Life With Nine Kids

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 2015

Penelope got a darling new prairie dress in November. I told my friend Molly that I hope Penelope never outgrows her prairie stage. Molly told me she only had one bonnet as a child but has three now. That made me smile.

Penelope (9) is so amazing as a big sister. She wanted to learn to hold Madeline alone, pick her up, change her diaper, and be able to walk around with her (to rock her or bring her to me). I was a bit nervous at first but the child is a natural mother. When Madeline wakes up from a nap I can rarely make it to my bedroom before Penelope scoops her up. Not even a poopy diaper scares Penelope off. She's so caring and loves to help out.

Penelope and I were talking about how Beatrice loves to sing and how sweet it is that she sings to Madeline. Bea heard this and started singing Rock-a-bye baby to Madeline, but it went like this: Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top when the wind blows the baby will...die. We looked at each other in horror and then couldn't stop laughing. That so belongs on that online list of 'creepiest things kids have said.' lol

In the most super cute things ever, Beatrice came up to Madeline today rubbed her head over and over and in a high pitched sweet toddler baby-talking voice said, "You are, aren't you? You are, aren't you?" without saying what she was first. So funny and cute.

Beatrice says things to me that are very unusual and amazing. Beatrice is very verbal (she has been talking well since at least 18 months old!) and she is not just verbal, but very expressive and articulate as well. She walked right up to me on at least a half a dozen different days, rubbed her baby sisters head, then pressed her head to her baby sister's head and closed her eyes, then she actually said to me, "Thank you for my baby sister, Mom." I could die from the sweetness and cuteness!

Everett asked me to teach him how to sew...
Everett (5 years old): Do you know why I want to learn to sew? So I can make a soft gun.
Penelope (9 years old): He means a stuffed gun, like a stuffed animal.
Everett: Yeah! That's why I want to learn!
I wrote this for Madeline at one month:
Gained 2 pounds, can turn head in my direction to look for me, big, dark navy blue eyes, wakes every 3-4 hours like perfect clockwork to nurse, loves to snuggle up, loves being swaddled, likes baths. I am in awe. I have been trying to pay extra attention to how she changes. From newborn to infant it's stunning how fast it goes.
I took the kids to our first homeschool meet up since Madeline was born. It was really fun having my mom friends coo over my baby. A circle of very motherful, sweet women gathered around me asking how I am, how our family is, and marveling at the wonder of such newness. It was sooooo sweet. Many echoed what Ricky and I keep saying each time... "How can we forget how tiny they are?" and "Why doesn't the newborn stage last longer." Oh newborn babies, what absolute love and hope you bring to the world.

Postpartum thoughts I wrote down in November:

November 10, 2015
Whether I like it or not I'm back in full swing mom mode. The world keeps turning even when you'd rather it stop a while and let you rejoice your new baby.  Ricky has the time off to take right now (paid), he just can't use more days right now when he has so many responsibilities to tend to at work. He took off a week in September for our beach vacation and then a handful of postpartum days. I can't imagine the stress he has been under. I'm sure it has been hard juggling so much. He has done amazing and I'm so grateful. In life there is always sacrifice. You will swap having family time for money or money for family time. It's the truth. The past two weeks play out like a month -or more-  in my head. I almost feel like I've been walking around outside of my body, or in a long dream where everything is muddled together. I don't say this as a bad thing per say, it's just weird.

November 19, 2015
Ricky is so loving and kind and tries to help me so much. He offered to take the day off tomorrow if it would help with the busy day I will have running kids to two appointments. He is swamped at know "real work" the kind that pays bills. He doesn't think I have all the time in the world because I stay home, and he doesn't tell me to get on with life as usual with a newborn. I am so glad he doesn't act like three weeks postpartum should be long enough for me to buck up and get out of the house regularly, even though most people probably do start to think that. I feel so fragile still.

I actually wanted him to help me tomorrow but I didn't want to ask... and then he just offered. Now I'm feeling more capable and able. Sometimes it is just enough for someone to offer, to sympathize, to hear you, to see you and your challenges... and then like magic things seem easier because you feel so loved. (This reminded me of this amazing cartoon video about empathy)
^ After I wrote that Ricky was able to take that Friday off plus two more in a row. He surprised me with two of them too! This leads me to the obvious conclusion that four day work weeks rule, and they should be the standard. Now that's not to say it came easy. He got home at 8pm some nights in order to swing his responsibilities at work. I appreciated his efforts to help me SO much. Sebastian has eye therapy appointments on Fridays. It is a 45 minute drive one-way. Ricky taking him to those on Fridays is a huge welcomed help.

