I was so discombobulated this morning. I took care of the baby- she was crawling all over and playing until midnight, lucky me, and she woke up at six. She has decided to become a little bit more independent the last two nights and sometime in the middle of the night she moves into the crib that is attached to my bed and will sleep by herself for hours. I am not used to this. I’m so used to her being right next to me that it wakes me up to not have her there and I have to keep checking on her. Noah also came to our door and was crying for who knows what reason and Alex was telling him to go back to bed and I was panicking a little thinking they would wake the baby. They didn’t.

Then I did my scripture study this morning. I am only cheating myself out of peace and blessings when I am not taking it as seriously as I should. So I read and marked a couple things. When I finally got out of bed for the day I just wandered around aimlessly. So many things need my attention and I have the hardest time focusing and buckling down. Luckily the kitchen was decent. I’ve been making the kids help me after dinner. Eventually they’ll figure out I’m serious and will do it without me calling them back into the kitchen every time they wander off. Right? They will stop wandering off before the work is done, right? (Crickets chirp)

I was reading a post by a friend and the comments on the post and I realized I’m not the only one who struggles to get things done. It is comforting yet sad. Last night Alex, who is king of finding old obscure videos, found a video of “how to clean your apartment”. It was a video for missionaries that was made in the 90’s. Maybe late 80’s. I was laughing at it and then I thought my goodness, this is all common sense, right? Adults should know how to do this stuff. Making beds, doing dishes, wiping counters, etc. I said as much to Alex, who doesn’t know how to make a bed? He said our kids. Oh, right. I’ve done a terrible job. I remember my mom hounding us as kids about making our bed properly, folding our clothes just so, cleaning anything just so. I have let my kids do it how they want because done is done, right? Maybe I should be a little tougher on them. They would never agree.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning and laying with the baby during her nap- eventually. I had to lock Noah out of the room. He’s the destroyer of naps.

By dinnertime I didn’t want to cook. At. All. I was at a loss as to what to make. I pulled a bag of “bacon” out if the freezer and cooked it. Edgar brought it home the other day. I guess it wasn’t cured? It was not the bacon we all know and love. I couldn’t eat it. It was like an insanely fatty pork chop. Not good. Alex suggested I make bbq chicken and rice instead. Can I just say how much I really love my new Instant Pot. Fall apart chicken in 20 minutes. So good. So easy.

For family home evening we went to Walmart to get the food for our New Years Eve party. It was below zero outside. I don’t think our van even warmed up all the way the whole trip. In the van on the way we had prayer and a song (twinkle little star and Once there was a Snowman) and since we had a captive audience in the car reading the scriptures for the lesson was way easy since they couldn’t wander around or roll on their heads.

We bought Michael and Benjamin some snow boots since they had grown out of and worn out their old ones. Michael is now in adult sizes which means his stuff now costs $20 more than Benjamin’s. Lame.

But I will say that the kids cooperated better while cleaning up after dinner tonight. Yay!

Evangeline is crying for me. I gotta go.


Easy Sunday- Ha!

Oh the series of bad choices and such that lead to this morning.

We didn’t get the laundry done during the week so we were up late finding clothes, ironing and washing. That lead to us being tired. Noah was up a lot of the night. He came into my room sometime between two and three and was complaining of an earache. I hate that so much. It is always the middle of the night on a Saturday night. Doctors are all closed and it isn’t E.R. worthy. They cry and wimper all night. Tylenol usually won’t touch it. I tried to distract him. I took him downstairs to the tv and turned on a show he wanted. An hour or less later he was back in my room tossing and turning against my back. Alex was completely out. I woke him up to help me with Noah and we were all back asleep about fifteen minutes later. And the alarm rang a couple hours later. I didn’t care. I kept hitting snooze. I need more than 5 hours of sleep! By the way, Noah seems to be doing alright today.

It was a ridiculous rush once we got moving. Alex was almost ready when he remembered he was supposed to give someone a ride to church who lives 15 minutes away. There was no way he’d be on time to church.

I bathed the baby and dressed her (she was adorable today with her little whale spout ponytail). Then I went to get Noah and found Elizabeth crying slumped over saying she didn’t want to wake up. I know how she feels. Noah was completely asleep- none of the chaos had effected him. I dressed him while he was waking up. I forgot a step that I realized as we were walking in late to church- I hadn’t zipped and buttoned his pants. He was walking into church and holding up his pants. I turned around and saw his pants were around his ankles as he had lost the battle. My friend, who was coming in behind us was able to help the poor dear.

I really need to do better at getting us all ready to go- before 8 o’clock Sunday morning.

