Thursday, January 29, 2009

Angry Onion

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It all started about a month ago.  Every time I opened the pantry a faint aroma came wafting out at me.  You know the kind I am talking about right?  That, I think there might be a problem but I will check it out later 'cuz I am too busy right now smell,  you do all know that smell right?
A few days go by and I start doing some investigating.  I like to call it the "finger poke".  Where I stick my finger out and start pushing things around looking for the offending party. Hmmmmm.... maybe it's this half box of Arm and Hammer?  Or maybe this half eaten bag of Bugles?  Probably not but that's what I throw away in hopes that the smell leaves the building.  
About a week later, the smell doesn't seem to be going away but it's not getting any worse, so we're good.  
Wrong, another week or so goes by and the smell is getting stronger. Now the kids are starting to notice.  Time for another look.  This time I employ the "pull a few things out from each shelf and take a quick look" method.  I discover an oldish bag of red potatoes, you know the ones that are pretty much past their prime and a little soft, but not to the point of potato ooze everywhere.  This must be it!  I triumphantly throw away the bag of potatoes and do a quick wipe down of the shelf they were resting on.  Smell defeated!!! 
Ah.....no.  I would love this to be the part where I finally got off my lazy tush and cleaned out the pantry properly and found the source of the smell and vanquished it, but nope.  Really I was hoping to wait it out until the weekend so that I could convince Brian to find it for me.  Then I had an urge for some chocolate chip cookies.  In this house Brenna makes all the cookies, but it was during the day and I didn't feel like waiting for her so.......I grabbed out a kitchen chair and climbed on to get the chocolate chips off the top shelf of the pantry and this is what I found!







Flipping onions!!!!!  I was growing onions people and didn't even know it!  EHEW!!!  In my semi-defense  I never go to this shelf, except apparently to store a bag of onions, it is way up over my head *see above picture*  and Brenna makes the cookies and that's all I thought was up there was cookie stuff.  So long story made even longer, I found the smell and then promptly waited for Brian to come home and remove the offensive item 'cuz it was just too gross.  
hesitated to even write this post in case anyone out there had an image in their head of me as Superwoman, mom of 5 almost 6 who has it all together all the time.  I decided pretty quickly that I wasn't fooling anyone and it's pretty obvious that I am nothing special, and will avoid and procrastinate things I don't want to do for as long as humanly possible.  I guess the secret is out now, oh and I still haven't cleaned out the pantry, I did wipe the shelf down though!

'til next time
Jillienne
*cross posted from my blog
www.imminent-chaos.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

News...and more News

First of all, we'd like to give another wave to our growing audience. We're really happy you found us and enjoy the 4 or More blog. We've gotten a few emails asking us who runs this blog and requesting more info, so we thought it would help to give a public answer for anyone else who wonders.

This blog is an extension of Lotsofkids.com, a website that is devoted to supporting large families (traditionally 4 or more kids). We don't promote the idea of having lots of kids, but rather feel that is a personal choice of an individual and are here to give encouragement, help, and advice to those who do decide a large family is right for them. You can visit the main site through the link on the right.

We would also like to announce the re-opening of one of our sister-sites! Large Family Network is a social network, much like MySpace and Facebook, but it is geared towards family, specifically large families. Many of the people we talked to like MySpace, but the size of the site and the sheer number of people on there can be a bit intimidating. So, if you're looking to connect with other families, check it out. We'll also be adding a link in the sidebar.

Another thing to note is that this blog is part of a larger blog project. We have several blogs, including one for mega-moms (8 or more kids), one for running a large family household, one for special needs, and more. Again, you can get to those blogs through the sidebar--as well as finding links to the personal blogs of the 4orMore moms.

The holidays were a bit tough and some other roadblocks slowed things down a bit, but we're really excited at what we have planned for Lotsofkids in 2009. We again thank you for being a part of our family.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nesting

A good friend of mine is expecting her sixth child any day now. Her due date is February 2nd, but since all but one of her kids thus far has been two weeks early, we're all anxiously waiting for the phone call telling us little Charlie has been born. On Friday, she was invited to a sister-in-law's house for a few hours. When she returned home, the house had been cleaned, down to the fingerprints wiped off the walls and the microwave cleaned out. The sweet elves left this note:

We heard that you’d been nesting
When you were supposed to be resting

We didn’t think it would be fair
For you to do more than your share

So we brought over our cleaners and brooms
Broke in and polished your rooms!