Butchering the Thanksgiving bird
Thanksgiving was quiet, peaceful, and easy going. I prepped almost everything in advance.  I went easy on myself and only made pumpkin pies. The lemon meringue store-bought pie was hideously disappointing. I had to tell myself I just had a baby many times to keep myself stress free.

It was hard because my extended family is far away now. It was our first Thanksgiving without Aunt Sharon being here. I was really sad in the morning, shed my tears, and moved on. By afternoon Charlotte was weepy. When she told me I was like, "Oh no, I was already there! Don't bring me your weepiness over to me. I'm over it!" (It was funny, but I didn't really listen to the awesome empathy movie link I shared above!)

It was fun to have our fresh home grown Thanksgiving turkey. The kids helped prepare it. We butchered it a week before so the meat could rest. This makes it more tender. The kids all wanted to be involved and they were actually a ton of help. They all pitched in on feather plucking which can take quite a while.
35 pounds of bird
The weather in November was positively wonderful. We got lots of outside days. It really helped refresh me. I wasn't ready to plunge into the cold. (I never am!) I loved having Beatrice in June because the weather was so beautiful and the air so sweet. November being mild and sunny was a unexpected joy.
Sunny November morning nursing Madeline on the front porch

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Her Name is Madeline

Born at home October 28, 2015 at 11:31 pm 7 lbs 1 oz  18.5 inches long, Baby Madeline joined our family

Charlotte (19) drew me the above picture and I absolutely LOVE it with all my heart. It's so SWEET! It's our family drawn in the style of this page in the 1939 original story of Madeline:

Page from Ludwig Bemelman's book Madeline
It's not Madelyn, It's Madeline (Mad-ah-line). Like the little girl in the books.

Instantly I'm transformed into whoever I need to be for her. Late nights, early mornings, patting, rocking, swaying, humming, food on demand...a sore back.  I'll do anything for her. Anything at all. 
Ricky wanted the name Madeline at least three kids ago. I loved the name but shied away from it repeatedly because of the spelling and pronunciation confusion of Madelyn and Madeline. I never wanted to name a child something that would have to be corrected all of the time.

When Beatrice was born the kids and I pushed for the name Beatrice. We wanted our little "Baby Bee." It just fit her and the sunny June week she was born. I always liked the name Joy, because my children bring me so much Joy, but Ricky doesn't like it.  I loved the name Beatrice even more when I learned it meant bringer of joy and many blessings. That just fit so perfectly for how I feel about my children and motherhood. None of us can imagine her being anyone else. She is a vibrant free spirited, talkative, happy, joyful baby and child...with a gaggle of sunny / bee themed nicknames too. Ricky of course also loves Beatrice's name, but I clearly remember and will never forget Ricky saying that we could name her Beatrice but the next baby WILL BE Madeline. I even remember where he was standing outside and how he said it. I promised him Madeline. I could tell he was slightly disappointed that the kids wouldn't give up on Beatrice. I finally caved but couldn't talk Penelope into changing Beatrice's name to Madeline. She would have sobbed. And I'm so glad we kept Bea! It all worked out for the better. Beatrice fits our little Bea so wonderfully and Madeline SO fits our new baby! I really love saying it and it came to us all really naturally to call her Madeline. We however do not have a middle name yet. We have ideas but we need to see what feels right, and if something else jumps out to us. Even though we named this baby girl Madeline years ago we still tried out the name for over a week before announcing it officially. Beatrice called her Madeline for the first time a couple days ago and it was so precious. The trial period is over: we adore our baby Madeline.

Everett (5)  is still devoted to the name Blueberry. I told him that is fine. I asked Ricky about naming her Madeline Blueberry. He said no. Penelope and Aunt Sharon love it though. :)
Here's the funny conversation I had with Layla:
Layla (11): You can't name her middle name BLUEBERRY!
Me: Why not? Just imagine this sweet little girl with a basket in the woods or a meadow...she's picking wild flowers and her name is Madeline's SO PRETTY.
Layla: Eh, that's not real life Mom.


And for the record: I see our very own Penelope Juliet happily frolicking and picking tomatoes, strawberries, flowers, and plantain all summer long in her prairie dress and bonnet and she is just darling. So there. Real life. :)

Most of the time when we name our children something that's the name we want to use exclusively. The exception is Bea. We knew we would call her Bea and Beatrice. We were asked about Penny as a nickname for Penelope. It never crossed our mind. We named her Penelope. Penelope is called Nellie within our family but it's a casually used family nickname (given to her totally by Layla when Layla was three because she couldn't say Penelope very well). Near 99% of the time we all call her Penelope. To our surprise we were asked what Sebastian would go by when we named him. Well, he will go by Sebastian of course! The same happened with Charlotte. People asked if she would go by Charlie or Lottie. Um no. Charlotte is her name! We spend way too much time naming our babies to call them something other than what we actually name them. So no nicknames for Madeline, please.

