12 years ago (just after midnight) I delivered a VERY little baby boy who was 6 weeks early and not breathing very well. That scared us so badly!!
9 days in NICU he came home… all 4 pounds 14 ounces of him.
Griffen, today, you are turning 12. I can’t believe how big you have gotten (as tall as mom now) and how much I truly LOVE YOU! You are AMAZING!
You make me laugh and have one of the best senses of humor I have even known.
You are a hard worker and an down-right good soul! You are one in a million!
Your smile is contagious and you are so inventive! Some of things you say and do just make me laugh!
I love that you still hold your mama’s hand in public and the way you say “I love you mama” like Elvis! And hug and kiss your sisters still.
I love that you volunteer at church in classes that have littler kids and take the little cub scouts under your wings.
I love that you can build anything out of Legos and on Minecraft.
I love that your 4th of July talent is the “tummy roll”. I don’t think that is a talent that every one should do… or see! HA! Oh Yeah… and Armpit farting can be added to that talent!
I love that you let your sister’s paint your toenails and braid your hair. I love that you will play board games with all of your little brothers, even when you really don’t want to play, just to humor your mom.
I love that you will snuggle on the couch and watch chick flicks with your mama, just to snuggle with me.
I love that you con your dad into snuggle parties every weekend and laughed through the movie “Aliens”. (And tried to scare your sisters by describing ALL of the scary parts to them.)
Over the last year, we have had our ups and our downs with everything. Their therapist and I have been trying to work through the food hoarding and stealing and we think that we have found what is working.
I added names to the sides of plastic shoe boxes. These are the SNACK BOXES!!! Each child gets 15 snacks added to it on Sunday night. They can choose to eat them all in one day, or keep them for all week. The very first day, Breckin at 8 snacks, but soon came to realize that he only had 7 for the rest of the week. The girls are pretty smart. They will eat some of their snacks and then put back what they don’t eat for later.
Now, the first thing that the boys do when they get home from school is ask if they can have a snack… and they know what box is theirs!
We have been experimenting with this for 3 weeks and we have seen no other food hoarding or stealing for that time. YEAH!!!
Keeping 7 kids organized is a task in itself. I am often asked how can I manage to get all kids where they need to go. I have a calendar… actually I have MANY calendars. I have an online calendar that my husband can access through google. This allows him to post to the calendar and it emails me when he does. I have a paper calendar that I carry. I seem to like that one better than the online one. And I have a new one just for kids.
This is a removable vinyl whiteboard that is sticky on the back. This allows me to write a schedule for all of the kiddlings to see. Breckin gets many anxiety issues with not knowing a schedule and routines are very important to Berlyn. Since they are both reading now (at least Berlyn can read his name), they can both check each day and know exactly what is going on (or at least that something is going on that day) without coming to mom to check. The kids get so excited to see their names on the calendar for an activity. I tend to write them in color code as well (That reminds me to pick up some new white board pens while everything is on sale)
Having many calendars can often times be a problem if they are not “sync-ed”. Every morning before I get kids up and going, I check my emails and check all 3 calendars just to make sure that they all match for that day and the week. Then, I adjust as needed.
So, no matter how much I don’t want to go someplace, I still can’t use the excuse that I didn’t know about it… it is bound to be on one and then all 3 calendars here at our house. … Getting there on time? That is a totally different matter. 😉
On the first of the month (or what ever day works best for you), each of you children receive ONE roll of quarters in a jar. Mom also needs to have a roll of quarters as well.
Every time a child in our home is disrespectful or mean to another (and mom or dad hears or sees this happening) then that child owes the other a quarter. If they backtalk mom, mom gets a quarter. Mom can hand out quarters to any kid who is going above and beyond – doing a chore without asking, being extra nice, etc.
If a child runs out of quarters in the month, then, they will have to do an extra chore for each time that they act out.
One the first of the next month, the child will get to keep ALL quarters that they have in their jar to save or spend… And mom starts over with a new roll of quarters.
This has worked AWESOME with our new little boys… They do NOT want extra chores and LOVE to help extra around the house to earn quarters.
After the adoption of our 2 boys, I have been asked MANY times if Larry and I are finally done having children. We are told OFTEN that 7 kids are a lot … A HUGE family! I have to disagree with them. We are not finished if God wants us to have more. We know that God will only give us what we can handle and Larry and I after the birth of Shelby knew that we were destined to become parents – the best parents that we could be. We look at families with 10 or more and and I am in awe of how they all work together.
We have a dynamic in our household that people with 2 children just don’t understand. Is is chaotic? Yes, at times… but when is it not chaotic for someone with 2 or 3 children too. Is it loud? YES! But again, I wouldn’t change it for anything. We always have something going on… we always are on the go with activities together. I have a home office where I do 75% of my work from. … I am essentially a stay-at-home mom. We have 4 children who are homeschooled and 3 who are public schooled. We are back on the foster care and adoption lists for a little girl (or 2) under 4 years old.
