabbery words and sounds towards our door waiting for her sisters to hear her and get her up. It was beyond precious. As she started eating more solid foods Layla would pop Bea into her highchair and get her some breakfast and the three of them (or five of them if Everett and Sebastian got up) would eat breakfast all together without any help from us. When her sisters get her out of our bed each morning or after nap time Beatrice sometimes rests her head on their shoulder as she wakes up fully. If she pulls at her diaper and says uh-oh like in the Santa story above the girls rush her off to the bathroom.

Layla and Penelope pay attention to so many little things that her baby sister likes. Like how Beatrice is more likely to go pee on the potty if the bathroom door is closed. Beatrice is more vocal of her bathroom needs than most babies her age because we practice part-time elimination communication (EC) with our babies at most stages. We have had varying degrees of success. One thing has remained consistent, though. Our babies are aware and vocal about their bathroom or diaper needs at very young ages and tend to get out of diapers between 13- 20 months old. I do attribute it to EC.She has been telling us "uh-oh" about her diaper for a while now and the funny-cute factor is still not getting old. Everett was nine months old when he would wake at night wiggling and fussing half asleep. He would not settle down until I took him to the toilet to pee.  Babies are so smart! He was our one child out of diapers the earliest at around 13 months old.

Charlotte taught Layla how to use the potty when Layla was a baby. And now Layla, without any prompting from us, is teaching Beatrice. It's really sweet to see. Layla lines up stuffed animals on little pretend potties on the bathroom floor and Beatrice is so amused. See how adorable:

Beatrice is a feisty independent sweetie.  Her siblings are very close to her and drag her around everywhere with them. They were all playing outside and Beatrice was running along like she was the baby wolf cub after her pack. She held a stick in her fist and was having a ball.

She has felt like one of the little kids for a very long time, but now she is finding her voice and lets her preferences be known. She's getting that spark of independence and willpower. She is starting to pinch at people if they are bothering her, and she yells "HEY!" when someone takes her toy or food away. She also says "Hey!" when she sees something she wants. We might get a drink and she exclaims, "Hey!" to us. It's so funny. She loves a colorful crocheted blanket her Grandma Kathie made for her and she has to sleep and nap with it. When I am ready to nurse her asleep she looks for it and makes cute gasping noises and shakes her head from side to side looking for it and as if to be worried and fretting about finding it. It is her way of saying 'where is it?!' When she sees it she exclaims "dare-uh-is!" which sounds like jumbled baby talk words saying "there-it-is!" She says I love you now and it's so cute, too. It sounds like "agg-yeah-you." She counts with the kids but says two over and over again no matter what number they are on, it's so funny and sweet!

She has picked up on the words "mine" and "stop." Two words that you will hear non stop with a large amount of young kids. She waits at the kitchen table just like the rest of the kids for her food. She sits there so pleased with her place in the world, she almost rocks back and forth, kicking her feet ever so slightly with a pleased grin on her face waiting patiently. We have always sat her up at the table with us ever since she could sit up. She also sits at the table and plays Legos with the kids. After a while we have to rescue Penelope's Lego set-up when Beatrice becomes too destructive but it's adorable while it lasts and teaches her so much. Beatrice dances a lot too. We have dance parties and have great fun.

She colors, decorates candy houses, and in general does anything else we do.

A few weeks ago I taught her how to unlock the bathroom door. We live in an 88 year old house with cool solid wood doors that have crystal or porcelain doorknobs throughout. All the doors have ancient cool locks too, some with skeleton keys. Once locked, our bathroom door cannot be opened from the outside. There is no key, no hole, and no door hinges on the outside. Nothing. You could take the outside crystal doorknob off, but the porcelain one on the inside of the bathroom would remain screwed in. If a baby or toddler were to lock themselves in the bathroom I would be in a panic. We would potentially have to break the door frame away from the bolted door lock or break a window. Either process could hurt her and she would surely be frighted and crying. Bathrooms are horrendous places for babies to be trapped in for so many reasons. As soon as we see a baby fidget with the lock we start worrying and try teaching them how it works. It is a very loose and swift lock with a simple left and right motion. She had been unscrewing lids for quite a while so I knew she could learn this. One day in the bathroom with me she locked it and I told her to unlock it. She looked at me confused and I said the words again. "Unlock." I then showed her how. She looked at me and smiled and locked it again. I said "unlock!" and she unlocked it. I was SO happy. She did it back and forth with me and I told her the words lock and unlock.

On a Saturday morning I was still in bed and I could hear Ricky up with the five youngest kids. I didn't want to pry myself out of bed so I stayed a bit longer drifting in and out of sleep despite the rowdy noises coming from the other room. Suddenly I heard a loud slam and then all was very quiet. Deeper and deeper I drifted off again but suddenly I heard Bea's jabbering voice distinctly muffled behind a door. I jumped out of my bed in an instant. Moms total intuition and my brain put all the sounds together. I jumped up and ran to the bathroom door. Ricky was there and worried, he told me she was locked in alone, I said I could hear it happen. The kids gathered around and I shushed everyone. Ricky started to speak, he seemed like he was going to tell me what he was planning to do, but I interrupted him and told him to shush too. Ricky was somewhat surprised when I rushed to the door crack and said, "Beatrice, unlock! Unlock the door for mommy." In one little click she unlocked it!!!! I was already turning the doorknob to get in, just in case she swiftly locked it up again. Proud mom moment! My little one year old baby girl did it! So proud of her and proud of my forethought too! I scooped her up and celebrated how good she did and hugged her to bits feeling so relieved. I excitedly told Ricky how I had just worked with her mere days earlier trying to teach her the lock.

Right now I'm in the bathroom typing the rest of this on my laptop while Beatrice is in the tub. The  girls just came over to me to ask me something. Before they could speak Bea started patting the water and jabbering to Layla and Penelope to get in with her. I can tell a few stories and examples about how they all interact with each other, but it's hard to capture the real beauty of it. I get to live it everyday though and watch how close these kids all are with each other. The teens included. She smiles, waves, reaches up for them to pick her up. They talk to her and include her in everyday things. I have seen her put her head on each siblings shoulder for comfort or rest. It's very special that she feels so safe and loved by all of us. It's got to be amazing to be our Baby Bea. It's amazing being her mom, and the mom of all her sweet siblings.
Tired baby eyes, Layla just got her up from her nap
Nicknames are so fun! And our Baby Bee has lots of them. Nicknames she has that we use regularly:
Bea, Bee, Bumble Bee, Bumble, Stinky face (It's a cute children's book), Bea-tree, Bebe, Stink Bee, Killer Bee (When she is throwing a fit or is mad at us), Sweet Bee, Honey comb, Honey Bee, Baby Girl.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

People are so mean and hateful. You know what I have done, and just did do? When I see someone being attacked on FB I might occasionally stick up for them a little on the thread. But I hate drama and it's so lame. Mostly, I sent them a loving private message. I just did just that to this woman who asked a natural birth community why some people have so many kids. Her question was really genuine and she wanted to know some very specific things. Like if over population is a concern for big families (why not?), if they do it for religious reasons, if they are afraid of being alone, if they just like having kids (but still why so many), Etc. She made a very clear point to say she did not want to upset anyone or sound judgmental, and I quote, "Please don't kill me."

