Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Wishes


From all of us at the 4orMore Blog, and from the Lotsofkids.com Family...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bittersweet Changes at the Funny Farm

These past few weeks have flown by at warp speed. We received our official referral phone call at the end of Oct, even though we knew who our daughter was because we picked her from the waiting child list. Friday, we had our confirmed travel authorization and US consulate appointment, and we purchased our international plane tickets to pick up our new daughter in China. Scott and I will be leaving Dec 10 and arriving back home late Christmas night with our precious new daughter. The kids are all excited, and I just cannot wait to go get her. But, there is also a little sadness as I prepare to leave 4 kiddos behind. I think I am missing them already.

So, how do we prepare for the holidays and make sure it is all done before we leave? Good question. The answer seems like a comedy bit. First, I should disclose that we decorate like crazy for Christmas: full size Christmas trees in each bedroom, lights and garland on every bit of stair railing, a 12 foot tree in the living room, and a "winter scene" above the kitchen cabinets. It takes a good solid week to transform the house. But, before we can get to Christmas decor, there is a "fall scene" above the kitchen cabinets complete with hay bail, scarecrows and turkeys dressed like pilgrims.

Originally we thought we'd be traveling Dec 4-18, so it all needed to be done by Dec 1. Two weekends ago, we started putting up the Christmas decor, but it is not yet Thanksgiving, so I cannot take down the "fall scene" yet. This past week, our home has been caught in a home decor tornado. Christmas trees, garland, nativity sets, scarecrows, hay bales, and turkeys. It is kind of funny to look at, and I feel like we are in perpetual transition. I guess we are. This weekend, the scarecrows and turkeys will be replaced by snowmen and mini alpine trees. Thanksgiving turkey thawing in the fridge, and Christmas ham sitting in the freezer. Talk about holiday overload!

Christmas presents to and from family are all purchased, and the final gifts will be wrapped tonight. Santa has been advised that these kiddos are having a very special Christmas this year, and that they will probably be a little bit sad Christmas morning because they will have to wait all day to see Mommy and Daddy and sister. They will meet their new sister on Christmas night, so they must have been very, very good this year to get that kind of special gift. And, Santa knows that Mommy and Daddy will be very weary from traveling for 24 hours to get home in time to have Christmas with all five children together. Santa's elves have assured us that Santa understands, and he is sending his very best elves to make sure all the preparations will be taken care of just like we always do and that all will be ready for Santa to arrive on time. This is a very special holiday season indeed.

As far as blogging goes, for those of you who have been following our adoption adventure, I will try to keep the Funny Farm blog updated as much as I can while we travel and adjust to our new life as a family of seven. For our faithful (and new) Lots of Kids readers, I wish you the absolute best holidays this year, whichever customs you celebrate I wish you a season of thanksgiving and joy. I just wanted to make sure I said that now because Dec will be a different kind of world wind at the Funny Farm, and I can be forgetful at times.

OK, next time, we'll talk laundry. :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Large Family Living Part II (Laundry)

Laundry, the bane of my existence. Once someone said to me that they didn't mind doing the laundry, that it was actually one of those chores they liked to do. She went on to say something about seeing progress, i.e. clothes come out clean, they get folded or hung up and put away. That you can see that you have accomplished something. I did not want to be a bubble burster (is that a word?) but I was totally rolling my eyes to myself. Obviously, this said person must not have a 5 year old princess that changes her clothing at least 4 times a day, I know I could stop her but she is just so darn cute! Or a 10 year old son that only thinks he has to take the clothing out of his room once a week or so. Note to self: Why did we ever give said boy his own room!

