Life With Nine Kids

Monday, September 21, 2015

September: Talk Like a Priate Day Fun, Fall is Here, Baby Countdown, Birthday Season

We celebrated National Talk Like a Pirate Day at Krispy Kreme and had so much fun. If you go to a participating location and talk like a pirate on Talk Like a Pirate Day you get a free glazed donut, but if you go in dressed like a pirate you get a whole dozen glazed donuts. (EACH person dressed up gets a dozen donuts.) I had wanted to take the kids in the past but we never made it. Sept 19 this year (the official talk like a pirate day) landed on a Saturday, a perfect day for a family outing! As luck would have it our family has an unusual amount of pirate gear on hand. It's pretty hilarious (and ridiculous) that we didn't even use up all of the stuff we had at home and could have costumed at least a couple of more people!

Unfortunately Charlotte (18) had to work that day and Bea (2) was sleeping in the car, so they missed the group photo. I woke Bea to go inside but I wanted to get the photo done before I woke her up just in case she was a cranky mess. She was kinda groggy but enjoyed her donuts and all the commotion. The shop was pretty busy, but in a fun way. We got our 8 dozen donuts (we shared a dozen with Bea, she did not need her own) and even snagged up two tables.

A box of golden treasure for me mateys!
What did we do with 96 donuts? We ate them all weekend long. Some of us regrettably and some not so regrettably. I swore I would never eat donuts again after day one, but then had another one on day two. Ha!

 Fall is Here! 
Charlotte works at a grocery store bakery decorating cakes and she worked her way up to lead decorator over the summer! (I'm so proud!) There is this fabulous and fun lady named Fran that heads up the produce and floral department. Charlotte and her hit it off from the start. Fran totally reminds us of our Grandma Wanda with her green thumb and spunky, hardworking attitude. After Charlotte had been there a few months Fran told Charlotte, "They need to let me have you in produce. I like you, you are no nonsense!" That just cracked me totally up! We love Fran and she's funny without trying to be. She's also always smiling. Charlotte quickly became a valuable asset at the grocery store as they learned what a hard worker and how reliable she is. When some coworkers quit for various reasons she actually became the only person in the bakery department! Just eighteen years old and running it ALL herself! She has worked really hard and a lot of hours when they needed her the most. She has been appreciated and compensated by management and the store owner. It's been a great experience, and I'm so proud of her!

It's super handy having Charlotte working at a store, too! They sell straw and when a bale busts open Fran tells Charlotte we can load it into trash bags and take it home to our animals. When 47 mums needed to be moved because better stock was coming in and they need some TLC Fran told us we could have them for .50 a pot. We asked to buy some bulk apples but some "bad" ones came in that they can't sell  (they are still totally great just spotty and needing TLC!) so we got them for $7. Super awesome!
 Time for pie! I LOVE pumpkins, but apples are the real stars of my fall. Canned apple pie filling for all winter long. The kids eat it in their oatmeal too. Ricky likes apple butter.  (If I have the time I'll process twice this many. I have never had the time though.)

When we went to pick up the mums Fran saw Ricky for the first time. As he began loading them into our 15 passenger van she said in a really funny and friendly way, "Are you the one responsible for all this?" Then she looked at the mums, the kids, and me with my pregnant belly. It was really funny.

The mums just needed a little TLC and a lot of water! These kids happily helped me trim every single dead bloom off of them too! We all had so much fun. The mums will bloom again soon! It only took all of us a half hour and even Beatrice helped! Now to plant if I don't have enough to do already!
 Fall is off to a great start. I have so many plans and there is no way it is seriously all going to happen. My little pregnant brain is floating on a cloud of oblivion. I think it's totally hilarious that my to-do list before October 31st (Halloween is baby's due date!) is out of control ridiculous, in like, the most ridiculous way ever. As long as I know it's ridiculous I think it will be okay when more than half of it doesn't get done.

