Plans, list and reality

This may be a surprise to some people who know me IRL (that means In Real Life…for those that aren’t as *hip as I am.) but I am a Type A person.

I love lists.  I love to check things off.  I love to plan…short term, long term, everything in between.  I believe Saturdays were given to us as a day to get projects done…and those days should start at 8:30 a.m.

You can feel sorry for my husband.  He’s not type A. He believes Saturdays don’t begin until 9.  And then only after a donut run.

I love planners and often spend quite a bit of money and time on them.

In fact, just typing all this out has made me very happy.  And itching to spend more time on my planner.

Then. I. Had. Kids.

And ain’t nothing gone according to plan since.

According to my list:

  1. do school
  2. 4 loads of laundry
  3. change the sheets
  4. an hour of read aloud time.

Reality:

  1. start school
  2. break up two fights
  3. have a heart to heart with the middle school child
  4. share the gospel with the preschoolers (discipline)
  5. why isn’t the computer working?
  6. ok, no math today
  7. lunch…yes, leftovers again…stop whining it was good the first time…yes it was
  8. naptime, Thank you, Lord, for naptime.
  9. diaper explosion
  10. change sheets and give a bath
  11. help the high schooler, middle schooler and upper elementary with their school that didn’t get done this morning.
  12. make another cup of coffee
  13. everyone’s up, lets do read aloud
  14. more sharing of the gospel (see above)
  15. forget it, y’all go watch a movie.  Something educational?
  16. fine, Monsters, Inc.  Again.
  17. fix dinner

Hey, one bed got clean sheets.  Not mine.  My husband once asked how long I was going to go before I changed our sheets.  I started crying and mumbling something about lists and kids.  He doesn’t ask anymore.

The Lord has been so good to me.  I’ve learned to become much more laid back than my original nature.  So what if the sheets aren’t changed every Friday? Are they at least changed…ever?

I’ve learned to let Plan A roll into Plan B…C, D…forget the Plan.

I’ve even ditched the whole list and taken the kids for a matinee.  Or a movie we all like.  (Sorry, Alice, we’re all sick of Monsters, Inc.) I’ve even scrapped school for a day of making a meal and taking it to a new mom or a sick friend.

I still love my lists.  And man, I love getting things done.  But, I’ve learned to write them in pencil, making them up as I go.

*I’m not that hip…I googled it. 

 

Stars that BOOM!

I’ve shared before that my Alice hates rain.  She hates rain like boys hates baths, like I hate solicitors and like my husband hates black Friday.

But she hates thunder and lightning even more.

Here in south Texas we’ve had more than a little bit of rain.  I think it’s rained at least 5 days out of 7 for the past month.  The kids can’t play outside because it’s either raining or muddy.  So, yeah, that’s been a whole lotta fun…indoor soccer just doesn’t have the same amount of fun for mom as it does the kids.

The other night we had serious thunderstorm.

Tons of rain…Alice hates.

Tons of lightning…Alice hates.

(all images from google)

And the dreaded thunder…Alice hates.

As we tucked the little girls into bed we realized that it was not going to work.  They were simply too freaked out.  So, one went upstairs to sleep with an older sister and I tucked Alice into a bed in my room.  As we all laid down a huge lightning lit up the room.  Alice sits straight and starts babbling…loudly…and jumped into my bed.

Let me give just a bit of back-story on Alice.  She’s five.  She’s non-verbal.  And she is blessed with Down syndrome.  She has quite a number of signs, gestures, and grunts that lets us know what she’s communicating.  She made her own sign for “thunder”.  She signs stars and yells, “BOOM!”

As the storm raged all.  night.  long Alice was awake with each bolt.  She would wrap my arms tight around her little body.  Or she would grab my head and hold it tight on top of her own.

Around 2 a.m. the lightening was crazy.  Alice literally crawled up me and wrapped herself around my head.  This went on for what seemed like several hours.  It may have only been 20 minutes, but when it’s in the middle of the night…exaggeration is key.

