Life With Nine Kids

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Magical Land of Trader Joe's

Yesterday I spent more money at Trader Joe's than I ever have at one time before. Dang you Trader Joe's with all your no hydrogenated, no preservatives, mostly natural bread, prepackaged biscuits, cinnamon rolls, sauces, rbGH-free creamy yogurt, and all that other food too that tastes so good... including the ever so random mahi-mahi burger samples with tartar sauce that tastes homemade!! I feel like I've stepped into another dimension of food when I enter that store. Much of it is fairly affordable, but then mahi-mai burgers happen their way into my cart. They have magical food I don't have to make from scratch because theirs is already that good. I even slowly flirt over the stuff I don't intend to buy, because most of their stuff won't feed a family of ten...even if I bought two packages! (Have you seen the size of their peanut butter jars? We would use that up in one day!

I used so much restraint yesterday putting down the lemon curd and stepping away.
This is like lemon pie in a jar. Or at least that's the fantasy I have.
And this:
This store makes me lose my freaking mind. I have to try this next time. I'm just too curious.
Their employees are also the best in all the land. They are always so friendly and helpful and HAPPY. Yesterday the guy checking me out was totally turning on the Trader Joe's charm and then asked me what I had going on as he hoisted 8 packages of British Muffins, 7 cans of all natural bake at home cinnamon rolls, 4 packages of mini bagels, and 3 gallons out milk of my cart (among many other things). I told him I have a lot of kids at home, and also some family coming to town too. He said that sounded fun and asked me how many kids I have. I told him eight with one on the way. He was super enthusiastic and friendly and said that was so cool. I only had Layla with me yesterday so he asked where the rest of the kids were and told me I need to bring them all with me next time so he can meet them. He asked if we homeschooled and then told me that he used to have a customer from St. Charles with 9 kids and he got a picture with the family one day and has it at his house.

Seriously, where do they find Trader Joe workers? They must have the best hiring and training in the world. I always love the people who check me out! They become my new BFF every time I shop. lol.

My new checker friend sees me shuffling around in my chicken purse to get out my wallet and asks me if I have a farm. (I have this big ridiculous chicken purse, like it's literally a rubber hen with a zipper. It tipped him off that I just might have farm animals haha.) I tell him yes we have an acre "farm" and we are currently looking for more land for us and our animals. He thinks that is so cool and wants to know about all our animals and if we butcher our own turkeys.

Then he calls his coworker over to meet me, "You have to meet this lady. She has eight kids, homeschools, and they have a farm with 11 turkeys, 2 goats, 35 chickens, geese, this lady is super mom right here..."

LOL. :) Before leaving he made sure to tell me again to bring ALL the kids back next time to see him. Too fun! I have actually been meaning to set up a homeschool field trip there for a while (they do school trip tours). This reminds me that I'll have to organize that for later this summer/early fall.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Happy Second Birthday Beatrice!

The kids were so excited about Beatrice turning two. It's seriously sweet and cute. I have heard non-stop about her birthday for two weeks. They made homemade cards and presents for hours the day before her birthday. Layla made Beatrice Bee-noculars! How cute is that?! Beatrice loves the song 'going on a lion hunt' where you act out going through tall grass, water, hills, Etc. Bee sometimes acts all nervous at the end when there's a lion. It's ADORABLE! Layla made her Bee-noculars to go with the hand motions to the song while looking for the lion.

Sweet quotes I caught the day before her birthday:
Sebastian (6) making Beatrice a birthday card:
 "I just made her a really sweet deal. Her birthday card has a dime and a penny in it, and now I'm going to put a nickle and a quarter in it."
Penelope (8) "I'm so excited it's Bee's birthday tomorrow!!" -She said this no less than 50 times!
Penelope (8): "I am so glad I'm a big sister."

Penelope wrapped the presents for her sister last week. Everett(4) insisted we needed a pinata, so at the local feed store I let the kids buy some candy by the pound. Not sure what we were going to use as a make shift pinata, but I kinda left them unsupervised with the candy and they ate most of it the day before her birthday. haha.

Charlotte (18) has been working in a grocery store bakery and she has been promoted to "lead cake decorator." Very exciting and fun! She has been given tons of creative freedom and is having a blast using her artistic side to decorate cakes and expand her decorating skills. I had never seen her make frosting roses before, and she made some under the beehive and they are SO great! This is one proud mom! When she left for work today Everett (4) told her how to make a bee themed cake for Beatrice. He's four, so you can imagine how he goes on and on, wheels turning a mile-a-minute. He is such an interesting, creative, and funny kid. He has the wildest imagination, too.
When Charlotte brought the cake home and showed Everett he excitedly said, "Exactly what I wanted!"

We had a big birthday bash last year. This year we had a relaxing family day celebrating our sweet Baby Bee.

 Beatrice LOVED her presents. I was very careful to pick things I knew she would just love. I mean isn't that always the goal? But I really tried to be careful because there are so many junk toys that kids don't actually play with, and some good toys they don't actually play with either! One thing I ended up buying her was a bee fork and spoon set because she loves small silverware and this was her reaction:
We also got her a barking/walking toy doggie, a bell toy that makes very nice sounds, a bee backpack, and a music player. She loves dancing and singing to music and this player really worked out to be cute. I read loads of reviews for hours trying to get something that would sound okay, be engaging/educational, and not be full of pointless noise. It really worked out to be a good one!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Life With Nine Kids!

Announcing *drum roll* ...ANOTHER BABY! I'm due October 31, 2015 (On Halloween, how fun!) He or she will likely be our first November born baby, but you never know until they get here. If born in November, we'll have six months of back to back kiddo birthdays (Aug. through Jan.)! Beatrice is the only child not born in one of those months.