We hope you’ll forgive our invasion
But we wanted this occasion

To be just right for you,
Charlie, and all of us too!

Just in case you're wondering what to get that frazzled mom-of-many when her new baby comes, this made my friend's day.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fancy Dinner

Come on. You are invited to the fancy dinner.


Place: The Living Room
Time: After the children are fed
Dress: Thrift store fare. Formal (women and girls) Flannel (men and boys)

It's become tradition, this fancy dinner. Tonight is the third edition. Women put dinner in the oven, feed the children, exchange jeans for gowns. Doors are shut all over the house as everyone dresses.

Little girl eyes sparkle delight. Lithe bodies swish, swirl. "Look, Papa, Grandpa!"

"Oooh! You're gorgeous! So pretty!"


Mamas appear from behind the closed doors. Mother bodies swish, swirl. Am I still? eyes ask. Am I still your beautiful girl?

Yes. Oh, yes echoes round the room.

And the men, the men that we love, lumberjack men in soft flannel, bubble over with good humor and cheer.



We sit around the table. Velvet. Flannel. Sequins. Flannel. Taffetta. Flannel. And the children serve. "Would anyone like a glass of wine." Six adults coach five young ones through the art of presenting, pouring.
"No, Lil. You can't have a sip out of my glass. Wait."

"Care for a salad?"
"Enchiladas?"
"Coffee and dessert?"

Dishes come and go with a newly aquired ease. We look at these beauties and see adults on the horizon. Conversation and candlelight. The last dish cleared. Table pushed to the wall. On with the dance.


Cousins clasp hands, circle, step in, step out. Feathers and flannel, a comfortable place in a husband's arms, bodies close and graceful, grace that is polished by time. I dance with my boys. Joy and abandon with the preschooler. We jump, swing, gallop. He joins the cousin circle. It's my teenager's turn. He leads. A new skill, tender, sweet. He guides, circles, stiff and unsure but gains confidence as he goes. The song changes and he steps away to test his accomplishment on another partner, "Grandma, will you dance with me?" The sun is setting on his childhood.

After a time, the dancers wander away. Only Claire and her favorite uncle remain and then even she tires. Dresses return to closets. All climb into flannels and knits. Sleepy heads rest on pillows...relive the evening...make plans for the next soiree. Come October at the beach. A tradition to keep.


Monday, January 5, 2009

HGTV Dream Home...my favorite fantasy, join me!!

Every year, for the last 13 years, the HGTV network has built and given away a "Dream Home". For the last few years my kids and I have watched the show and entered to win. It has become a tradition for us to study the house and figure out how we would make it work for us, if we were to win.

This years house is particularly challenging. It is BEAUTIFUL, but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to sleeping space. Let's start with the positives. It is a farm house style with wrap around porches and is located in Sonoma California. The kitchen has two islands, two refridgerators and two dishwashers. The gas stove is HUGE and absolutely gorgeous. Outside there is a complete kitchen on the patio, there are two seating areas and plenty of yard for a jungle gym. There are also raised planting beds and lots of grape vines. A few of the more glaring negatives for my family would be the two garage that is not attached to the house, the lack of a full bath on the first floor, no guest room on the first floor, WHITE furniture in way too many rooms and of course the drapes that seem to be everywhere and drag the floor waiting to trip somebody. The house is about 3700 sq ft, plenty large enough, but only has 3 bedrooms and the 3 full baths can only be accessed by going through a bedroom. The laundry room appears to have a tiny regular washer & dryer. There is only 1 "kids room" and the master bedroom has a queen size bed.

