Life with 6 Kids

She’s been part of our lives for over eight months now. That’s unreal.

Life with 6 Kids

How does that even happen? Wow.

The older I get, the more amazed I become about the passage of time. It just FLIES by. I try to impart that bit of knowledge into my kids, but like all other young people, they don’t get it quite yet. But they will. One day they will.

So how am I faring with six kids some may ask?

Whenever I am out shopping, I get myriad of looks while herding my little brood in and out of stores. I can see their lips moving as they count‚ÄĒone,… two,…three, four. And their eyes widen…five, six. Sometimes I mentally count with them. It never hurts to double check and make sure that I don’t have any stragglers. ūüôā

Then the comments come rolling in.

You’ve got your hands full.

My, you must be busy with all these kids.

Only one boy, huh?!

Life with 6 kids

And they smile. But I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their tone, and see it on their face. Amazement. Curiosity. Surprise. They are interested. Not for their own experience really, but to perhaps vicariously live ‚ÄĒjust for a moment‚ÄĒas the parent of a large family.

So what’s it really like? I mean, reeeally like to have half a dozen kids??

Life with 6 Kids

Settle in while I give you the low down on lots of littles, the honest truth. I promise.

Life with 6 Kids….So, What’s it Really Like?

Continual noise

Yes, let’s start with the noise. You are struck with the cacophony of what sounds like wild Indians during the settling of the old west before your foot ever crosses the threshold. The rooms echo with the sounds of childish babble and laughter fills the halls. And thudding. There is lots of thudding and thumping interspersed with the pitter-patter of little feet as they chase each other up and down the length of the home. A baby crying to be nursed and the long sobbing wail of one who cannot find her blanket. It all intermingles into one raucous clamor with minimal moments of silence. Long periods of silence almost never happen and if they do, always investigate. Silence during waking hours is not your friend. Nap time and bed time quiet are different story. They are truly golden moments after especially loud days and evenings. But then again, what am I saying? Nap time and bed time are treasured on any given day.

Mess

Frankly, it’s everywhere. We have eight people living in 1900 sq ft of living space. I try to remind myself that even if we were all adults, neatness would be an ongoing task and everyday battle. Obviously the entire household is not comprised of grown-ups, thus the clutter can seem even more overwhelming. The kids help out every day and have assigned daily chores, but I’ve come to realize that if I maintain a spotless house, I’m ignoring the lives of the little people in it. And babies don’t keep.

In other words, the mess reigns most days.

Food

Food?? I’m not overly familiar with it, it disappears so quickly. I am loving shopping at Costco more and more these days. Bulk buying is your BFF when you have a large family. Meals and snacks are devoured at a steady rate and you are¬†left there staring at a pile of dirty dishes and trails of crumbs around the kitchen chairs. I’m not kidding. You blink and it’s gone. So dig in while you can. It’s the motto we live by.

Life with 6 Kids

Money

It disappears.

Adult conversation

It only happens between 8pm and 6am. Any other conversations attempted are interspersed with multiple offspring reprimands and boo-boo kissing. And let me tell ya, this makes some discussions with a spouse difficult and wearisome to follow. Many a tale has ended with these words, “Forget it. I’ll tell you later.” Followed by an understanding peck on the cheek.

It’s a season of life, only a season. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves. (between 8pm and 6am, of course)

No “me-time”

Your every waking moment is about others. Feeding, changing, teaching, bathing, cleaning, correcting….the list seems endless. Showers and bathroom breaks are your treasured reprieves. And even they are few and far between.

Life with 6 Kids

By now most of you are thinking,”¬†I knew it.¬† I just knew it. These are exactly some of the reasons why I would never want a large family.”

Well, now I’d like to tell you otherwise.

But you just said…. And you just listed….Yes, yes, I know. I know what I just said and what I just listed. Mothering half a dozen kids is rough. I often fall into bed dog tired at the end of the day, both mentally and physically. It can be a struggle. And the kids win, most days.

I said that I would be honest here, and I have been. But I also would be remiss if I didn’t tell you this.