Today was Noah’s last day in nursery- the little kids sunday school class. It is a sad day for me. He’s growing up. He sits by me sometimes and astounds me with what he knows and how grown up he’s getting. I love it but it is still a little sad.

We made chicken noodle soup for dinner. We’d made it from scratch but since I was out of carrots the soup didn’t taste quite as good as it usually does. And since I make up the recipes half the time I realized after we’d cleaned up dinner that I didn’t add butter. It makes a difference.

The kids spent the rest of the night playing lava, running around screaming and laughing as only kids can. Michael was practicing his ukulele and Benjamin was complaining because he can’t find his ukulele. We’ve looked everywhere. We’re going to have to clean/search the entire house tomorrow looking for it. Sounds fun, doesn’t it.

I’ve been trying to get my goals for the new year organized. I’ve picked the theme for the year: Simplify. Previous years have been focused along the lines of success (finding successful people and emulating them), and I can’t remember the others right now but I think last year was survival. Haha. I’ll probably sit down tomorrow and write my thoughts out.

I’ve got to tuck the kids in and that always takes awhile. We’re going to work on getting them to bed on time consistently. Wish us luck.


I Still Have So Much to Learn

I have a choice to make: I have a bunch of de-cluttering to do or I can write. I think I’ll write because right now it is the least frustrating choice.

I usually write right before I go to bed and I’m kind of in a hurry because the baby is starting to get fussy or the kids need my attention because they have ignored me all day and all of a sudden need me when the day is over. Or I am just tired. But something happened the other day that I just felt like I needed to get out.

The other day one of my boys was on the computer all day. Not a good thing for him. It messes with his brain too much. It does for all of them, really. All day long while the one son was on the computer another son was bugging him to let him have a turn. I should have stepped in earlier and put limits on it. (I have some new years goals pertaining to it.) What happened though was unexpected and I learned a lot from it.

We had the kids switch late in the day and the one who bugged the other all day finally got a turn. He was on for about two minutes and was done. The computer was then turned off for the night. For two hours afterwards he cried and walked around the house repeating, “He didn’t even use it!” Sobbing and repeating. I let him get it out of his system. I don’t think I will do that again. The whole situation could have been handled better. In hindsight he was like a hamster on a wheel. He needed someone or something to knock him off. When I use stuff to bribe him I am not really bribing him, I am using something to knock him off the hamster wheel. I think his brain just gets stuck and it takes something drastic or rewarding to get him off. I have so much to learn.

Then other day I had gone to a family member’s house for my girls to play with their cousins. One of the nieces was crying and hiding under a coat. She struggles with Autism as well. Her grandmother was asking her why she was crying, getting frustrated in the process. I could see myself in that position because I have done the same thing. So. Many. Times. I can’t read their mind, I can’t figure out what is going on. But I learned in watching my son and then niece that you can ask until you are blue in the face and it won’t do any good. They need to be distracted- to get off the wheel. I looked at my niece, hiding under her coat crying, and I said, “I bet you are upset because I showed up.” She moved the coat and brushed her hair out of her face, “What?” I had to repeat it a couple times. She got off the wheel. I asked her to come sit by me. She did and we talked for about 15 minutes and she was ready to go have fun with her cousins. Success!

The hard thing is to get out of the frustrated mentality. It is so hard when you have so much going on and other people to take care of and a time schedule to keep but still have to stop everything to help the one person who can’t help themselves. Some times it feels impossible and you just want to give up and move on. But you can’t.

I still have so much to learn.


Cleaning Up and Memories

Well, we got to sleep in and it was glorious! Okay, it was normal. But I was able to function and the whole days schedule was off kilter.

We had the kids cleaning. I mopped the upstairs and was about to do the basement but why should I do it all? I got the stuff ready and told the older boys to mop. Score one for me.

We had everyone cleaning their rooms today. I know I said is leave the cleaning alone during the break but I couldn’t take the mess! I cleaned out my coat and went through my scrap box and Alex went through his. It was fun to see the stuff again but seeing the stuff from my childhood and growing up really didn’t seem to matter anymore. What I loved was all the little kid drawings and pictures my kids had made over the years. I loved looking at those. We got all that stuff squared away but have no idea where to store it all since I need my closet back. I’ll figure it out soon enough.

I tried out my instant pot today. Black beans. I was nervous that I didn’t put enough water in it. It took only an hour to cook! When you do it in the slow cooker or on the stove it takes about 3 to 6 hours so either way I come out on top. I wanted to make beans for lunch so after breakfast (brunch because we slept in) I put them in. They turned out perfect! We’ll be eating more beans from now on.

