Thursday, October 29, 2015

20 Thoughts On Having Six Children

One of the last posts I wrote mentioned how I just wanted to, "leave this year open to a little mystery.  Kind of a feeling of letting the wind take me where it will."  So it seems as if the wind has blown me towards a familiar island.  

I know it's been a long time since my last post but with good reason.  We found out that we were expecting our sixth child in February of this year.  It was a little bit of a surprise but the best kind we could have imagined.  The expecting and arrival of Thea has been just what our family needed.  

I do realize though... that the idea of a large family is foreign to most people (especially outside of our state) and so I have decided to share: 

20 Thoughts and Facts I've Found on Having Six Children 

1.  Fact:  Surveys in recent years show that less than 2% of families today have 6 kids and .5% of families have 7 kids or more.  This means that I now belong to a very elite and little understood group of super women.

2.  I cannot count the number of times people have stopped me at the store with, "Oh my!  Are they are yours?" or "You have your hands full!"  or my favorite, "Are they all from one father?"  Honestly I enjoy it. There is a sense of accomplishment knowing that I do something every day that few other women can imagine possible and with a smile to boot!

3.   Did you know that those who do have six children are presumed to be very religious or not very educated or both. My husband and I are religious, well-educated, and just love children. (Well at least our children.)

4.  Studies show having six children can be the mark of the eccentric or the genius. The psychologist Alison Gopnik wrote a very fine essay about her brilliant, eccentric parents and the six children they produced, including, besides Alison, her brother Adam, the New Yorker writer, and her brother Blake, the art critic. The novelist and director Galt Niederhoffer is one of six daughters; their father is, according to The New York Times, “one of the most successful (and most idiosyncratic) money managers in the nation.” I claim to be both eccentric and genius.  haha

5.   I am very mindful that many people want more children than they have but have been unable to have them. My hubby and I talk about how lucky we are every day.

6.  We all want to leave something behind when we leave this world and if all else fails I will leave progeny. Not a bad legacy if you ask me.

7.  And I won’t be lonely in old age. Maybe they won’t all love me and take care of me, but the odds are good that one of them will. Maybe two.

8.  I come from a thrifty upbringing which I love and think more people should adopt.  And now, finally, having our cute little sixth addition has given me the power I was lacking before, to instill these beliefs in my kids. 

9.  Up until now I have been in a tug-of-war between the belief of giving my kids things that I didn't have so they wouldn't be deprived or left out, and the belief that sometimes the answer is no and that they will have to earn or wait until its right.  Now I clearly can say no to things we don't need and not feel guilt.   I can explain to the kids that it’s because of our sacrifices that this family works.  We are not like the majority of families.  Sometimes we will have to make sacrifices but we also have things that some other families might not.    This is just one of the many lessons that I think kids can learn from growing up in a large family.

10.   No, I don't like pregnancy, at all. I'm not sentimental about it. I literally told my doctor before I knew that I was pregnant that if I ever was pregnant again it would kill me.  I had to come back two weeks later, tail between my legs, for my first prenatal visit.  I'm not going to lie...everyone in his office had a good laugh about it. 

11.  One of the joys I got during this pregnancy was having everyone ask if this was my first.  I always took it as a compliment and then loved shocking them when I said, "No we have a few more.  This is our sixth."  Always put a smile on my face no matter how awful I was feeling.

12.  One of the unexpected joys of parenting this many kids is that it has given me new reasons to admire my husband.  He is awesome!  I don't think I would have known how amazing he could be if we had only had one or two children.  I tend to take control in the parenting department and it wasn't until I knew I couldn't control all the kids by myself that he blossomed into this amazing dad!  And I give him props for patience.  Patience with me in the early days as I tried to do everything by myself and patience with the kids which include 4 dramatic daughters.

13.  And he was raised to do this job.  His 3 sisters did a very good job of teaching him how to be an awesome, understanding man surrounded by beautiful women. 

14.  Having six kids has opened up a whole new world to me.  People all the time are telling me about how they grew up in a big family, like 8-10 kids, and how they want that too.  These are people I have known for years and we have never had these conversations before.  I'm not sure if it's because people are afraid to admit it until they are with other large families or what but I love being a member of this new club.

15.  I have come up with unique ways to deal with the responsibility.  Sometimes when I get the chance to be in the car alone, I blast the radio in the old minivan and pretend I'm 20 again with no kids.  And sometimes I get mad that I'm in a minivan because it ruins the whole illusion. 

16.  Yes, I am very tired. 

17.  But I use my fatigue like a super power.  It's like the Hulk and his anger.  The secret is that I'm always tired.  You can control it when it’s constantly with you!  I'm not sure what I would do it I was ever well rested. 

18.  There are things I miss about life before parenthood.  Showering without interruptions.  Conversation with the hubs without interruptions.  Sleep without interruptions.  (I'm starting to see a pattern here.)

19.  But those interruptions are the cutest little things ever and most of the time they are jumping into my conversations to tell me something they are so excited about.  Or jumping into my bed because they know I can make it all better.  It's nice to be surrounded by people that still have a lust for life and who need me wholeheartedly.  Someday they won't. 

20.  We're happy!  Yes life can be hectic and weekend dates can't come soon enough, but I would not change it for anything.  Family is everything to me and I have created a life surrounded by what I love most.  There is nothing better than that!

This article was inspired by Mark Oppenheimer's post Forty Thoughts on a Fourth Daughter.  You can read it here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sending your child to school with the best valentines box ever!!

