A Dad’s Thoughts on Laundry

Robyn had “a day away” recently, and the children and I managed the house while she was away.  Part of that included cycling several loads of laundry.  Now being a recovering engineer, I can understand the mechanics of laundry, and I even learned to separate lights from darks.

But I never have been good at folding.  Towels, OK, but mildly challenged by various shapes and sizes of shirts, trousers, jumpsuits, dresses, tights and the like.  And forget about fitted sheets.

Anyway I was reflecting a bit while folding this past week and here is something I discovered:

The children usually are in such rapid and random “Brownian” motion, they never hold still long enough for me to appreciate how small and perfect they really are at this very moment.  But the laundry holds pretty still when you are folding it (if not, I can usually wrestle it down into submission pretty well), and that is the time I get to realize that they are still so small and beautiful and absolutely perfect, with a perfectly balanced Swiss-timepiece of a heart in each little chest, and moods and emotions and feelings and all those great things that make us human.

I often pray that I learn to appreciate the here and now, since I am sinfully a “destination” person rather than a “journey” person. This was a little answer to my prayer with just a brief glimpse of enjoying the ride, even while doing a chore I normally find very challenging.

Thank you, God, for giving me a snapshot of stillness to appreciate the children as they are right now.  Thank you, Robyn, for giving me the opportunity to discover this blessing.

“A Day” for a hard-working Mom

In the beginning of the movie “Shrek 4-ever”, Shrek was in a rut.  He needed “a day” for himself, away from his normal routine and everyday cares and chores.  He cut a deal with Rumplestiltskin where he could have a day all to himself to do whatever he wanted and be the old ogre he was, without any other cares in the world.

We all need that sometimes.  Even SuperMoms.

Last week Robyn got one of those days as a Christmas gift, which was nice since she could schedule it ahead of time and we all could prepare for it.  She ‘disappeared’ for a day, taking her Bible and her laptop with her, and we managed as if she were away on a business trip.

The kids did remarkably well.  Realizing Dad was at the helm, and it was ‘crunch time’, they buckled down and we did splendidly.  We started out waking up–check.  After that it went sort of like so:

  • Get your body out of bed and get down stairs
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Brush your teeth if you’ve got em.
  • Four teams were made with one ‘big one’ and one ‘little one’ on each (and little Nick was a bonus helper for a team).  Each team had to clean one easy room (warm up), one challenging room, and one bathroom.  I am not sure how many bathrooms actually were touched but that was the plan.  The teams were carefully crafted by Dad based on personality mixes, and the rooms were in ship shape in no time.
  • Go down to the basement with school books.  We cleaned a little, did a little schoolwork.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  About a hundred times until all the Barbie stuff, LEGOs and various random implements of destruction were picked up and put away.  All homework was completed and Dad checked it over (which is an amazing feat in itself).  It helped that no one was able to go upstairs until it was all done.  And mercifully, we have a bathroom in the basement.

We had a break at about 12:30 – 2 PM for lunch.  Leftovers and pizza rolls are a blessing for Dads.

Afternoon was broken up for different groups:

  • big kids got computer time from 2-4:30PM,
  • medium and little guys got to play board games with Daddy,
  • help fold laundry (we were Mommy’s Laundry Fairies and blasted through 5 or 6 loads throughout the day***see my blog regarding “Thoughts on Laundry” coming up soon),
  • watched TV a while
  • Daddy had a 15 minute nap to recharge his batteries, accompanied by his littlest daughter.
Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Then it was up for dinner, then kitchen chores, and “1-2-3”, which means “jammies on, brush teeth, and use the potty”.  Finally Daddy read some stories to the little ones, we said prayers and they went to bed.

Mommy came home to a spotless house, sleeping children, and one tired but appreciative husband.



Vitamin E–is it good for hair?

OK, our littlest guy got a hold of a Vitamin E tablet yesterday and somehow figured out how to lance it, then spread it all through his blonde curly hair. It took me a few hours to figure out we did not have a dead animal in the house or a plumbing back-up.

Fish kill-Image is public domain and is courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceI finally saw the drained caplet and put the fish smell together to figure it out. SO, he gets a bath with the other two little boys, followed by a bath for the three little girls.

Anyway, funny smell at dinner tonight–it turns out ALL SIX now smell like fish. Another bath night tonight, now in different tubs…. 😆.

