“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.

 

 

3-year-old rapier wit

Robyn was preparing dinner and our two two-year-olds and three-year-old were trying to help her by playing with the baby.

–that statement itself is a wonder, since they are ALL babies! —

The two year olds soon lost interest, but the 3-year-old, being Mother Hen to all 3 little brothers, decided she wanted to feed the baby.  She got a bib and baby food to boot.

When Robyn finally realized what she was doing, she tried to stop the process (fearing the clean-up would be worse than the help) by saying:

“[Littlest girl], you are not going to feed him right now because I don’t even want to SEE what kind of mess you are going to make by trying to do this.”

Without missing a beat, the little one responds in her 6-inch alien voice “Then just don’t look at me, Mommy.  I need the spoon now, please.”

She was so cute, Robyn could not resist.  But Robyn did not think it near as funny when three minutes later from the same little voice came the matter-of-fact statement:  “I need a new shirt, MMother Henommy.”.

Travel with Children: Day 4 of 27 in a green tin can with 9 kids-Easter Sunday

Day 4: Easter Sunday – Celebrating the Resurrection of our KING!!!

Early this morning, Dave got up and took the oldest 3 kids to a sunrise Easter Mass – beautiful!  I love sunrise services and wish that I could have gone too, but these are the days for us to be practical and keep life easy, so I stayed home with the little ones and got them all ready for the day.  We then left for Gloucester, my home town, and went to church at my old church (Lighthouse Worship Center).  It is so neat to go back and see old settings and long time friends.  I can only imagine what it is like for some of them to see me and my family, many of them knew me when I was a young teen!  I guess they feel the same way I do when I see the young adults that I remember being babies!  Ouch!

After church, my family all gathered at a local restaurant and shared a nice meal together.  We then went to Gloucester Point beach and had a fun Easter egg hunt.Hunting for Easter Eggs at Gloucester Point  The kids had a great time, it is probably the first year ever that all the kids (except the baby) knew what to do.  In years past I have had to take at least one little one aside and do a “pre-hunt” practice.Hunting for Easter Eggs at Gloucester PointHunting for Easter Eggs at Gloucester PointHunting for Easter Eggs at Gloucester Point

The pictures aren’t great here, but I wanted to say a quick verbage about my little girl’s dresses.  My good friend Sharon made their dress and they are sooo cute.  Her website is www.kossieoriginals.com.  I normally like to match the girls, but with these dresses I chose (yes, you get to choose the fabrics!) colors and designs that matched my girls personalities.  I did make sure that they did not clash and Sharon pampered me by using the same colored ribbon for each girl’s dress.Blowing bubbles on the beach at Gloucester Point

We haven’t really established a strong Easter basket tradition in our home.  I do try to do a little something, but I don’t typically make a big deal out of it.  Not for any strong reason really, but we do try to focus more on the Resurrection of Jesus and less on the treats of the day.   When I was little, I remember the Easter dress and shoes being so special.  I am not sure that we got new dresses every year, but I remember the search and the joy of the new Easter dress.  Maybe, maybe…I will start that with my girls – next year!Easter candy at Nana and Poppy's house

Easter dinner at Nana and Poppy's houseEaster candy at Nana and Poppy's house

Easter dinner at Nana and Poppy's house

Easter candy at Nana and Poppy's houseAfter the egg hunt, we jumped back in the van and headed back to Richmond for a little play time at Nana’s, followed by an Easter meal with Dave’s family.  Delicious!  Dave’s mom and dad make a great cooking pair – he does the meat and she does the sides.  I remember my grandparents doing the same thing every Sunday for our family meals together. 

 

Easter play at Nana and Poppy's house

Easter play at Nana and Poppy's houseEaster play at Nana and Poppy's houseEaster play at Nana and Poppy's houseThe kids decided to put on an impromptu play, a court scene depicting an infraction by one poor little cousin.  It was fun to watch all the natural characteristics of each child play out – some negotiators, some judgers, some supporting, some facilitating and some bystanding.  Because it was impromptu it was neat to see them each drift to the role that suited their personality best.  And because it was a “play” they were free to act out characteristics without hurting feelings or getting reprimanded for not being patient or understanding.  Picture an active and loud court scene where everyone gets to accuse, cry, defend, or proclaim without parental guidance!

Fortunately, it was Easter Sunday, and the little cousin on trial was set free by the Blood of the Lamb!  We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!.

Travel with Children: Day 3 of 27 in a green tin can with 9 kids–Richmond

Baby with NanaDay 3: Richmond

We have found it helpful when traveling to try to stay in each place for 3 nights so we’re not always ‘living out of a suitcase’ , and to be flexible enough to have some down time.  For our travels, we found a useful ratio, when possible, was 1 travel day : 2 sight-seeing days : 1 day of downtime.

 

 

Dave's brother's addition in progress

Resetting the fence We spent Easter Saturday with Dave’s parents and brother’s family in Richmond.   With the recent addition of their fifth child, Dave’s brother and his family were inspired to build an addition to their home to increase living space.  Dave had the opportuinity to spend some time helping his brother and Dad work on the house addition.  They also had to re-set a portion of the fence which had to be removed in order to allow truck and large equipment access.

 

 

With this post, we’ve included some tips on staying with family and friends.

1)  Dave’s brother has 5 children, several with food allergies, and Bandette cup labels helped us keep the drink cups organized for the adults and all 14 children.