So, I would unwind her and lay her back down and cuddle her back to sleep.  I know what you’re thinking, but it really didn’t bother me.

Alice is one that is very independent.  I loved her needing me for a bit.

 

 

A nice relaxing bath…

Disclaimer: This post contains the word “poop”.  This word disturbs by husband.  If this word and a post about this word bothers you, you might not want to continue reading.  Full disclosure.

Bath time.

When I only had one or two kids I would put them in the bath and clean the bath room.  Or I would read a book.  Or I would read to the kids.

Now I put in the three youngest girls in and get them out as quickly as possible.

Why? It’s not because they don’t love baths…because they do.  They love splashing.  They love the acoustics as they sing at the top of their sweet lungs.  They love the relaxing warmth of the water.

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One child has a tendency to enjoy the relaxing warmth too much.  If she is left in the bath too long it ends when she poops in the water.

Tonight, I forgot this rule.  I washed them and thought, let them play.  It’s fun.

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Then, it happened.  She pooped.  I have my oldest, she’s 18, and one of my sons, he’s 10, in the bathroom to help me get them dressed.  I snatch the baby out of the water and turn to give her to my son.  He, however, has used this time to play with his hair and to clean his ears out with q-tips.  I tell him to get me a towel.  He, however, runs from the room…hair spiked and a q-tip still sticking out of his ear.  (He now claims he was running to his bathroom, upstairs, to get me a towel.  hmmmmm)

I put the baby on the floor and grab the next child and hand her to my oldest so we can get them into the shower to rebathe them.  Then I grabbed the offending child and put her in the shower as well.  Except, she hates the shower because it reminds her of the rain…and she’s terrified of the rain.  I’m not making this up.

So, she locks her legs and arms on the shower door and cannot be pushed into the shower.  I have a baby, 15 months, standing, dripping, on the floor…freezing.  I have a 3 year old in the shower screaming (not sure why…sympathy for the sister that was scared?) and a very small but very strong 5 year old clinging to the door like a frightened cat.

scared cat

(not my cat…no cats were harmed in the writing of this post)

It.  Was.  Hysterical.

I couldn’t quit laughing.  I muscled the offender into the shower.  My oldest handed me the baby.  All three are screaming.  I’m using the hand-held shower and hosing them all down.

We got them re-cleaned, dried and dressed.  Then into bed.  I’m exhausted.

Bath time.  It’s all fun and games until someone poops in the tub.

 

And…..we’re back!

The holidays knocked me on my tail.  I’ll admit it.  I’m not ashamed.

The day after Christmas we began painting the downstairs.  Almost every room received an updated paint job.  It took us a full week.

Then the floors.  That took another week.

Then the recovery.  That has taken me two months.

I wrote a blog post that my husband hated.  Apparently I talked too much about the bodily functions of a child and it embarrassed him.  He has more social graces than I do.  It’s why he’s good for me.

Since then, I’ll find a few minutes to write (my favorite part of blogging) but not the minutes to upload the pictures (my least favorite part of blogging).  Then I worry that since I can’t do the job perfectly (because perfectionism is the opposite to getting things done) I shouldn’t do it at all.

I have a lot of posts piling up.  I’ll find the few minutes to upload the pictures…or maybe steal better ones off the internet?…and start regular posts again.  Or as regular as I get.

Tradition! Tradition!

I loved Christmas as a kid.  I loved the unknown, the wonder, the adventure.

My parents didn’t do Santa and a lot of our traditions were, well, untraditional.  We opened gifts on Christmas Eve except for one that was opened the next morning.  We ate fajitas for Christmas Eve dinner while listening to Linda Ronstadt singing mariachi music.  Then we’d sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and eat German chocolate cake in His honor.  I’m not making this up.

I think traditions are extremely important.  It gives your family an identity.  It sets the family unit apart from all other family units.  No two families do traditions the same even if they have common themes.

When we got married we had to blend his childhood traditions with my childhood traditions.  He grew up eating turkey and ham for Christmas dinner.  They had a big party every Christmas Eve.  He opened gifts on Christmas morning.  They did not listen to music or have cake.

