Tag Archives: children

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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Give Grace to My Children

Dear Mom Who Just Wants Grace

The child was screaming in the Target parking lot as I retrieved my own two kiddos from their carseats. The sound of her wails peirced through the crisp, morning air. I did my utmost to not stare at the child or the mother as I toted my offspring past their car into the store.  I even tried my best to look casual and to not appear like I was avoiding eye contact. I probably failed, but I did try.

As I entered the big double doors and settled my little ones in the shopping cart, I have to admit, the sweet silence was a relief. Calm is always refreshing, is it not? I lingered a moment to browse very quickly through one of my favorite areas (also known as a money pit), the Dollar Spot. My son and I both enjoy looking at all of the “eye candy”, toys for him and home stuff for me. Just as I’m wheeling my empty cart away from the dollar deals, I heard a familiar sound enter the store.

Incessant crying and sniffling. The child was still upset.

For the next fifteen minutes, the echo of the little girl’s unhappiness could be heard throughout the store, sometimes distant and sometimes not. Then suddenly it was gone. I’m not sure if the absence of her cries indicated that the child had finally calmed down or if she and her mother had simply left the store. At any rate, peace and quiet reigned again.grace for the weary mama

As I looked down at the two small faces in my red cart, a bit of maternal pride was tempted to creep in. Thoughts of “Look how sweet mine are being” or “I’m so glad that my kids are behaving”. You know what I mean – when life is going smoothly and the sun is shining on your world, it is so easy to condemn the actions of others, to judge what they should or should not be doing.

Yet I couldn’t separate myself from the vision of that weary mom pushing her sobbing toddler around. I couldn’t help but feel her struggle, her fatigue, her frustration and yes, even her embarrassment.

Why? I’ve been there.

I’ve walked in her shoes, more than once actually. I’ve been the one on the receiving end of the harsh stares and heard the mutterings as I hurried by. I’ve been the one who wished that I could just sink through the linoleum floor in Aldi. I’ve been the one with the cheeks stained a bright red as I tried desperately to calm my distraught child (and quite frankly, on rare occasions more than one child) while rushing through my shopping list. I’ve been the one to bounce a wailing, hungry baby on my hip, quietly admonishing my older two to get along and keeping the two toddlers out of the conveniently-placed-at-kid-level candy and treats while checking out with the cashier. I’ve been the one who felt the immeasurable relief to finally be back in the privacy of my own van only to realize that I had neglected to hand the cashier my stack of coupons.

a mother's plea

Motherhood can be hard, can’t it? The pressure to measure up and meet expectations can be heavy.

I mean, we all want to have the good kid, don’t we? Sure we do. But for what reasons? At what cost? Far too often, I’m afraid that its for the appearance and for the convenience that good behavior brings. A well-behaved child certainly makes us look good as parents, and the ease and laid back parental approach afforded with an obedient son or daughter makes life pretty sweet too. And while I firmly believe that a well-behaved and obedient child (or in my case, children) is a wonderful blessing, the status of my parenting and the comfort of my time should be the furthest things from my mind. Parenting isn’t all about me.

It’s all about them.

If my children leave the haven of our home and cross over the threshhold into adulthood as simply good people, then I have failed most miserably. Good people sometimes fall apart and disappoint. Mere goodness doesn’t matter in the end. Not really. And while focusing on rearing a “good” child can be tempting, for sure, it ought not be our goal.

However, if my children know God and love His Word, then I, a simple mother, have been blessed with the opportunity to change the world through five, and soon-to-be six precious people. You see, when God is the center of their lives and the guidance of His word the pull of their heart strings, goodness will pour out in the end. Let God be the reason for the additional “o”. He alone can truly make them “good”.

grace quote

Sure, the surface of “goodness” may look nice, but it doesn’t always last. Cultivate the heart of your child with love of God first.¬†Give them time. Give them grace.

One day the fruit of goodness will blossom (along with many others fruits) and it will have nothing to do with me but everything to do with Him.