Some noises are nice. Like the noise of an infant laughing for the first time. Or the giggles of the entire family as you all watch the antics of a two year old. Or the happy chatter as you gather around the table for a meal or a game of cards. Or the sound of music as songs are being rehearsed or piano lessons are being practiced. You see, the absence of noise would actually be the saddest sound. And while nap time and bed time truly are golden moments, Hubs and I often find ourselves halfway wishing we could get the kids up again after a half hour of quiet. We just plain miss them.

Food, well, it’s meant to be eaten. And many¬†memories are made when families gather to share meals together. Nothing warms my heart more than to see all of their sweet, young faces seated around our kitchen table. It’s during moments like those that I feel supremely blessed, my heart full. And when you realize how fortunate you really are, what’s a pile of dirty dishes or two? Instead you feel incredibly grateful as you sweep up that trail of crumbs. Again. For the seventeenth time that day.

Life with 6 Kids

Money. I didn’t say much about this earlier and I won’t say much about it here either. We have more possessions, riches if you will, than most people in the world. Do we have a huge house? Drive fancy cars? No and no. Material things don’t bring happiness and neither does a fat bank account. At the end of the day, what we obtain here on this earth is of little consequence, but the lives that we impact are everything. Besides, as my dad has always said in regards to wealth, “You can’t take it with you.”¬† End of story. ūüėČ

Adult conversation is on the rise. How’s that? Well, babies and children have this unusual habit of growing up and I’m finding this to be true in our home as well. Bunny and Fuzz love to chat about their day, about their likes and dislikes. You name it and they’ll talk about it. I often find myself gazing into their faces while the sound of their voices fade to the background, completely mesmerized. These beautiful, young girls are my daughters. And I shake my head in disbelief as the topics of politics, world history and religion are frequently¬†discussed at the dinner table. However, there are still days after evening devotions and family time are past and we prepare to leave the table that I come back to reality when my oldest daughter asks me a question. “Can I go play outside, Mom?”¬† Inwardly I smile as I nod my head. Yes, adult conversations may be on the rise, but we are not there yet. And I’m fine with that. Let them be kids.

And then there is the illusive “me time”. Now I will not deny that having a moment of quietness and solitude can at times be refreshing, especially on particularly overwhelming mom days. We all need the ability to unwind and/or recharge. But if every thought and deed is inward focused, then I need to reevaluate my purpose. Since when is life supposed to be about me? Has our generation become so narcissistic that the thought of serving and living for others seems mundane, boring and a drudgery? Sure, I do a lot of the same things over and over every day. And so does everyone. That’s life. I would much rather spend my time in the daily trenches of life with other people‚ÄĒpeople I love‚ÄĒinstead of by myself. I love nothing better than continually shouldering with my husband, working as one as we raise our children. We’re in this together. Plus, he knows me inside and out. He gives me chocolate and a quick escape to a quiet place when I need it.

So what’s it like raising a large family you ask?

It’s messy and it’s beautiful. Consuming and yet worthwhile. Stressful and also satisfying. Wearisome and energizing. Full of tears and full of laughter.¬†It takes and it gives.

And gives and gives and gives. <3

Life with 6 Kids

                               Thank you so much for reading.

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DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

Life with a new baby can throw a wrench in the best of plans. And when it is your sixth, well, survival is first and foremost. I finally finished painting the nursery…<ahem> this past fall.

Yeah, I think that having a finished nursery to welcome the newest little one fell by the wayside after Zip, our third child, arrived. And you know what? I don’t think that Pop, Van or even Baby #6 have minded a bit. They all sleep in our room for the first 6-12 months anyway. (And yes, I know that Baby #6 needs her screen name.)

That’s just life.

I must admit though. Finishing painting the nursery walls was a great feeling. I loved the fresh, crisp sight of the white walls. However, I felt like it needed something else-an accent wall of some kind.

So I grabbed some leftover paints (SW interior satin white and SW interior satin mindful gray) and eyeballed mixing the two paints until I was happy with the results. It ended up yielding a very subtle design on the nursery wall. This was exactly the “look” that I was going for, simple but also soft at the same time.