It took some years, but we did it!

We eat a special dinner on Christmas Eve…chicken fettuccini alfredo with all the fixings of an American Italian meal.  Neither of us are Italian, by the way.  After the kitchen has been cleaned we head out to look at Christmas lights.  We usually don’t get to be out as long as we’d like due to either a crying baby or a little one that needs the bathroom.

When we get home, Erin reads the account of Christ’s birth from the book of Luke.  There is no trouble getting littles into bed this night!  Then Erin and I either put together gifts or finish wrapping…depending on how behind I am.  We watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Every.  Year.

I’m usually up the next morning before everyone else.  I enjoy a cup of coffee while enjoying the quiet and the Christmas tree for one last morning.  When Erin gets up, we wake the kids.  We make them wait to come into the living room until everyone is ready and they can all come in at once.

First thing they see are the stockings lined up on the couch.  Everyone gets their very own box of cereal…and they don’t have to share.  When Erin first wanted to include this in their stockings I wasn’t too sure.  It seemed weird to me.  But, the kids LOVED it!  And, an extra unforeseen benefit…I didn’t have to make Christmas breakfast!  I get to have a laid back, calm morning too!  (I often don’t have to make lunch either…they will snack on that cereal all day long.)  We also include a small gift, candy, and an orange.  That’s a nod to my childhood.  I’m not sure why an orange, but I put in there.  It’s what my mom did.

Then we take turns opening gifts.  The rest of the day is spent playing, reading, eating.  I love it.

So much so that if we are traveling for Christmas we will have our family Christmas, complete with looking at the lights, the weekend before.  We have always had our time together as a little family (when we were little.)  I think it’s really important for our family.

What are your favorite traditions?

Christmas spirit…blah

 

As I’ve gotten older my Christmas spirit has taken longer to arrive.  It generally takes until all the gifts are bought, wrapped and under the tree.  Twice that has been Christmas Eve.  Those were bad years.  Once it was Thanksgiving.  It’s still hasn’t arrived this year.

Christmas is a lot of work!  Knowing what every kid wants, keeping track of their wish list to tell grandma some ideas that are different than what I’m getting them, stocking gifts, wrapping the gifts, etc…blah.

I know one lady, she’s got, like 100 kids, and she has this super amazing spread sheet that manages all the gifts.  I have a list on my phone, maybe.  I often write my list on the very back page of the book I’m currently reading.  Then I have to hide the book from the kids.  Then I can’t find it.  And I have to go looking for the book and the list.  Sigh.

Last year the kids would shake the box and guess, correctly, what was in the box.  Really?  I spent at least 4 days looking for that list, going shopping with 1,000 other people, wrapping the gifts…and you guess it before Christmas morning?!?!

So, this year I’ve come up with a better plan.  I made up a code that only I know.  So instead of names, each gift has a numbered code.  I made it simple so I don’t actually have to remember everything.  (I can’t share it because my kids read this…mum’s the word).

The kids are in a tizzy.  They can’t guess what’s in it because they don’t know who the box is for!  (Insert evil laugh sweet Christmas-spirit-like giggle)

I’m convinced I’m a genius.  This is going to become our newest Christmas tradition.  Even though I’m not quite all done shopping and I’m terribly behind wrapping, listening to the kids trying to guess who’s gift is who’s…it’s bringing out some Christmas spirit.

Fa la la la!

Meal Planning…a hate story

I.  Hate.  Menu.  Planning.

There.  I said it.

My brain is somewhere between the size of a peanut and scrambled egg.  I simply can not go to the grocery store without a planned list.  I can’t “wing” it.  If I try I come home from the store with a dozen eggs, a block of cheese and 5 tubes of toothpaste.

So, each week I sit down and make a menu.  21 meals.  7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners.

I’ve tried having the same thing for breakfast to make it simpler.  After exactly 3 days of this my family mutinied.

I’ve tried having a theme day, ie Monday is Mexican day.  Breakfast burritos, quesadillas for lunch and enchiladas for dinner.