I mean, I understand her asking, seriously who wants 6, 8, 10 kids.... !? Not very many people! It is a very good question and a very curious question to some. Financially and physically it is a ton of work. Are we really so blind to that fact that others don't understand why a family would keep having kids? There are lots of things I don't understand because I don't live that way. I am absolutely dumbfounded when I go into the city and see city living. It looks totally bizzare to me! Why would anyone want to live in the city!? But actually I know the main answers to those questions. They are fairly clear cut: more jobs, convenience, more amenities, culture, diversity, schools...I would probably never ask someone why they like to live in the city, I probably could guess.  I would more expect some one to ask me why I like rural/country living. I wouldn't be the least bit offended. I honestly suspect most people wouldn't be offended by either question.

Well, she was viciously attacked. The hatred and meanness was unbelievable. Someone mocked her, "I'm not racist, but..." Implying that she was being judgmental/hateful and making it sound like she wasn't. Others called her a troll. She apologized profusely and explained she actually wants four kids, which is a lot where she is. (That's a lot nearly everywhere, last I checked) But why have more than four? She pondered. know, because it seems like a lot of kids. She even tried to explain that she understands being the odd one no one understands because she has eight cats, and lots of people think that is weird and expects her house to smell bad. She was then trashed for comparing kids to cats. When she said she was in tears she was mocked and somebody said, "Ah she's crying, cry me a river."

My brain is seizing at this point. I hate people sometimes.

I messaged her:
People on the __________ group are out if their minds. The internet sure shows the worst of people. I am so sorry. I have eight kids and I will try and answer your questions if I find the time. I do not have the time right now, but I love to think and write about big families. I have a blog, but with eight kids it can be hard to find the time to write! Lol. Seriously, those women are being nasty and probably have nothing else to do. They are in attack mode and are acting like a pack of animals. We are not all like this, I assure you.

She says:
Thank you Shauna!
I suddenly start to cry. You're so nice right now. After all those mean things they said. I just posted an second apologie but saw that the post was removed..
Things got out of hand. I really didn't meant to hurt someone. I tried to carefully write what i meant. Fortunately you understand

By the way, I believe she is foreign. Good job American women. Way to look like a bunch of horrible people. We talked some more, she is really sweet. And now I have a new friend. I love hearing her describe her cats and how that makes her weird to some, and how she feels she has to defend herself too! Fascinating. Why is it just so dang hard to love other people? Why do we have to defend ourselves so angrily? What do we have to hide, defend, or feel so angry about? Why would we not feel compassion to others, especially as they try to understand, explain, and ultimately cry? What kind of people, friends, parents, wives, or mothers are we being by acting like that, ladies?? Online I see that women are fierce, but not in the good way.

Blog title inspired by Taylor Swift.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wibbily Wobbily Timey Wimey...Stuff: My First Baby Turned 18 and I Didn't Think I'd Cry at All

September 30, 2014 2:00 am
I finished the TARDIS cake I set out to make for a surprise for Charlotte's 18th birthday! The metallic blue frosting I found for it is mesmerizing. It looks even better in person. It shimmers. As I sat up frosting the cake at midnight I thought about how nonchalant I'm taking my first baby turning 18. I thought it was because I have so many children, I figure it is so less jarring because I am still in the thicket of babies and kids. I am also proud of myself: I had a baby, I was a young mother, and I did nothing but put her first for 18 years. I set out to raise her to be the best she can be to herself and to others. I also tried to raise her to stand up for herself when needed. As a mom I set out to make really sure she never got hurt. Children get hurt a lot in our society, and nobody seems to be doing anything about epidemic rates of abuse in children. I am amazed I raised a whole entire human being: I grew her, I kept her, I nurtured her. I wanted to nurture her soul and feed her body well, and I did. I will love her always. She's mine, but not really mine. Her DNA is a part of me. (See Mother & Child Are Linked At The Cellular Level)

I have never watched even one episode of Doctor Who. I don't watch hardly any TV. I am merely a guest amongst the chitter-chatter about Doctor Who in my house. I am totally in the dark but it's fun to hear them talk. I ask questions and they very eagerly explain. To my children's absolute uproarious laughter I mixed the two up and called The Dalek the TARDIS once. (I also called Dobby from Harry Potter 'Dobby the Shelf Elf' instead of the house-elf. My kids laugh so hard.)
Sitting there looking at the TARDIS cake in the middle of the night I suddenly acknowledged that it was a time machine and not just a blue rectangle that I was painstakingly painting in with frosting. Thoughts of space and time filled my head. Tears started to fall when I thought to myself how fitting making a TARDIS was for her 18th birthday. If I could just go back in time to hold baby Charlotte: to smell her baby head, to dress her, to picnic with her in her pop-up school bus like we used to do every day when she was two, or to see her whole head get braided on the beach in Mexico at eight and watch her freely run into the ocean.
Pop-up school bus lunch time
Young moms can be great moms and I am proof

Charlotte's First Birthday
 When she was a baby and toddler I spent countless nights promising myself to never forget her smell, her skin, her soft breath next to me. I rocked her sweetly and she slept in my room exclusively. I remember every single morning I couldn't wait for her eyes meet up with mine. I know mothering doesn't always come as naturally or as easily for some moms, but it did for me. I just loved it so much and so instantly. By night I watched her sleep, by day we picnicked, laughed, and I pushed her on swings. We went for lots of walks. We talked about having farm animals someday. We read books and literally laid under the blue sky and watched clouds roll by. I stayed home with her to suck up as much as I could. I realize now I stayed home with her as much for me as I did for her. I knew it was fleeting. Those little: newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kids. Those little hands that grab yours, and their small, heart-shaped, red-lipped mouths. The way their laughter fills the air with joy. There are endless funny things they say and so many amazing questions they ask. I love watching eyes full of first-time wonder. Kids make life make sense. I learn so much about myself by raising kids. Raising kids makes me a better person and I know Ricky feels the same. It makes me set a higher standard for myself and it makes me aware of what really matters. Even through the growing pains of childhood tears, fits, and tantrums, there are surprising rewards that come from the hard times. It sometimes seems endless but even those hard times are so full of purpose, too. If we get too caught up in how hard parenting is we could very easily miss watching them learn about things like: love, empathy, time management, communication, the world around them, and self control. There were some sleepless nights and endless messes... but they don't last. They do end.