The week of Valentines is crazy around our home.  I'm not sure exactly why it happens this way every year, but it does.  And this year was no different.  We started out the week with a demolition of our kitchen.  You know, just kind of spur of the moment!

My mom's husband was super kind in offering his help in lifting up the ceiling in our 1980s kitchen and of course we said yes!  Our kitchen ceiling was let's say "unique" with its florescent lights and spiffy plastic panels that creates the illusion that your in a spaceship.  Totally Rad.

But after a full weekend of work, we still had a half finished kitchen.  We still had mud dust falling on to our counter tops and this was about the point when I realized, "What the Who?!  I forgot we are having a party on Thursday for my hot hubby's birthday!"  (I know I should have realized, but my mind sometimes focuses soley on the present.  It's the only way to prevent insanity, you know?)   Anyway...  Stress! But then again, they are our family and friends. They'll love us no matter what and they can live with a little dust in their birthday cake, right?  So we're good.

I went about the beginning of this week cleaning the house, finishing up photography work, buying presents for my hot hubby (Happy Birthday Babe) and it wasn't until Wednesday night that I realized that we still hadn't done Valentines Boxes or cards.  And this was at 9:30 at night!

Having four kids that needed them made, I was thrilled that my youngest Kate decided that she was good making her own with no help from mom.  She came up with her own design.  Cut the paper, glued it down.  Everything from start to finish.  I looked it over briefly as I was dashing between the other three helpless kids, looking for markers, cutting papers just right and designing fancy boxes and I decide that she had done an awesome job!  She made a rainbow and everything.   And after all, she is in kindergarten so how fancy should it really be.

It wasn't until I dropped her off at school this morning that I noticed just how much hers stuck out like a sore thumb.  A sore thumb with a rainbow on it.  Everyone had beautifully designed and executed boxes that looked like they could be bought at some designer craft box store (yes there might be such a place) and here was little Kate with her oatmeal box covered in what looked like scraps of miss shaped construction paper.  Not a heart or trace of glitter to be found.  I felt my heart drop for a second thinking that she was going to feel bad.  But then I looked at her cute smooshy face and by George, she was proud!  She had made that thing all on her own and we had told her nothing except for how awesome it was.   And in that moment I realized that she truly had the best valentines box ever.  She had made a box that had empowered her and channeled her creativity and expressed who she was.  She had had fun making it too and I could have so easily screwed that up.

Case in point:
As she was finishing up her box the night before, I was busy telling Jack how much trouble he was in for losing a part of his box's design that I had purchased (yes spent money on!) and how now it wasn't going to look good.  Mind you, this is after I had already changed his design to mine because "it would be better" and I had taking the scissors out of his hands a couple times to make sure the cuts were right.  He looked at me with his wise eyes and said, "so I don't get to do anything for my box?"

Man, don't you hate when they are right.

Letting go a little and allowing your children to explore, get hurt, take risks, discover and make a shotty Valentine's box is really what I want to do for my kids.  This world is such a protected place for our kids that they aren't allowed to do anything.  I'd hate to be the mom that doesn't let them explore where it's safe, like our home, just because I'm afraid they might get hurt emotionally.  I hope that I can start letting my kids experience life as it should be. Full of joy, disappointment, accomplishment, awe, fear, discovery and pain and still provide them with a loving safe place to rest and think up new adventures.  Here's to new goals:  NO more micromanaging the little stuff!

Today i'm thankful for lessons learned from the little ones.  Happy Valentines Day!

Out with the old, in with the new

Is it just me or has this been the best. winter. ever?  And no I do not want to hear about how we won't have any water in the summer... yada yada yada.  I am focusing on the positive here people! :)

I don't know about you guys but I was so happy to say goodbye to 2014.  I routinely just go through the motions of New Years Eve and don't totally put my heart into ringing in the new year.  Maybe it's because I celebrate it at home surrounded my five really tired little people, watching the rest of New York get really excited for a new day, but I just don't really feel it, you know?  That being said...this year I felt it!  I was so happy to start new.  Maybe it was that string of bad luck we had around the holidays (we literally were "out" with all our old appliances and forced into new ones), but I was so pumped to put it all behind me and start fresh.

So did I make any goals?  Yes and no.  I'm trying to leave this year open to a little mystery.  Kind of a feeling of letting the wind take me where it will.  Not being afraid of the dark unknown, but being a light, a force, that the dark is afraid of.

But I also want to be thinner, so...

So I've started a new way of feeding our family and I really want it to stick because it truly is the best way to eat.  Some of you may know that back before I was the super mom I am today with snot on my shirt and house full of toys and chaos, I  had graduated from the University in Nutrition and Health.  These last few months I've been reading up on the best ways to help my family get healthy and based on what I know from before and what I have learned I really do feel like I have found what is best for us.

I have started feeding my family a BUNCH  more fruits and veggies with only a small amount of fish, sometimes chicken, and whole grains.  Sounds easy but it has been a struggle to find new recipes that will fill my family up and make people happy.  So I have decided to post good recipes when I find them and then if anyone else is looking to do the same thing, maybe this will help.

Today I want to share the link to this recipe.  It totally filled up my family when paired with some all natural or homemade tortilla chips and the kids loved it.  My only suggestion is to watch the amount of peppers that you put in.  The first time I made it it was perfect.  The second time, it just about burned our mouths off so be careful, but it's SO good!

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Yield4 servings
Wonderfully light, healthy and nutritious. And it's so easy to make - even the quinoa is cooked right in the pan!
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapenos, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Make Glazed Baby Carrots with Brown Sugar.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.