Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let's Build an Ark

Do any of you have a good story or photo from when your kid really messed up your house?  I have a few stories I like to share in order to join in the "Oh yeah?  Well let me tell you what MY kid did" conversations.  The latest round of damage may push me into captain of that club.

How could such a dear, sweet child as this cause around $1,000 worth of (out of pocket) water damage?

Note the "Magnificent Manners Award" he got a couple of days before the water fiasco.

Well, if you combine a slow upstairs bathroom sink drain, with a full-blast faucet running for half an hour, and an inattentive boy who "just wanted to see what would happen", you get water dripping through your kitchen ceiling, into the walls and down the cabinets. Unfortunately my original 1968 Formica counter tops were not damaged, and it looks like they will not be replaced anytime in the next couple of decades

We had the professionals come over to dry the plaster ceiling and walls.  We had two industrial fans, an industrial dehumidifier and another industrial thing that I am sure was doing very important work preventing mold from forming.  And I am sure those 13 (but who's counting) holes that had to be drilled in my ceiling and 4 (again, who's counting) square panels cut out of my wall plaster helped vent and drain the water well, too.

I had been working around these beasts of machines for days.  They were so loud I couldn't hear myself think.  But, on the positive side, I couldn't hear much whining coming from the kids, either.

And what, you may be wondering, did I do discipline the three year old that caused such a ruckus?  Pretty much nothing.  Seriously.  Sure, I was upset at the situation, but I really wasn't upset with him because he didn't have evil intent (that I know of).  Discipline is intended to teach children.  He got a good talking-to about always turning off water, but without malicious intent and without understanding the magnitude of his actions, the sin wasn't really there.  I've been more upset with him for talking back than this.

He was also quite remorseful.  When I was mopping up water with huge beach towels, he politely and helpfully handed me a single paper towel to help.  Sure, not useful, but his heart was in the right place.

It would be unfair to whine a bit about the situation without pointing out some good that came from it.  My children got to work together in a mini-crisis mode.  I am ashamed to say that they may have had a better grasp on what to do than I did.

After the initial water was cleaned upstairs and I was trying to mop up all the water coming through the walls and ceilings, I called to my oldest children and said, "Hey!  I know how you can help!"  I had intended to ask them for more towels.

Instead my son said, "I know, Mom.  We need to pray now!  God will help us."  Imagine how humbled I was that it took an 8 year old to remind me in the midst of chaos that God will bring some calm.  And I had no excuse.  I had just come off of a church women's retreat less than a week earlier!

Afterward, we all agreed that we felt better.  No, it didn't stop the water damage, but it did put into perspective who was really in charge.  I was grateful it didn't have to be me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Big Families - The Good Stuff

I feel like I have this huge secret of how great big families can be.   When people find out I have five (soon to be six) kids, the usual response is "I could never do that."  They picture the noise, food quantities and mountains of laundry.  And sure, that is part of it.  

But they can't see the good stuff.  The great things about a bigger-than-typical family.   I want people to know that it isn't just added drudgery, but that there are some pretty awesome things about having a big family.  Each of my children is a blessing.  The fifth just as much loved and adored as the first.   

Now don't get me wrong.  Typical sized families are great, too.  I grew up in a family of two children and had a terrific childhood.  I bet you can all picture it in your heads - softball, girl scouts, local parades, camping trips, the usual.  But picturing family life with more kids might have you stumped.  You probably don't envision how  awesome it is to be down by 15 runs in co-ed D-league softball and have a whole crowd of my children cheering and shouting "Go Mommy!" in unison.  That alone is worth the extra chaos of a few more kids.

I don't believe everyone has to have a large family or even that they are better than small families.  They are both wonderful, but just different.  If, somewhere in the back of your mind, you were thinking, "Maybe I have room in my heart and life for just one more child who might be waiting for a Mom and Dad to love them, but I can't picture what that would be like." this post is for you.  As one mom said, "When you are thinking about whether or not to adopt a child (or another child), just remember that the joy of big family games may just be a child away." 

And no, I am not a saint or a super-mom.  I don't have a super-hero power of infinite patience or  a money tree growing in the backyard.  I am just a regular girl who has a few more birthday cakes to make each year.  If anything, it is humbling to think that it has taken this many children to feel like I might be figuring out this motherhood thing after all. 

I am surprised to find that my family doesn't feel "big".  It seems that every where I turn around, there is another family my size or larger, especially in the adoption community.  I am grateful that many of these families were willing to share what they love about having a bigger-than-average family.  Here are some of their responses:

I wanted to share what a good friend told my husband when we were considering the adoption of our last 2 little ones.  Our friend has 14 children and he said that his response to curious folks is this:  If you had 14 million dollars and someone wanted to give you another million, wouldn't you want it?  Or would you say, I have 14 that's enough.  It is a different mindset to focus on the value and the benefits of children vs the work and 'cost.'

I feel like we have just one life to live, and we choose to add to our family, and it is noisy and messy at times, but it has been a blessing much greater than any sacrifice it has been.
It's really fun to have a diverse group of ages.  I tease the kids that there will always be at least one who likes me, lol. From diapers to graduations to mastering a two wheeler to getting braces off, so many different levels of motherhood keep things interesting.