Babies and children grow from each stage and you remember who they once were... but they change so much as they literally morph into new people. The person they were outgrows them, and sometimes we feel it as it hits us hard right in the middle of our chest. I realize now it is because that baby or child is gone. They will never be again. We miss it and it makes us sad inside. It's a weird kind of sad though. It's an amazing sad. An uplifting sad. The tears I shed are of joy, loss, pride, and growth all rolled into one. I find my breath is taken away with awe, and when I inhale again I'm filled with so much gratitude. I can't even explain how it crushes me and completes me all at once. It's overwhelming and beautiful.

I moved from the table where I was frosting the cake so I wouldn't sob all over it. I crept through the still house and found Ricky reading in bed. Ricky asked me what was wrong as the tears started to fall, I could not explain, I could only softly cry. He wrapped his arms around me tightly because he knew and I mourned for that baby girl who is now all grown up.
In the morning I wrote this:
She turned 18 today! Happy Birthday to the beautiful young woman I raised! I am so proud of us both, we did great. I love you Charlotte.

Oh, and She LOVED her cake. I'm a very happy momma.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Would Do Anything For Love: A Food Post

Shepherd's Pie
 I think it's interesting my husband loves casserole type dishes but when he eats a regular meal he eats one thing at a time off his plate. I eat everything mixed up together on my plate and I'm actually less than thrilled with casserole dishes where everything is mixed up on purpose. It's hard to find casserole meals that don't call for msg laden soups acting as the flavor and thickener to pull things together. Lots of things call for cans of soup! I once looked up how to make cream of chicken soup and the recipe called for a can of condensed cream of chicken soup! Really!? This seriously takes away from the original intent of making a homemade meal. With the exception of chicken pot pie and taco bake the kids aren't crazy for casseroles either, so that can also be a challenge.

 Ricky has always wanted me to make him shepherd's pie. Honestly shepherd's pie looked gross to me. I was such a little kid about it. But just look at this picture, seriously! I just don't think it looks good at all. It always seemed like it was having mashed potatoes with ground beef instead of gravy. 
 I was vegetarian but starting to transition back over to meat when Ricky and I met, so I had a lot to learn about cooking meat, especially country/home cooking. I have learned to make tons of other dishes since, including an awesome Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. I kept plenty busy making other things over the years, but I avoided shepherd's pie like the plague... I would do anything for love but I won't do that. (After typing that I have MeatLoaf stuck in my head SO BAD! My poor kids, I'll be singing that all day now. Oh my, 1993. lol.)

 I'm a pie maker at heart and so a good 'ol chicken pot pie with homemade crust comes naturally for me. Plus chicken pot pie is a pretty package tucked under a tender crust. It's moist and mild. It's down-home comfort food. (That's another dish that's near impossible to find a recipe that doesn't include canned soup!) Ricky liked chicken pot pie okay, but would drop the Shepherd's pie hint every time we had pot pie. I have a real aversion to putting ground beef in everything under the sun. I pretty much reserve ground beef for hamburgers. Big, thick, juicy, veggie and cheese topped, dripping with ketchup, grilled burgers! Also: Salisbury steak, meatballs, taco bake, meat loaf, and stuffed peppers are all suitable uses for ground beef to me. Sticking it in a casserole dish with mashed potatoes was just not appealing to me. Mashed potatoes go with turkey, fried chicken, smothered pork chops, meatloaf, roast, Salisbury steak... but not ground beef! I grew up with stuff like Hamburger Helper which is probably where the entire aversion came from.

 A couple months ago I finally got bored enough with meals to try Shepherd's pie. I wanted to make it to surprise Ricky. Work has been super stressful and he wasn't eating as much as he should (stress can suppresses the appetite). My first shepherd's pie was a success. The kids even liked it. It looked better than most the ones in pictures, but still kinda gross. It was pretty good though. It was not bad at all. Ricky said it was "very good." My second attempt was last night where I tweaked some things and more confidently prepared it. It turned out AMAZING! The mashed potatoes on top were crisp at the peaks and edges and the inside was bubbling up around the edges. The filling was perfectly seasoned and just saucy enough to be like a gravy for the mashed taters but not soupy. Ricky said it was totally *delicious* with a lot of enthusiasm and he couldn't believe how much better I had gotten it this time. I love the baked corners and peaks of potatoes. *pats self on back* The extra "gravy/sauce" in the pie really made it awesome. Plus I had baked it perfectly (credit the vintage stove, which is the most amazing thing I've ever owned, ever).

I'm going to make it again this weekend while I carefully write down my recipe. Then I shall share it for all who, like me, fear the shepherd's pie! Reading online I have learned that shepherd's pie is technically supposed to be made with lamb, but it can be made with ground beef at which point it is then called cottage pie. Technicalities.

The mashed potatoes reminded me of yummy twice-baked potatoes! And technically they are. (Boiled and then baked) They were so good! Seasoned and browned to perfection.

This looks saucy, but when we were finished the sauce was all gone. The pan was dry and so were our bowls. We ate every last drop and it mixed in well. Some people use only peas and carrots while others use peas, carrots and corn. I buy an organic mixed veggie blend so ours has corn. Ricky isn't crazy about corn and ground beef together, but for Shepherd's pie he says it is appropriate. (Appropriate use of corn is actually a very funny discussion in my house LOL. A lot of my Dad's  family is from Iowa and we use corn a lot, and in "everything." According to my husband's observations anyway. Hahaha.)   The family gobbled this up so fast I'm going to have to start making two casserole pans, or one big one and a small one. At some point as these little kids get older we will be a two casserole dish family! Wow!

More food Stuff...

This is my favorite summertime dish:
Ricky smokes the salmon and we use it in lettuce wraps topped with mango and black bean 'salsa.' The salsa is super easy. Lime juice, black beans, tons of cilantro, and lots of chopped mango. You could add salt if you wanted, we dd not. The corn is roasted with lime-chili-butter. The lime chili butter is SO GOOD. I make it with melted butter, chili powder, a dash of seasoning salt, salt, sprinkle of pepper, a pinch of paprika and cayenne pepper. Use as a dip for corn or anything else. (Rolls! lobster! Shrimp! Endless possibilities here!) You can experiment and make your own buttery dip with seasonings.

Date Night in the Backyard!
Last month the kids were away visiting Aunt Sharon and so I surprised Ricky with a seafood extravaganza dinner for two! Yummy salad, lobster, crusty grilled cheesy garlic bread (garlic bread on the grill is GREAT!), shrimp, oysters, escargot, steak kabobs, and a brown rice-quinoa boxed dish. Beatrice is still little and nurses so she was with us, she LOVED the rice. I wanted to take a picture of her nomming the rice down in her high chair but the camera battery died. It was a really fun dinner! After the baby went to bed we had a fancy carrot cake cupcakes I bought, and coffee for dessert.

