I’m grouchy and I don’t feel like writing.

Here we are, halfway through the week, and what do I have to show for it? I haven’t touched the laundry that needs to be folded, I’ve got snot trails on my shoulder, and my 3 year old is watching Barney on the kindle. Thank you, God, for Barney. I never thought I would say that!


But I promised myself I would write on the blog once a week, and the rest of the week is looking hectic. I don’t want to write, but I want to have written, so here I am.


It is hard for me to quantify my work around here. If I am always moving forward, all I see are the jobs not yet done. But that is not fair, because I have been working since before the sun came up! I’ve taken to writing things on my to do list after I do them if they are not already there. Then I still get to check them off. It’s amazing how motivated I can be by a simple X on a paper. But my to do list is not just about putting X’s on things completed, it is my rudder that steers me through my day, it keeps me moving towards bigger goals than just getting the dishwasher loaded and run for the first time of the day before 3 pm One of those goals this year is posting here once a week. So today you are stuck with my surliness. Enough about things done and to be done.


Next up: turning things around. This post is completely uninteresting right now. I wouldn’t want to read about someone else’s grumpiness. So let’s look at other things: right now in my home, Paisley is outside unpainting her furniture, getting it ready for her new apartment. Molly is, as I said, quietly watching Barney, and Gus, having woken from his nap, is back to sleep in my arms, nursing. It is not so easy to nurse a 26 pound sack of potatoes and type, let me tell you. It is lunchtime, but it is quiet right now, so lunch time can wait.


Ah, quiet. Can you hear it?


Nevermind, it’s over. Now Gus is awake and clapping with his fat little hands, sitting in my lap. He wants down from my lap, then he cries because he didn’t want down after all. Barney is over and Molly wants peddit butter and honey. We all love the way she says peanut. We avoid saying the word ourselves because we want this moment to last as long as possible. This moment when she speaks so clearly and still mispronounces specific words, it is so brief and so precious.


Today has to be about fat little fingers, toddler mispronunciations, and grown up children moving on with their lives. Sweet and tiny, big and important. And then the laundry is just a thing… it will always be there. These others are fleeting, gifts just for today.


Maybe I am not so grumpy anymore.


Happy Anniversary Nana and Papa

44 years ago yesterday a couple of grade school sweethearts got married.


They were so young, so in love, and willing to put together a life that would impact so many. They had 8 children, including opening their home and adopting 2 and raising one grandson as their own. They have helped their children through good times and bad, through heartaches, weddings, moves, home repairs, baseball games, choir concerts, and so much more. They have seen the addition of 26 (is that the right number? It’s hard to keep track!) grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren (so far!).

Last night, at Peter and Lindsey’s house, we had a party to celebrate their love and legacy.

James played music for everyone, letting his brothers and sisters help out.

Ben did a few songs as well. Molly, Lily, and Max each had their shot at the microphone too. And Philip shared a few of his songs with us.

The kids played, the fire blazed, and we were all blessed to be there as a family.

Happy Anniversary Barb and Jim!

Why am I not better at this yet?

I have been a mother for 22+ years now. I have nine children. Other mothers look at me and ask me how I do it all. But they are usually only the ones who don’t know me well yet. They don’t know that I am still not completely cleaned up after last night’s dinner and it’s 2pm. They haven’t seen that my floors haven’t been vacuumed in over a week, nor has the floor been swept in days. They don’t see that I am so tired that I find myself unable to sympathize with a child who was walking backward in Target and nearly impaled himself on a shelf.


When I ask for help, whether advice or physical assistance, some of the responses I get are:
“Your older kids should be doing more around the house!”
“You have nine children, you should know!”
“You need to just lower your standards a little, you have a large family.”
“You need to make time for yourself, get away for a while.”
“Just call me anytime, I can take {one child’s name here} to play for an hour or so…”


Let me address those one at a time, and maybe you can see how I can still be such a novice mother after 9 children and 22 years.
“Your older kids should be doing more around the house!”
– You know what? They do help a whole lot. But once they are older there are other things to keep in mind as well. They have homework. A ton of homework. They have jobs. And, the bottom line is, they are still kids. So while they have jobs to do, I am still the one who has to follow up on every. last. one. What is that saying? Kids will do what you INSPECT, not what you EXPECT. Very true. And to my kids, if you are reading this? Thank you for the help you give, you know instinctively that loving on the little ones is higher priority than a clean bathroom, and I am grateful for that. But I do still need help with the dishes and bathrooms and stuff.


“You have nine children, you should know!”
– Yes, I do. I know an awful lot. But here is a funny thing, I am so tired from trying to stay up late to make sure the computer gets turned off when the older kids are done with their homework, being up with the baby off and on all night, and then up at the crack of dawn with the younger kids, I start to doubt my own mind. I can’t remember things. I wonder sometimes if I am making mountains out of molehills because the only thought I can fully form is “Should I have another cup of coffee and try to be functional or should I stumble around half asleep and hope that I will get to close my eyes and take a nap?” And another thing… there are a lot of new things coming out, being discovered every day. Maybe someone has come up with a sure-thing cure for diaper rash and I am too busy to have heard of it. So I ask a fellow mom, “Hey, what do you do for this kind of rash?” Remember, since each child is different, we are a first time parent to that child.


“You need to just lower your standards a little, you have a large family.”
– Oh. my. goodness. If I lower my standards any more the neighbors may complain. My standards are low. But even in houses with low standards the floor must be swept sometime.