2)  Try to do laundry while you are there, it is great to not have to go home to a boat load of dirty laundry.

3)  Be sensitive to where all your extra stuff lands.  Most people can usually handle a little bit of the extra stuff you may have lying around, but not too much and not for very long.  Try to keep your stuff confined to one area, one room or someplace neatly out of the way.

4)  Offer to bring in dinner or make dinner, purchase extra food or something to help out with the extra burden your family will be causing during the visit.

5)  If you are staying for a long time (more than 3 days), consider going on a day trip with just your family.  This gives the hosting family a chance to recollect and get the basic stuff done that they have been putting off and it gives your family a chance to reconnect as a family unit.

6) Don’t be afraid to let your children watch a little more TV or videos than usual, your host may not be used to having little ones around all the time and they may need the break in the activity level, especially during dinner prep or other “working” times.

The ladies review the work done7) Spouses – be patient with one another!  Sometimes, when we are visiting family or old friends, we may revert to old (younger) behaviors, almost forgetting the new responsibilities we have developed as parents and spouses.   Just be patient and understanding with each other, we all do it!

8) If you know that your host is not set up for young children, bring the basics – cups with tops, plastic plates, waterproof bed pads (just in case) – I have also used these to cover and protect nice dining chairs, favorite snacks, and an easy stain remover or cleaner.

9) These days it is hard to function without a computer, think this through.  Many people are not comfortable letting others use their computer, you may want to ask before you go and take your own computer or plan in a visit to a library or web-cafe.

Staying with friends and family is such a great way to spend time with people, but it can be an inconvenience.  Being sensitive and helpful are essential!

One more tip – if you are staying in an area that has lots of friends and family that you would like to visit, set up a location(s) where you and your family will be landed for a while and tell everyone to come and meet you there.  Sometimes hotels will let you use their lobbies in the evening, invite everyone over for pizza.  Find an easy museum, park or activity center (we just found one of those bouncy-child-play/eatery places in my home town), even a McDonalds with a play area can be used in a pinch.  Plan to stay for a few hours and let everyone know what times you will be there – then everyone can come to you..

How I do…the Laundry! Part 1

With nine children, we have a tremendous amount of laundry.  Fortunately for me, doing the laundry is my favorite household chore.  For whatever insane reason, seeing all those cute little clothes and remembering how the kids looked or what they were doing in those little clothes is a treat for me.  However, I can not say that it is what I would prefer to be doing for so much of my time!

At the current time I am up to two loads of laundry a day.  I always forget how much extra laundry a baby generates.  Even though his clothes are so little, the spit-up always winds up on my clothes…and my towels, and his blankets, and the floors (but that is for another post).  My usual routine is to do some laundry at night and some in the morning.

So, over the years I have developed some great methods to ease the laundry load (pun intended!).

1. I have learned to not be too particular about the shape of the clothes when I put them in the wash.  I pre-treat very little.  This is not the “perfect” method, as some stains become permanent, but it does move the laundry along much faster.  I also do not pre-straighten the clothes.  Meaning that I do not put them all “right side out” each time.  Because I have so many little ones and I teach them to be independent as soon as possible, I wind up with lots of little inside-out clothes in the hamper.  Most of the time I just put them in as is, I have found that it is much more pleasant to put them right-side-out after they have been washed and dried and are smelling very fresh!

2. I separate only for light and dark loads.  I don’t have the time nor the space to save up for a bleach load, though I do try to do one every so often.

3. I have a Fischer & Pykel washer and dryer set – that I love!  The washer is energy efficient and spins most of the wetness out of the clothes.  This makes the dryer time much shorter.  The dryer takes only a little longer than a wash load.  I can really power through some laundry since they both finish almost at the same time.

4. The Fisher & Pykel set also has a delayed timer on the washer – love that too!  I can put a load in at night and time it to wash in the morning.  This has been so great for me in the cyling of the laundry.

Laundry icon is used courtesy of pdclipart.org

5. My most recent laundry advancement has been to become a “stuffer”.  I was sooo not a ‘stuffer” just a few months ago, but then my mom (by marriage) came to visit one time when I had Mount Laundry erupting.  That lady turned six of my loads into three loads of laundry!  I couldn’t believe it, nor could I watch it at first.  I was initially shocked that she would stuff so much laundry in the wash.  I mean, didn’t she know that the clothes needed to slosh around in order to get clean?  Fortunately, I held my tongue and walked out of the laundry domain.  After some time of deep reflection and upon consulting a close friend (who was also a closet stuffer), I stepped past my skepticism and …  well… I started to “stuff”.  And I have been stuffing ever since.  I have not noticed any difference in the cleanliness of the clothes, so I just can’t stop!

My most treasured laundry secret is in the folding and the putting away realm.  I will post about that next!

And I couldn’t end this post without mentioning that I usually have several helpers.  My littlest kids (2-4 year olds) will hand me the laundry or help move it into the dryer.  My oldest kids (6-9) can load the washer and the dryer, but they can’t always reach the buttons!  Even though my kids are capable of doing the laundry, I don’t usually have them doing it.  As I mentioned earlier, the laundry is one of my favorite household chores, so I would rather have them be doing some other chore and save the laundry for me.  It is also working well that I do half at night and half in the morning, so they are usually sleeping or doing other chores.

Note:  Laundry icon is used courtesy of pdclipart.org.