Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm back!

Hello all!

It has been quite awhile since I last posted, due to my SEVERE morning (all day, of course) sickness with my babe-in-utero. But, I am happy to announce that I am feeling like a human again, and remembering why I enjoy being pregnant! I am almost halfway there, and as usual, we have decided to wait to find out until the birth the gender of our baby. We have one girl and three boys, so either one will be much loved (and fought with, toughened up, etc!).

There have been times during this pregnancy that I have looked at my husband and said, "What were we thinking [having another baby]?!?!?" During the loud chaos, constant chatter and unavoidable messes, it is hard to remember why we were open to more children. But then, during the quieter moments, I remember. When I see the children helping, sharing and loving each other, I think what blessings siblings are. And, even though I will probably be gray by 40 (and that's not too far away!!), having all these kids is worth all the craziness. Don't you agree?

Friday, February 27, 2009

5 Student Conferences, 3 Schools, 2 Days, and 1 Elementary Economics Lesson

It's that time of year again. It was Student Led Conference time. That is really just a fancy way of saying that the kids get to bring the parents to school and show off how much they have learned so far this year. The teachers spend a lot of time prepping the kids and preparing a portfolio of their work and mini stations to let the kids show off. I really enjoy it. They all have samples of work that were done at the very beginning of school and samples from current work. I love to see the progression of how far they have come in just a few short months.

This past week, we of course had 5 conferences at 3 schools, on 2 different days. Not too bad as long as we stay on schedule and don't get behind. Monday night it was middle school night. Jackson and Scott went and Jackson said that he really enjoyed showing dad what his schedule looks like in real life. He is over half way done with 6th grade. Wow. Time flies. Tuesday, Scott was out of town and I had the 4 remaining elementary school conferences at two different schools. I started with Julia's at one school at 4pm, and then Jenna, Joseph, and Jacquelynne at the other school. By the time we made it home it was 8pm (a half hour after bed time) and every one was tired and a bit grumpy. But, they all seemed to have a blast showing off their work. Each child had between 30-45 minutes and we went table to table in each class completing little activities as a sample of their regular learning. The kids did great and I appreciate the hard work the teachers did. Of course I know my kids are great, but it was so nice to hear them praised in by their teachers.

By the time we made it to Jacquelynne's class, Jenna and Joseph were wearing down. Poor kids, this was done after a full day of school, and it happened to be on the same day my mom flew in for a visit, so they had used up all their energy earlier. Jenna spent Jacquelynne's conference time on my lap at each station, resting her head on my shoulder. After they were all done, we still had to swing by the PTA book fair. Jacquelynne had some of her spending money, and she wanted books. Joseph and Jenna had already spent theirs, and they didn't understand why I wouldn't just buy more books for them. It took a bit of time for Jacquelynne to select her books, and estimate the tax so she could make sure she could cover the bill, but she did great, and didn't complain. She is such a wonderful young lady. She selected her final purchases and stood in line to check out all on her own. She paid her bill, and we were finally done.

Oh yeah, did I mention that while she was selecting her books, I stood by the register with Jenna and Joseph crying into the hem of my sweater because they didn't have spending money? They didn't like my answer that they had already spent theirs and that Jacquelynne had saved hers for this book fair. Kindergarten/First Grade Economics 101: If you spend your hard earned $$$ at Toys R Us, you can't buy books at the book fair. The Bank of Mom does not issue credit. Of course the school principal and other moms around me smiled sympathetically and nodded in agreement that budgeting is hard to learn sometimes.

We all made it home, and bedtime soon followed. They were all down by 9 (an hour and a half late) and mommy was off to bed too. Despite our meltdowns at the end, they did a great job. I am so proud of them and all they have learned so far this year.

til next time,

E

(this is cross posted from Erika's Funny Farm)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lots of Love and Hugs to Everyone Today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On a more positive note...

Despite my cranky reception to the New York Times article, I will have to admit the fruits have been quite nice. I have gotten so many nice emails and comments, praising the LOK sites in general, and embracing large families in particular. So, while the majority of the world may still bristle at the idea of families with more than 2 kids, there are a good number of people who feel it is a beautiful thing--or at the minimum that it's a personal choice that shouldn't be infringed on. "To each their own."

One email in particular really struck me, from a 22 year old who was already thinking ahead to the future. The thought of raising any child in this world was a scary thought. However, after a lot of thought and reflection, he realized that raising a large family might be easier, since it would "provide emotional and moral support within itself much more so than a family with fewer children." He then went on to note that Kurt Vonnegut suggested in his book, Slapstick, that a larger family could offer a great sense of belonging and identity.

It was kinda refreshing to hear the younger generation (yes, I sound so old at the ripe age of 38) viewing large families so objectively. Thing is, I *do* believe I have had an easier time with a large family. Now, I may not quite feel that way when I'm doing 10 loads of laundry over a weekend, but from the simple point of trying to raise kind, caring, and loving children --who will in turn take those qualities into adulthood--having a large family has been an amazing blessing.