Over the years I have tried everything to tweak my laundry schedule and help out the mountains that accumulate in the blink of an eye. I have tried only laundry on weekends, ummmm nope, I have tried doing 2 loads a day. Not so much. I thought about letting my kids do their own laundry and while I know that works out wonderfully for some, I get heart palpitations just thinking about it. Do you have any idea how much clothing that I would have to replace?The first thing that we did was turn our laundry room into a family closet. This might not work for some but we are blessed with a larger than average laundry room. You can see some pictures and read about what we did here, since that time it has evolved, more hanging space, dresser for Emersyn, but the gist is pretty much the same. The only things that come out of the laundry room now are, sheets, towels, and my and Brian's clothing. That, by itself, makes laundry much more pleasant.

The other thing that I know do is certain days of the week are for certain people. If you do not have your things in you bucket by that day, you are out of luck.

Mondays: Emersyn and all her "stuff"

Tuesdays: The Big Girls, Brenna and Alainna

Wednesdays: The Boys, Griffen and Kieran

Thursdays: Brian and I

Fridays: Socks and Towels/Sheets/Extras

Saturday and Sunday: I don't do laundry!

It has worked out pretty well for us so far, this way only certain kids clothing needs to be folded and put away which makes that task much faster.

I do ALL of the socks together and they go into a big tub that gets sorted when we get to it, otherwise it is a free for all!

The one load of laundry that I let Brenna and Griffen do is their soccer stuff. The have been coached on how to do so. Now it is their responsibility to have clean uniforms come game days.

I usually do 2-3 loads a day, unless it is Emersyn's day then it is usually turns out to be just one. I know that will change when the new little man gets home, because I will be pairing him up with Emersyn.

It is by no means a perfect system but I think short of sending out my laundry to be done or have some amazing person come in and do it for me, this is the best I can do right now. And I love not having to spend my weekends doing laundry!

I have this cross-posted from my main blog over at http://www.imminent-chaos.blogspot.com/ .

Jillienne

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tidying Up

I've been meaning the tweak the sidebar here for quite some time. Thankfully at the urging of another LOK blogger, I've gotten around to doing it. You'll now see that we have added a subscription box for our blog and comment feeds. You can now easily get to the blogs of all the contributors here. We've added a way for you to link to this blog to show your support. And a bunch more. So, take a peek and let us know what you think.

Of, and for whatever reason, the logo at the top never did work. I *should* bring you back to the main page of this blog...but it didn't. Thanks to my tech-guru hubby, that is now fixed too!

We are still looking for new bloggers. A few of you have contacted me, and you should hear back from me shortly. If you have between 4 and 7 children and would be interested in blogging for us, drop me a line at lotsofkids123[at]aol.com.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How do I handle it?

People often wonder, out loud, how those of us with larger than average families manage it. While sometimes I believe people are just being downright rude, there are other times when I believe that the person asking the question truly wants to know the answer.

There are those of us out there that grew our families slowly, one child at a time. Or families like Jon and Kate plus 8 that just kind of blew up over night, or families that through the miracle of adoption added two, three or even four kiddos overnight. No matter how it happens the answers are not right there magically in front of you! It is a learning process that never stops. You just keep trucking along until you find the thing that works for you and your family. Over the years here are some of the things that I have found work for our family.

Meals: Personally this is one of my weaker areas. I can cook, I will cook, I don't enjoy the day to day cooking. I do however enjoy, baking, or making something new.

Breakfast during the school week: EASY EASY EASY, I don't like mornings and I am over pretending that I do! Cereal, bagels, slim fast, frozen waffles, extra batch pancakes, hard boiled eggs. I do not make breakfast for my older two. I do however make breakfast for the 7 and 5 year old. This is the one time a day that they have a choice in what they eat. Since we keep it simple it is not hard to make a few different things.

Breakfast on the weekends: We get a little bit more creative and usually Brian makes a full on breakfast one of the days.

