MT. Saint Laundry

Right now…

*the trashman’s (lady) truck is shaking as she empties our communal trash can. I can see her from where I sit,

*there is a right footed black converse size child’s 9, toddler glasses, almost empty water bottle, a box of tissue, an almost eaten chocolate chip paleo cookie, my phone and a note with a couple of contact numbers on my desk,

*a load of The Chief’s jeans tumbles and clang in our dryer,

*dishes are left from breakfast and lunch,

*Hubby is napping behind me on the couch,

*Larry Boy is laying in the hallway just waiting to be picked up,

*The kitchen table needs to be cleaned from lunch,

*The General in napping!!

*I know there is more, but you get the picture.

 

I don’t want to get to any of those at this moment. I want to write about laundry.

Yes, laundry.

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(This is just part of the amount of laundry that is done on a weekly basis.)

With seven of us, laundry is a BIG part of our lives. If not kept up on it can overtake us as we run around either in dirty, smelly clothes or in our birthday suits. Neither is preferred or acceptable, so here’s how we tackle the loads and mounds of laundry.

We have set days for individuals in our house. For YEARS I have washed Hubby and my clothes on Mondays and Thursdays. Mondays being the heaviest day. So Mondays and Thursdays it’s Papa & Mama bears turn. I also wash the little guys’ clothes on Mondays. Right now The General’s clothes have been with ours since he got his cast on. The Lawyer (aka Mr. Bubblewrap) is learning how to do his own as well. While he and the General share a room, they no longer shares a hamper. The Lawyer has a problem soiling his undies and thus his needs to be washed separately. The only older child who picked a washing day when we had the laundry talk was The Chief. He is on Tuesdays. Our eldest son and Miss Nana are on their own. They usually wait and wait then try to butt in on someone else’s day. Much more her than him. Oh, there’s also the hamper drawer in the kids’ bathroom. I just recently gave that one up. No one said anything. I had been reluctantly doing the clothes in there since we moved. It was mainly the older two boys. Don’t know how it happened but I don’t wash them anymore.

Exceptions are of course soiled bedding and hunting clothes from a successful hunt. Which take priority.

Everyone, okay, most of the household put away their own clothes. I put away Hubby’s and the General’s (he’s a toddler) and of course mine. I used to put away all of our ninos clothes, but quickly phased that out and taught them how to do it. Our 9yo still struggles with it, but it is more of a lazy thing than him being incapable.

When the kids first came to us they changed everything (except their undies and socks) all.of.the.time. I would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume. We had to tell them they could wear their jeans and the like more than one day. I know everyone is different about how many times to wear an article of clothing before washing it, but this mama out of plain ‘ole lack of time had to change something. Change is hard. It took me making the older two ninos wash, dry and put away their own laundry for them to see just how much clothes they were wearing. How much work they were making. While they change clothes more than I’d like (again, socks and undies not included) (OH and those security blankets they called hoodies, zip up sweatshirts!! I had to stand my ground this morning for one to get washed today! Yuck!!)

Towels…so many towels. Again, everyone has their own opinion as to how often to wash towels. Again, we are not of the everyday group. Sorry to my son-in-law and to all like him. Miss Nana has to put her own towels (pink) in her laundry. She will use, I swear, two towels per shower if we don’t stay on top of her. Hubby, the general (who gets washed in our bathroom) and I put ours in our hampers. The others have a basket in the hamper drawer in their bathroom. It works out so much better washing the towels separately.

Unlike some BIG family blogs read, I don’t make my own detergent. I use Tide and the scented beads (our ninos and smells in another post) and occasionally fabric softner. Everyone has their own space in their perspective closets. No need for communal closets here. And because (how’s that for bad grammar?!) we all vary in age and size there are no sharing clothes.

Even with our semi-organization there always seems to be laundry for me that needs to be done. Usually, it’s the putting away that gets me. I get too busy with other things.

How do you manage the laundry? I’d love to hear.

Whack-A-Mole

Yikes…! Where does the time go?

I have had so many good blog posts formulating in my head. So many.

Posts about our holiday break, raising a big family, helping kids overcome and thrive, setbacks…you get the picture.

BUT, I am a mom. A mom of 6 children from toddlerhood to adulthood and all in between.

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To be honest, this year started like last year ended…full of emotions. We have had every type going on here. And me, I am trying to keep myself in control and reset my mind. Some days we are just surviving, barely hanging on. Playing Whack-a-mole as the kids take turns having issues. You never know who or what is going to happen.

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There are the boys. These boys…LOVE them to pieces, but they can really twist and turn the tides of the household dynamics. Let’s see we have one who was doing SOOO good only to go back to what we call foster mode (total emotional chaos, absent-mindedness, etc.), one doing super good, maturing and functioning on all cylinders (which doesn’t always happen). So good I called my mom. This one even gave me a hug! Another got tripped and broke his leg. (another post for later). We have lost wallets, tensions on high, sometimes overly aggressive boy behavior and Hubby and I trying to navigate our way through it all without losing it ourselves (which as humans we have). Can I repeat when one (just a certain one) of ours goes into the foster mode it really throws us all.

