Category Archives: Motherhood

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.

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.

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)

___________________________________________________________________

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

                               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.

Seven Second Trimester Tips

seven second trimester tips

You are breathing a deep sigh of relief right now. The difficulties and worries of the first trimester are behind you and you couldn’t be happier. The little life growing inside you is making its presence known in more ways than one. Embrace this new season of your pregnancy and enjoy each and every blessed moment with these simple tips.

1. Move It, Move It

The exhaustion of those early days are over and you feel like a new woman…of sorts. Capitalize on that second wind of energy while you can. Walking, exercising (cleared by your doctor/midwife) and physical conditioning are all wonderful ways for keeping your body feeling its best and preparing you for labor. All too soon, fatigue of the third trimester may overwhelm you in the dwindling days of your pregnancy. Keep moving while you can‚ÄĒthat “beached whale” feeling is just around the corner. (Sorry. I have to be honest.)

2. Devour Real Food

If you suffered with morning sickness and different food aversions during those first weeks, well, I sincerely hope that the nauseating thoughts and sights of certain foods are no longer a concern. Take this time to focus on preparing nutritious, whole foods that will nurture both you and your baby. A well-balanced diet is crucial for not only the health but also the development of your child. Eat well and eat wise.

3. Drink Up

Proper hydration is vital to keeping your body healthy and strong. Flushing your body with water will help rid your body of toxins to ward off urinary tract infections, avoid water retention and keep your digestive system moving. Drinking plenty of water is essential in maintaining healthy blood cells, vital for good lactation and an important way to combat preterm labor in the third trimester. Your body is constantly changing, and therefore, you need plenty of water to handle the many developments of motherhood. So get in touch with your dromedary side and guzzle down your eight recommended glasses of water every day. It really is important.

seven tips

4. Take a Babymoon

At this point in most pregnancies, a mother is often feeling her best, more energized and like herself. However in a few short months, you will be welcoming a new baby into your home and your day-to-day life will change. Take the time to go away for a few days and just relax with your husband. Enjoy being a couple before life with a slumbering infant and a loaded diaper bag shadow your every move. Even if you have other children and this is not your first “rodeo”, a babymoon is still important. Spending relaxing, quality time together as a couple may be more refreshing than you or your spouse may realize. Remember, extravagancy is not the goal. Rest is the desired end.

5. Dress the Bump

Your expanding front is a flashing neon sign of your pregnancy. You are beyond the slightly chubby state and your rounded silhoutte is proudly proclaiming to the world that you are with child. Embrace your new shape. An expectant mother blossoming with child is a beautiful sight. Dressing your bump does not have to be expensive, so shop smart. My maternity wardrobe is a mix of consignment sale, ebay, clearance rack, thrift store and retail finds. If you are planning on a number of future pregnancies, invest in quality pieces that are timeless and classic. I have pieces that I wore during my first pregnancy over eleven years ago and they are still in excellent shape. Another idea would be to borrow or trade clothes with family or friends to help keep cost down. Maternity clothes can be adorable and still not break the bank. Have fun.

*For example, my denim dress (seen above) was found at The Gap on sale for $4.97  (retail price $59.99) with an additional 40% off. I received another 10% off for shopping on Tuesday and also used a giftcard. I was quite ecstatic with my $2.69 find.

6. Sit Still

Yes, I do realize that I just told you earlier to move it while you can and that I am now telling you to sit still. You may be scratching your head by this point, however, hang in there. In the midst of eagerly crossing off the days until your due date, sit back and enjoy your changing body. All of it. Your swollen belly? Stroke it and whisper sweet words of love to your tiny babe. The constant kicks? Marvel at the first wiggles of life, movements as gentle as the fluttering of butterfly wings. Sit back and murmur a quiet prayer of thanks for this amazing gift of motherhood. In the stillness of those moments, you will not only find yourself humbled by your many blessings, but will also realize that the small trials in your journey really are just that‚ÄĒsmall. Perspective is everything.

7. Remember

You are truly blessed. The ability to conceive and carry a baby to term is a precious dream of many women and the season of childbearing is such a small window in your life. Seize the moments. Capture your thoughts on paper, document your journey through photographs. Nine months will fly by and the years of mothering your child, well, they go by even faster. Time stops for no one, but you can offset the fleeting years by treasuring every. single. day.  Starting now.

Enjoy your days, dear mom, and welcome to the second trimester.

seven second trimester tips

 

Blessings.

10 Things Every New Mom Should Know

10 things every new mom should know

1.Ponytails are hot.

Granted, there may be days ahead that you want a more stylish updo or hair style, but quick and easy ponytails can be attractive too. You can add extra detail to an otherwise plain ponytail with a small front section braided and pulled into the tail or you can wrap the band with your own hair and secure with bobby pins. In the end, nothing trumps having your hair pulled back and out of your way as your hands are busy with your new baby, chores or life in general. And yes, a simple ponytail is a hairstyle.