Alex needed a haircut since he didn’t let me cut it last week when I was doing the younger boys’ hair. We went and got that taken care of and then had a grocery shopping date. Lame date. We had Evangeline with us so I didn’t have to worry the whole time.

For dinner I really didn’t want to cook so it was just going to be chips and salsa with leftover beans. I looked in the fridge and saw the turkey from Christmas was still in there. I thought a turkey pot pie would be more filling and use up the meat so I quickly made up a couple. So dinner was a hodgepodge affair.

Alex and I bought a few different salsas and hot sauces to try for dinner. My kids love hot sauce and eat it with everything. Michael’s favorite is habanero salsa. I think he’s crazy. I took a heaping chip full bite of some hot salsa and immediately regretted it. I had the hiccups for the next 5 minutes. Smaller bites!

Later after we finished cleaning up dinner we went downstairs and Alex had turned on This Old House. It is my favorite show. I used to watch it every Saturday when I was a teenager. I’m weird, I know. The kids like it, too.

Then Michael pulled out his ukulele and was practicing. He can already play a song we can all sing along to. He’s pretty talented in music. He plays several instruments now- he’s learning them- and he sings. That is how we ended the night. It was a good ending to a good day.


Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the Day After

Christmas Eve was a long one. The kids said it is the longest day of the year and they aren’t wrong. Especially when they would’t go to bed! They were too excited. I was tired! We chased them to bed a bunch of times. While we waited for them to all fall asleep Alex and I watched While You Were Sleeping. That was a fun movie we hadn’t watched a awhile. I think we finally got to bed around midnight.

Christmas morning was bright and early. Actually, it wasn’t even bright because the sun didn’t come up until we were done. We started the festivities at 6 a.m. That is the normal hour for most of us to get up anyways but I don’t do well on only 6 hours of sleep.

It was a fun morning. The kids opened their presents one at a time to start with and then it slowly morphed into a free-for-all interspersed with quick bursts of cleaning throughout. Edgar was quick to start a fire and get all the excess paper and boxes burned. It warmed the basement up quite nicely. It always makes me nervous that someone is going to accidentally throw away a present. I think we made it through without incident this year.

The kids all got mostly what they asked for. They all had fun and played all day Christmas and the day after. They better not say they are bored even once for the rest of the year.

I invited Alex’s parents over for Christmas dinner and one of his sisters came as well. They spent the afternoon talking and such, the usual. They helped shape the rolls for dinner. And, by way of tooting my own horn, they were the best rolls I’d made. I hope I can make them again because I literally was just throwing stuff in there because I was too lazy to get the recipe out. But seriously, so good.

Alex made the comment that he had never heard his mom sing so much as she did Christmas day. I said it was because the radio was on. I always have music going so I am always singing. He said that must have been it. I said it was the radio being on because people don’t spontaneously start singing Handel’s Messiah without music playing first. Usually.

We finished the day by watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- the Ben Stiller version. I love that movie. It is a slower moving movie but so entertaining. I love the little details, the scenery, the humor. I thought it would be a good movie to slow down the day. Kids don’t work that way. As soon as the movie was over they were back at it. Oh well.

This morning Lauren, Elizabeth and I were up early. Another of Alex’s sisters (he has 6 of them) had a girls’ day planned and so I had to take them down to that. I didn’t mind too much because I was completely out of wrapping paper and needed to hit the sales at Walmart and I needed time to finish some hot-pads for Alex’s mom for Christmas (I finished them right as I was ready to walk out the door to go back home, btw).

We got to Walmart and all the peoples’ carts were filled with wrapping paper. Does anyone pay the full price? I found and bought probably 6+ rolls of paper and now I don’t have to wake up early and go out the day after Christmas for wrapping paper for the next 5 years. I’ll probably be tired of the paper I bought in a couple years, but oh well. They had Pioneer Woman wrapping paper! It was so pretty and not completely Christmas-y so I can use it for other stuff and you can bet I will. I also got a few decorations for the tree and some lights for the tree for next year. I love the white lights but the kids love the colored lights. So I will decorate the basement tree in color for the kids and the white simple tree upstairs will be mine.

I took down the tree in the basement. It was sad looking and was adding to the cluttered look. The house is such a mess. I cleaned a little bit but we are going to do a full-blown clean up session tomorrow. The kids are really looking forward to it (insert eye roll).

Oh, tonight we opened up the giant oyster that we bought for Christmas. There were 31 pearls in it. They weren’t the best shaped ones, but they were still pretty and usable and it was a fun experience. I think I will stick with the small oysters from now on. And it didn’t really stink. Alex was the one doing the work and he said he didn’t really smell anything. I didn’t either.

