Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Englishisms

We've been back in the US for one year now. I find it quite funny that I still use some proper English terms. I have had two incidents recently where I have used the English term for something, and the person I was talking to didn't know what I meant. The funny thing is that when I used the words, I couldn't even think of the American word for what I was trying to say.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about an issue my mom has with her foot. I said that she was taking physio for it. As I said it, I realized it was the English term as my friend looked at me with questioning look. I continued to try to explain what I meant, but I couldn't think of the American word for the life of me. Finally, she said, "physical therapy"? "Yes, that's it!"

The other incident happened yesterday as I was driving through Starbucks for a coffee. I asked for cream on my mocha. It just came out that way and I assumed everyone knew what cream was. The person who took my order said, "whipped cream?" And, once again I was like, "yes, yes, whipped cream." I didn't even think that, to Americans, cream is thick milk for coffee.

It is good to know that I am not completely Americanized again!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Laundry Philosophy

I've never been one who likes to do laundry every day. Doing a load or two a day would kill me. It wouldn't be from the washing part, or even folding for that matter. I feel like I would always have baskets or piles of clothes lying around that need to be put away. That would drive me mad. Because of this, I have days planned out for each set of laundry. This way I am not doing laundry every day of the week. Now mind you, as my family has grown, so have the number of days it takes to get the laundry done.

I guess you could say that my laundry schedule starts on Sunday night after the kids are in bed. I grab the towels, as well as the garbage, since Monday morning is garbage day, out of the kids bathroom. I bring them down and throw them in the washer. They take a couple of hours since I wash them on sanitary wash with extremely hot water. Monday then leaves me to the rest of the towels in the house and sometimes a set or two of sheets.
On Monday night, I sort all the kids clothes. This ranges from 4 to 6 loads depending on the season. In the winter it is more, I have a whole load and sometimes two of just jeans. I love the summer loads...shorts, dresses...a lot less clothes to wash, fold and put away. After the kids clothes are sorted, I bring them down and throw in the first load. This is usually jeans, because I know they are easy and quick to fold first thing in the morning when so much is going on. On Monday night, I sometimes have time to switch loads too. This really helps to stay on top of it all on Tuesday.
These photos are of my laundry room on Tuesday, toward the end of the day. I just have the girls load left to fold.

Tuesday I continue to work on the kids clothes. The order of the laundry goes from jeans, to dark, to medium, to whites and then finally on to the girls clothes. I leave theirs for last so I have all the boys done and put into baskets by that point. This way I have room to fold theirs. After the clothes are in the baskets are done, they placed at the bottom of the stairs for Steve to carry up for me. The older three boys all put their own laundry away on Wednesday. I am working on the girls putting their own away. I put the younger one's away on Wednesday morning.

A side-note on the laundry, when each load is done, I stand and fold it right then and there. I don't save it until later, having 6 loads to fold in the evening would stress me out. I used to do it that way, but that has changed as our family and our laundry has grown.

Wednesday and Thursday are my off days, unless it is sheet week. I hope you are not too surprised or grossed out, but I only wash sheets every two weeks. I do ours a bit more often than the kids. I just don't have the time to keep up on it more regularly. Getting two cribs, three twins and one double and one queen made again in the evening takes a good bit of time.

On Friday morning, I sort Steve and my clothes. We usually have two loads, one dark and one medium. I wash our whites with the kids whites on Tuesday. We put our clothes away sometime over the weekend.

And once again, I take the weekends off from laundry unless something like towels, rags or rugs needs to be washed.

You may be wondering about ironing. Well, I iron about once a month or so. I just hang whatever needs to be ironed in the laundry room closet and wait until there is enough in there to make it worth the effort. I buy wrinkle free shirts and pants/trousers for Steve and pull them right out of the dryer when they are done. It is very rare that they need to be ironed.

Well, I think that is my laundry schedule in a nutshell. I hope this is helpful to someone out there.

Our Weekly Schedule

Well, this is at least my schedule for keeping house. I've pretty much run on the same schedule for years. Running a household of a large family is a lot of work, therefore for my sanity I need to have a plan. Some weeks don't go as planned and wrenches are thrown into them (ex. sick kids, doctors appointments, long weekends, etc.) These weeks tend to throw me off, and I get a bit frazzled and stressed. Life does happen and wrenches are thrown in quite often, so I need to remember that the plan is a tool and not my master. God is my master and He will give me the strength and motivation to face whatever challenges the weeks bring. What helps me to get back into the groove is knowing the plan for the rest of the week and catching back up. As soon as I am back to the plan, I am a much calmer momma.