After I mixed my color choice, I only needed one thing: a pattern or stencil. I didn’t want to spend money on one and I also did not necessarily want the look of a stenciled wall. If you have one, great. And I may do a stenciled wall down the road. But this time? This time I was looking for free, fast and fun.

I found what I was looking for in my kitchen pantry. A potato.

Simple and quick was the name of the game.

Here’s the easy how-to

  • I cut my fresh potato in half (width-wise) and then scored my pattern in the surface of the potato flesh (the flat side- see photo below). The cuts with my knife were roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep

*Note: Keep your pattern simple. You will thank me later for that bit of advice. As you can see, I chose a diamond for my pattern.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

  • I then took the knife and cut about 1/4-1/2 down from the top….slowly until I reached my scored shape. You are NOT slicing through here. You are just cutting away the excess potato from your desired design.

The goal is to have a raised pattern, thus creating a stamp for your project.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

You can see my lovely homemade diamond stamp.

  • I also added small notches on the outside of the potato skin to mark the points of the diamond.

This helped me later to keep my diamonds fairly straight and pointing the same direction. You may want to notch one or more sides of your potato stamp to mark the top of the design, etc.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

  • Stamp away. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. You are more than likely going to have furniture, wall art, etc. obscuring the continuity of the pattern anyway. No one will notice crookedness or spacing issues. Promise.

Here is my stamp all covered with paint. You may notice the cut down the middle of the diamond. I actually cut half of my diamond off. This allowed me to continue my pattern on the left and right side of the window in my accent wall. (Thankfully stamping above and below the window didn’t involve partial stamping.)

*Note: Definitely keep in mind what you will do with your pattern around any windows, doors and outlets as well as along the ceiling and floor. You may want to adjust your spacing to help with any issues BEFORE you begin stamping.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

I absolutely LOVE the finished result. Sure, it is not perfectly spaced. I used my hands, a ruler and my eyes to decide stamp placements.

This room is actually a little hard to photograph. If the light hits the design just right, the pattern melts away into the rest of the wall. This is exactly what I wanted. My pattern isn’t a bold, straight lined, completely colored in diamond shape either. Again, the freestyle of the stamp was right down my alley.

It was a quick little update for the nursery “crib wall” that I was able to finish between feeding times for my little nursling. And trust me, I like quick.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

Want to try an accent wall in your home? Are you like me and you love quick and free for your home projects? This easy DIY wall project is right for you.

DIY Potato Stamp Accent Wall

 

                               Thank you so much for reading.

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In Your Shoes

In Your Shoes (AN Open Letter to My Children)

My dear children,

You were born exactly when and where the Lord wanted you. His ways are perfect. As your mama, I for one, am blessed with the privilege of having you in my life. A privilege that I am grateful for every day. You truly fill my life with love and laughter. I try my best to show you just how much you mean to me and how deep my love for you is, I really do. ¬†But it is difficult to demonstrate how great and vast that piece of my heart is that you hold in your hands. Even the popular quote a beloved children’s book “I love you to the moon…and back” doesn’t even seem adequate. A mother’s love runs wide and deep.¬†And it is true.

I love you, deeply.

But today I felt burdened to remind you of something else as well‚ÄĒ I pray for you every single day. This mother’s heart sometimes breaks as I watch you struggle with personal issues and besetting sins, and then I rejoice with you when I see you have victories in certain areas. You conquer your fears with courage and fight your emotional battles with determination. I weep when you weep and I laugh when you laugh. But inner personal trials are not the only conflicts that one frequently encounters during life. Sadly you, like every one else, face external struggles on a daily basis. This is an age old problem, to be sure, but I often reflect on the multitude of complex challenges that you, my 21st century children, have to face. And in that moment, I acknowledge the unique adversities that you constantly confront that past generations never even dreamed possible. I cannot deny that we do live in a great day of opportunity. We absolutely do. Progress and technology can be and is a great blessing. But it can also become our worst enemy when not handled with extreme caution.