I have been constantly told over and over that my kids show compassion far beyond that of their peers. They are said to be very thoughtful and polite. They do not bully others. In their classes, they are not only leaders, but helpers. One teacher was amazed that my 3 year old son was the first one in her preschool class to offer to assist another child with a task, on his own, without prompting. People will praise my parenting, but I almost always defer to the fact that being raised in a large family has taught my children how to be respectful, kind, and work with each other. Now, I'm not saying my kids are perfect. We have far too many "screaming and kicking" moments for me to delude myself on that. Not to mention, I don't think large families have cornered the market on raising good kids. However, in general, I do believe this is one of the many benefits of a large family.

After reading this email, it got me to thinking of all the benefits that being in a large family have for children. That reminded me of one of my favorite articles. I think it better sums it up than I could and I think is worth a read: Advantages of a Large Family

***Cross-posted on the Mega-Moms blog***

Saturday, February 7, 2009

8 is okay, 14 is nuts.

Just peeking in to note a new article in the New York Times that features comments by me and my co-blogger on the Mega-Moms blog, Kim/kmomof12.

The article is not very complimentary, even though it does feature some nice remarks by parents trying to dispel some of the myths about large families.

Here's a link to the article: And Baby Make How Many?

I do have some commentary on the article, as well as the picture they chose to feature of me and my family. If you're interested, you can read it over HERE.

And while your at it, another Lotsofkids blogger was recently featured in a piece on the idea that only children are more likely to have large families, which appeared on Good Morning America. To see our own msjennbug (a/k/a Jenn Flood), click HERE and view the video clip.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today is a new day.

Monday evening I sat down to write a post filled with whining, complaining, b****ing, and a whole bunch of woe is me's.  But something happened and I didn't get to finish it.  Tuesday,  I sat down again to finish the drama post but I really couldn't find it in me to do so.  So instead I went and sat down to watch T.V. with my man.  This morning, Wednesday, I woke up to a sunny, though freezing, day.  The kids made me laugh this morning and I realize I am past my Monday and today is a new day.



This got me to thinking about life with children and maybe just life in general.  You see, I "love" being a mom, but some days I don't "like" it.  Some days just seem so hard to get through, full of drama and chaos (the bad kind) and just energy draining.  Some mornings it is hard enough just to pull myself out of bed let alone be the mother that I need to be or the person that I want to be.  
Some days you decided to pull everything out of the fridge, we are talking shelves and food and drawers and you see butter that fell on the light and melted and then re hardened as it traveled its way down the back wall.  And right when you are ready to dig in and get it clean, maybe, I don't know, you hear the baby.  The one that you put down 10 minutes ago and has decided not to take a nap.  
You know days like that, days that are filled with things like that, ALL DAY.  Those days that make you wonder why you do this.

But then there are the days where you get out of bed and even before breakfast is over, your kids make you laugh, they smile at you and they tell you I Love You (even the 11 year old boy).  The days where the baby actually takes a nap and you get a chance to sit at the computer for an hour in the quiet.   Where the baby wakes up and announces "Hi" as you walk in the room.  Or the 5 year old wants to make Valentines with you.   Where you look at your almost teen-age daughter and think "Oh my, I had a part in that."
You know days like that, days that are filled with things like that, ALL DAY.  Those days that make you wonder why you do anything but this.

And that's why instead of the pity party post you were going to get on Monday.  I will just say, thank you.  Thank you for all the days, it certainly keeps things interesting!
'til next time
Jillienne
*cross posted from www.imminent-chaos.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the dark by candlelight...

The Brontes had a mask, one that they could hide behind when telling the truth. The brainchild of a wise father. Sometimes it is hard to tell the truth in the harsh light of day. I've found in my own life some of the best conversations take place under cover of darkness. We're currently testing this theory out on the children.


Candlelight Questions

"Hurry. Brush your teeth. Get in your PJs and then it's time for Candlelight Questions." The children scurry out of day clothes and into night. They rush around the house flipping off lights but leave the oil lamps burning on the kitchen table. Someone brings a candle and sets it on the hearth in the living room. The lighter flares in the darkness and ignites the candle's wick. Everyone finds a space on the sofas or the floor.

"Are you ready for tonight's question? Who is someone you admire and why?"

"I admire JRR Tolkien. He basically spent his whole life with one set of characters."
"I admire you and Papa because you work hard to provide for us."
"I admire Aunt Dulce and Uncle Jim because they are so good at making people feel comfortable."
"I admire God because he gives us power to get candy." Much laughter and mini theology lesson ensues.

The candle flickers as children share their thoughts. It's cozy in our big living room with kids sleepy and stretched out. Everyone takes a quick turn then someone prays and all line up for hugs and kisses. One kiss for the big kids and four for Charlie and then off to bed. The kids take their cue from the hush and calm around the flame and settle quickly into their beds.

Just a few minutes at the end of the day to tie heart strings and share ideas, here in the dark by candlelight.
A few more questions:
How did you serve someone today?
What is something you learned today?
Who is your favorite character in.... and why?
What do you want to accomplish tomorrow?
Did you do anything today that you regret? What action can you take tomorrow to prevent it from happening again?
What is your favorite memory?
What has God been teaching you?