Lunch: I have 3 kids in school full time now, in our family you must pack your lunch until you are in Junior High. There are the occasional pizza days or whatever but for the most part they bring their lunches. In our schools, we have major peanut allergies so we are peanut free, it made it harder to pack, until I discovered thermoses! These are wonderful. Soup, pasta, Ramon noodles, left-overs! Even my husband asked for one after he saw the things that the boys were bringing for lunch. Lunch always consists of a Sandwich or Thermos, fruit, something crunchy, and something to drink. If I send anymore than that it doesn't get eaten. For the little one that comes home after a half day, she gets the same thing.

Dinner: I cook ONE meal, period. If you choose not to eat it, you are also choosing no after dinner snack. I used to give peanut butter and jelly or cereal as an option until my oldest was big enough to make herself something other than what I made. Then every other kid at the table wanted whatever she was throwing together. I do try to stick to what I know that they like, mostly, but not everyone likes the same things. Usually, pasta, hot roast beef sandwiches, swedish meatballs, we do a lot of mexican type meals, and I have discovered you can cook pretty much anything in a crock pot. I only cook chicken in the crockpot now because it makes it so moist and easy to shred, I like it much better that way.

Snacks: 2 snacks a day plus an after dinner snack if you eat your dinner. I try to have something together for all of the kids after school that they can just pick at. My kids come home a 4 different times so it eliminates the need to get 4 different snacks. Cut up fruit with yogurt, fruit salad, veggie tray is a new one that I want to try, cheese and sausage, pretzels and dip, blah, blah, blah.. We do kool-aid, I know that it's bad and I didn't do it for years but I caved, water and milk! I have juice boxes on hand only for school snacks and lunches. There are also Gatorades for the ones that play sports.

Also, I keep a basket of snacks on the table of things that they can grab thinkgs like, muffins, cheese and crackers, single serving bags, etc.

Another thing that really helps me out is after grocery shopping I come home and prepare everything that I can prepare, while unloading, that way there is none of the "I'll get to it laters". Boil eggs. Grapes come out of the bag, off of the stems and into a bowl, and become an easy grab snack. Strawberries are topped and put in bowls, carrots out of the bag into a bowl. That way most everything is easy grab and more likely to be eaten before it goes bad.

On the weekends I always make up one large pot of soup or chili or spaghetti, so that for the rest of the week when I don't feel like cooking or we are too busy for a full meal, I know that there is something on hand for dinner. I like to bake something on the weekends too when I have the chance. I am not big on freezing meals, I know that it is a great time saver for most but once it's in the freezer I hate taking it back out, I just can't make myself use it, what if I need it tomorrow!

These are some of the things that work for our Larger Family. Some of these things I have come up with on my own through trial and error and some things I have "borrowed" from other large families and incorporated into my family. I think that is one of my favorite "tricks", using what works for others in my family. What works for your family?

Talk to you soon,

Jillienne

p.s. cross posted from my blog www.imminent-chaos.blogspot.com , next time Laundry!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

House rich!

When we had our fourth child, everyone said, "You need to get a bigger house! You need more space!" Really? I thought. Sure it would be nice to have a little more room, but I didn't feel too cramped. Our house is 2100 square feet. We have four bedrooms, 2.5 baths and a living room, family room, dining room and eat in kitchen. After a recent remodel, we also have a toy room in the basement. What else did we need, I wondered.


I always bristled a little at these comments. I know of families who raised 10 kids in 2 bedrooms! And just think of families in other countries - extended families in 1 or 2 rooms!! Is it really so wrong to have the children share bedrooms?!?


The other day I was reading an article about homes that stated that the adequate amount of square footage in a house was 1200 square feet for a couple. For every child in the family, you added 200 square feet. SO - our house is a whopping 100 square feet too big for us! I felt strangely justified in my opinions after reading this. I was relating this to my brother-in-law (who also has four children). With his typical dry humor, he said, "What does it matter how many rooms a house has? The children are always going to be right next to you." Well said. My husband and I always lament that our bathroom, the smallest room in the house, is where everyone wants to congregate in the mornings.


So - we'll keep our 2100 square foot house (which we happen to love!), even if God blesses us with more children.