So here is what we have come up with so far that we could do to make this house work for us. We love the paint color in the formal livingroom (blue) and would remove ALL the furniture, art, drapes & knick nacky stuff, then add double doors and convert this room into a bedroom for our 10 yr old. Next we would remove all the "stuff", furniture and wine racks from the "study" and convert this room to a bedroom for our 19 yr old son. It has a door that goes outside, but since this son is an adult I'm ok with that. The downstairs powder room is right outside the study, so we would look at it (they don't show it in the online tour or the show) and see about adding one of those corner shower stalls. We would definitely change out the dining room WHITE chairs and the little seating areas furniture, maybe adding a kids table in that area by the window. The kitchen is pretty perfect, but I would really prefer a double sink. We would also need to find somewhere downstairs for a computer area for our 4 computers. One of the couches in the familyroom would need to be a hide a bed to accomodate overnight guests. Upstairs, we would replace the queen bed in the master with a king and change out the long drapes. I'm not sure about the furniture in the sitting area, it's a nice idea, but I think I'd rather put a bassinet for a new baby in that area with a diaper changing station. The room would also need a TV. The kids room would need to be painted for our 3 yr old and 1 yr old daughters. We would install a key lock on that bathroom door to keep them from going in there and playing in the water. The guest room would become our 8 yr old daughters room, probably with her current canopy bed. In the laundry room, some of the cabinets would have to come out to accomodate our front loading HE washer and dryer. The addition of rods to hang clothes would also be necessary. The backyard needs a covered walkway from the garage to the house and a cover over the patio to keep the hot California sun off during the summer. I believe the vehicle that comes with the house only seats 5, so that would have to be traded in.

Overall, I'm not impressed with most of the furniture, art and accessories, I hope that selling it or even donating it to charity would help to defray some of the taxes. The prize package is valued at 2 million dollars, the house itself is probably between 750K and 1 million of that, making the property taxes pretty steep. The network has previously said that this give away is about the dream, not about somebody realistically being able to LIVE in the home, but I'm hopeful that if we were to win, we might be able to find a way to actually keep the house. Someday, I think it would be fantastic if one of the cable networks would build a home that is truly family friendly, this one seems to be in a family friendly neighborhood, but only having one kids room shows me that they didn't put much thought into a REAL family living in the home.

Take a look at the online tours and post here with what you would do to make this house work for your family...come on the dreaming is FUN!!! Don't forget to enter every day, just imagine how cool it would be if a Lots of Kids family were to win this house.




Thursday, January 1, 2009

Divide and Conquer

Hello all. I am happy to report that Scott and I are back home from China with our new daughter and everyone is making a pretty good adjustment. We learned a lot on our trip, and there was one night at dinner when it occurred to me that this was what it was like to only have one child. It has been so long since we only had to get one child ready to go it felt kind of odd.

It was so nice to return home to be with the other kids, and it felt good to get back into our home schedule and routine. We have now been home for one week, and it has been a week of discovery in so many ways. One of them is how Scott and I work to accomplish the task of managing the house. Running a house with lots of children is a tough job. I can understand how people with smaller families can be overwhelmed by the thought of keeping everything running smoothly. Well, here is a little peek into our system.

First of all, Scott and I both contribute to our home management. We both work outside the home, on opposite schedules, so we do have to "juggle" a little, but it all runs pretty smooth. Our system can be called Divide and Conquer the Chaos. We each have our own tasks, and the kids chip in as well. Each child can contribute based on their age and ability.

Food: I do the main grocery shopping, maintaining a pretty good level in the pantry and the freezer. Scott stops at the store for between-main-shopping-trips for things like milk, eggs, or special items for dinner. He can stop on the way home from work, and he is able to focus on the task at hand without getting distracted by the weekly sales and specials. I evaluate the weekly sale ad and stock up on our staple items when they are on sale. We maintain an on going grocery list on a magnetic list on our refrigerator door. We all check off items as we are running low. This helps make sure we don't run out of necessities at inconvenient moments.