Monday - laundry (I'll post my laundry story in the next blog.), cleaning main floor of the house for small group on Monday night (vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and cleaning the main floor bathroom, also a quick pick up of the basement if time is allowed), sorting the kids clothes (This happens after small group and after the kids are in bed. I throw in the first load too!)
Tuesday - Kids laundry (more next post), this takes up most of my day
Wednesday - upstairs cleaning, bathrooms, vacuuming (main floor again too)
Thursday - things that didn't get done earlier in the week
Friday - Laundry (mine and Steve's clothes), vacuuming main floor and a quick wet mop to be ready for the weekend
Saturday - the weekends are for projects around the house and the yard (mowing, weeding, organizing, cleaning kids bedrooms, etc.) and for running errands (For the most part, during the week I am at home. I do run out and get groceries, but don't do any other shopping. There just isn't time in the day.)
Sunday - Day of REST (nap for momma)

I think I could probably do a couple more posts on dinner and on getting groceries. I think I'll save those for another day. Next up, I'll work on our laundry routine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And Their Off...To School That Is

Backpacks packed and ready
They are a little excited, can you tell?

They were excited to get back to school. I went with Leah on the first day. She only went for an hour. After a bit of time, the parents had to go to the gym to hear from the principal and get other information. Leah cried when I had to go, but after that she was fine. The next day she was so excited to ride the bus with her older brothers. She didn't even want me to walk her to the bus stop. I did assign one of her brothers to be her "buddy" for the day. He would help cross the street, find a seat on the bus and also get her to her class. For the first week or so, we changed boys each day. She loved having the special attention from her older brothers and I think they enjoyed taking care of her.

The kids are loving school and mom is enjoying the quiet around the house.

Monday, August 16, 2010

School Supplies

This is what school supplies for four children looks like. I can't even imagine the amount, much less the cost for school supplies for seven.
Last week we sorted it all out and got their backpacks all packed. Here are the proud four with a little sister peeking in. They head back to school tomorrow . I have a feeling it will be bittersweet for all of us.

You're still the one

Happy 12th Anniversary, Steve!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Potty Training Advice

A friend of mine asked me to write tips I have on potty training. I have been thinking about it and pulling ideas together in my head. At first I thought, I don't have any advice because it doesn't always happen when or how I would like it to. I have learned a few things about potty training though and I do have five who are potty trained. So, we've done something right.

Facts I have learned about potty training:
1. Girls train earlier than boys, sometimes as much as a year earlier in our case. Girls seem to care more about this sort of thing. They want to be grown up. Little boys are too busy playing to care or notice they have to go. Plus they really don't care much if they pee themselves. The girls don't like it so much.

My oldest daughter trained at just before 2 1/2. My middle son was torture to train and he didn't do it until he was 3 1/2.

2. They get it and it clicks when THEY are ready, not when when I am ready. Unfortunately, even after training lots, I forget this and try to pressure them to train. I so wish they would do it on demand and it would only take a week, but that has not been the way it has happened in our family. Each child is totally different, just as they are in everything and have trained differently. My most recent, youngest daughter, didn't even know what to do on the potty. She would sit on it all the time and say she peed. But, she didn't do anything. I left her be and didn't pressure her anymore and then a few months later I walked into the bathroom upstairs to find her pooping on the potty. From that point on, she figured it out and she did it. I loved it with her, because I always have found it easier to train for pee. This time, she was trained the other first.

3. Just as with any other tool for parenting, you will finds various opinions on how and when to potty train. Please remember that you are the parent. You know your child and your circumstances best. Don't feel pressured from others, do what is best for your family.

1. Buy lots of extra underwear, even old ones from garage sales or save hand-me-downs. Often one would poop in their underwear and it would gross me out so much (mostly I would have been pregnant) that I couldn't get myself to clean them out. I definitely wasn't about to slosh my hands around in the toilet to clean them. If I had old ones, I didn't feel bad about just throwing the they yucky ones in the garbage. This took a lot of pressure off me and has been so worth it.

2. BE PATIENT - they will get it eventually. Maybe not in your timing, but they will.

3. If it leads to stress on you and them - STOP! Try again in a few weeks or months. Sometimes, they just pick it up on their own without any pressure, like my daughter.