Saturday Soccer Scramble

This morning was a bit of a scramble, but we pulled off a small miracle for soccer.  With Robyn at the Southern Womens Show in Charlotte, Dave had soccer duty with all 9 kids.  Robyn has done this before, so she’s an old pro, but this was Dave’s first time gunning solo.  Here are the statistics:

  • 1 parent
  • 9 children
  • 6 players
  • 5 teams on 5 fields (3 at 9:15AM, 2 at 9:45AM; 2 at school on one side of a main street and 3 at the YMCA across the street)
  • 3 players on 2 teams with pictures at 8:40AM (we were late, but still got there in time to get team and player pictures)

We have been blessed to have have the opportunity to play on our Church’s teams, with fantastic coaches and team parents, many who are from large families themselves, and who were able to lend helping hands.


So, we started with a head count of 9, and finished with a head count of 9.  Not sure if they are all ours, but we can sort it out later (after we determine whether or not we traded up for some ‘keepers’).

Next week will be a slightly different story, as the number of parents goes to “zero” while we are both at the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, KY.  We’ll be saying our prayers. 😉

Soccer with 9 kids 9-17-2011.

Traveling with Children: Day 13 of 27 days in a green tin can with 9 children–CT

Day 13:I happened upon a Colgate Moment in the morning.

Robyn with SteadyMom and good friend Jamie and childrenWoke to a European style B&B breakfast experience–fresh ground and fresh brewed espresso (hot-diluted to cafe Americano), home-baked bread with homemade marmalade and country salted butter, and fresh fruit.  Do we really have to leave?  Our New Haven friends are so good to us and it is a long process to extract our children and ourselves and say goodbye.Fun with friends in New Haven

We lumbered down the road to Shelton, CT, which is just up the road from Trumbull, CT, where Dave grew up.  A little hiccup in the plan as we checked into the Marriott Residence–because of fire regulations, most hotels will not let you sleep more than 5 people in a room, even if it is a 2-bedroom suite and 3 are in pack-and-plays.  So when we booked through the national reservation center we were under the impression we were getting two adjoining 2-bedroom suites.  When we got there we were informed this was not possible as each two-bedroom suite was located in a separate building, and none connected to any other adjoining rooms.

Dave was in talking to the desk clerk while Robyn stayed in the car with the children, and we communicated by walkie-talkie as Dave discussed options with the clerk.  After spending several minutes of trying to figure out alternative options and explaining that if we put one adult and 4 children in each of two rooms, that would still leave one child in a room solo–not going to work.  Now, after reading “Spirit to Serve:  Marriott’s Way”, while studying customer service models, Dave is a big fan of the Marriott chain.  But this was kind of a startling setback.

Enter ‘protective Mama bear’.  Robyn tells Dave on the walkie-talkie, fully audible to the desk clerk and now manager also, “OK, you come on out and I am coming in”.  Dave shrugs an empathetic “I am sorry, I tried…glad I am not you right now” shrug to the ladies behind the desk as he exchanges places with Robyn.  Within 5 minutes Robyn comes back out the the car with a card-key for the upgrade to the ‘Penthouse suite’.  Problem solved, once again proving that women can really communicate.View looking up into the loft at the hotel

So we unload into the suite, which is roomy enough for all of us (thank you, Mr. Marriott), drop off our bags and gear, and head out to lunch at a restaurant nearby with a dear friend of Dave’s from high school, whom he has not seen in about 25 years.  What a beautiful family they are, although the oldest daughter is away traveling in Costa Rica (can you blame her?).

On the way back to the hotel, we nearly run into Dave’s buddy Tommy’s Mom who is backing out of her driveway.  She has never seen our van so she’s looking at us like we are about to stick her up.  Dave jumps out of the van and runs up to her window (at this point she’s looking a bit frightened until he’s about 5 feet away) when she recognizes him and jumps out of the car to give him a hug.  Traveling to Shelton in the Ford E350XLT conversion vanAt this point Mr. P. recognizes the hub-bub in the driveway and comes out to join the fun and inspect ‘the wheels’.  He was very impressed with the E350 chassis.  But we are running late for an appointment in Fairfield, and have to move on.

Monseigneur Larry and the gangWe are due to meet Father Larry (now Monseigneur Larry) at St. Pius in Fairfield at 4:30PM, and we’re running a little late.  Fortunately, he is also running a little late so we have time to drive around Fairfield a little bit and Dave gets to tell the children about how he went to high school at Fairfield Prep just down the road, and how when he was in high school Msgr. Larry was a newly ordained priest who was running the St. Teresa’s youth group in Trumbull.  Fr. Larry was a good advisor for Dave and his brother Steve, and he helped teach them wisdom and steer them clear of trouble (mostly) during those formative years.

Doggie Heaven--there's a dog in there somewhere, I promise!Our meeting with Msgr. Larry is short but good, with updates from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  The kids love the cookies they always get when visiting the rectory, and they are absolutely in love with Fr. Larry’s dog.  Even little Robert, who usually shies away from animals, is captivated by this old, patient, friendly dog.