How with work, school, homeschool, and everything else on my plate do I juggle everything that I do? Recently at a CFT (team meeting for our boys with CPS and therapists) Larry and I were asked what our strengths were of each other. Larry had one for me that I was not aware of… He said that he thought that my greatest strength in the household was my ability to juggle all of the kids and get them to where they needed to be while still being an amazing mom. WOWWIE! I am honored to think that my husband “sees” everything that I do with the kids.
I have been asked an MANY occasions what the essentials in my household are. Here is my “mom” list.
I know that my house will never be spotless, nor should it ever. Our house is very well lived in and it is NOT a museum. Our house will at times be cluttered and really messy. Do we clean, YES, all of the time! Everything does have a place and will make it there as soon as I stop playing with my children!
Kids schedule organization is essential. With any number of children in your household, you need to be organized with a calendar. I have both a print calendar that I keep on my desk and take with me in my “Mary Poppins Purse” and I put everything online on my Google calendar that my husband and oldest daughter can access from their phones. Everything is color coded by person.This makes it SO much easier to know who needs to be where and when.
Take time to do something fun with your children every day! I try not to get stuck in a mundane routine… Over and Over and OVER again causes for BORING! However for many children routine is very important so block a “time” every day.
Get a hobby that you can include your children.We cook… and BOY, DO WE! All of my children cook. We make everything from scratch and make up so many recipes. They don’t always turn out. But we do write down all that we do create together.
Always, always, always eat and pray together every night. This will allow you to visit with your children, learn who they are all over again. You can have your “family meetings” during dinner. Our are loud and full of laughter. We do not sit quietly and I love every minute of those giggles and talking about your day moments. Soon enough they will no longer be at home to do this.
To deal with the loud and crazies, create a “quite area”. In my office, I have a chalkboard wall, a glider rocking chair, children’s books and quite felt and wood toys. This area is a quite zone for all children who need to have alone time.
To streamline your household, plan out your meals in advance. I know what I have in my pantry, in my freezers and in my refrigerators all of the time (unless I have an older kids help themselves to something. Last week I was missing 2 bell peppers… come to find out my oldest 2 kiddos ate them for a snack – REALLY? A Bell pepper for a snack? At least they LOVE veggies!) We know exactly what we are making for dinner when I get up in the morning to make my day go easier. Most of the time, I load up my solar oven pans in the morning and let it cook all day!!!
Recruit children to have their own toys, help with clean-up and to help others with their chores. With as many little hands that are in our home, I know that we can accomplish ANYTHING! Use children in the skills that they are best at. Elwyn LOVES to be in the garden. She loves to pull weeds and calls that her private time. Berlyn does NOT like to do yard work, but he is really good at organizing things in bedrooms. We use each child with their own special gifts.
Make the most of time that you are kidless. I work when Larry is off. I work at night after kids are in bed and during “brain-rest” time. I chose to work like this so that I can give 100% to my kids.
Lastly, remember that every day is a new day. It has to be or you will make yourself go crazy and pull out all of your hair. You will NOT accomplish everything that you planned every single day, but you can give it your best shot each and every day.
With 7 kids at home during the summer time (Yes, I know that we homeschool 4 of the kids but that does leave 3, all special needs, that are normally gone all day!), I have been finding activities to do every day with them. As a child, I loved playing hopscotch. I started thinking – I have a TON of cement driveway around my house and I was sure that I could make one fairly easily. I mean… I draw them all of the time with chalk anyhow!
Hop scotch is one of those age-old games that can be found around the world as well as in every language out there. There are no set rules, as a matter of fact I was amazed to hear how Breckin learned the game at school too!
Today, we taped the ground outside on the driveway and created a hopscotch on the sidewalk. I had left over blue painters tape from the girls room and my office chalkboard wall (I will post about those soon!)
This will prove to be hours of fun for any number for the kids and will probably drive Berlyn a little crazy with OCD and Autism. As a matter of fact, Berlyn kept peeling and straightening my lines for me.
Step 1 – Blue tape the outline of the hopscotch. There are many different patterns that you can find online for a hop scotch.
Step 2 – Create the inside lines. Remember to put one tape down, then a space and a second tape down to form lines that you are going to paint.
Step 3 – Tape around the entire outside to make a space between the step 1 line and this line.
Step 4 – Take scissors or a blade and remove any over lapping tape to make a continuous line form.
Step 5 – Spray paint the open lines to form a permanent hop scotch on the cement.
NOTE TO SELF: DO NOT spray paint while it is windy like I did or you will get stray spray!
Step 6 – Remove the blue tape – Fun for the kids once your paint dries… Breckin was right there to volunteer for me! And he even took it to the garbage for me as well!
Step 7 – ENJOY!!!! This can prove to be hours of fun for your littles!
As mentioned the game is a bit different around the globe, and variations are plenty, from the French version which features a spiral instead of the usual set up, to Ekhat-Dukhat in India which only has two squares.
The New York version of the game is Potsie, which comes from pot or the home base which a player gets too (if he doesn’t fall off). The New York term for hopscotch, which is played pretty much the same as the English one, dates back to the late 19th century.