Speaking of Fall: Turkeys!
Just a random pointless update that I still LOVE raising turkeys. I keep wanting to sell them and might sell a few holiday birds for next year. We are still wanting to move to more land when we can and then I'll have one hundred turkeys. Well, maybe. :)
I call the really big one Thanksgiving.The small red ones won't be butchered until spring, the bigger black ones will be butchered this fall.
Everett turned FIVE years old on the 21st of September!
He's a super spunky wild kid that has a super sweet tender side too. He's really smart but also 'checks out' sometimes. I use play dough with him a lot. He has to keep his hands busy at home. He likes structure and needs loads of play, but wants us to play with him. when he is being spacey and imaginative we say that 'Everett World' must be a verrry interesting place! lol. He's really imaginative and impulsive. He has an alter ego named Bobby Henderson. (He made up ALL by himself!) He has always had an unhealthy relationship with risk fear of heights for the first several years of his life, seriously into fire/fire men/fire trucks, and even bull riding. He scared me when he ran across the street without warning a few months ago. He then declared happily to me, 'I made it!" as I stood there flabbergasted and frustrated. I now know that Sage and Ethan and their young and wild boy-ness was just preparation for dealing with Sebastian and Everett. Boy, I have learned a lot about boys. In hindsight, Sage and Ethan were easier! 
I asked Everett if he thinks the new baby is a boy or a girl:
"I think the baby is a girl because I love girls! And I will name her Blueberry when she is a baby, and when she is a grown up I will call her Grape."
He has wanted to name her Blueberry for a while. I told him that while that might be cute for a baby it won't be that cute of a name for a grown up to have, and Blueberry will be a grown up someday. Thoughtfully his solution is that she can go by "Grape" as an adult. My sweet wild child.  

Baby Countdown & Birthday Season
September 30th we celebrated Charlotte's 19th birthday.

 Nineteen years ago in September I was laundering baby diapers, clothes and blankets while pregnant with my very first baby. I had no idea what to expect but I loved her already. She was the baby that opened up the path I would take in life, deciding the moment I saw her that I wanted to shape my entire life into being a nurturing mother and "housewife." (Yes some of us do really like being housewives and don't mind the term! And that's okay.) When she was about two years old I was sure that I wanted six more children. Boy, I had no idea what I was in for! I stopped to snap the photo below as I was feeling very blessed that on my oldest daughter's 19th birthday... I was laundering some newborn baby laundry. I'm in amazement and wonder. Charlotte will have a baby sister or brother and they are 19 years apart. And I am a mother of an adult and a newborn, and lots in-between! I got to do *this* with my life and I'm so thankful.
35 weeks 4 days ~Washing newborn baby diapers and blankets so they will be nice & clean
on whatever day this baby decides to arrive.

Birthday Season and Baby Countdown
Two birthdays are left in this years birthday season! Birthday season officially starts in August with Layla's birthday on the 1st and Sebastian's birthday on the 23rd. In September Everett has a birthday on the 21st and then Charlotte on September 30th. As we head into October Penelope celebrates her birthday on the 17th (just one day after our anniversary). The next birthday in the birthday season line-up is yet to be determined...will we have an October or a November baby!?! Your guess may be as good as mine! I think November 2nd sounds promising. Or October 25th...or October 31st, or November 6th, or...or...?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Beach Vacation

Family Picture Gulf Shores 2015 ~8 kids and a baby on the way
Our beach trip was great. There were ups and downs of course... I somehow actually expected everything to be perfect and it wasn't (I know go ahead and laugh), but it was totally okay and I did not have my expectations ruin the trip in any way. One day it rained, two days were super duper windy but we had some beach time anyway, one day there were horrible biting flies, one day was pretty perfect. It was interesting comparing the things we liked last year and this year as well as the things we didn't like. The trips were at the same place with totally different pros and cons! I realized the crappy spring weather we got last year was made up for in other ways during that trip. Crawfish and frog leg feasts, for example, were out of season in September but not in April. While both trips were quite windy, the fall trip had MUCH warmer weather and water. Anyway, what I'm actually trying to say is that it's great to have perspective!
You know what WAS perfect this year!? I finally got my family photo on the beach (see above) and I am a very happy momma for it! We haven't had a good one on the beach since Penelope (8) was a baby (see below). I was thrilled. Last years picture was so windy that my hair was standing on end. See. 

