Sunday, December 18, 2011

To laugh or's up to me.

The flu bug exited the front door while a blustery head cold blew in the back.  I have been down for a few days with it and could really feel sorry for myself but I couldn't stop thinking about my neighbor, Michelle, across the street with her respiratory and kidney infections...on top of having a newborn baby.  While John and the kids were at church today I got up the energy to make some homemade bread.  I snuck out of the house for a few minutes after dinner to take a loaf over to her.  I enjoyed a little visit with Michelle and her husband, Tyson, about the joys and challenges of parenthood then headed find the downstairs toilet overflowing into the hallway and downstairs kitchen.  As I gagged my way through the unclogging and clean up I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of the conversation with my friends.  Yes, parenthood, has it's ups and downs.  All I can do is choose whether I will laugh or cry.  I read once that I should not wonder "if" disaster would strike today in my house but "which" disaster would strike today.  When I do that I am much more mentally prepared for whatever heads my way. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On the menu tonight: Sprite and Saltines

Guess what showed up at our house tonight.  Yep, the good old fashioned stomach flu.  Well, maybe I shouldn't call it old fashioned.  This is the super-powered, amped up, Stomach Flu of the century.   It didn't just creep into the house under a basement window.  It marched right in through the front door and started rampaging through the house.  The neighbors had warned us that it had been stalking the neighborhood while we were away for Thanksgiving.  Parents and children alike were hugging toilets instead of downing turkey.

 When Sarah crawled into our bed at 4:00 this morning (as she is known to do) she was feeling just fine.  The next thing I heard from her was around 8:00 when she called out that she had thrown up on my sheets.  I'd been meaning to change those sheets anyway.  Here we go.  I had a doctors appointment this morning so John stayed home with Sarah (I got to hear the baby's heartbeat and he/she is doing great). When I got back John reported that Sarah had emptied her stomach over and over and was too exhausted to get in the tub.  I went into her room to find on the floor a pale, soiled, sleeping, little girl, sucking her finger and clinging to her toy clown.  She slept most of the day and, with the help of Emetrol, didn't get sick much more.

 The others didn't start into it until this evening.  Soso was first, poor baby.  Now, what I was really amazed by was not the power of the flu but the willingness of the healthy kids to help out.  Rebekah, Elisa, Anna, and Josh ran around fetching towels and blankets, cleaning up the living room, doing the dishes, and anything else I asked.  Within 30 mins Elisa started feeling sick.  Anna ran to get her a pillow and blankets and made a comfy bed for her on the living room floor.  When Soso soiled too many towels and we were almost running out.  Josh and Anna changed the laundry and put in a batch of towels---the first time they'd done laundry on their own.  Reah was cheerfully helping as well until her tummy started to rumble.  She quickly turned from a helper to a couch warmer.  Josh and Anna fought over who got to make up her bed.  Because of those two I was able to sit and hold Sophia and make her comfortable.  Our living room became a very busy sick ward.  

Around 10:00 I told the oldest 2 they needed to hit the sack.  They cried that they wanted to keep helping.  I was hesitant to send them to bed because they really were so much help.  Josh was afraid to go to sleep, fearing that he would wake up sick.  He did.  John took the night shift and I headed to bed.  At 1:00 AM Josh headed to the toilet.

 It's 5:30 and I've been on duty since about 4:00.  One child or another wakes up sick every 15 or 20 minutes.  Anna is the sole evader so far.  She is still in her bed, but the other children are all in the sick ward, sleeping off and on under the Christmas lights.  After a long shift John is sleeping sound and far.

My heart is full of gratitude, not for the children being sick, but for the chance to serve them.  I am grateful for John jumping right in and letting my pregnant body sleep for a while.  I think I am mostly grateful for the opportunity my children had to serve one other---they did it with such willing hearts, even knowing that they would probably be sick soon too.  Interesting that when everyone is healthy I can go to bed exhausted from breaking up squabbles and playing referee all day.  But a little stomach flu changed our house into a peaceful, happy, loving environment.

I guess I am understanding better why Heavenly Father allows us to suffer.  Without suffering, we could not learn compassion.  Our hearts would become prideful and He would have to play referee all the time.  I am amazed at how happy the children were tonight as they bustled around taking care of the sick ones.  I have not seen them that full of joy, even on Christmas morning.  There's been no grumbling, no complaining that they aren't getting what they want, no selfishness at all---only thinking of the comfort and the needs of others.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Laundry Answers:The Dot System

Writing little essays is fun but I figure I should put something helpful on this blog.

Several months back I was--once again--trying to switch out winter clothes for summer clothes in all my children's drawers.  I pulled out the buckets and buckets of hand-me-downs from the garage and started sorting through searching for what would fit which girl this season (we have 1 boy and 5 daughters).  I was drowning in an ocean of pink clothes!!!  In desperation I called my husband's aunt, Robyn.  Thank goodness for amazing in-laws.  Robyn has raised 7 daughters (and 2 sons) so I figured she would have some advice.  She taught me The Dot System and it has been a life saver!

Here's the deal:
Assign a number of dots to each child, in order.  The oldest gets 1 dot, next kid gets 2, etc, etc.  Then in every one of the oldest girls clothes I put one dot on the tag or inside of the collar, underwear, or whatever with a laundry marker.  I got a set of baskets, one for each child, and put the same number of dots on the basket with the child's name in permanent marker.  Now, when I do laundry I don't have to think, "Who does this belong to?"  I just check the tag, see 3 dots, and know it goes in the 3rd girl's basket (the one with 3 dots on it).  Anyone could come in my house and do my laundry and everything would go in the right baskets.  I didn't assign my boy any dots.  He is the oldest and the only one that wears all those basketball shorts and tshirts.

When girl #1 grows out of a shirt I just pop on one more dot in the collar and throw it in girl #2's basket.

Thank you, thank you, Aunt Robyn for this great tip!  It has made life a lot easier and left me with a little more time to enjoy the kids...

Now, do not go thinking, "Oh man, she sits and plays with her kids.  I don't do that enough."  These are the times we whip out the camera...not when we are barking at them to stop playing and clean up the dad-gum house."  We all have our good moments and our bad.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Are You Supermom?

So, for the last few pregnancies we have been a bit hesitant to make too many announcements.  Not because we aren't excited.  On the contrary, we have been thrilled to invite each new person into our family.  We are hesitant to say much early on because of people's reactions.  Of course, we have those who think we are nuts.  I can handle that, we probably are.  What I wasn't prepared for on our last pregnancy was how many people praised me and put themselves down.   "Oh, you must have so much patience, I just don't have enough to handle that many kids."  "You are amazing!  I could never do that."  "I would have had more if I was as good a mom as you are."  

It's just not true!!!  I happen to have a pretty high tolerance for chaos and noise.  Not everybody does.  My own sisters visit, cheer me on and happily go home to much more serene settings.  And honestly, for my own sanity, I sometimes slip away all by myself so I can enjoy their serenity with them :).  

A close friend of mine once commented that my house is controlled chaos.  Well, it's controlled as much as one can with all these amazing little people running about :).