We love her like this.

Penelope (9) and Beatrice (2) with baby Madeline (7 days)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

We decided to stay in for Halloween ...and I love my family so much.

The kids trick or treated twice before Halloween so we introduced the idea of staying in on Halloween. It was drizzly out and we just had a baby. We told them we could have fun with carving pumpkins, some games, and a pizza/ice cream/movie party instead. Thankfully they were all fine with it. Still, we know how much they love trick or treating (we do too!), and of course the candy sorting and candy trading that goes with it. The kids have been trading and sorting their candy all week long from other Halloween events and Trunk or Treat. It keeps them so busy! Even though they were fine with staying in we still felt a little bummed about not actually taking them out. Ricky had a great idea though... he bought a bunch of Halloween candy (like oh my goodness a ton of it) and he surprised the kids with indoor trick or treating. We have a lot of family members around here and he armed everyone age eleven and over with candy for their bedroom or bathroom station. (Layla wanted to help hand out candy.)

The younger three kids got dressed up (Beatrice was asleep). When they knocked at the first "house"  Ricky opened the bathroom door and I about died laughing when I saw he had put on the kids' shark towel last minute to be dressed up. Then he asked the kids questions like he didn't know them. I fell in love with him all over again. I love that after a really crazy and busy three days of postpartum craziness he still made Halloween so uniquely special for all of us.

I love this man.
Then we went upstairs to trick or treat Layla's bathroom door. We had all the lights off upstairs and the kids called it Dark Street.
We started calling the various rooms neighbors. They all got scared at Charlotte's room when she played some creepy Halloween sound maker with the lights off. Sebastian (7) wasn't expecting the creepy noises and screamed and fell down flailing around like a goofball. It was hilarious.

Then Sage's room, I mean house, was next.
 Sage opened the door and asked the kids to tell him their joke. We all laughed so hard at this. (It is a St Louis tradition to ask kids to tell you a joke when they Trick or Treat to your house. We are not from St Louis and do not embrace this tradition at all. In fact we find it super annoying and time consuming, though we participate grudgingly when we have to .)

Then at Ethan's door he had sat out a pumpkin on his "porch." Super clever and cute. Their older siblings are the best for trying to make it so fun and memorable for the kids!
Ethan's room
The kids went around to the "houses" again and Ricky opens up this time like this:

I am seriously amused by all of this. 

And the candy trading and sorting fun begins...

Updatey Stuff...
Day 4 postpartum ~ Sunday Nov 1, 2015
The weather is beautiful and so good for the soul! I am so thankful it will be in the 70's this week. What a treat to have the kids be able to go out and for me to be able to get some fresh air. I cried three times since the baby was born and that's not like me. The house is a little loud (ya think?) and between our busy month, birthday parties, our anniversary, Ricky working 12-14 hour days, crazy amounts of errands/appointments, the holidays coming, and finally a new baby ... I have been zapped. I was able to take several naps the past few days and they have been super beneficial. Ricky has been busy and so great taking care of kids and me, grocery shopping, errand running, Etc. It's been a really hard time actually! We were not very ready for baby yet. We have all done great overall though. Beatrice is really settling in now and sleeping better. She doesn't mind me caring for her baby sister and she is fawning all over her. This is still such a new time! The broken up sleep the kids had the night of the birth really whacked things out around here.

Day 5 postpartum ~ Monday Nov 2, 2015
Things are better and *almost* feeling normal again.

Bea was having a hard time but is now doing amazing! She was just sleep deprived and also missing my baby-belly which she rubbed every night to fall asleep! I woke up to her this morning cuddling with me and the baby. She stroked the baby's head for a half hour. As I nursed the baby and fell in and out of sleep Bea jabbered on and on to her baby sister in our dark bedroom. It was very sweet! 

Everett is extra, extra spazy and wild and that is the current challenge. Still so thankful for nice weather this week. Ricky has been really busy taking care of everyone and helping his weepy wife. He has been a trooper and everything I need. I love him SO much! I'm feel so much better now that I am caught up on sleep, not sore, and Bea is doing better. I was so exhausted and emotional about her being exhausted and emotional. 

I am really looking forward to a nice November and December where we slow down a bit and focus on family time and fun school days! In hindsight I was way too busy in Sept. and Oct.! But at least we enjoyed the fall! Ricky had to go into work today but I am feeling brave and rested. I can't wait for him to take more days off though. Now I need to go write up a plan for the day and chore list. I have loads of help but I have to go assemble my troops.
Sisters Bonding