Monday, January 27, 2014

On laundry and Housekeeping.

One of the most asked questions Bert and I get when people see us with six children (aside from the usual RUDE/nosey/annoying ones) is "How do you stay on top of ALL THAT LAUNDRY?"
Short answer: I don't. And, I would like to point out that asking Bert this question is like asking me to solve a linear equation.  He has no clue because as far as he's concerned, a magic laundry fairy appears and puts clean underwear in his drawer, or (keeping it real) in the laundry pile at the foot of our bed.  Which I'm actually just fine with, since the few times he's attempted to do the laundry resulted in shrunken sweaters and whites dyed a strange shade of pink.  In no way do I claim to be an expert, but I have finally found my groove, and have a pretty good handle on the laundry for the most part.  I do realize by posting this, I will inevitably become horribly ill with a stomach bug or another round of the flu, and the laundry pile will reach mountainous heights in a matter of three days.  (But by typing that sentence, I'm hoping to have jinxed my jinx.)  So, here we go...


1.  Join a nudist colony.
Just kidding.  Between the streaking that goes on here, and still having to wipe some of their bottoms, I see enough nekkid hineys as is. But, we do have a serious "NO midday wardrobe changes" rule, unless there is an accident that left you soaked.  This mostly helps in the winter months when layers are worn by all eight of us, doubling the loads compared to summer. 

2.  Bigger is Better. 
At least when it comes to washer/dryer sets.  Last Spring, my Mom (Aka: Cookie) scored a great deal on an LG- XL front load washer and dryer set, and gifted me with it. The day it was delivered was like a thousand Christmases all rolled into one. 
 I've read lots of reviews from people who detest front loaders due to the mildew smell.  To avoid that, I've simply left my door open when it's not in use, and especially over night.  "But Holly, I don't have room to leave the door open in my house." Me neither. We have a laundry CLOSET, not a room, and it's located right next to the garage door, so it's a high traffic area. If we're home and not going in and out, I leave it open.  Before I go to bed, I open it back up too.  Which is something I always did with my top loader as well, because that's just what Cookie taught me.  I also make sure and only use HE detergent.  Almost a year in, and I can honestly say I've never noticed any kind of mildewy smell.  My baby sister has had one for years, and she also practices the "open-door policy," and said she's never noticed a funky smell either.  I puffy heart love my washer and dryer.  It can wash an entire bedding set, without getting off balance, and in this house that's something done almost daily.  (I could cut liquids off at noon, and there will still be a wet bed or two the next day. Sigh.) So if you're in the market for a new set, I highly recommend you find your own Cookie and have her buy you this set. 
3.  Lower your expectations. 
This applies to all things housekeeping. Now, how ever low you just lowered your expectations-- take it down another two to three notches.  I consider the day a success if at bedtime each child is told "I love you" and they're all wearing (semi) clean underwear.   There is no reason for the house to be spotless or for their clothes to be ironed.  The house will be trashed in a matter of hours and their clothes will be wrinkled in less time than that.  Something my Daddy told us many times over the years, "It's not the clothes that make the kid, it's the kid that makes the clothes." Slightly (completely) wrinkled or not, kids are adorable because of who they are, not how they are dressed.  If ironing their clothes is stressing you out, stop doing it.  I'm proud to say my children think our iron is a tool used only for crafting projects.  I also quit ironing Bert's clothes many years ago.  His arms aren't broken, and last time I checked, you don't need to be a Certified Public Accountant to operate an iron, though if you did, he would have that license as well.  Another great thing about my dryer is the steam function, which takes the wrinkles out. Granted, Bert couldn't care less about wrinkles, which is why half the time he shows up practicing the "It's not the clothes that make the kid" rule as well. 

4.  Accept help as often as you can.
Why is it so hard for us as women to accept help? If you're feeling overwhelmed and don't have it in your budget to hire outside help, be it babysitting or a professional house cleaner (Read: MEEEEE) try doing a kid swap with a good friend.  Offer to take her kids to the park while she cleans one morning a week, and switch kids out another day so you can do the same. Also, include the ENTIRE family when assigning chores.  Husbands are more than capable of sweeping, dusting and mopping. Most of the time, he just needs to be asked.  I've also learned over the years that the kids are able to do much more than I realized when it comes to cleaning.  My kids think taking a baby wipe to the bathroom counters is fun and sometimes fight over who gets to do it.  No, it's not perfect, but it gets done.  (See #3) But, if your OCD is still gnawing at you and causing you to stress, you could always invest in a large dog kennel...

5.  Take it one day at a time. 
Some days even that's too overwhelming and you may find it necessary to take it only an hour at a time.  And hey, that's okay.  The best advice I was ever given was to take a deep breath and focus on what's most important right then.  Some times that focus needs to be shifted to cuddling on the couch and reading a story, even if the kitchen wreaks of dirty dishes and last night's dinner is still on the table.  Other times, cuddling needs to wait because the laundry can't be avoided any longer.   As long as your children feel safe and loved, you're doing a great job.  They won't remember how  high the laundry was always piled or the crushed cheerios stuck between their toes. They definitely won't remember eating spaghetti oh's three nights in a row.  They probably won't even remember you telling them to pose in that specific corner of the house because it's the clean corner and you planned to put the photo on Instagram.  But they will always remember how they FELT, and feeling loved and appreciated isn't something you can make up for once they're grown and things slow down. 