I’ve tried having soup every day for lunch in the winter.

I’ve tried having cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The guilt of not feeding them something good ruined that one.

I tried planning for an entire month so it was hard for one day and the rest was easy street.

I’ve printed out pretty menus to post on the fridge.

I’ve read books, blog posts, ebooks on meal planning.  I’ve sign-up and paid for menu planning websites.

I always come back to the way I started meal planning when I was a newly wed.

I take a piece of lined notebook paper and create a grid.  Three columns across and seven rows down.  I try to come up with meals that fit in all those spots.

Breakfasts: oatmeal (not a crowd favorite, but cheap), eggs (same as oatmeal), toast (everyone loves this but it can be expensive as we are a gluten free household), cereal, pancakes, muffins.  Everyone LOVES the last three.  But they are can be expensive or time consuming.

Lunches: soup, leftovers, sandwiches, leftovers…after that I’m stumped.

Dinners: I usually sit down with one cook book and all my ideas come from that one for that week.  And now I have pintrest.  Oh my, pintrest.  How I waste so much time on Thee.

We always have pizza one night usually Friday.  I try to make Monday a fun dinner because, well, it’s Monday.

It doesn’t matter if I’m planning 21 meals, 42, 78, 365…I can only come up with one less than I need.  I’m usually sitting at the table with paper and pen staring off into space while the children go crazy around me.  I’ll call or text hubby.  He’s no help.  He usually wants hard to fix food…you know, something that has more than 4 steps…on a week night!?!  I’ll ask the kids.  All they can think of is hotdogs.  Every. Time.  Now, I’m not above having hotdogs every night, but then my husband will mutiny.

As I write down the meals, I create a grocery list.  So much nicer to have a list.  Prevents us from having to eat toothpaste for lunch.

I really hate menu planning.  A lot.  My life would be so much simpler if I could just give them a pill to satisfy all of their nutritional needs for the day.  And I could order those pills on Amazon.  Or if they just didn’t have nutritional needs at all.  Think of all the time I’d have if I didn’t have to plan or cook or clean up from all the planning and cooking!

I could go on…on…on…and on.  But, the dishes won’t do themselves.

You know it’s gonna be bad…

When you walk into your bathroom and the plumber has taken apart your toilet and moved it out of the room!

During the night last Friday our downstairs toilet overflowed.  By the time it was noticed it had flooded the hallway, school closet, the cleaning closet, the younger girls’ bedroom and their closet.

I had plans for Saturday. It was Bea’s 3rd birthday.

Instead, we did this…

bathroom overflow 192

The carpet couldn’t be salvaged.  Everything in the girls’ bedroom was out in the front room. (We call it that because we don’t really have anything in that room and we’re not sure what to call it.)

bathroom overflow 191

bathroom overflow 190

We called the insurance adjuster and she came on Tuesday along with the plumber.  Our home got a thorough exam.  The insurance adjuster came and took a lot of measurements and a sample of the wood floor.  I guess I had a terrified look on my face because she kept saying, “It’ll all be ok.  I’ll be here with you every step of the way.  It’ll all work out.”  I thought I was doing ok.

The restoration company came and set up 8 large, loud fans and two dehumidifiers.

8 fans, y’all.

8.

The noise from those fans was enough to drive a sane woman over the edge and I have never claimed to sane.  I was about to lose my mind.

bathroom overflow 046

We will have to replace all the floor in the downstairs.  Because there’s no way to match the pattern and color of the floor and because the entire downstairs is wood floors…I get new floors.

The fans left today, praise the Lord!  And while the front of the house is still torn up the quiet hole left by the fans is wonderful.

bathroom overflow 045

Yep.  My house with it’s 8 kids, one quiet man and one loud mama is so much sweeter without that very loud white noise.

How can one little overflow cause so much damage?  At lease the duct tape they used matches the wall décor.  ‘Cause those things matter to me…things matching…and quiet.

Butter me up!

I grew up eating margarine.  Everyone I knew did.  Now we all eat butter.