So the next time you see (or hear) a small child clearly wanting his own way, remember as I did that God’s work in their hearts has only just begun. He is not finished with them yet. Don’t pass judgment too quickly, allow children the opportunity to grow, to develop, to change.

Additionally, extend grace to the mother. Her parenting journey may be new and even if not, every child is different. No one wants to be critiqued on unfinished work. Perhaps you may remember the difficult waters of those early and yet so important years in the lives of your children. The smooth, easy moments of child-rearing are indeed precious days, but challenging, hard times are also part of the course of motherhood. Parenting stretches you.

You may also relate to the weary moms who are out there, the ones who have attempted to do everything right and at the end of the some days, still feel like they have failed. Have you felt that pressure before? Or maybe have even experienced the mortification of transporting a tiny child who is, ahem, loudly expressing his displeasure as you wisk him out the door?grace for my children

It’s rough.

You may even understand the plea in her eyes and the cry of her heart to the watching world around her, to be offered empathy, not judgment. A simple word of encouragement can be more uplifting than you may ever know. As a mother, she desires but one thing‚ÄĒ

Grace.

Better days are ahead, mom. Hang in there.

Dear Mom Grace pinterest

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(P.S. This post was already weighing on my heart and then I went out to run my typical shopping/grocery run in town this week only to see another struggling young mother with two very small children. At Target. Again. I guess that it just really struck a chord in my own life. Parenting is hard work, folks.

***Please also note that I am not condoning inappropriate behavior in small children. I am just wanting us to remember that small children, and even older ones, are not exempt from having bad days. Let’s extend grace.)

Blessings,

Heather

The Paper Pickle {31 Days of Life. Contained.}

Life Contained 2014 button

This post is part of a series called 31 Days of Life. Contained. Want to catch up on the entire series? Click here. Want to stay connected and not miss another post? Follow me on facebook.

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Paper. What do you do with it? It is surely the monster that threatens to consume my very existence or at the very least, my sanity.

the paper pickle

As of this year, we have three girls attending a charter school. This equates to piles of school papers. Piles.

What do I do with it all, I ask you? Short of hiring a personal secretary, I stumbled across this concept¬†–keepsake boxes.

We began using them last year and it changed my life.

school paper organization

I went to Office Depot to pick up the very same colorful totes that Toni used for her kiddos. Clearly, I was making the right decision when I saw that they were buy one, get one free. I now had Office Depot backing me up. When you waffle on making decisions like I do, a sale sign seems paramount. It was like pushing the easy button but in the wrong store.

I rounded another corner, and boom. The hanging file folders were also on sale. Of course they were. This mission was corporate-approved, I tell you. Could a project be made any easier (and cheaper) than this? These childhood boxes were meant to be. I could not deny it.

children's paper storage

I grabbed up the colors that I needed in the totes as well as their coordinating folders. (Remember my children are color coded.)

school paper storage

I used my labeler to make the following labels for the files. While I used some of the same folder names as Toni, I did not follow her list exactly. Nor will you, if you should choose to try this organizational method. Obviously though, grades K-12, report cards, birthday cards, artwork, etc. will be necessary for any child. The more extracurricular preferences and interests will be the areas that vary.

  • ¬†Birthday cards
  • Report cards
  • School pictures
  • Artwork
  • Toddler years
  • Kindergarten- Twelfth Grade (one file for each grade)
  • Church (Sunday School, AWANA, VBS, etc.)
  • Academic Awards

storing school papers

And yes, it was a little emotional to print labels such as these. The senior year of high school seems so distant, but then I remind myself, so did fifth grade and yet here we are. The years are like water in my hand, slipping by at a rate that is beyond my control.

I still have several empty files to organize new categories as my children continue to grow and to pursue new interests.

organizing school papers

Their boxes are stored on the top shelves of their bedroom closets for easy access. At the end of each semester, I sort through their school papers and decide which to keep and which to toss.

(A life lesson I’ve learned: Never sort and discard papers during the daytime ‚ÄĒ and certainly not in their presence. Tears will be sure to follow.)

memory storage for children

(As shown in the pictures, I have two totes that I’ve fully finished creating and labeling files. The blue and green keepsake totes are still being worked on.)