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Then there are our girls. One is preteen and still trying to find her way and place in our family. She finds it and then I think becomes uncomfortable. Our oldest, well, is great but for me learning how to have our, sort of still new, the adult relationship can leave me wondering if I am doing too much or too little. Overall the girls have been more help than not.

So this year is slowing coming together and slowing down I am trying to readjust some of my thinking patterns. Trying not to be so reactive. Trying not to change (fix) those in my immediate life. I am giving them to God and trying to let Him do the work I can’t. Letting God make up for all of these times I fall so very short. And learning grace again.

Okay, off to do laundry, dishes, my hair, laundry, make an appointment, oh did I mention laundry?

Can I Get a Rewrite, Please?

Murdering Your Darlings is the title of a current podcast I am listening to. It is a writing podcast. By murdering your darlings, the author (who speaks with an academic British voice) is referring to going back and rewriting your old work, work you may have shelved.

Oh, how I wish I could go back to certain portions of my life, certain moments, and rewrite them. Like when my firstborn was little, I would not have been so hard on her or hard on Hubby for having a different parenting style as me.  Or the many times I fretted about things that I really shouldn’t have.  There are so many hindsight moments in my life when in my older age, I look back or after going through something rather difficult I realize,”I could’ve handled that better” or “that wasn’t so bad”.

More times than I care to admit I have heard myself tell someone, “If I had a crystal ball…to see how far we/they have come” in reference with our ninos. I may not have been so affected by their behaviors.  I could surely use some rewrites for the last almost two years.

Not to get too deep here, but I think it’s what we would do if we really got a chance to rewrite some of our past stories, moments that really matter.  Why we would tweak it here and there. I know some people would leave it as is. Our past is who we are no matter good or bad. We build on those choices, those moments. While we technically can’t go back in time and rewrite our history we hopefully learn from them.

The author in the podcast stated that “the best test is to read your story out loud, and read it to someone.” He went on to say that, and I paraphrase, more or less in my own words, if it doesn’t sound quite right then rearrange some words or sentences until it sounds smoother, more cohesive. Man, I don’t know about you but there are parts of my story (and I am a pretty open book) that I do NOT what read aloud by me or anyone, especially to someone.  Thank God for God’s forgiveness and grace right here. However, it does make me stop and take note that I can look back in time and rewrite my future by not repeating the not so positive choices I made in my past.  I can even rewrite the positive by making it even better.

On ending a novel, the podcast concluded, there are many ways one could choose.The open-ended version of like Anton Chekhov “And so it began to rain” or “have multiple endings, one that offers closure or a conclusion or something else.” Here is where the writing challenge was assigned. To read a story, “and locate the moment when a fissure is planted in the narrative. Some gap between scenes for example. Your aim is to write a story that fills that gap, stays with the original subject and to do so using the author’s narrative style and the point of view.” He gives further instructions to “try to bring your story to a close after 1500 words, but attempt to end it like Anton Chekhov. Give it an open ending.” I like that, especially when applied to life. Locate the fissure and basically rewrite it, giving it an open ending. Because life is open ended.

While It’s Easy

This post was prompted by two conversations I had today.  One with my eldest, 18yo, son and then our 12yo son’s PE teacher.

18yo son and I were talking about a convo he had with our church’s youth group about being a martyr.  How many of us really know what we would do if we were faced with real persecution and/or martyrdom?  Probably none of honestly know what we’d really do.  I am sure as christians we have a scenario in our head of how it would all go down.  However, humbly, we just won’t know until we get there.  Which I pray we never arrive at that terrible juncture.

Could I still defend my faith, my belief in my savior Jesus while seeing any one of my kids tortured or faced with the threat of death?  My 18yo and talked about the horrible reality of what christians before us and even today in other parts of the world go through for their faith in a very graphic, grown up format, one not suited for this blog.  We left the sobering conversation with the choices we make today, the little ones, prepare us for bigger ones.  The ability to make huge stands starts with taking small ones, at school, at work, with friends, family, neighbors and sometimes even church people.  The little ones won’t seem so big once you do it a few times.  Then the bigger ones won’t look so big.

As an American, I take for granted my religious freedom and it has made me weak and not sure footed when pressed to defend my convictions.  That saddens and frightens me.  I know that many martyred christians were given a tremendous amount of courage, faith, peace and grace at their time of martyrdom.  I believe He still does and will continue to do so.