Kids are like potato chips; I always want one more.   Only now that we have 8, I think I want 2 more. Poor dear husband.

There's always someone to giggle with after the lights have gone out.

Many hands make light work. 

There's always plenty of people who really love you to give advice and lend a shoulder. 

For the folks that say, "My you have your hands full" I say, yes, they have never been empty, and that is an incredible blessing.

I can honestly say...having a large family has enabled me to sleep like a baby at night...I'm so exhausted at bedtime, there is NEVER any insomnia!

No one is ever bored.

Food never goes to waste.

Watching older kiddos with littler ones is just one of the most amazing gifts that a parent could ever witness.  It is seeing first hand the fruition of years of parenting.   

I could never get enough wild-flower-weed bouquets and butterfly kisses!

One of the great things about having 6 kids is it forces me to stay on top of things and keep organized-if I only had a couple I'm sure I could have gotten lazy!  
I love having lots of kids around. With more kids they entertain each other better. They learn to share, to compromise, to forgive. They learn the true meaning of grace, how to be kind, and how to sacrifice. Also, a house filled with riotous laughter....sorry, but it doesn't get any better than that to me.

Games - not just being able to play any game, but games that require multiple kids – ball freeze tag, four square, dodge ball, soccer, and knockout. These are the types of games that many kids only get to play at recess but big family kids can play all night long.

Adoption has added four children into our family, and we adopted because we love children.  
I love when people look at my kids and say, "now, which one is that?"  Maybe it's cause I had 4 girls in a row???  Cracks me up!

 My house is always a party...and it's funny, it's "the place to be" in the neighborhood.  All the other kids want to come HERE to play.  Because HERE it's ok to be a kid, and have fun.  Laughter is encouraged, a 'degree' of mess and chaos is normal.  At times, yes it gets overwhelming...who doesn't want a little peace and quiet now and then?  But overall, it's where I want to be too!!!  With 5 kids aged 4- just never know what you'll find!

Hearing our 3 preschoolers cheer on daddy as he makes them breakfast is the best sound in the world!

We realized how truly blessed our children are by having siblings who force them to learn valuable life lessons - sharing, compromise, compassion, empathy, etc. 

Colleges and universities have struggled in recent years to deal with the extra challenges so many students are now facing in dorm life. Most families (up to 90% of all homes) now only have one to two children. These college kids have never had to share a bedroom or a bathroom before. They don't know how to negotiate and compromise.
The laughter and joy of having someone to enjoy imaginary adventures with blesses my heart beyond measure.

I wouldn't trade our life for anything!!!  I love them all passionately!  I can't imagine my life without a single one. They have challenged me, stretched me, and helped me become a better person and a better mom. 

We have 9 kids between he ages of 25 and almost 2. We get all kinds of comments. Mostly I only have 6 kids with me as these are the ones that are 'minors'. The most common comment I get is 'your hands are full'. I always reply with 'not as full as t heart is' and hat usually stops further comments.

I see my boys becoming good future dads and my daughter becoming a good future mother as they nurture their younger sibs.

 I love that people see me in a store with my crew and immediately feel the need to comment ...usually along the lines of "You sure have your hands full!" or even "Have you lost your mind?"  My response is is usually "Yes I do & yes I have--I have never been more blessed.  Aren't you jealous?"  I really think people are fascinated by the dynamics of large families...and maybe a bit envious that they don't have the constant activity, drama, and chaos we seem to have all the time. 

A fireplace full of stockings looks better than a sparse one.
It has all become my "normal" so I forget others don't get to enjoy group bath time, dinner on the grounds (literally because we don't all fit around the table so we'll eat picnic style outdoors occasionally), many hands to help with chores, watching our older kids pass along family traditions to the younger ones, getting to re-experience the tooth fairy and Christmas pageants with a new perspective, constant chatter and singing, etc. 

It really is an amazing thing to get to see the results of your parenting up close...I get to see what got through to my older kiddos when they help one of their younger siblings...that is humbling and awesome.

I CAN say, being the mama of a large crew has made me uber-organized.  My house may be a bit dusty but everything is in it's place and everybody knows how to do chores and take care of their personal needs.  I really think this will be a good thing as they grow into adults.

You can't ever have too many people to love or to love you.

One sibling makes you mad, go play with someone else, there's always another one to play with.

We never eat leftovers, there aren't any.

We are a party, we don't need to throw one for good times.  The children entertain one another and us.

Joy, chaos (some people love this, some wouldn't, but I do), energy, many companion and play choices, your own group of supporters, different perspectives within the household, someone always needing something, someone always being able to give something (except in rare cases, like when everyone has food poisoning at once!!).  I could go on and on... Couldn't be more thankful for the opportunity to be part of a large family. 

So much joy, so much action, so much togetherness.  What a wonderful family life!

Thank you to all the families that shared their thoughts on raising more kids than average.  I appreciate it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unsupervised Husband.

This is what happens if I leave my husband home alone for too long.  I come home to this.  Poor kitty.  Not even a Green Bay Packer hat.  See how embarrassed and upset he is.

Floyd is not happy with his latest accessory.

Floyd - Poor kitty resigned to his fate.