A couple years ago I was really excited to make Salisbury steak from scratch and it was actually pretty easy. Recipes online called for beef bouillon, canned soups, or gravy mixes! I refused! That's not from scratch. I was really proud of this super flavorful gravy, made from pan drippings and mushrooms! I had the same happy experience when I learned to make chicken fried steak. I really love home cooking. (I think I enjoy feeding my husband more than myself!) So many of these skills are lost since people don't grow up with as many home-style meals these days. People are busy doing other things and so homemaking is a lost art. People also fear real fat and don't widely buy healthier raised meats (less fatty). Our meats are all locally raised and much of it from Ricky's parents' farm. I'm happy that there is definitely a resurgence and trend of stay at home families, do-it-yourselfers, and backyard gardeners. Most of the people I know cook at home, but I also know many people don't these days.

Healthy Super-food Salad
Last but not least, I re-purposed the leftover salmon and mango/black beans from the Salmon salad above and spooned it onto a salad mix of shredded broccoli, shaved brussels sprouts, chopped cabbage, curly kale, and chicory. This was fantastic and I'm not even a big fan of kale (bitter to me)! I just put some extra lime juice on it, no fancy dressing needed. This is a new favorite that I have to make for Ricky. I got the bag of 7 super food greens from Costco. Looks like this:
Mix comes with dressing, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds included. I haven't tried them though. I bought it for the greens.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Beatrice's Bumble Bee Party: She's ONE!!!

Our Baby Bee turned one on Saturday. We decided to throw a party to celebrate. We had a lot of fun! It was pretty exhausting, too, but also loads of fun! I really enjoyed watching the siblings help prepare for the party. Penelope (7) and Layla (9) made some handmade decorations and bees out of pipe cleaners. They also helped me make a bee hive pinata! It turned out way better than I thought it would and was really fun. Everyone helped with yard work, decorating, and all those little things that you have to do to put on a party. We had a handful of family and friends over -which turned out to be the perfect amount of people to visit with. Beatrice got really into her party! Pointing at everybody, playing, snacking on raspberries a friend brought over, and the highlight was she LOVED her cake and totally hammed it up for us for photos! It was really a perfect day with gorgeous weather.

Bee hive pinata we made with pipe cleaner bees Charlotte made
Opening gifts
Ricky bought me and Bee these gorgeous roses!!! They are the most gorgeous yellow I've ever seen! I told him I think yellow roses on Bee's Birthday could be a tradition I'm in for ... :) He said, "You think so, do you." lol. We had yellow roses on all the guest tables.

All About One Year Old Baby Bee:
Beatrice likes to clap when she's happy, shakes her head to say no, she loves the guinea pigs and LOVES when her siblings takes her to see them. She loves all animals and grunts, squeals and is excited when she sees them. We go around visiting the goats and chickens daily and her little face just lights up. Beatrice loves her siblings and watches them intently. Through the good and the bad. I swear she is taking notes! Beatrice loves hanging out with everyone. She has started to try and bite when she's mad. She has two top teeth and two and a half on bottom. She stands up but doesn't walk yet. She moves around holding onto furniture only a little bit. We are totally content with that. She can wait to walk...we like her like this! But, walking will be exciting and sooo cute, and I just know her siblings will melt with cuteness when she does start to walk. Even though she's been clapping and standing for a while now, Penelope (7) and Sebastian (5) still have to holler nearly every time she does it. "Mom, MOM, MOOOOM! LOOK she is standing!!" It's cute how excited they get. Penelope and Layla haul her around a lot and are a tremendous help.  It's very cute. The teens hold her several times a day while I get stuff done around the house. It's so cute seeing teenage boys try and throw their hip out to hold a baby. They love her and they light up when they see her. It's really special. The kids will take her to the trampoline (like a giant play pen!) to watch her sometimes. Beatrice often asks to go to Charlotte and sometimes will holler up the stairs for her. She loves Charlotte. Charlotte is very close to Beatrice and those two are really sweet together. The kids take really good care of her. The teens even remember to give her sips of water when they are watching her. They are great caregivers.

Beatrice likes playing in the sand box and does not eat the sand. Beatrice likes playing with toys. She will sit for a while and play which is wonderful. She puts her arm into the air when she hears music and likes to wave it around to dance. It's very cute! She recently pointed to the radio to get me to turn on music. The pointing is SO cute. She points all over the place to tell us what she needs or wants. I love it. She waves to her daddy when he leaves in the morning. This is such a precious age. The little things she has learned over the past four months are getting refined and it's really neat to watch. She jabbers a lot and that's something we love to hear. I love watching her deep blue eyes absorb the sights around her. It's amazing to me that her life is so normal to's all she will ever know. Lots of kids, lots of animals, a mommy and daddy that keeps her close by always and snuggled into bed with them, lots of adventures yet to come... oh happy, happy birthday Beatrice! You are such an amazing addition to this family. Simply amazing you came to us.

Father's Day... was the Sunday after the party.  
We were beat and didn't do much. I had to pry myself out of bed so he could sleep in. I was pooped! I made and helped the kids deliver breakfast in bed to their dad around 9 am. I made him walnut banana pancakes, eggs, hash browns and sausage. Afterwards we pretty much just hung out and cleaned up decorations.We got him a second hand mini fridge for the basement. He also finally got a recliner for the basement. He's been wanting that for a while. He's excited to keep beer in the mini fridge. :)
Ricky's such an amazing husband and father. He was raised by amazing parents to be an amazing man and his children and I reap the reward. 
Three year old Penelope
Newborn Everett

Preschooler Layla, toddler Penelope

Toddler Penelope 2008

Newborn Sebastian 2008

Father's Day 2013
I had more recent pictures of Ricky with all the kids here at one point but the links were broken over time, so I deleted them. Bummer.

The life I live ...the love I dreams coming true... I owe to you. I love you Ricky, Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Life is Grand

The Renaissance Faire!
I am so behind on the day but I have to stop and write about Beatrice at the Ren Faire yesterday. We always have a lovely time at the faire. We love and enjoy everything about it. It's small but not tiny, it's easy to get around, all the people are always so friendly and lovely, and the venue is an absolutely perfect backdrop of lush woods and enchanted forest. I feel like I'm in a place of magic each time we go, especially when the humid day cools and we are gifted with a soothing shower of light rain in the afternoon. We enjoy shows, food, and each other. I also always wear the beautiful moonstone necklace Ricky bought me at the Ren Faire four years ago. I love traditions. This year we made pirate flags & balloon wands, visited tiny fairy houses, and bought pretty soaps and essential oils from a dear friend. We enjoyed the funny "Crazy Boy Coy" show; he was a fabulous juggler and talent (not to mention fire eater!), a very funny performer and great with the audience.