4. Don't feel pressured to have your kids potty trained by a certain age, because they are all different.

Hopefully, this has been helpful to someone. If you have a tip on potty training, leave a comment.

*This is a repost from last year, but since we are going through this whole potty training process once again, I thought I would share. I find there principles still applicable with number six, who is a boy and also training at 2 1/2 years. When they are ready, they are ready.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Zoe - 6 Months

I can't believe she's half way to a year.

Zoe sits and is just starting to get up on her knees. I don't think it will be long before she is going places. She does scoot herself around on the floor, only it is backwards. Today I caught her saying "babababa."
I absolutely LOVE this age. She is so much fun!
Zoe has been eating two meals of baby food too. She loves her food. She is ready for the third, but I am waiting until the kids start back to school next week so we can get in a normal routine.

Her smile makes me wonder if I smile with my mouth wide open too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Girls Room

Since we moved in, the girls have still been in their little toddler beds. They filled them right up from top to bottom. We want to get them bunk beds, but bunk beds are not at the top of the list right now. We had an extra double bed in the basement, which Steve's parents gave us. The plan was to use it for an extra guest bed as we already have another down there too. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to move it up to the girls bedroom since they are outgrowing their toddler beds and they have been insisting on sleeping together in those tiny, little beds.

I'm so glad for the help from my boys. We hauled the double bed...frame, mattress and box springs up two flights of stairs. It was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. My sister recently gave me some extra Duvet covers she had and one of them was pink and it matched their room perfectly.

I am so proud that I gave the girls room a total makeover in a couple of hours and I didn't spend any money. I am planning on making them some new curtains this fall or winter. I just need to find the perfect fabric.
The girls just love their new room and they especially love sleeping snuggled up together.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Holiday in Lower Michigan

We were so excited when we heard that our friend from high school, Sherwood and his wife Areli were going to be in Michigan from Guatemala the same time as us. It has been a couple years since we have last seen them. (They came to visit us in England.) We made plans to get together with them. On Friday July 2, we drove over to Kalamazoo where Sherwood was working for the week. We made it out of my mom's with only three kids...Andrew, Anna and Zoe. We enjoyed a nice dinner at an Irish Pub with Sherwood and Areli. It was so nice to chat and catch up.
After dinner we went back to their hotel so Andrew and Anna could swim a bit.

Andrew took this photo of Sherwood, Areli and Steve and me.
I can't get enough of this picture. They are both so proud. I love it when we mix it up a bit and take different sets of kids with us to do something special.
This is the best photo I have from the Fourth of July. We had a cookout at my mom's some of my Aunt, Uncles, cousins and their kids came. This is the second cousins playing together.
My Aunt Anne called to see if she could take the kids for a ride in her convertible. Three of them were thrilled to join her. I bet this was a highlight of our vacation for them. This is the first time they rode in a convertible and they LOVED it. Thank you, Aunt Anne.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Look What Came in the Mail

The other day we received a package in the mail and just look what was inside... these adorable headbands. These girls have the most awesome, creative and cool Aunt in the whole world. My sister just whipped these up one day.
We just want to say, "THANK YOU, AUNT LAURA. We love you!"
Aren't they adorable?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Da UP!

From Wisconsin, we headed up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan making our way over to Mackinaw City for a few nights. A few hours into the trip we stopped to get subs for lunch and then found this nice roadside park right along Lake Michigan to have lunch at. The kids were once again in the lake. This time they were trying to catch minos.

On the way to Mackinac where we both grew up, we stopped at my dads so the kids could see his little cabin. They loved the openness of the country and called his cabin a Lincoln Log house.
Getting ready to cross the Mackinac Bridge.
In the middle of the Mackinac Bridge about 100 feet from the water.
At the laser light show in Mackinaw City.
Heading to Fort Michilimackinac
The kids with a guard after the musket demonstration.
Nathanael wanted a picture with him too. He was so proud.
Papa and the kids climbing the fort wall.
Our colonial family (notice our little dog).

The family with the Bridge in the background.
Enjoying the biggest ice cream cones the kids have ever had!

Once again, playing in the water. This time it was in Lake Huron. Lake Huron is on the right side of the Bridge and Lake Michigan is on the left.
Papa and a happy little Zoe
Couldn't resist this cute one of Anna.