“You need to make time for yourself, get away for a while.”
– Yes I do. My kids are an overwhelming bunch. But if I ask you to babysit…


“Just call me anytime, I can take {one child’s name here} to play for an hour or so…”
– I’d love that! It would be really nice for {one child} to have a play date. I do appreciate when they get that opportunity. And I’ll love it even more if you are the one to drive. But unless you are taking one of the kids who is really too young for a play date (and classifies more as highly focused aerobic babysitting) then my load isn’t really any lighter. In fact, if you are hosting one of my kids who is 8 and up, my job will become a little harder for that time because I have less hands around to help out. That’s okay, they need their breaks and social time too.


So here are some facts:
1. I am a mother with several small children. That is a lot of work. They make constant messes and still have “fussy days” when they just need a lot of holding. They aren’t fond of sleep.
2. I am the mother of a few middle grade kids. They can help a bit and yet still need a lot of help.
3. I am the mother of some teenagers. They are a lot of emotional work. They need guidance making decisions that will impact their whole lives. They also sometimes need supervision somewhat like toddlers. They don’t sleep either.
4. I am the mother of two adult children. They help out, they need help. The help they need is often of the more expensive variety. They are a lot of worry because I am not the one in charge anymore.
5. Each of the above is both delightful and hard work. All of them generate a lot of dishes and eat a lot of food. And the paper! Some days I am afraid I actually growl at the 4th or 5th child who comes home and hands me more paper.
6. I make a dinner for 8-12 people almost every night. And when I don’t cook it, it is still my job to figure out what it is going to be and how much it is going to cost. That is a major job.
7. I can have the laundry caught up OR the kitchen running smoothly. Not both. Never both. Sometimes neither.
8. If you have fewer kids than I do, I do not think you have it easy. Parenting (if you’re doing it right) is always hard work. I do not wonder why you have that many children. I can barely manage my own life, it wouldn’t cross my mind to manage yours.


I realized the other day that one of the reasons I am not more adept at this is that I start completely from scratch every two years or so. Each time a baby comes, I have to take time to recover and then I step back into running my home, but it is different after each baby. The family has grown, the kids are going through their own adjustments, the bedroom assignments have shifted. The youngest has been dethroned and is generally not happy about it. And I have to restart or refigure all my routines and plans, only this time with a tiny baby in one arm and a toddler hanging off the other one. Then… then a new school year starts and we shift who is going to which school and we have to get the routine down again – the snacks, the driving, the money, it’s a whole new plan.

I guess what it boils down to is that I am good at this. It just changes so quickly that adapting is difficult. For any plan I make to manage our lives, there are so many possibilities for variation (and disaster, lets just say it) that I often forget that I ever had a plan in the first place, which makes me feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants and wondering why I haven’t figured this all out yet.

Hello 2013!

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a good long time, so I’m just going to jump right back in here and share a little about the few whose pictures I could grab today.

Tessa is getting busier by the day, she’s 10 (and three quarters!) and is such a joy. She helps around the house, cares for her siblings, reads and discusses books, enjoys fun movies, and even lets a little of the pre-teen surliness come through at times. She played volleyball this fall and was recently accepted to her school’s Honors Choir.

Max is a busy Lego fiend! When he is not masterminding a new lego creation, he is playing Lego Lord of the Rings on xBox. He’s recently become a pro at foosball, and loves to stay up late reading. He turned 8 at Christmas and is feeling much more grown up now.

Molly is three, which is the same this as saying that she is at the advanced level of being two. She is a feisty thing, willing to beat up either Lily or Max to get what she wants. She is a regular on the time-out bench. But when she turns on the charm, she is the sweetest little girl you ever met. She loves just as fiercely as she plays. She is smart as a whip too, Lily is teaching her how to sound out words and she recognizes most numbers.

Lily is 5 and sweet as can be. She has a tender heart and gets her feelings hurt easily. She is reading now and loves to write letters to people. She wants desperately to play piano like her big siblings. Lily has lots of friends and is always busy playing with her dolls.

Gus is trouble on wheels, only without the wheels. He is 14 months old and has figured out that if he makes a mess in one place, I have to clean it up and then he is free to get into something bigger in another place. If the dishwasher is open, he goes straight for the knives, if the bathroom door is open, he goes straight for the toilet, if the bunk bed ladder is left out, he climbs straight to the top. He eats lego bricks, throws food on the floor, and can melt your heart with one hippo-toothed smile. He loves to be held, even at his staggering 25 pounds. He knows lots of sign language but the only words he really uses are hot, turtle, and NO. He takes two twenty minute naps a day and wakes up almost every hour at night. And I still think he is the cutest, snuggliest baby boy ever.


Ben is 15 and getting a little bored with family life. He gets a little stir crazy at times even though he likes to have fun here with us. Old enough for big, complicated chores, he gets leaned on a little too much, but I am so grateful for his help. He’s in his third year of Latin and is always working on his music – at least when he isn’t watching netflix or playing xBox. He always has some fascinating new facts to share with us.

Paisley has been around the house more over the holidays and it has been nice to have her. She’s working full time (and then some!) at Lancome and that keeps her hopping! Today she grabbed a nap on the couch, yesterday she took the younger kids to the park for more than an hour!

James is 20 and still living at home. He’s working hard at a few jobs.  Right now he is working the sound for masses at our church and playing a few gigs around town. He recently got a truck and is enjoying having a little freedom without having to ask for rides.

Posy is 17 and in the middle of her senior year of high school. She is always busy. She volunteers with the youth group, works at Cousin’s subs on the weekend, and is trying to keep her grades up and apply for colleges.

Jay and I are just trying to keep everyone fed and clothed and out of trouble! This crew keeps us hopping!  Happy New Year!