Mexico 2007
 I dubbed our trip the 'fun animal trip.' We saw two sting rays in the ocean (Ricky and Charlotte found them while snorkeling and Ricky stepped on one!), some of us saw dolphins, we collected up sand dollar and small crab critters. We made 47 dollars in 'sand money.' We let them all go back to their home in the ocean. Charlotte (18) caught a BIG crab in our swimming pool! That was really fun. She said it was scary. It kept looking at her and snapping it's claws at her. She had to get it from the bottom of the pool and it took her a half hour to wrangle it. The kids told us something was in the pool that looked like a crab and that it even pinched some of them. We didn't believe them! Poor kids! I checked it out after a few minutes and sure enough there was totally a crab in the pool.

Beatrice, only two, had a rough ride to Alabama. It took us 19 hours to drive there instead of a more usual 12. We were pretty calm about it, taking it all in good stride. Over the course of six days I flip flopped between going back next year or waiting three years before traveling that far again (until the new baby is three because we don't ever want to road trip with a two year old again). I flip-flopped a dozen times as if I had to make the decision right then. It's my nature. One minute I was ready to put down a deposit for next year and the next minute I was saying how we are having a stay-cation the next couple years. I think vacationing with kids is like giving birth, you need the reality of how much work it is to wear off before jumping in and doing it again!
A moment for just us

We spent a lot more money on vacation than we wanted to. (Doesn't everyone?) But we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Rolling into Alabama at 6 am after driving all night we wanted a nice breakfast. Breakfast at Cracker Barrel was $112 for us all, but it was worth every penny! We had such a lovely time and enjoyed each others company so much. We almost went to the Waffle House nearby but in the parking lot we decided not to. There was not much space inside at all and we were SURE to be gawked at. I suggested Cracker Barrel across the street because they don't bat an eye when an army rolls in. And sure enough they didn't. We were treated to breakfast royalty and the wait staff acted like a family with eight and half kids waddles in the door every single day. We had fun browsing the gift shop after breakfast which gave the kids more time to stretch out too. 

We shared the ever so lovely and spacious purple house on the beach with our friends and their kids. All of the kids got along so well and had so much fun. I couldn't believe how much fun! I expected normal kid stuff and for everyone to tire of each other at some point but it didn't happen. The beach house we shared is very spacious though so we were never right on top of each other. The kids and adults alike had lots of good fun. It was wonderful to have friends to vacation with, we have never done that before! We had a private pool too, so when the kids weren't swimming like fish in the ocean they were swimming like fish in the pool.

Ahhh that water, those waves, and kids. Love!!
With Friends
In the days leading up to vacation I had the normal tiresome job of packing and prep work. It is so much work getting all of us, the house, and the animals ready for vacation. I asked my husband WHY were were doing this vacation again and said maybe we should have stayed home. He said, "Because you said you have to have pregnancy beach pictures." I smiled, "And why do you give your wife everything she wants?!" Then he grinned and kissed me on the head. Those small loving gestures keep me falling in love with him over and over again. I love him so much...

And sooooooo my mini maternity shoot. 33 weeks pregnant on the beach, thanks to my dear husband...

On the way home Beatrice understood much better that we had traveled far to someplace and we needed to get back home to our animals. We timed our trip home carefully, made two stops before dark that were about two hours apart (one was at a park to play and one was dinner), and things went much better. She actually didn't even cry once (whined a couple times). She is an amazing child and once she understands something she seems to really understand! She talked about home being 'far away' while at the beach. Now she tells us the beach or purple house is 'far away.' She is very smart and cute.

In a total of 19 hours driving there and 12 hours driving home I pitifully only drove 3-4 hours of it. Ricky did all the hard work. On the way home this exchange was funny:
Me: I don't think I'm much of a road tripper
Ricky: I know you're not
Me: Well I like the idea of it but...
Ricky: You like the "idea" of winter too.
Made me laugh so hard.