We top off the evening with dinner back in Trumbull with Dave’s high school buddy, Tommy, and his family.  Dave and Tommy both were smart enough to go South after college and marry Virginia girls.  Robyn and Teresa get along like sisters, and you’d think they knew each other longer than Dave and Tommy.  Tommy and Teresa have 4 children, roughly matching the ages of 4 of ours, but all 13 play along with each other incredibly well.  It was a hoot when Robyn and Teresa both had the first-borns around the same time, and named them after Dave and Tommy.  So Teresa introduced the babies to each other:  “Little Dave, meet Little Tommy.  Little Tommy, meet Little Dave”; we knew it would be an historic event.  It was sort of like seeing the most recent Star Trek Movie when young Captain Kirk meets young Mr. Spock.


1)  Most states limit hotels to 5 people per room due to fire codes.  B&B’s are usually more flexible or have a better way to accommodate large families.Personal Sleeping Quarters: when it's tight, a closet floor makes a great private bed!

2) If you have to stay in a hotel, choose a customer-friendly place like the Marriott chain.  That way, if there is a mix-up, they will understand customer service and find a way to make you happy.

3) Sometimes a sock drawer or empty closet bottom with good padding can serve as a wonderful makeshift bed for little ones..

Potty Training: Here I go again!!!

Taking a little break from the recount of the travel days, to shine a light on some real time adventures.

Today commenced potty training for the 7th & 8th children in our family.  I should definitely be an expert by now, but … I have to confess that I have got to be the world’s worst potty trainer!  So, as I write this, please disregard any advice I may try to offer.  I am simply going to try and recount exactly what I am trying THIS time around and hope for the best!

My two 2 yr/old boys will both be 3 in July.  I should probably wait until they turn 3, but I am a hopelessly hopeful and I really want a few less diapers in the house.  Maybe, just maybe…this will be the time (the one time) that potty training is fast and easy.

For the past few weeks I have been putting the boys on the potty, talking about the potty, having them watch others potty and playing the whole thing up (Yah, Yah, Potty, Potty!!!).  We successfully got the boys over their initial fear of the white throne and had them contently sitting on the potty (no action).   Last night I told them that today was the big day and we were all excited!

This morning, as soon as they got up, I declothed them, stripped them of the “baby” diapers and the rest of the day the boys went “free”!  I put long t-shirts on them and nearly drowned them in hydration!  After cups and cups of juice and juice boxes (with their Bandette cup labels to keep track of whose was whose, of course!), their little tummies were bulging and their eyeballs were swimming.  My only goal for the day was for them to experience some real action on the potty, I knew that we would need drastic hydration measures!

After about 1 1/2 hours, the boys were both dancing around (that “I gotta pee” dance around) and then…I heard the word, “WATER, Mommy, WATER”!!!  I ran!  Phew, it was just a little, one of them had sprung a leak!  We dashed to the potty, all excited, it was time and that little boy had managed to hold off the full deluge!  Once we got to the potty, the first stream easily shot forth.  But, it was just a leak!  He didn’t quite conquer the full “relax and let it all out” of a completely executed urination.  So, we sat for a while longer while more little squirts were coaxed out.  During this time, his brother was apparently about to explode, and he finally let us in on the fact that he had to go potty too!  Once taking the throne, he had no trouble with the full experience and was very proud to relief himself of his uncomfortable status.

Party, party, party!!!!  The whole house was in an uproar, they did it…they did it!!!  Big Congratulations and celebrations were handed to the new achievers, and the best prize – jelly beans!

Shockingly, the rest of the day went very well.  I turmoiled for a while over whether I should just stop there and put the diapers back on, but I just couldn’t do it.  The taste of victory was sweet and we (I mean “I”) had to try for more!  Leaving the boys without anything on their bottoms was working pretty good, there seemed to be some inhibition to peeing into free air.  We did however have 2 small poop accidents, apparently…when they come, they come and it is hard to stop the urge to push!  I can relate to that – something about labor and delivery comes to mind!

The boys had only one more escaped squirt during the day and managed to wait for the times that we all tramped off to the potty for a try, again.  Eventually, the little leaker figured out how to be free (I think, it’s kind-of hard to tell if his leaks just got bigger or if he was truly emptying out).  The boys were even dry during their naps!  I did diaper them for their naps, but caught them as soon as they woke up and took them to the potty.

Day 1 – BIG SUCCESS!!!  I know better than to get overly excited and to have any, any expectations – but, once again, I am hoping, hoping, hoping!  So far, so good.  This might just be the time!.