Relationships

As I near my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the past decade of my life. It seems as if life has had one theme: change. Most of which has been pleasant and positive. Marriage, babies, moving, new friendships. Things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face. Things I want to soak up and ingrain in my mind.

There have also been uncomfortable, unpleasant changes. Specifically the deaths of loved ones, moving away from family and friends, shifting of relationship placement, and loss of friendships. I don’t know if it was just me, but the last decade of my life seems to be chalk full of those things, especially the latter.

I’m not going to lie, Facebook has been the blazing beacon in making the last two uncomfortable changes much more obvious. Until social media, I had always considered myself a friend to everyone. I conversed easily with others and kind of went with the flow. But now, every “unfriend”, block, and ignored post makes it incredibly obvious that some people don’t like me. Sometimes it is expected. Other times, I’m left scratching my head, wondering why.

Either way, it is painful and cuts deep. I try not to let it bug me, but in my insomniac mind, late at night, I think over every conversation and interaction over and over again. Which, of course, doesn’t help my sleep-deprived state of mind. ūüėČ

And so, upon the recent discovery of another person who has blocked me, I’ve decided I’m going to do my best to keep trusting that there was a reason that person was in my life for a short or long season. That I’ve learned something from them. That it’s ok to not be friends with everyone.

And I’m once again stepping away from Facebook for the time being. I have more important things (my little human beings) to focus on. ūüôā I know that right now in life, they like me and love me and enjoy being with me. Ask them how they feel when they hit the teen years. ūüėČ

How do you feel when someone removes you from their friend list?

Why I Love ALDI

When you are a single-income family, you look for ways to “cut corners” and make ends meet in order to stay under budget.¬† It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that a family of eight can, quite quickly, rack up a hefty grocery bill in little-to-no time.

I went through a phase where I LOVED to clip coupons.¬† And, when I can find the time, I still love to match up sales to coupons and save loads of money.¬†(I’m looking at you, Target!)¬†Unfortunately, lately it seems like I don’t have the time and energy to dedicate to clipping coupons like I used to.¬† Homeschooling, infant, toddler, housework, etc. The daily to-do list is never ending.

What’s a frugal gal to do??

aldi_logo2

Here is where ALDI comes into the picture. ūüôā ALDI is my one-stop grocery shop and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad bit addicted. These are my TOP TEN reasons I love ALDI!


1. Price: I love that I can stay under budget while buying a HUGE cart full of groceries.¬†I’m not lying to you when I say I can comfortably spend $200 every other week on healthy groceries (obviously frozen pizzas and ice cream don’t fall into this “healthy” category but, hey, at least the majority is healthy) for our family of eight.

source: Google images

source: Google images

2. Store layout: When you walk into ALDI, you notice that the aisles are wiiiiiide and open.¬† This is excellent when you have a gaggle¬†of children tagging along for a shopping trip. ALDI keeps their set-up¬†simple and clean.¬† They don’t constantly change around where things are located.¬† I can arrange my shopping list in order of which items I will pass first, second, third, etc. which helps me save time!

3. Fast checkout: Not only are ALDI’s aisles easy to navigate, but their checkouts are VERY fast (something that ALDI is well-known for)! Which, might I add,¬†is very important when you are shopping with young children. ūüėČ

source: Google images

source: Google images

4. Fresh produce: ALDI always has a variety of fresh produce available.  Obviously this can vary depending on the season, but for the most part I can always get the produce I need.  Everything from peppers, to bananas, to kale, to kiwis.

source: Google images

source: Google images

5.¬†Organic selection: Tagging along with #3 is the super sweet fact that ALDI’s organic (and non-GMO) selection is affordable! Not only that, but I heard from an ALDI representative that they are planning on continuing to grow their organic selection.¬†I try to buy organic whenever possible, especially when¬†it comes to making family favorites, like chili.¬†Right now I¬†can buy organic canned beans, organic canned¬†tomatoes, organic ground beef, and organic tortilla chips for less than what it would cost me to buy the same¬†conventional food items at Walmart.

source: Google images

source: Google images

6. Special buys: I am guilty of serving the same meals over and over again (my kids groan when I mention we are having spaghetti for supper, again).¬† In an effort to provide a larger variety of meals for my family, I have been meal planning and leaving meal spots open for ALDI’s “special buys”.¬† Sometimes I will get¬†salmon, or an oriental frozen meal. The great thing about the special buys is that they¬†help me keep our meals fun and different, which means my kids get to taste and try new things.

source: aldi.com

source: aldi.com

7. ALDI store brand: Their store-brand items taste just as good, if not better, than name-brand items.  Our favorites are their spaghetti sauces and, on the very rare occasion, root beer.