This is shaping up to be an interesting year with many, many adventures and changes for us!
 Beatrice is head over heels for babies. She will be two in five days and we are having SO MUCH fun with her. I remember all too well our other toddlers joyfully welcoming newborn babies into the family. Knowing her spunky, sweet, caring personality makes me extra excited she will be a big sister! She is a load of fun and totally acting two.
She is so full of life, love, and curiosity. And, she also screams. :)
She says "Mommy, Mommy pleeeease" in an amazingly sweet toddler voice when she wants something and it's pretty killer-cute.

Life in a Big Family
 All of the kids are so excited about the new baby. When I told Charlotte she jumped up and threw her arms around me hugging me excitedly. I was really, really touched that this 18 year old "kid" didn't see her mom and dad as being too overextended to have another baby to love and cherish. I actually cried I was SO touched and it was also reassuring that we are doing a good job. Our days are filled with a lot of love, but also a lot of work. Living in a large family is quite a lesson in selflessness for all of us. Meal times are hectic, groceries disappear three days after they arrive, showers turn cold if not staggered, dishes are washed around the clock, gas is expensive wherever we go. Someone always needs me. Someone is always running through the house. Depending on the kids' ages and stages we'll go through periods of time where it seems like somebody is always crying. The youngest kids are always in the fridge, running around, or asking somebody to play something with them. Everyone shares almost everything. We sweep floors 3-4x daily. We raise our hands if there's too much talking going on and another person needs to say something. (Beatrice has seen her siblings hand raise and started raising her hand and walking up to me to show me she is doing it too! It's very, very cute!)

I'm an experienced mother (which makes things easier each time), I'm a good mother, I'm a confident and empowered mother, but I'm still very much human. I still question, doubt, and struggle. I still have good days and bad days. I still learn. I still worry about if I'm doing a good job. There isn't a time that we aren't expecting a baby that I don't ask my husband why I think I'm good enough to do this again, and if we are taking care of the kids well enough to spread ourselves thinner. He says it's probably really good moms that worry and wonder if they are good enough.

I am of course busy, so I sometimes forget to do things I say I'll do: sew something for someone, make an appointment, mail something, or give someone a hair cut that has been asking. Our kids are so patient and forgiving though. One of the negative implying questions you might get with a big family is: How can you have time for ALL of them? Besides the obvious fact that we love them and don't have any other option other than to take care of them and make time for them, we also all roll with the punches. It's understood that we all do our best and we have to have patience. We know there is a bigger world in front of us than just ourselves. We respect each other. We make the time if we have to, and we get creative with it too. Homeschooling helps a lot. The kids are actually always around me. Most of all, Ricky and I structure our life around our kids -not them around us.

It's neat to to see that the kids are totally happy to add another love-bug of a baby to this life of ours, even if it means we all have to think of another little person sometimes instead of ourselves. I remember when it was Everett, Sebastian, and Penelope who were the babies. They could melt tears away from sad siblings with a goofy smile or dance, they could change bad moods in cranky preschoolers or moody teenagers, and oh how they make us laugh! Beatrice is constantly making everyone laugh and smile. It is really special how much love she adds to our life. All of the children and teens add such specialness. Seeing the children and teens interact with each other, play together, share together, work together, problem solve together, and dream together is a priceless gift. We feel like we haven't just given them the gift of family though, we feel like we have taught them to cherish children and that children are worth the work. Kids come first. Kids matter a lot.

When you break it down we only have: three big kids, two medium kids, and three small kids. Easy enough. ;)
It's not always that simple, beautiful, and easy; it's also really quite expensive, exhausting, messy and hard. What is amazing is that when each new baby arrives it's like they never weren't with us. I don't know why it amazes me each time but it does! You'd have to be crazy to have so many kids, but for us, it's a good kinda crazy.

There was a special nostalgic moment early this spring I had been wanting to write about. I was at the park with the five youngest kids. When it was time to leave I was loading up a toddler, preschooler, and the elementary aged kids into our van. I was being asked for: snacks, water, what was for dinner, when will daddy would be home, could we have ice cream, and I heard someone say they dropped their toy. It was chaos, everything happening at once. I fetched water from the front seat because some of them were certain they were going to die of thirst. After I had the littlest kids buckled into their seats I just looked at everyone and froze. I took in the craziness as kid voices filled every space of the van. I just stared at them for a moment. My heart rate was up from chasing Everett into his seat, loading up kids, a stroller, a picnic basket, a diaper bag. My heart thumped on, I felt tired but accomplished. I had a sudden and totally nostalgic feeling of when I was doing this with these five guys:
2008~ When there was five~
I became overwhelmed with gratitude that Ricky and I had the bravery, faith, craziness, and riskiness to keep growing our family. I looked at the young faces in the back of my van that day at the park, a van that now held more than twice as many people as our past mini vans did. I had such an amazing flashback of the kids in the picture above from 2008. I actually whispered to myself aloud as I climbed into the drivers seat, "I am so lucky I still get to do this. I cannot imagine not doing this still." I felt amazing gratitude.

I saved the following comment a while back from a dad of seven about large families. My heart smiled when I read it. I thought this post would be a nice place to keep it:
"I had 7 and loved every minute of it. Oh sure, we shopped at only the most exclusive garage sales, drove 5 year old vans, and built large utilitarian homes with 3-6 bathrooms, but it lasted so briefly and now they are all gone with many children of their own.  The flashlights work, the car has gas every time, there's milk; the house is clean; and I'm bored. What a riot it was..."