I am extra glad he was able to drive all the way home because this baby belly is moving up quickly into my diaphragm and ribs making sitting harder. The baby is bouncing around in there like crazy when I sit straight up. I can breathe okay...but I am slowly noticing a big difference in that too!
Pulling into our driveway at 4am the first words I said were "Home is where the farm animals are." I missed our place a lot. I am always amazed how nice coming come feels. We were all awake getting home, and the kids (especially Bea) were so happy with our familiar home. There is something so cozy and appreciating about being home after a week of being gone! I had even put fresh new sheets on the bed before leaving on our trip so that we would come home to a clean and cozy bed.

Ricky and I barely remember anything as we all crashed out. When we woke up at 9am it felt like we all slept for just a half hour. It was so weird and hilarious! It was like we were gassed out. (Kinda scary to be out that cold with kids in the house though!) I woke up to the kids crashed out everywhere all over the floor, which isn't *that* unusual, but it seemed extra funny that Bea and Everett were sharing and sleeping on a body pillow in the hallway. They were out cold! I would have taken a picture but I was still too tired. 

Ricky hasn't stopped working 12-14 hour days since we got home. He's been quite busy for months now anyway, but there is a even larger price to pay for being out for a week! Plus he is trying to prepare for taking time off when the baby comes (due on Halloween!) and then the holidays will come fast right after that.  Things are good but also tired and a bit crazy around here. I got back into the swing of things quickly and picked right back up with housework the first week we were home, and then school work this week. Vacations are lovely...but trying to settle in again can be so hard. We are all excited for fall and it's all I can think about now.

Oh, I almost forgot one of the best things! Ricky told me he feels totally refreshed after vacation. I was so glad to hear that. He so deserved a nice trip and some downtime. He works very hard for his family. He swam in the ocean a lot (he loves to swim) and I'm so very glad it soothed his soul. I know what he means, got to spend an entire afternoon in the water with him and it was very rejuvenating. The winds kept me out the last couple days though. (I get cold easy.)
Can't wait for next year...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

31 weeks

31 weeks
This pregnancy is going by quickly! I find myself scrambling to enjoy this pregnancy and thinking up ways I can have weekly mini celebrations for myself as I close out the next nine weeks! I made a fall pregnancy celebration head wreath to wear already. I am taking online belly dancing classes (and signing up for a local one in October), I have started a list of must-get supplies for me and baby (waiting to purchase until October). I have plans to: do a belly cast, paint Beatrice's belly cast with Ricky (it is still just plain), color birth pages  and write affirmations on the back of them, go on a hike with the kids and tie prayers to a tree, and get pampered by my husband a bit! But ohmygoodness time is slipping away. I cannot believe it is September 1st and we leave for our beach vacation next week! When we discussed a possible beach trip for this fall I was very newly pregnant. The first thing I exclaimed to my husband was that I get to be pregnant on the beach and have beach-belly pictures. (I have never had belly-beach pictures! How fun!) Whenever I am getting ready to visit the beach I am pretty excited, but it is not until I am there that I can truly remember just how amazing the sight, touch, smell, and experience feels. Come to think of it,  it is a lot like having a newborn baby! Some experiences, no matter how fond and dear our memory holds onto them, are nothing like actually experiencing them all over again. I can't wait to feel the ocean's energy at my feet!

Life on Fast Forward
I started Oak Meadow with the younger kids this fall and although we have barely started we are loving it so much. I have wanted to dabble in this curriculum for years and years but I was too afraid. I realized I had way too many years left of being afraid and that I really just needed to take the plunge. I also am really tired of coming up with material on my own. I'm spread so thin. I wanted direction. I wanted help. There's some we add to it too, but having Oak Meadow be our focus has been simply wonderful. We have been sewing a bunch, finger knitting, working with clay, and keeping scrapbook journals filled with artwork and our schoolwork. Things seem to be really falling into place with the younger kids and this curriculum. The teens aren't complaining that they get to start school up after vacation. I am doing a mish-mash of stuff with them, but that is easier because they are largely independent learners and can pick and chose through many things I recommend to them easily.