Laundry: Laundry at our house got a whole lot more exciting just before we left for China. There was a long period of time when we would have 2 laundry days a week, and it was an all day affair each time. We were forced out of that routine this past year and it may be one of the best routine changes we have made in a while. We were without a dryer for several months, and it forced us to change the way we manage the laundry pile. We had established a routine of 2 loads of laundry each day so that we had enough time for the items to hang dry. This system also made sure that we didn't really get backed up on laundry. Well, the exciting part is the brand new super capacity front-loading washer and dryer set that we bought before we left for China. This new set washes and drys wonderfully fast, and we are still keeping up with laundry daily. Now, we still wash a lot of clothes, but in smaller doses so it is not overwhelming. When life throws us a change, we can skip one or even two days, and then catch up relatively quickly. I *heart* the new washer and dryer. Scott does the bulk of the laundry for us, and the children are tasked with putting their own clothes in their drawers.

Kitchen Patrol: This one is managed pretty equally between us. Kids must clear off their space at the table before they are excused, and the dishwasher is loaded after each meal. Snack dishes may be stacked next to the kitchen sink for a little bit, but in the dishwasher before the next meal. Generally, I do the dishes during the day while Scott is at work, and he does the dishes in the evening. I do the majority of the dinner cooking during the week, and since I work overnights at the end of the week, Scott does the cooking on the weekend. The two older kids sometimes help make lunches when they are home, but Scott and I still handle the dinner cooking.

House Cleaning: This is the part of the post where I get to say I am the luckiest woman in the world. My wonderful hubby actually relaxes by hand washing the wood floors and disinfecting bathrooms. This may sound weird to some of us, including me, but after 15 years I have just accepted this is one of his quirks that I enjoy the most. He has tried to explain it to me, and I don't get it, but I am thankful. On the weeks that he is out of town, I take over his regular cleaning routine, and I admit that scrubbing toilets is my least favorite job, EVER. But, I do *love* the results of a clean house. :-)

Bills, Bills, Bills: This one falls to me. Just like Scott relaxes by scrubbing floors, I relax by maintaining our finances. It wasn't always like this, but I have my little routine, and I like routine. I enjoy following the news, world events, and economics, Scott hates it. I get a happy little thrill to mark the statements "paid" each month. The biggest change in this over the years has been the fact that we talk about the bills and goals on a regular basis. The finance gurus are right that open communication means is a good thing.

I know that each family divides home management differently. Feel free to comment with your tips and tricks. Calming the "chaos" of a family with lots of kids is a good thing. Although really, I shouldn't say chaos. Just like businesses are big and small and managers use different techniques to run them, families are big and small and each one needs different techniques to run smoothly.

Have a blessed and organized New Year.

New Year Wishes!



As we approach 2009 with detemination and hope, we would like to send our warmest and sincerest wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe New Year! We are excited at the thought of the year to come, and will be here sharing our ups, downs, joy, and trials of raising a large family.

Handling Toddlers at the Big Game

Note: This is cross-posted at the Mega-Moms blog

I was recently interviewed for an article on how you handle toddlers when attending sports and other public activities for your older children. Of course, mega-moms usually have to juggle this kind of stuff more often, since having a group of teens and preschoolers (as well as all the middles) is pretty common.

Kids, Indoor Sports and Toddlers

Of course, not all of my hints ended up in the article, but most of the good ones did. One thing I did want to clarify which I think got lost in the article but really is a good tip. Happy Meal toys are usually pretty cheap, and they don't really have that good of lasting power. In my house, at least, they end up broken and/or getting tossed out. Instead, keep them in a bag in the car for trips...or for sports events. If they get lost or broken, it's no big deal. Also, as stated in the article, you can find some of those old pixelated video games at the dollar store. Having a few of those on hand can be a lifesaver.

I do have to laugh at the "potty" tip. Thing is, this is almost a given with my kids. It seems that *everywhere* we go, they suddenly need to go to the bathroom. My dad used to say we were "checking out the plumbing." Like it or not, it really does give the kids something to do and helps keep them settled a while long.

I admit to using the MP3 player. In fact, I deliberately had my daughter download a few small cartoons and movies so the kids can watch them when we are out too. This has been a lifesaver. Another thing is that a few years back, the Gameboy Advanced came out with a few "video" cartridges. They featured cartoons like Spongebob and Jimmy Neutron. I often make sure to take them when we go to functions so the kids can literally "watch t.v." when they get antsy at the arena.

What are YOUR tips on keeping toddlers occupied at the big game?