I also know that while I have time and the freedoms, I need to make the stands here, no matter how small they are, no matter how big they may feel.  12yo son is taking dance in P.E. right now and asked if he could be excused.  No problem.  We don’t really think it’s appropriate for middle schoolers to dance with each other anyway. So I wrote him an excuse note.  Then I got a call.  The P.E. teacher wanted to know why we wanted him excused.  I didn’t pull the religion card, though I could’ve.  Admittedly, while I knew exactly why we excused him, defending our stance was tougher than I thought.  The words for my case didn’t just flow out with confidence as I would’ve liked.  Though the teacher was understanding and I got my wish, it really brought to mind the convo 18yo and I had just hours earlier.  It really wasn’t a big deal to say no he couldn’t dance and that the school had to provide an alternative (which they had none, but came up with one) in light of what others go through.  Yet, I feel a bit stronger, a bit more prepared to defend my faith and my convictions the next time around.

The way things are going in the school system, (and America) I think I may need to gear up for more such stands, while it’s easy.  Before it gets real.

Our Silly Names

Chief Potato

Mr. Bubblewrap, or Donkey from Shrek

Little Man aka Little General

Nana

What’s up with these and what do they mean?

Chief Potato: second oldest son, oldest is our adopted sib group.  He also is a self-proclaiming lazy person, hence the potato=couch potato reference.  Chief just fits.

Mr. Bubblewrap: third son and third in our adopted group, needs bubble wrap as he is constantly getting hurt.  Donkey: a Shrek reference…just think about how much Donkey talks and how he acts in the movie…you get the picture.

Little Man/Little General: the youngest in all categories, just an affectionate name I gave him after I bought him a onesie with “Mom’s Little Man” on it.  It makes it easier to refer to him instead of going through the mental list of boys in our family as well.  He just acquired a new nickname that fits even better; Little General/The General as he so thinks he is the boss of all his siblings, even our adult ones.

Nana: our second daughter and right behind Chief in the birth order of our adopted ninos, it’s what The General calls her.

Ninos: a simple reference to our adopted children.

 

 

Read to Me

Read to me and I will grow.

Read to me about the things I should know.

Read to me right by my side.

Read to me and these things I will apply.

(by me)

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“Read to them”, “Have them read to you”, read, read and read.  This was the most common advice for all of our ninos, who came to us behind on various levels.  The advice came from their teachers, therapist (OT, Speech, etc.), everyone at their IEPs. Yet books, when the kids first came, were foreign, something they just didn’t “do”.

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The first summer reading program was like pulling teeth just to earn their T-shirts.  This was a blow to my mom ego, as I had been bringing my bios to story time and the summer reading program since they were in diapers.  Literally.

But we pressed on and this past summer reading program the children’s librarian commented, “You have some good readers.”  Boost to the ego for sure.  Mine and theirs.  The general is our bookworm.  Nana is reading big books.  Still working on the comprehension part of reading, but we’ll get there.

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Here Mr. B is reading to the library’s cockroach. Mr. B really struggled with reading.  Could not sound out words to save his life.  It was such an emotional time having him read to us. I had to give it up for awhile.  Hubby stepped in and yet the little wires in Mr. B’s brain seemed to be having such a hard time clicking and connecting.  Fast forward to the most recent report card…Mr. B is ON level in reading!!  This guy has accomplished so much already.

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We read everywhere.  In just about every room in the house.  We read labels, cooking instructions, homework, the Bible, street signs, etc.  It helps them realize why they need to read and understand what they are reading.  Mac-n-cheese doesn’t taste too good if you can’t read and/or follow the directions.

There are also some good online sites that read the book to the kids. Storytime Online, Storyline Online.  Also, if you have kids from birth to 5, be sure to sign them up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  The kids just love getting the books in the mail with their name on the postal label.  These are all free!

 

How reading helps kids:

*Sitting still.  Can’t say enough about sitting still.  For all kids but especially kids who don’t know what still means, what safe means, being still means you have not been on alert, not worry about what’s going on around you.

*Focus.  Focus on what the pictures are telling you, what the words are saying.  Again, focus on the story and not fear what’s going on around you.

*Comprehension.  When you can put words to the pictures you see you can get a better understanding of what’s going on in the story.

*Vocabulary.  Reading alone won’t build vocabulary, but alongside comprehension, it will.  It a child can figure out what a certain word means by deciphering the context of the sentence then they have pretty good problem-solving skills and can figure out just about any word.  If you don’t now the words you’re reading, reading won’t be any fun.  Chief Potato and Nana don’t really enjoy reading out loud to me.  I stop them often from seeing of they understand certain words, if they comprehend what they are reading.

*Problem-solving skills, relational skills.  When you read how the main character solved the conflict in the story you gain the knowledge you may need to get out of a jam in the future.  You learn how not to be a bully and what to do about bullies, and so on and so on.

*Increases the imagination. Do I even need to explain this one?  You can go anywhere, be anyone when you read books.

 

Tell me your favorite kid books, book sites, or tips on how to get kids to read.