So, we ordered the kids to let us sleep in tomorrow. I hope I can. We told them not to bother us before 9 a.m. “What if we wake up early?” Um, don’t bother us unless you are dying! We had to take a nap on Christmas morning because we literally couldn’t keep our eyes opened any longer. Alex got to sleep in today which was good for him. I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said that he just wanted to sleep in. So he gets to do that for the rest of the week.

So, I’m going to get to it. Until tomorrow.


Christmas Eve

Today, being Christmas Eve, I wanted to make it special. Alex only has to go to work for a couple hours and then he comes home for most of the day. Yay! Well, he was supposed to but work happens. He did get off two hours early so that is something.

The kids reminded me on Sunday that we hadn’t done rice krispie houses yet. Good grief. I’d totally spaced it. Every year we make a big batch of rice krispie treats and I give each kid a warm blob and they shape it into a house and decorate it. I started doing it that way because the kids would get frustrated with the houses not staying up and this just made it eaiser. And they all love rice krispie treats so they eat it all. No leftover cookie and frosting mess. And no baking tons of cookie house parts. I sent Alex to the store to get the stuff on the way home. No rice krispies. Apparently we aren’t the only ones who use them. But I had bought boxes and boxes of rice chex on sale the other day so we used those. They worked!

We moved all the presents from on high (we don’t put presents at ground level until Christmas Eve because little kids always unwrap them early and that is never a good thing).

We read the Christmas story and sang Christmas hymns. My mom got me Christmas ornaments that have the Biblical names of Christ on them. I have each kid one or two ornaments and we read the scriptures where the name was found. The kid with the name got to put it on the tree. They all listened intently. They loved it! Thanks Mom and Dad!

After that the kids all went and played Bananagrams. They wanted to go to bed early but 6:30 was too early. They would have woken up at midnight and been awake all night. That’s all we need. It really is the longest night of the year.

We finally got them all asleep shortly after 11. Yes. The day is long when you never go to bed, kids.

Morning comes early. Good night.


Christmas Stress

When you are a child you look forward to Christmas hoping to get everything you asked for. You can’t sleep because you are so excited! Then you become a parent and the other side of the coin is excited but it is stressful. So many expectations!

The other night as I was tucking my kids in bed I sat with each of them and asked if there was one thing they didn’t get Christmas morning that would “ruin” their Christmas what would it be. Wouldn’t you know that for a couple of them it was the one thing I neglected to get. (Insert frustrated groan here.) I explained to the kids that I couldn’t find one they wanted.

I spent a good two months looking for what they wanted. Shopping and waiting for sales and let me tell you, I did pretty darn good. I think I got at least half the stuff on sale. The pile of presents for 10 people is huge but I paid way less for it than it would have cost otherwise so I don’t feel guilty. And it was all in my budget. I’m proud of myself for that, can you tell?

Towards the actual day, I start to stress and worry. Did I do good enough, will they be happy with it? I had to look back at my lists and remind myself that it is all good. I am a notoriously bad gift giver. My sister says that she is the same way. The kids have been pretty happy so far so I guess I am getting better. But there is still that worry. I stuck to what they asked for so it should be fine. I’ll find out tomorrow for sure.

And if they are upset (they shouldn’t be) then they are ungrateful brats. Haha.


Long Walk in the Cold

Today I took a 3 hour nap. I could have slept longer but kids woke me up. When I got up we hurried and got everyone suited up. We couldn’t find Elizabeth’s snow boots. She wore regular boots. Won’t do that again.

We loaded up everyone including the dog and drove to the greenbelt. It was all snow. Alex had the baby strapped to him. The weather was nice and about 40°. The kids all took off running and sliding down the hills. We ended up walking about a mile and a half total.

I did get a couple pictures of some swans. They were too far away to get good ones. It was almost sunset and the swans started flying back from wherever they go during the day to spend the night on the river.

The kids played on the ice right next to the bank. I freaked out a little.

It looks scarier than it is. The ice was frozen solid and deep where they were. I’ve fallen in cold water before. I made sure they stayed safely away from danger.

We left shortly after we got there because the sun was setting. Noah and Elizabeth had to be carried a lot of the way back. The sunset was beautiful. All pinks and purples. It was a fun walk but next time we bring a sled to pull the slow non-walkers.

We finished the night by watching the Polar Express. Noah fell asleep early in the movie. All that running in the snow wore him out.

The kids were discussing presents, as kids are wont to do, and Michael was saying he didn’t get as many as some other kids. Yeah, so? His presents cost more. I did spend the same per kid.