 Ricky started a new job (at the same firm). As I mentioned we started a new school program and we are going on vacation. We are due on Halloween! We are in the middle of 'Birthday Season'. We have five kid birth days in three months ...and our anniversary. We absolutely LOVE fall and I am so looking forward to all the fall festivities as my belly grows. Whew! It's no wonder I feel like I'm on a Ferris wheel set on fast! (There have been some other not so happy things going on, like our air and septic system both needing major, major updates and repairs. Over the summer we also dumped thousands into repairs on vehicles...we have to take the bad with the good! Life happens.)

This baby is resting his or her head smack down on my bladder which makes cleaning house... and just walking in general pretty hard. Usually my babies are more centered on me with a lot more overall pressure and very low. I am walking a ton, staying active, crawling around on my hands and knees (scrubbing the floor is great for getting baby in a good position), belly dancing, and doing squats to all help optimal baby position. (I need to get to my chiropractor to check on/ align my pelvis, but since I don't hurt I have been so bad about taking the time to go in!) I'm not concerned about this baby's alignment, but I am aware of how to optimize my babies positioning in these last weeks!
Spinning babies is a great resource for learning about optimal fetal positioning for labor and birth.
See: The 3 Principles in Pregnancy Balance, Gravity and Movement! Positive principles to prepare for, and progress through, childbirth.

Nesting has started I think... I cleaned under the fridge yesterday (filthy!), I washed the silverware caddy out, I laundered the kitchen drapes, and cleaned nearly the whole (filthy!) basement, I washed the trash can inside and out (even the bottom). I sure hope the nesting energy continues. I feel like tearing the place apart (time to sort through fall wardrobe bins and paint the basement stairs)! This is all kinda bad timing because we leave for vacation next week! I sure hope vacation doesn't totally wipe me out. This mama is just getting started!

Out of nowhere I started getting baby-girl vibes. This happened last week. Usually by now I "know" what gender we are having through intuition/dreams. Amazingly I have never been wrong...yet! I'm not actually sure if I am sure...but I started feeling a girl. I think that I really, really do think baby is a girl but I'm afraid I'll be wrong and I've never been wrong! Yet!

I don't get scans so there are no opportunities for us to cheat and find out even if we wanted to. We truly love not knowing though! It's such a special surprise that Ricky and I just love sharing with each other and the kids. It makes the birth even more exciting and special to us. I love when the kids come down early in the morning and greet the fresh newborn baby. They marvel at the baby for a while then realize to ask, "Is it a boy or a girl!?!" Every where I go people ask me what I'm having. Most are truly surprised we don't know.   

Just because we don't do scans doesn't mean other people's experiences don't touch me. I actually teared up (like a few tears actually fell!) at this yesterday:

Charlotte, our oldest (18), is lead cake decorator at a bakery. Yesterday she got to make a surprise 'gender reveal' cake for an expecting mom. A lady came in with her *secret* ultrasound picture in an envelope and pleaded with Charlotte to not lose it as it was her only copy and she didn't even know her baby's gender yet! Charlotte said the lady was really cute about it and had a little toddler girl with her. The toddler wore the same 'Big Sister' shirt we had bought for Beatrice many months ago. After the lady left Charlotte opened up the photo. Charlotte was excited to find out the cute little toddler girl has a new baby sister on the way! Charlotte thought it was really special and fun to hold this secret. She did four stacked thinner layers of cake so that she could get more pink colored frosting inside of the cake. I totally teared up as Charlotte told me this whole cake/ultrasound story! I couldn't help it, dang pregnancy hormones! As Charlotte told me the whole story with excitement and sweetness in her voice - well it was just so sweet! I love that my daughter is so touched by the celebration of new life and feels happiness for others in such a touching and sentimental way. I love how much effort and time she puts into her work. She really goes above and beyond for people and wants their cakes to be as special as their event.