I hope you found my light-hearted tips to be helpful today.  I just see so many moms who daily beat themselves up over not being as "perfect" as the women they see on Pinterest.  I say, if you're home isn't perfect, you've always got a friend in me.
 Love and hugs, Big Momma

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Umm, hi.

My name is Holly. Once upon a time I blogged here on a regular basis.  And then I stopped.  I had a sixth kid, caught a horrible case of writer's block, and an even worse case of post-partum depression.  Then, back in the fall, I finally felt like myself again and tried to make a "come back." That lasted all of three posts.  I kept telling myself I needed to update the pics in the side bar first, and have something worth writing. Not that my kids aren't worth writing about, but we've reached an age where I'm struggling with what's appropriate and trying not to embarrass them.  Although, most the time I feel like turnabout is fair play, since in the last decade I have been a mother, these children have made it their mission to embarrass me on every public outing.  Still, I miss blogging.  I miss the friends I've made here and the connections with all of you who take the time to read about our zany life.  I've continued following most of you as well, though I've been a horribly lazy commenter.  In my defense, it's a pain to do from my phone, and that's where I read most of the time. All of this long boring (I'm even boring myself here, sorry about that) paragraph to say... Posts may seem a bit jumbled for a while.  I'm embracing my ADD and the fact that the pics in my sidebar are outdated (except for the Bitty Princess') and going with it.  Random post introduced... and here we go....
The Bitty Princess' birthday is the day after Christmas.  Worst birthday to have, poor child. When I was pregnant with her, I was so afraid she would come Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  I was thrilled she stayed put and came the day after.  Until I realized the only thing worse than sharing your birthday with Jesus is how exhausted everyone is the day after and no one feels like celebrating you.  Including yourself.  Pretty sure as she gets older we'll celebrate her half birthday and have a party then, and just have cupcakes with family on the actual date.  Bless it. 

We've had quite a bit of drama lately.  And while my siblings may disagree, drama is not something I enjoy, unless it's watching Her Highness on stage.  Lightning nearly lost his eye while hiking in the woods at my parents' house.  (The sparkler he's pictured with below has absolutely nothing to do with his eye's near death experience. It's just a cute pic of Lightning.) He bent down while holding a "hiking stick" and gouged himself, causing multiple lacerations to his left eye, and possible permanent damage to his eyesight.  A trip to Children's Hospital ER and follow up visits to an ophthalmologist, and that kid has nearly met his deductible for 2014 already.  Thanks to the Affordable (snicker) Healthcare Act,  we get to enjoy a higher family deductible AND a higher premium.  Good times.  And then a few days ago, The Bitty Princess fell off my bed and we thought she'd broken her leg.  A trip to the pediatrician, then the orthopedic office, six x-rays and 12 hours later, we learned she was fine and had no broken bones.  So very thankful she was okay, but I'm pretty sure I  heard our wallets' sobbing later that evening. 

This kid right here... I have no words.  Those lips, y'all.  Gah! And the things he tells me... "Momma, yer pwetty and bootiful and I lub you and when I growed up I'm gonna marry you and take you to da sthore and buy you new shoesth all da time.  And get you sthome new earringsth." He's my baby boy.  And while I love all my children equally, I love them all so differently.  And well, this kid right here has my number and he knows it.  He's going through a terrible stuttering phase right now too.  And as painful as it is to listen to him say, "Mmmmmm MOM, can can can can I g-g-g-g-go outside?' it also adds an element of adorableness to him that I can't quite put into words.  I know, I know.. he's going to end up living in my basement and playing video games while I make excuses for him like, "He's holding out for a management position..." but I can't help it. 
I really can't say enough about how much fun it is to have a big family.  Maybe it's because I don't know life any other way.  I am the middle of five children myself, so having six wasn't much of a stretch for me.  But I will say this.. If you're on the fence at all about having another one, no matter what size your family is now, DO IT.  More noise, more laundry, more crying, more money?? Well, yeah, there's that.  BUT, more love, more fun, more hugs, more kisses, more memories.  Completely beats out all the other reasons not to have MORE children.  And no, this is not an announcement of any kind.  I have absolutely no plans of birthing any more children.  Six was the magic number to share with this uterus and wreak havoc on my body.  I'm just trying to encourage more of you to join the whacky world of BIG family life.  Come on in, the water's fine. 

 Unrelated to any pictures, yet a few thoughts in my brain that I'd like to add... I'm completely OVER winter.  I'm currently obsessed with Hey Ocean's "Big Blue Wave." And trying to get back in shape in your mid 30's is depressing. 
My stinker pots expect lunch soon, so I'll close this for now.  Hopefully I'll see you all again in less than three months this time.  Sticky hugs and sloppy kisses, Big Momma