The kids were happy and content and Everett (3) was calm and collected. I think he is finally maturing a bit and finding more patience to observe things. Ricky and I had a few beers together and we enjoyed some golden honey mead. It's always just an all around great time when we go. Every year the kids look forward to funnel cake and other horrendously fried dessert foods. We always stay for far longer than we think we will stay and spend far more money than we think we will spend! The teens enjoyed buying many goodies from the shops with saved birthday money from last year. I bought a simple woven and fabulous hand held fan to cool a hot and sticky nursing baby and mommy with. (This will be kept with us all summer now! Especially since our air conditioner is broken! )

So, 11 month old Beatrice at the faire... She loved every moment of it. Kids are given a coin at the entrance for the troll in the wishing well. Charlotte was holding Baby Bee and I told her to wish for luck. So Beatrice made a wish with the troll to always be lucky in life. He granted Beatrice's wish and gave her a small pebble (which we have for safe keeping) and she flailed her arms and smiled big at him trying to grab him. It was the most adorable thing EVER. Even a bystander said out loud, "Oh my gosh, that is SO cute." I was trying to take a picture and discovered our camera battery was dead. It was quite disappointing and the only bad thing of the whole day, but all the more reason to write down what pictures didn't capture I guess. In the past we've come home with MANY wonderful pictures, but this time would be different. Charlotte did manage a few shots with her ipod though, just not with the troll unfortunately.

Everett (3) wished to have a super power. The troll asked him which one he'd like and Everett said orange. (Orange is his favorite color.) The troll laughed and told him that was the most creative wish he's ever granted, and he now has the super power to turn anything he wants orange. Everett loved it. The troll got a real kick out of it too. Sebastian (5) wished for many dollars and the troll said "Wish granted, I will give you many doll hairs." It was hilarious. The troll started plucking hairs from his beard explaining that they are just like doll hairs and will do just fine in place of real doll hairs. It was a fabulous encounter. 

When we sat down for a show of fire and juggling Beatrice was all-in. She clapped and smiled and watched the whole show. Afterwards we ate lunch near the stage which now had a belly dancing show going on. Beatrice barely took her eyes of the belly dancers. We were happily watching her because she was having so much fun!

On our adventures through the woods she saw adoptable doggies and some horses she liked. She watched people. She watched me and played with a marker while I made her a pirate flag. (Her flag has a sword and bumble bee on it.) She enjoyed meeting my friend Beth for the first time and their little adorable doggie (a Teacup Chihuahua!! OMG he's so cute.)
She sat with us in mud and clay in the rain to watch a jousting show. She looked so cute with rain drops wetting her hair.

When we stopped for our traditional funnel cake feasting she made us laugh because when Ricky handed me the funnel cakes she went crazy squealing and jabbering while reaching for them. She had no idea what I had but she just knew it was food and wanted some. I placed the hot paper plates under the stroller so we could find a quiet spot in the woods to enjoy our traditional family funnel cake picnic. She hollered and screeched and reached off to the side of the stroller trying to get to the treats. It was SO funny. I laid a blanket down and everyone piled on with the funnel cake. I plopped little Bee right in the middle. She was so happy. She was a part of everything yesterday. She was so joyful and thrilled to be at the faire with us.We all noticed how involved she was. She wasn't just a baby along for the ride, she actively participated in nearly everything!

Trader Joe's 
On our way home we stopped off at Trader Joe's to pick up some gmo free corn tortillas.

Just tortillas. That's all I ran in for.

How do you think that went? Yeah $110.00 dollars later. Hah!

So originally I was just going to run in real quick while everyone waited in the car. I was casually browsing the fresh cut flowers as if I had nothing else to do as soon as I stepped foot inside the store. I quickly decided I needed a cart after all...for the big beautiful potted mums I had just picked out. As I finished getting my cart Ricky surprised me by coming in. He just stood there and smiled at me. I looked up expecting to see another customer in my way, or me in their way,  but I was really surprised to see him. The look we gave each other was like we'd run into each other after a month of dating and we were happy to cross paths. Seriously. It was exactly that adorable.

He said he just wanted to hang out with me. Moments like this make my life 1000 times more awesome. We love being together. It's true the simplest things in the life are the best. It's not where we are or what we are doing that makes us happy, it's just simply being with each other. I love him so much. I love the way he looks at me, the way he laughs at everything with me, the way he loves me. We loaded the cart up with yummy things and talked about how when we are "single" we'll only have Trader Joe's food in the fridge. We refer to all the kids being out of the house one day as our "single life" together. We say that instead of a once in a while trip to Trader Joe's we'll shop together there weekly for our small (but delicious!) meals. I can't imagine cooking for only two people, but I can imagine us being together just like we are now; happily picking out blueberry scones and organic banana-vanilla yogurt together. Life is so sweet and fun when in love. That whole 'falling in love with the same person over and over again' saying? It really can happen. It can happen when you have a new baby together, it can happen when you just look into each others eyes and smile, it can happen in the middle of Trader Joe's on a weekend afternoon.

We bought the kids vanilla bean cupcakes for waiting quietly in the car with the sleeping baby. They were happy, content, and quiet after a long, fun day. What a happy pretty day that even ended with a flirty date at Trader Joe's. I've said it before and I'll say it again, everyday of my life is made better with him in it. Aspire for great things and you can achieve great things... I always, always wanted a great marriage.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Baby Bee's First Birthday Countdown (and all those gushy mommy things I don't want to forget, like her frog legs, and noises, and floppy wrist waves, I go on and on)

Beatrice's first year is going by so fast. We expected it to. It always goes by fast but wonderful.

Baby Bumble Bee
She doesn't answer to her name Beatrice, she answers to Baby Bee. Everett calls her Baby Bumble Bee. We sometimes call her other nicknames like Honey Bee and just plain Bumble. Everett (3) goes to a preschool a few hours a week. At school he was asked to draw his favorite person. He was instructed that the person should have a  head, face, arms, and legs. He drew his baby sister and called his picture a baby bumble bee. His teacher thought humm okay....well he did what we asked him to, he drew a head and arms and legs. Later his teacher told me how he was asked to draw a person but it's interesting that he calls it a baby bumble bee. I laughed out loud with enthusiasm. I explained that he drew his sister Beatrice whom he calls Baby Bumble Bee. So cute!

I was just marveling at her sweet baby charm nine months old. She was grinning, waving her floppy wrists to say hello and batting her eyelashes at everyone she met. I was also just enthralled with how happy and content she was at ten months and how much she considered herself one of the kids already! It was so apparent. Hanging out with everyone, laughing or making noises when the kids would talk. Crawling over to her siblings and playing like a "big kid" next to them. How could I forget how fun and lovely ten month old babies are? Ten month old babies rock. Most aren't walking yet, but thoroughly engage with the world in so many other ways. Ten month old babies are precious.