A lot of things that were safe when I was a kid aren’t safe for my children…like not wearing seatbelts or riding in the back of a pickup truck.  Now, it was my aunt’s pick up truck and it had a camper top.  She had made cushions and even matching curtains.  It was the best dressed back-of-a-pick up truck in all of Oklahoma.

We drank fluoridated water.  My mom co-slept with babies on a water bed.  We played outside and didn’t wear sunscreen unless we went to the pool.  We rode our bikes to school and didn’t wear helmets.  We carried backpacks and didn’t worry about back problems.

I’m often amazed my generation survived. I mean, according to the experts how is it even possible?  I’m also amazed the next generation isn’t walking around wrapped in bubble wrap.  Maybe that will be the recommendation for my grandkids.

But, back to butter…that’s all we eat in this house.  It’s good for you…haven’t you heard?  It’s got a long list of health benefits.  Like…well, I don’t know.  But, some of us eat it straight off the stick.

ipad Bea helping Liz and eating butter 007

Do you have a problem with that?

ipad Bea helping Liz and eating butter 011

Easy like Sunday morning…

Whoever wrote that song didn’t have 8 kids.

Or go to church.

I’m going to tell you something you probably won’t believe.  Sunday mornings around here are pretty laid back.  My husband and I get up about an hour before the kids.  We enjoy a cup or two of coffee.  We read scripture.  We talk.  We talk a lot because it’s quiet and we don’t get interrupted.

Then one of us starts breakfast and the other gets the kids up.  We start getting them ready, we get ready.  We get the things needed for church.

  • Hymn books x 4
  • Bibles x 6
  • Notebooks x 8
  • Diaper Bag (with 2 different sized diapers and extra clothes for the newly potty trained)
  • Lunch (our church has a fellowship meal after every service)
  • Lunch for those of us with food allergies x 2
  • Erin’s office on wheels (he’s the church treasurer)
  • Mom’s purse
  • Mom’s water bottle
  • Coffee mugs with coffee x 3
  • Boba (baby carrier)
  • Portable high chair

I didn’t realize it was that much until I typed it all out.  I’m exhausted just looking at that.  Now I have older girls that are a huge help.  They help get the littles dressed and breakfast eaten.

We all get breakfast.  We all get dressed.  Most of the little ones take a bath because I can never get my act together to bathe them on Saturday night.

Then I say the words that change our Sunday mornings from a laid back, calm morning to one of pure terror…

“Ok, everyone! It’s time to get in the van!”

All hell breaks loose.  I’m not kidding.  This is the time that shoes that were on people’s feet are now lost.  Bibles and notebooks have disappeared.  The diaper bag walked away.  The coffee mugs that were clean are now dirty and need to be washed.

This past Sunday we got an even earlier start.  The trek to the van was relatively easy. Too easy.  It made me nervous.  We loaded up in the van and…it wouldn’t start.  It wouldn’t jump.  It just looked at us like we had lost our minds for asking it to move.

So, Erin loads up who will fit into his mini van and takes them to church.  His plan was to take a van load and come back for the rest of us.

So, at home was the baby, the 2 year old, the 5 year old and the 15 year old.  I nursed the baby while the 2 and 5 year old went upstairs to play.  It was quiet.  It was calm.

Erin texts he’s on his way home.  I call for the girls to come downstairs.

“It’s time to go,” I say.  (remember I said that makes all hell break loose?)

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The almost 3 year old that has a fascination with watching her big sisters put on make-up.

Yep.  She applied mascara and red finger nail polish.  Everywhere.  Now, to her credit, she only got it on her and her dress.  Not the carpet upstairs or anywhere in the bathroom.

So, as Erin is pulling up I’m in the bathroom rubbing her face with coconut oil.  Trying to find another dress (was that the only clean one? No, that one is too short! No, she can’t wear jeans! Ok, fine put her in jeans! Wait! I found a dress in the clean laundry pile!)

We load up in the car.  By the time we get to church I feel like I’ve been up for hours and hours and hours and put in a full day’s work.

Easy like Sunday morning? Dude, no.