8. One-stop shop: I can literally buy all of my groceries¬†I need at ALDI.¬† Anything from diapers, to kitchen sponges, to flowers.¬† When I go¬†grocery shopping at¬†Target or Walmart, I often run across things I “need” but hadn’t planned on buying (*ahem* I may or may not be addicted to the DVD bargain bins¬†in the electronics department). At ALDI, that temptation isn’t there, meaning I’m able to stay within my¬†budget. (It also means my kids won’t begging for anything and everything they see when we pass the toy aisles at other stores.)

aldi_bags1

source: Google images

9. Eco-friendly: You need to either bring your own grocery bags or you have to buy them.¬† I think this helps create consumer responsibility.¬† No one wants to buy bags, so in a way this forces the customer to bring their own bags to the store, which results in less plastic waste.¬† You also have the option to use their cardboard¬†item display boxes (usually found in a big metal “crate” in some aisles) to put your groceries in after checking out. I love recycling/reusing!

10. The price: I know this was my #1, but seriously, this is the one thing that made a difference for me and my family.  I cannot stress how much money you can save by shopping ALDI! It definitely makes living on one income very doable.

source: Google images

source: Google images

So the next time you go grocery shopping, grab a quarter (because you have to “pay” a quarter to use their carts… don’t worry, you’ll get it back when you return the cart) and head to your local ALDI.¬†I really think you should give this unique store a try! Let me know if ALDI helps you and your family save money! ūüôā

Best ever, easy peasy, edible chocolate chip cookie dough

I may or may not have an infatuation with raw chocolate chip cookie dough. (Hint: I do.) In fact, the only reason I make chocolate chip cookies is so I can have a spoonful (or ten) of the gooey, delicious dough.

Excuse me while I drool. ;)

Excuse me while I drool. ūüėČ

Every time I sneak some of the delectable dough, the voice of my home economics teacher comes into my head: “If you eat raw cookie dough, you will get salmonella!” In fact, there are an estimated 1.4 million reported cases of salmonella in the USA each year, of which 500-1,000 cases result in death. So I guess eating raw eggs might not be a fantastic idea after all.

In an effort to make a healthier example for my kids (and to avoid becoming a statistic),¬†I decided to try edible chocolate chip cookie.¬† A simple Google search brings up over 300,000 results.¬† Pinterest is filled with oodles and oodles of recipes.¬† My husband and I tried out a few different recipes and couldn’t help but feel like they had missed the mark somewhere.¬† I wanted something quintessential; something¬†that tasted¬†“Nestle Tollhouse”, mouth-watering good.

And so, after¬†trial and error, I have created what I feel is the very best, edible, easy peasy, raw chocolate chip cookie dough. My kids would agree. ūüėČ Now, keep in mind the fact that I am NOT a cook/chef/culinary expert.¬† I’m just an avid fan of all things cookie dough, on a mission to spread the love. Here you go!

Edible Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
White milk
Flour
Chocolate chips

Combine butter, sugars and salt¬†in a medium sized mixing bowl until well-blended.¬† Add in vanilla.¬† Slowly add in the flour (I started with approximately 3/4 cup). Add in a couple of¬†tablespoons of milk.¬†<<Keep adding¬†a small amount of flour and/or milk until you reach the consistency you desire.¬† I prefer my cookie dough to be a bit firmer so I added more flour and less milk¬†(about 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4-1/2 cup milk). If you want your dough to be “gooier”, add more milk and less flour. You can’t really mess it up.>>¬†Mix¬†until smooth. Add in as many chocolate chips as you’d like!¬† You can enjoy the dough right away or let it chill in the fridge to firm up a bit.

Let me know what you think! ūüôā

Goodbye, 2014

As I sit here, on the eve of a new year, the memories from the last 365 days come flooding in.

This year has been bittersweet. We have officially lived in our new state for one year. One year we have lived away from our family support system. One year we have spent adjusting to a new area. One year I have missed my former home with every inch of my heart.

But along with the heartache came hope. New friendships were made and are growing even as I type this out. Our house on the farm feels more like home than it did at this same time last year. Our family grew again this past summer, filling a hole I didn’t know we had.

The kids are growing and learning and changing so fast. Much more quickly than I would like them to. I am so thankful for the time I have at home with my six children. Our days are spent exploring with each other and enjoying each other.

Looking onward to next year, I am anticipating great things. I’m setting a goal to daily journal my life at home with each of the kids in order to attempt to preserve these sweet memories. The things my kids say, the things we do together, the fleeting moments we can’t get back. These really are the best days of our lives.

And so, goodbye, 2014! It has been a year of growing and changing. I’m thankful for all of my blessings this year brought, and I’m hopeful for many more blessings to come!