She shook her head 'no' to me at 10 months, it was the cutest thing ever. I was offering her some food and she shook her head no. She looked like she was going to lose her balance as she did three off balance half shakes of the head. So funny and cute.

We love all these stages, because each stage seems so amazing, adorable, and awesome. We love the needy rooting nursling, the opening of brand new eyes newborn, the wide eyed curious infant, the roly poly wiggle worm, the laugh-at-everything especially when somebody sneezes baby, the sitter-upper, the explorer, the primal crawler... Oh, and all those jibber-jabber noises! LOVE jabbery babies, how cute they are! Beatrice is a jabbery little one. I love her so. Oh, and she kisses me! I love wide mouthed slobbery baby kisses even if they are messy and gross to observe as a bystander. Haha! She was doing the wide mouthed slobber kiss around six months old and on, but around 10 months old she started just leaning in and pressing parted lips to my face without it being a face-sucking drooly kiss.

I have been in a drunken baby-daze for the past eleven months. I cherished it. Suddenly now she's starting to try and stand by herself and I know the infant-baby days are numbered. Ricky and I actually don't care if she doesn't want to walk for four more months! Once they start walking it's all over. They are part of the world in a totally new way and gain profound independence all too quickly. On all fours she explores at a different level both physically and mentally. I think with every kid we hope for the various baby stages to last longer and be more drawn out than they are. Scooting around in the grass, dirt, and house floor; it is like she's still a primal mammal navigating the world. Ricky just mentioned that last night in fact. I had forgotten until just now, but Ricky described her crawl and overall sense of her environment as primal, like a monkey. We really enjoy watching babies grow so much, which I suppose is why we keep having them. That is an interesting point: We like the kids, we love them, we enjoy them...but we also equally like, love, and enjoy seeing each other with them. 
 I love when Beatrice sits up with her 'frog-legs' bent-tucked under her; she bounces up and down so happily. Sometimes she lays belly side down on the wood floor and scoots around for fun, she looks like a frog with her legs bent like that. One day very recently she raised up and slowly stood all the way up on her feet. The first time she did it she looked really unhappy about it. It was hilarious! She rose up, ever so wobbly, and she extended her hands out for balance and to catch herself. The look on her face was adorable; she looked like she was out of her comfort zone but biologically her instincts took over. She locked eyes with us a whimpered. She didn't want to do it but there she was doing it. She tried standing again several days later and now does it a dozen times a day. We all clap and cheer and she smiles at us with her one tooth. She's going to really get the hang of the standing thing by her first birthday. They tend to learn how to walk pretty fast after mastering standing. I keep thinking about her wobbly baby legs learning to take steps, and then not long after that she will test her fate by walking down the front porch steps as we look on in horror. Always on to something new. It's amazing how fast they desire to master new skills.

I just realized over the past two weeks that she is nursing less and eating more solid food and she has been for a while now. She never goes without some solid food for each meal time now. I can't believe how simple and fast it happened. I noticed all of the sudden she's nursing at night more and during the day less. I noticed she's distracted and fidgety on me while she waits for milk to flow, she has started toddler type nursing-gymnastics (flinging her feet into the air, twisting and tugging and fidgeting her body around, and trying to roll over while still nursing or turning her head to see something). She is slowly starting to nurse more when she is tired and less when she's hungry. She's sill packing on many calories from nursing, but it's slowly becoming less frequent and for shorter sessions. All of this means she's heading towards toddler-hood. I'm ready and not ready all at once. She's a total joy to watch.

She will be a year old next month and we plan to throw her a great, big, grand bumble bee birthday party. She'll never remember it but she'll always have pictures of it, and we'll celebrate her. Our baby bumble bee.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Mother's Day Cards Are Lost

I bought cards for many mothers: my mother, other people's mothers, and especially my sister who is a brand new mother. I bought a card for my Aunt Sharon who is like a mother to me and grandmother to my children. I bought cute cards, funny cards, sweet cards. I bought cards to say all kinds of lovely thoughtful words. I bought them all early so I wouldn't run out of time. I told Ricky to buy his mom one early too. They were in a bag and the bag floated between my purse, the kitchen counter, and then my purse again. I looked for the book of stamps to mail them over a week ago, but the stamps were missing. No one knows who lost my stamps...but I'm sure it wasn't me. So back in the purse the cards went. So much for mailing early. Eventually I found one stamp in all of the house and it went on an envelope as I frantically mailed the kids' summer camp registrations...the exact day the registration was due. Made it in the mailbox one hour before the mailman came.

So, back in the purse the cards went, then in the car, and finally somehow for some reason they laid on the back porch table. They were shuffled onto a picnic table outside near our driveway when we cleaned the porch...then they disappeared somehow. In all the chaos of cleaning and painting our nearly dilapidated porch I lost the cards. In all the hardship of leaky septic systems, new plumbing being installed and other service workers coming over, I lost them. In and out of all the busy days juggling kids to events, preschool, grocery shopping (at a store that doesn't sell stamps), cooking dinner for an army, homeschooling, and emergency dental visits, I lost them. Like all hardworking moms, life revolves around kids and not much else.

I have no stamps, no cards, no time. I have happy kids with sticky fingers and fixed teeth. I have a lot of stress, a ton of love, some tears, much laughter, lots of hope, a bit of  insanity, glimpses of peace, too much laundry, and a circle of vibrant women dear to me who would understand all of it because they are moms.

I love you moms! I really do. My birth one, my aunt one, my grandmother ones, my in law one, my  my sister one, my friend ones. I love you all for doing and being the best you can for your kids and families during the best and worst of times. It's not easy. And we keep marching on, and we keep loving on, and we keep our children's hands on our hearts.

I love you circle of moms. Cards or no cards.
Mothers change the world through children

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Sebastian...the boy behind the fits

Two weeks ago Sebastian (5) said, "When I'm a grown up I will still live here because Everett will still need me to take care of him."
How totally precious.