In Your Shoes (An Open Letter to My Children)

So I pray earnestly for you.

Your walk through childhood and adolescence is a hard one. I didn’t have to face half of the issues that you do.

I didn’t have the weight of the worldwide web on my shoulders. Google wasn’t even in my vocabulary. No one had to caution me at the age of ten about the dangers of this powerful thing called the internet, cyber bullying and online predators.

I didn’t have technology at my fingertips and neither did my friends ¬†The pressure to fit in and possess the most recent form of tech toy never even crossed my mind.

I didn’t have to face the open attack and onslaught of God’s perfect design for marriage. A man and a woman was still recognized as the union for establishing a home and rearing a family.

I didn’t have to worry about peers with guns, that hurting people would lash out in their pain with awful destruction.

I didn’t have to shield my eyes from some of the open and blatant images that are considered entertainment and channeled into our homes in the name of family television and commercialism.

I didn’t have the drama of social media adding to the already challenging¬†waters of building and maintaining innocent relationships with my friends.

I didn’t have to battle the¬†ever-present cellphone at every turn, hindering healthy, real communication with family and friends.

The list could go on and on.

In Your Shoes (An Open Letter to My Children)

At this point I want you to know that I am sorry. I have to be honest with myself‚ÄĒand more importantly with you‚ÄĒand admit that I often fail to remember how the world as I once knew it no longer exists. I also have to confess that the passing of time does tend to dim some of the challenges of youthful living. I have forgotten some of what it is like to be your age. And I want to humbly apologize for not always remembering these realities in certain moments with you. ¬†Please forgive me.

Times really have changed, and most of them for the good. The nearly twenty-five years since I was your age has resulted in countless advancements in society, education and technology. However, most would also agree that some developments have been our downfall as a nation. Our moral compass has shifted, and we have become calloused to what is appropriate for our eyes to behold and our thoughts to dwell on, let alone those of our children. In turn, our parental blind eye has allowed influences into the hearts and lives of our offspring that are greatly costing them, sometimes everything. We somehow don’t even see the hurt and confusion registering on their young faces and mirroring in their eyes. How did this happen?

Is it because we never took the time to ponder about the days of their youth, the particular issues and influences that are rooted in their generation?

May this never be true in my heart, my sweet ones.

I pray that I will be ever watchful to your needs and attentive to your silent cries for guidance, those moments where you are subtly hinting for a listening ear. I know that you probably think that thirty-four is old, but I can well remember bashfully attempting to bring up difficult conversations and embarrassing topics with my own mom. So I do understand. It’s not always easy to broach issues that confuse and leave one wondering about life. And you know what else? The dirty floors can wait as can the dishes and the laundry. They will always be there, but you will not. My window to nurture and love you through this season of your life, your childhood, is small and growing smaller every day. So if you get nothing else from this letter, please take this promise to heart and know this simple truth without a doubt.

I am always here for you. Always.

And today I want to take my deep love for you to an even greater level of mothering. Today I want to stretch myself as a mom, to learn lessons that I can in turn pass on to you. But how does one do that? How can I better understand the thoughts and issues that shape another person’s life? Moments when I want nothing more than to aptly teach and instruct you through challenging situations? ¬†When I desperately desire to find the words to whisper fervent prayers for you, these precious souls at my feet? I think that I found the answer and it really is quite simple. If I want to see the world through your eyes, then I need to put myself where I have never been.

Today I put myself in your shoes.

Much love,

Mom

In Your Shoes (An Open Letter to My Children)

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Burdened for the youth of today. Take a moment to pray for them, please.

                               Thank you so much for reading.

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{Gluten Free} Patriotic Fruit Pizza

The smell of food grilling, juicy watermelon slices, ice cold lemonade‚ÄĒthese all scream summertime cookouts to me. You add the presence of family and friends, a dab of red, white and blue and moments of quiet reflection on the precious freedoms that we Americans daily enjoy and I am overwhelmed with the blessings of life in this great country.

Love. Pride. Gratefulness.