The French version might be a bit harder to play if you are used to English hopscotch. The course is a spiral, much like a snail’s shell, and players need to hop to the centre and back. A player can also pick out a square of choice and can land on this square with both feet; this is because there aren’t any squares side-by-side.
Hopscotch in German-speaking countries is called “Heaven and Hell” and has different rules; players need to kick the stone from square to square when advancing, and cannot stop at the “Hell” square which is the second-to-last in the game.
In Cyprus and Greece, they play Ayaktasi (try saying that with a mouthful) which is similar to how the Australians play hopscotch. The player throws a stone into a square in the usual way, but the game is played in stages and only ends once the stone has landed on all possible squares.
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about HUMMUS… My sister is amazing and for the last 3 years has been trying to get me to even try hummus. It is UGLY and (I think) smells FUNNY. But, then I gave in and now, for the last 6 months we ALWAYS have homemade hummus and pita chips for a snack. Yes, I admit, I was wrong!! It is SO GOOD! Thanks Jen for finally just shoving a chip with hummus down my throat. I am sorry that I acted like a 2 year old and wouldn’t try it.
Hummus and chips is a good snack for kids in the summer-time. We make the chips from scratch along with the hummus… when have I not made anything from scratch!?!?
Since Pita chips and hummus are now a staple in our home, I wanted to share with you how to make BOTH! It would even make a good snack to take on a picnic this summer!!
Summertime is such a great time to not only grow your own gardens with vegetables but also herbs to use in your kitchen! I have a pretty large herb selection in my garden as well. I store all of my bulk herb that I dehydrated in quart sized mason jars. I have them each labeled with chalkboard labels so that I can change them out… Then this year, I found the new BALL Herb Jars… (I found mine at my local ALCO store – But they are also online at AMAZON – link to the left)
I FELL I LOVE ALL OVER AGAIN! 😉
I still have all of my bulk herb jars in my pantry, but now, I have my little jars filled and labeled by my stove in a drawer. This makes it so much easier than searching for the big jars!
Herbs are REALLY easy to dehydrate (And you DO NOT need a dehydrator to do it) If you live where there is low humidity, you can lay your herbs out on trays and they should be dried out within about 24 hours. You can also use your oven set to the LOWEST temperature. You will need to flip the herbs over at least once while they are in the oven.
So, You want to have fresh and/or dried herbs from your garden for your cooking? What herbs do I have in my garden?
Dill – I use in my potato salad, on fish and when I can my pickles
Cilantro – Think Mexican food – Cilantro is a staple here – in my guacamole, hummus, mixed with re-fried beans, taco meat and I even have a cilantro lime dressing that I make every week.
Parsley – I use mostly fresh to bring out the flavors and meld together other herbs. Tastes great with fish, chicken and veggies.
Lemon Balm – Use in my tea, to season my green salads, poultry and fish . The herb has a lemon taste with a hint of mint.
Chives – I use chives in my salads and on veggies. They have a slight onion taste.
Basil – this is another herb that I CAN NOT live without – Brescetta with tomato/basil, pesto and I love when I mix it with butter for toast with dinner!
Oregano – My basic Italian seasoning – oregano is best in italian dishes, in chili, with vegetables, soups.
Mint – in yogurt, with fresh fruit and dried for teas.
Rosemary – in potatoes, with roast
I do mix all of my herbs in my bread doughs for an added artisan flavor.
It is not often that I do reviews on books. I actually avoid them because for the most part, I know that everyone is different and has different types of writing so I always feel that I am judging another person’s art.
However, that being said, I have found the ULTIMATE go-to book for the summer if you have kids. Link to the right –> This book has literally HUNDREDS of different games, and indoor and outdoor activities. Every activity has how many players, ages, location and equipment listed along with the riles and ways to play it. There are indoor games like card games, mind games, word and brain game, pencil and paper games, and tabletop games. There are also outdoor games that include categories like blacktop games hide and seeks, relays and races, tag and chases and ball games, water games, party games and more. There are even ROAD GAMES for the car!! YEAH!
Shelby and El are going to lead our homeschool park day with some games from this book today!!
My kids don’t get to drink soda often.. but occasionally, like Sunday dinner with the grandparents or a special occasion like a party or holiday we make this fun and refreshing drink. This drink is a kid-friendly and can be made into an adult only.
We have been tweaking our recipe for years, but now that we have an abundance of mint growing throughout our yard, we are making so many recipes with mint. For drinks, I make a lot of mint infused water to drink during the day and we dry mint leave to make mint sun tea to drink.
We picked up a container that has a sport on the side so that this crew can serve themselves. My container is one gallon and during the summer, I fill it with water, mint or lime/lemon slices and ice and have a selfserving water center for the kids. It keeps them out of my fridge!
Another summer-time tip it to purchase a set of “solo party cups”. I write each child’s name on their cup and they use it over and over again. This makes doing dishes so much easier and kids are not reaching for a new cup out of my cabinet every time that they need a drink. Instead, they use their cup over and over… and their name is on it!