2. Body shape isn’t everything.

Some may say that your body will never be the same and they are more than likely right. Your hips may never be as small as they were before childbirth and your chest size may never be as it was before either. Some ladies struggle with a little extra weight in the middle, complete with stretchmarks. Is your body ruined? Absolutely not. You have just completed the most amazing and miraculous journey. You were given a gift and blessed with the capability to nurture and birth a healthy, beautiful little one into this world. So will your body shape never be exactly the same‚ÄĒin spite of diet and exercise? Possibly not. However, as you catch that first glimpse of your new babe, you will realize without a doubt that body shape isn’t everything and that, sure, a size 4 is definitely a thing of the past. Your body may never be the same and you are okay with this fact. Because you¬†will never be the same. You’re a mom.

3. Nursing is the norm now.

When I had my first baby nearly eleven years ago, nursing was just beginning to really be encouraged again to expectant moms. Since then, I have seen an even stronger push to help mothers realize the countless benefits for both mother and baby. I, for one, am very grateful for the support and information that is available today. With my last two babies, I struggled with low milk supply (and had to offer formula supplement to one of them). Thankfully my birthing center is very, VERY helpful (they have a 100% success rate) and I was able to exclusively nurse my last one. My advice to you would be this: read up on how be proactive with building your milk supply before delivery, seek help from a lactation consultant after birth if needed (they are awesome), and don’t give up too early.
*While I’m rather passionate about nursing, I do know that some struggle and for reasons unknown are unable to nurse. I was somewhat in your boat with my fourth and cried many tears over not being “enough” for him. In the end, nourishing your baby (however that may be) is your ultimate goal.

4. Nights don’t last forever.

There may be days ahead when¬†you will think back and call me a liar. I assure, I am not. And just as certainly, nights don’t¬†really¬†last forever. Whether you are ready for it or not, morning will come. The sun will rise and other people will begin stirring. Trust me on this. What should you do to bypass or shorten this phase? Encouraging a good schedule from day one is important in avoiding a season of nocturnal parenting. Hang in there.

5. Rock the mini-van.

I have to be honest here. I could not wait to be a mini-van mom. Seriously. I thought that they were adorable and such a sweet a reminder of this new journey that Hubs and I were embarking on, parenting. We have had a number of mini-vans over the years due to different issues. I was completely smitten with our Ford Windstar with one sliding door on the passenger side. What ease. Then we upgraded to a newer Ford Windstar with two sliding doors. Wow, now I felt spoiled. Then last year, our van was utterly demolished from a deer deciding to jump the entire road (both lanes) and falling short. On our hood. At that point, we embraced a whole new breed, a Honda Oddessey eight-seater, with automatic sliding doors. I am on cloud nine with just a push of a button. So spread the word: mini-vans are the cool cars.

6. Everyone forgets diapers occasionally.

Don’t hyperventilate. We’ve all been there. When your frantic search in the nursery or in your diaper bag still comes up empty, do what you have to. I’ve squeezed my babies in diapers a couple sizes too small or wrapped them snugly in ones too large. Whatever helps you get by until someone can get to the store or the cloth ones can fully dry, roll with it. If you can, ask to borrow one from a friend if you are out and about. Just don’t sweat it. Life goes on.

7. Paper plates are cool.

Every new mom needs to have a helping hand. For me, a “mother’s helper” takes on a whole new light. After a decade of being in the ministry, most of which has been away from either side of our family, I have learned to cope¬†without a support system in tact. I’ve learned to cut corners. Anything that I can do to simplify the adjustment period of a new addition to the family, I will do it. One area in which I try to prepare is to stockpile paper plates. They will be your new BFF. Your husband will sing your praises and you will be able to slumber sweetly¬†knowing that your kitchen is not overflowing with dirty dishes. Paper plates are the bomb. Get some.

8. Master the art of multi-tasking.

A baby is a time hog, especially during those early weeks. However, you can accomplish more than you think possible if you learn to multi-task. Try to get the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer going at the same time. You will feel like a million bucks. Sheesh. This is the twenty-first century. Go ahead and whip out the vacuum cleaner, crockpot and breadmachine. You can have the dishes washed, laundry done, floors cleaned and dinner with fresh bread accomplished all from a few moments of work between feedings. Caroline Ingalls never had it so good, huh?

9. Nap like a pro.

This is one area that I have to work at constantly. Unlike some women, I struggle to fall asleep during the day. I’m always listening for the baby’s breathing, checking the blankets and basically fussing like a mother hen. So I am preaching to myself here. Rest is important. Your milk supply, your healing, your hormonal and emotional state all hinge on your physical well being. Don’t try to be supermom. Rest when you can, accept help when it is offered and take good care of yourself. Those early days of infancy and motherhood are fleeting and precious days…ones that you’d like to be able to recall in the years to come. Sleep, mama. You need it.

10. Kiss your man.

Two has become three before you could even blink. While your world may have transformed into a fog land of feedings, spit up and constant diapers, don’t forget your husband. Remember the days when the image of him warmed your thoughts constantly and his arrival home was the highlight of your day. Make an effort to lay the baby down in the evenings and have time together. You need it just as much as he does. Having a baby changes things, but your love should not. Don’t forget your love for him in the midst of motherhood. The very presence of that tiny wiggling new person represents your love for one another, a love that should merely deepen as you become parents. You see, love doesn’t diminish when you become parents‚ÄĒit multiplies.

Now go lay one on him.

10 things every new mom should know

_______________________________________________

 Enjoy this season, new mama. It is truly precious.

Blessings.