I was thinking that Christmas turns me into a liar. So many lies trying to keep all the presents a secret. I’ve danced around direct answers, distracted, fibbed and outright lied. When I am honest to a fault the rest of the year. Its ridiculous.

I was thinking how I feel like the season slipped away from me. Time passed so fast. Life gets busy and if you aren’t intentional you miss it. I’m going to work on being present.

3 more sleeps.


Teenage Antics and Shopping is Done

Today we went to the family Christmas party. It went well and the kids had fun.

Later I took the two oldest boys shopping for the last of the presents. I was tempted to get a candy bar while waiting in line at Walmart and Michael said, “Go ahead, it’s just one. Candy bar. No, no, no! Don’t do it!” With in a panicked voice

The boys got goofy while shopping. At first they were bored and whined “are we done yet?” Then they got into it. Benjamin drew Lauren’s name for the present swap and knew Lauren hates JoJo stuff and the boys kept jokingly tossing JoJo items into the cart and laughing like only teenage boys can. They thought they were pretty funny. And they were right.

I made all the kids come help me wrap their respective presents. It is all done now. Michael helped me and I showed him how to fold the ends. “I know how to do that. It’s just like a Starburst wrapper.” Haha. He’s not wrong.

Then because Sunday is tomorrow we found all the Sunday clothes and Alex started to iron. Lauren wanted to know how to do it so Alex taught her. She ironed all but one of them. Yay! Another person to help! I actually need to get the boys to do it, too.

We stayed up too late so hopefully we can get up on time. We are planning on going on a walk after church tomorrow down by the river to see the swans. The swans stay on the river near our house every winter and every winter as I drive by I want to go take pictures up close but I’m a wimp. It is too cold! Tomorrow is supposed to be warm (40° is considered warm for this time of year) so we’re finally just going to do it.

I’ll try to remember to take pictures with my phone to post. No promises though.


Run, Run, as Fast as You Can…

I woke up- actually I was awakened- at 2 a.m. this morning. The dog, who since she was a puppy, has only had to go outside three times in the middle of the night, had to go out. Alex heard her making noises and couldn’t figure out what she wanted because he asked her if she needed to go out and she went back to bed. He thought maybe she was making noises because the cats had somehow been left in, or something else was going on? He went back to bed and then the dog started in again. He asked me to go figure it out. I asked her and we went to the back door. She had to go. So I swept the floor for a minute while the dog wandered around the yard looking for the perfect patch of snow or whatever they do. Because that is what one does at two in the morning.

Then I couldn’t get back to sleep. My brain had other ideas. 5:30 rolls around and I figured since Alex has to get up I would too. And the kids were up. Crazy little morning people (only on school days though- I am lucky and all my kids sleep in when they don’t have to get up, even the babies).

Gideon came stumbling out of his room wearing his jeans he fell asleep in then turned around and went to change into his pajamas for “cozy day” at school. Just a little opposite day to switch things up.

I fell asleep at 7, the kids woke me up at 7:30 for prayer before they left for school, and I fell back asleep until my sister called twice and the vibrating phone woke me up at just after 8. Fine, sleep is overrated anyways. Just kidding. I love sleep. I want sleep. I need sleep. Maybe Monday?

I got the little kids up and ready for the day because I planned on taking them shopping for Christmas presents and food. Alex was as tired as I was once he got home from work but he graciously came and helped me. I wanted to get all the food, or at least most of it, for the next two weeks of the year. Knowing the hungry growing horde I am raising it might not be enough. This morning I did remember to put the turkey in the fridge to thaw so hopefully that will help with future meals.

We are going to a family Christmas party tomorrow and I am in charge of dessert as well as one of the activities and a thought. Decorating gingerbread men- two birds with one stone. Actually three birds; there will be a thought on the three wise(gingerbread)men associated with the dessert/activity. Lazy or genius?

40-ish gingerbread men.

I love to eat cookies but I dislike making them because it is in-out-in-out-in-out of the oven for what seems like hours (it probably is). Someday I’d like a commercial convection oven. I can dream.

Noah and Sam helped me cut out cookies. Noah did the most. He had so much fun. I was done with the dough so I gave him what little was left and he went to town. I sat down and took a video of him making cookies. (Sorry, I don’t know how to put the video on here. It is long anyways.) He was so cute! His little narrative in his little voice as he used his little hands to use the giant rolling pin to roll out a handful of dough. He had cut out a teddy bear but it was “too fat and I need to start over.” He made some tough cookies. I love watching the little kids learn and figure things out.

Now my kitchen is a baking disaster and I am incredibly tired and so is the baby so goodnight.