Pink. Purple. Blue. Green. I just need to go grab their orange one for Baby Van. ( By the way, I love being able to share her “name” now. It makes me smile just typing it.)

Orange would be the perfect choice for my October baby ‚ÄĒ Mama’s little pumpkin.

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tip 24

How do you store your children’s handiwork, schoolwork and keepsakes? A designated filing drawer in the family’s filing cabinet? A cardboard box under your bed? Taking the time to sort and organize papers will not only help to better preserve their work, but will also help to reduce the amount of storage used. Tame that monster today.

Thanks for reading.

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Denim and Boots

February 22, 2011 changed my world as I knew it forever. We were no longer a house of pink.

While I was certainly eager to be welcoming home Baby Pop, I suddenly found myself in an uncharted territory of motherhood. I was no longer just a mommy to girls. I now had a son.

A boy.

denim and boots

Ummm. Okay,…so now what?

I had no clue.

Needless to say, Pop sent me down the fast track of mothering boys. I learned the hard way‚ÄĒmore than once, I’m afraid‚ÄĒthat diapering sessions must be quick and brief. He showered me (and himself!) on numerous occasions. He also taught me that boys, from birth and on up, are always hungry. His appetite (once we got it kick-started) has never slowed down.

dress boots

Hollow legs must be a real issue.

However, one of the things that I used to struggle with the most was how to dress little boys.

What in the world could I put on him that is just stinkin’ adorable and cute?

hockey graphic shirtYou see, I was used to frills and lace. Hair bows, giant flower headbands, intricate braids and gorgeous ringlets. Doll babies and petite-sized pocket books. Poofy dresses, plastic jewelry and patent leather shoes.

But you know what?

khaki cargo pantsI’ve come to realize that finding outfits for my little man can be¬†just as fun.

I’ve fallen in love with the cargo jeans, workboots and matchbox cars. Newsboy caps, sweater vests and corded pants. And maybe a lone dinosaur. Denim jackets, plaid shirts and cowboy boots.

jean jacketThese now make my heart skip a beat. Denim + boots. <3

I thoroughly enjoy dressing my little boy everyday.

fall casual outfit for boysJust the sight of him makes me smile.

fall fashion for boys

But then again, I am his mother. ¬†ūüėČ

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Fall Fashion for Little Boys: Denim and Boots

Here’s the rundown of how I stretched my dollars to dress my little guy.

  • Old Navy Jean jacket– bought at a consignment sale for $5.00 ¬† ¬† ¬†(similar¬†….Old Navy would be cheaper, but they did not have any for boys online…other than this, secondhand is good too!)
  • Gapkids orange long sleeve graphic t-shirt– online clearance for $2.00 ¬† ¬† ¬†(similar¬†….Pop has this one too… in blue. Gap has usually had tees for really good prices on Black Friday in years past. Only $5 I think? And they are excellent quality.)
  • Gymboree khaki cargo pants– thrift store for $2.39 ¬† ¬† ¬†(similar¬†….Pop’s pants are more of a heavy material than these…chino perhaps? They just do not wrinkle which is every mom’s dream, I know.)
  • Gapkids orange and white striped socks (not shown) – $0.69 ¬† ¬† ¬†(similar¬†….Pop also has these socks as well. They do not pill. I pick up socks for my children’s gift tubs¬†when they are marked down to ¬†$0.99 with an additional 40% off + 10% Tuesday.)
  • Faded Glory “cowboy” boots– a gift ¬† ¬† ¬†(same¬†….He loves these. I have to convince him to wear other shoes and to give these boots a break.)

There you have it.¬†A casual outfit built with interchangeable, classic pieces for roughly $10 bucks‚ÄĒincluding shoes and outerwear.

How about you? How do you (or did you) dress your children without breaking the bank? Sales racks? Thrift stores? Sew your own?¬†Ever struggle with dressing little boys in cute clothes? Leave a reply. I’d love to hear.

XO,

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