 The other day I saw Everett in our tulip tree out front (the kid climbs up anything). Sebastian stepped under him and said, "I'll catch you!" Everett fell and they both hit the ground flat. Thank goodness they were both laughing and neither one was hurt. It was funny. Like a floppy Grover falling on top of another floppy Grover. Now Everett runs under Penelope and Sebastian when they are on the playground out back and says "I catch you!" He's dangerously copying exactly the brotherly love Sebastian showed him.
Tonight Sebastian had a monster size meltdown after we summoned him inside and took his stick away for the night. It was after he was yelling, being mean and repeated physical hurting/grabbing of people. At first it seemed like we might avoid a big fit but I think I may have exasperated the situation by making a point that I was taking his stick away too. Saying that he had to come in for the night and it was time for him to leave his stick outside (something we do each night anyway) would have been a gentler approach than me saying he had to come inside for the night AND I was taking his stick away too. Subtle difference but the way I made him feel powerless was huge to him. It showed too because he came back with the classic I can do whatever I want line. That totally translates to 'I'm my own person and I don't want to be controlled by you.'
So he yelled and cried for his stick for 15 minutes. I finally calmed him down by cleaning up his room and making jokes about stuff and making small talk with mostly myself. Soon he started up a conversation with me. This isn't always this easy (and 15 minutes is easy with him, he can go on in self-pity, anger, and feeling sad for a A LONG time) but sometimes it is easy. Once he perked up we finished cleaning his room together and then made some popcorn for everyone. Bath time and tooth brushing went smoothly and he was all smiles. I pulled down his covers and he said to me, "Even when I'm a grown up I'll still live here, did you know that?" I said, "Really!? That's cool!" He said, "Yup, I will live here so I can still help out."
I'm sitting here wanting to put into words what hearing that means to me. Since we are so "unfair" and so "mean." Since we aren't the bosses and since we can't tell him what to do, and since he told me last week that he could go run away into the woods if he wants to. To hear he wants to stay, to hear his ideas on why he'll live here when he's a grown up --that he wants to be a part of our family and that he clearly sees value in who he is in the family... it's priceless. He knows he helps, he knows he's loved and wanted. He knows his little brother Everett looks up to him. Penelope is friends with him. The older kids are helpers and buddies to him. His mom and dad feed, clothe, and love him. He is really blinded by it all when he's angry and frustrated, but when he's clear headed and being himself he's our happy, talkative, helpful, and vibrant Sebastian of the family. We wouldn't be the same without him. He's got a tough personality. I love him right through it.
Sebastian when he was three, he has not changed much. He's still an ol' scurvy dog!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

10 Hard Things about Having a Large Family (for me)

1. Cleaning House 
My expectation for the kitchen: it needs to look un-lived in AND cute.
Nothing is ever good enough at my house. The bathroom needs cleaned 2-3x per week, the kids and dogs require me to sweep the living room floor at least 10x a week (the kitchen floor alone actually gets swept 14-20 times a week) I never feel like I can relax (however I am technically relaxing right now wasting time plucking away at my blog). Notice I said that bathroom "needs" cleaned 2-3 times a doesn't always necessarily get done that often! I feel like my life is in pieces most of the time, always in need of being put back together again by me. A couple of kids are two days past baths. The laundry needs folded. The living room is dusty. Everett won’t stop dumping water on the floor. The back porch looks terrible. The storage clothing closet needs sorted. The yard is a mess. There is chicken, goose or goat poop (or all three!) on the porch. I'm pretty sure anyone that comes over to my house expects it to be... oh I dunno, lived in by 10 people. Someone should have told me if I wanted my home to look like a vintage version of Pottery Barn I shouldn't have had 8 kids, but I bet wouldn’t have listened anyway.
I've actually gotten much better over the years, but the never-ending list of what I need and want to get done, on top of children who make messes 24/7, make it hard for me to just let go and enjoy my home. I'm working on this constantly. I have gotten better than I used to be. It's okay to go to bed with a messy bathroom, craft supplies on the kitchen table, ‘base10 blocks’ on the dining room floor, laundry in the washer, and dust bunnies under the couch... and just be in peace about it all for the night.
I told myself in December not to fret about our bedroom and as a result it's been a mess since December. It's an exercise I'm trying content with the mess because it is temporary and I'll get caught up when other stuff gets caught up...enjoy the baby, enjoy the kids, work when you can.

While this post sat in my drafts folder my friend wrote this piece titled The Housework Can Wait? And I couldn't agree more! It's terrible parenting advice to tell others not to clean house. We have to find balance, yes, but there are things that have to be done. Letting the house fall apart at the seams is good for no one.

2. Going Camping (and fishing)
We are totally outdoor people, me even more than my hubby because mosquitoes think he is delicious but leave me alone. The sheer logistics of taking 10 people camping boggles the mind and gives my husband nightmares. I want our kids to remember going camping (and fishing!) growing up, but so far we just have fires and weenie roasts in the backyard all summer long. (We used to camp a little but haven't in over 6 years or so) It’s still a lot of fun having at-home outdoor fun nearly every weekend but I wish we could do more. I'm super adventurous and impulsive, so we really should just get up and go camping; sounds so simple until we start planning. The kids have recetly taken to camping out on our trampoline.
3. My Ambition is not compatible with my lifestyle
This goes a little bit with number one. I want to do a million things, so I attempt to do a half-million of them to be conservative in my wish list. I finish five and tell myself: "one day at a time" and "what doesn't get done will be okay." My kitchen needs finished painting (just one tiny corner!), the basement needs finished painting -hell according to me any wall without paint needs to be painted. I want to start keeping bees.We also decided we should raise rabbits. Turkey are coming to join our small ambitious.
 My husband is such an enabler too! Last weekend we went to Home Depot for a simple gas can and while there I declared I wanted paint for the upstairs hall. So what do you think he did?  He bought it for me. God love him. He should tell me no sometimes.

I have lots of ideas on the back burner: some business related, some personal, some birth work related... none of them very compatible with a full time homeschooling mom of eight.

4. Enjoying the kids
We enjoy them plenty but with so many kids there is always room for improvement. It's not just about making the time (although we have to do that too especially for the teens), but we have to also tell ourselves to slow down and just enjoy them, or we'll miss the good stuff as we juggle the crazy stuff.  Let’s face it sometimes these little kids run amok, and it’s hard on us. One time some kid wiped their butt on the shower curtain. Another time we found baby carrots in the bathroom drain. The kids hurt our ears they talk so loud, and they climb on top of each other like playgrounds. Sometimes there are days that a kid is always crying or yelling. 

This is what a busy mom looks like knee deep in kids and pumpkins! Some one is even crying...
  Just walking in the door with them this afternoon after a day out was hard. While I was trying to gather everyone's coats and shoes I was simultaneously changing the baby's diaper on my bed. This is also what was going on: Sebastian trying to tell me something he did at preschool, Penelope asking me to help pull her boots off, Everett asking where a plate was as he shows me he suddenly has a handful of graham crackers, and I'm still trying to take my coat off and change the baby's diaper. We were literally home for less than 60 seconds and that much was happening all at once!

We can focus on all of that craziness and let it overwhelm us, or we can focus on enjoying our little hobgoblins instead.