For our Memorial Day cookout, I decided to try a new dessert. Being the typical 2015 female, I scoured Pinterest for patriotic desserts. Don’t get me wrong. I still love and use my cookbooks, but when I need a specific recipe for an event, I need visual recipes. Pinterest, the King of eye-catching photos, fills the bill every time.

I wanted a light dessert with loads of fresh fruit. A fruit pizza would be perfect for our holiday cookout.

I quickly found one (original source) that was basically what I wanted and then I altered it to meet our lifestyle. We are not a gluten free family per se, but we have greatly reduced the amount of gluten that we consume. For now, our tummies are enjoying this change. We may jump on the gluten free bandwagon later.

gluten free patriotic fruit pizza

(Disclosure: Some of the links below contain affiliate links. I may earn a little bit of money which helps keep this blog up and running. All opinions are 100% my own. )

The cookie crust turned out delicious in spite of my worries of working with gluten free flour and xanthan gum for the first time. I seriously could not tell a difference.

gluten free fruit pizzaMake sure that the crust is pressed evenly and not too thin. I added a touch of arrowroot starch to make the crust super soft…and it did. Yum.

easy gluten free fruit pizzaArranging the fruit was where the inner artist in me rose to the surface. It was also when the perfectionist side of me came up to bat. Guess who won? Neither.

Sheesh. I had to remind myself that it didn’t have to be startlingly beautiful just to eat and nor did it have to be perfect in the eyes of Pinterest. Once I let go of both of these issues, I was thrilled with my circular stripes pattern and the single “strawberry star” in the center.

It was red, white and blue and that made me happy.

patriotic gluten free fruit pizzaLest you continue drooling on your screen, here is my recipe.

{Gluten Free} Patriotic Fruit Pizza
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
A classic fruit pizza on a health kick. This recipe is a gluten free and organic twist on this popular summertime dessert. The sugar cookie crust is soft and chewy and is layered with yummy cream cheese frosting and organic "patriotic" fruits.
Ingredients
  • Sugar Cookie Crust
  • ½ c. organic butter, softened to room temperature
  • ¾ c. organic cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ c. gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum, slightly heaped (this is to account for the extra ½ cup flour)
  • 1½ tsp arrowroot starch/flour (*optional- used to help make the cookie REALLY soft)
  • Toppings
  • 1 (8 oz.) block of organic cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • ¼ c. organic butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1½ c. organic powdered sugar (I cut back from the two cups recommended)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. of organic heavy cream or milk
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • Fresh organic fruit, washed and sliced if needed ( strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
Instructions
  1. In mixer, beat butter until it is soft and creamy.
  2. Add sugar and mix until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides when needed.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together soda, salt, flour, xanthan gum and arrowroot starch.
  5. While beating the butter mixture, slowly add the dry ingredients. Again, scrape down the sides as needed.
  6. ***Chill the dough for at least 30 MINUTES (or up to one full day). This prevents crust from flattening when baked.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Press dough onto a pizza pan (or into a circle on a cookie sheet)
  9. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Do NOT overbake.
  10. Allow crust to cool completely. (pop it into the fridge if you have to speed things up)
  11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
  12. Add the powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp of cream (or milk). Beat for two minutes.
  13. Add the vanilla and IF NEEDED, the other Tbsp of cream (or milk). Mix well.
  14. Spread frosting on the completely cooled crust and arrange fruit in desired pattern. Chill before serving.

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days. (three would be the recommended limit.) However if your family and friends are anything like mine, this treat will not last long. It was gone by breakfast the next morning.

Gluten Free Patriotic Fruit PizzaThis would also be perfect to serve at your Fourth of July gathering. Word to the wise, better play it safe and make two. Enjoy.

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So what did you end up making for your Memorial Day festivities? Anything special? Do you try to serve something red, white and blue? Share your thoughts and recipes. I’d love to hear.

                               Thank you so much for reading.

Please take a moment to share this post, and then click here to follow along on Facebook. You will find additional helpful tips, encouraging articles, personal stories and so much more. I would love to have you join me there.