5. Saving money
There is always something you need regardless of having a big family or not. It’s called life. There are always wants vs. needs -and the wants can be hard to ignore. The needs are amplified when you have a gazillion animals and kids though. Just when it seems like saving money seems doable (or just when we actually have money saved up) something happens to drain it all. When you have more kids there are more things that can pile up. Dentist and medical bills can be...yikes. Home repairs are killing us this year.

6. Making time for other people
My family squeezes every last ounce from me. It's not a bad thing to me, but since I give near 100% to my husband and kids there is not much left to give and that is sometimes hard. It’s not that I feel like I don't have time for myself, but I instead feel like I don't have time for anyone else. I want to reach out, send cards, donate my time, be there for a friend, go to a moms night out, attend a woman's retreat my friends have, but I just don't have the time or energy. I mean well. I pray for others and think about others very often. I often have people in my heart and mind and no one even knows it. In turn, Ricky feels the same way. He works a lot, and then he has family time. After that there isn't a lot of time for extra things.
When we try to get involved with service projects or some other thing it's often hard because of our various ages. There are things we just can't do with little kids in tow, and it's a sacrifice for all of us to have to miss out on some things. That's just our life and everyone's life is different.

Ricky and I are admittedly pretty selfish about our free time. We want to spend it all with each other. It's really quite sweet, and it's our marriage and our life and we are happy with it. I know we'll never regret the time spent with each other and the kids now. So we do what we can and don’t stress about it, but it is hard sometimes when it feels like we don’t have time for anything else. Someday the kids won’t take up so much of our time and we know that. We embrace them and each other now. 

7. Eating
This is super obvious. Feeding a large family is a large task. Eating out is expensive and a special treat. Eating in is very time consuming and it costs a large chunk of money, too. On average I spend at least 3-4 hours in the kitchen each day and it's not doing the fun, pretty stuff I wish I was rolling out cinnamon rolls or canning apples. It's fetching milk for little mouths, putting snack platters out, cooking up three different types of eggs for breakfast and throwing a home cooked meal together for dinner –all while literally tripping over an insane kid named Everett (or telling him to get off the kitchen table for third time in 10 minutes). Even if I was doing the fun stuff I'd be doing it while tripping over at least three kids which makes it more stressful and not as much fun. It's all fun and games until someone picks their nose and then dips their finger into the cake batter. Question the food you eat from my house if made in the presence of toddlers or preschoolers. Ha!

The thing I look forward to the most when my kids are grown is baking, gardening, and canning. I have an entire storybook scene in my head of me happily frolicking in my garden, picking, canning, cooking, baking and then having all the children and grandchildren over for dinner once or twice a week...I'll wipe the grand-children's little noses and faces with my apron and say things to my grown children like 'Oh, let them make a mess, I have no one but your dad to pick up after these days...’

8. Noise
Someone is always talking to me! ALWAYS! Sometimes it's three or four kids at once. There's a kid talking in my ear right now. She's been talking for 45 minutes. I'm not kidding. I'm giggling typing this because it's so funny and perfect timing for this post. When they aren't talking to me they are talking to someone else. It can also be hard to manage the noise level of so many people, especially the ones that are ‘volume level’ challenged. The positive side is that everyone learns really good group communication and turn taking (eventually). We do raise our hands on particularly high volume days. We respond quicker to hand raisers and the little kids learn waiting a wee bit easier when their hand is raised, we nod or put a finger up indicating in 1 minute you are next.
9. Running out for something
It's hard to just run out of the house to get milk or whatever. Even though I have older kids at home, I don't like leaving the kids home alone. If I do run out for a ‘quick trip' it takes me at least two hours to just leave the house because it’s hard for me to just pick up and leave. First of all I have to ask myself a million questions: Should we do school work first? Is everyone fed? Does the kitchen need cleaned up? Is anyone fighting? Is anyone going to fight? Who should keep an eye on who? Who should I bring with me? Will Everett fall asleep in the car? Do I want Everett to fall asleep in the car? How much money is left in my grocery account? Where is my cell phone? Does the baby need nursed first? Where are my shoes? Do I even have clothes on…?

(Then on my way out out to the car I get the chickens some feed and water and inevitably get poop on my shoes or hands, or both. Farm life.)

If if need something specific like glue, crayons or printer ink I'm WAY more likely to just order it from Amazon Prime than to ever step a foot out my door.
10. I'm the Domestic Goddess/ Household Manager/ Boss
If it were just me and Ricky I'd seriously be happy as a clam just doting on him and keeping house. I'm convinced I'd clean house in my pearls. I love being a homemaker! I love: baking, cooking, canning, gardening, sewing, scrapbooking, etc. In my fantasy life without kids I'd volunteer two days a week at the food pantry or local woman's shelter. I'd host little teas and brunches for me and my friends and invite Ricky's coworkers over for dessert and drinks on Friday nights. 
 Ricky has told me several times that I can keep homemaking forever if I want to, and never work outside of the home. I jokingly exclaimed, "Dang, I wish you would have told me I could have been a housewife without all these kids! Sign. Me. Up."

In reality we have a gaggle of kids who are going to mess up the house and no one is going to care unless I care. No one is going to organize a housework routine/schedule unless I do it. No one is going to have home-cooked meals unless I make them. No one is going to have clean or folded laundry unless I do it (or tell them to do it). In fact: next to no one is going to brush their teeth either. Sometimes I am plum sick of telling everyone what to do! And it's A LOT of people to get organized. But, it's just the way it is. Charlotte is amazing and really pitches in when she sees an area lacking, she’s a lifesaver in the kitchen and I am so thankful. Ricky is very helpful too but he's not expected to help with most of the housework. I'm expected to ask him if I need something really specific from him regarding housework. (Example: can you clean the bathroom.) When he's home Ricky is always playing with a kid or doing something with a kid -or four of them at a time, so he's plenty busy when he's home. Since he works 50+ hours a week outside the home I don't expect him to ever touch the laundry or dishes. (Although there are lots of times he does on the weekend, especially if we have a newborn, and I sure do appreciate it.) He maintains the outside, fixes stuff, and helps as needed in the home, but other than that he's supposed to just keep doting on me and the kids. He works hard outside the home, I want him to enjoy the kids and not have to help me too much. The teenage boys are awesome usually. They are kind and willing to help, but like most teens they need to be told extremely specific things that need to be done. We do use a chore chart, but it changes a lot and it requires me to change it and organize it. I usually just resort to making simple lists on the whiteboard that I change everyday and we all dig in to what needs to get done. 

 Bottom line: I have lots of helpers, but I still have to be the organizer. And it gets really, really tiring being that person. Sometimes I wish someone would organize and plan everything out for me, and then let me go sit in a hammock and read when I am done with my chores! But monotony comes with any job or responsibility, be it at home or not! So I keep at it...
Layla made this drawing at Thanksgiving - I am expecting baby #8