A letter to my husband

My love:

Last night, you¬†helped me¬†search desperately for a pacifier for our crying baby.¬† We¬†like to¬†joke about the pacifiers in our house growing two legs and walking away because¬†we can never find one when we need one.¬†I crawled on the floor, trying to peer under the armchair.¬† I was growing frustrated and I’m sure you could sense it.

You came over, without a word from me, and effortlessly lifted the side of the chair so I could get a better look.  Success.  You cradled our daughter in your arms and stuck the pacifier in her mouth.  Instant calm.  You held her on your chest, laid down on the couch, and drifted to sleep with our baby.  No complaints from you.  This is the stuff I know you live for.

I’ve lost track of how many times this scenario has played out over the years.¬† You are the calm in our storm of life.¬† You’re level-headed and steady when I’m past my breaking point. Eight years of marriage and that hasn’t changed.

We met at a concert at the¬†campus¬†I attended and we¬†started dating shortly thereafter.¬† We were 19 and you were my first real relationship. We spent all of our non-school and non-working hours with each other.¬† Apart from me getting cold feet a few times while dating, our relationship was strong.¬† 10 months after we started dating, we got married.¬† A “whirlwind romance” some have said.¬† I like to think the timing was just perfect.¬† A little over a year after that we welcomed our first child.¬† And¬†our family¬†has been growing ever since.

You are a hard worker and provider for our family.¬† You work diligently at¬†both of your¬†day jobs and come home exhausted. But that doesn’t stop you. You roll up your sleeves and jump right in to this beautiful chaos we call home. You choose to be present with us both physically and mentally. You are such an amazing example for our kids of what a dad and husband should be.

You’ve seen me¬†at my emotional high points, and you’ve seen me at my dark,¬†low points.¬†¬†You’ve walked with me through post partum depression.¬† You’ve forgiven me for saying and doing things I know I shouldn’t.¬†You’ve reasoned with me when I was unreasonable. You’ve loved me when I didn’t seem lovable.

You’ve sat up with me late at night, whether I was nursing a baby or awake with my own thoughts.¬† You’ve literally seen my body morph and change during and after pregnancy, and still call me beautiful. You’ve held my hand during six labors, day¬†and night.¬† You volunteer to get up with the kids at night, and don’t complain about it. You have given me a life far beyond my wildest expectations.

There are days I wonder why you chose me.¬†I’m impatient and selfish and a dozen¬†other things you don’t deserve.¬† And you love me anyways. Your unconditional love for me is like a fine sand paper, gently wearing away at all¬†my rough edges and flaws. And over time, slowly but surely, your patience and endurance is refining me. I’m growing into the woman you’ve seen all along. Thank you.

To me, you’re the¬†only one¬†I would ever dream of doing life with. You don’t need red carpet, or glitz and glam, or a trophy.¬† You find your satisfaction and peace in knowing that you make a difference in your kids’ lives; in my life. You aren’t perfect, nor do you pretend to be. You are human.¬† And I love you just the way you are. Imperfections included.

You’ve dreamed with me,
laughed with me,
and grown up with me.

I can’t wait to see what this new year brings.

I love you morer,
Deanne

You might have a large family if…

Just a quick, fun post today! ūüôā Enjoy!

You might have a large family if…

toothbrushes

Your toothbrushes are color-coded.

You buy a “family size” bag of cereal and it only lasts you one day.

You have enough clothing in your closets to clothe a small nation.

You have to check out two rooms at hotels in order to stay under their per-room capacity limits.

You can’t spend less than $30 when going out to eat, even at McDonalds.

You only go out to eat at certain restaurants on nights when kids eat free.

You use three cans of “family size” condensed soup for one meal.

You realize that your family is too¬†big for most things¬†“family size”.

You have more kids than almost anyone you personally know.

Your kids always have someone to play with.

You debate buying a dairy cow because of how much milk you go through in one month.

You traded in your mini-van for a 15 passenger van, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

You don’t remember the last time you haven’t had a child in diapers.

You buy memberships at museums and zoos instead of a ticket per person because it is cheaper that way.

Your older kids “fight” over who gets to hold the baby next.

You pack more things for an overnight trip than most families pack for a week-long vacation.

You have multiple sets of bunk-beds.

You have a pile of shoes in all colors and sizes by your front door.

You can’t get behind on laundry or you will never catch back up.

You group your kids into two groups: the big kids and the little kids.

Your kids are used to stares, questions and comments by strangers when out in public.

You never have enough lines when filling out forms requiring you to list dependents.

You take advantage of group discount days.

You have been compared to the Duggar family.

You and/or your spouse have/has a difficult time remembering the birthdates of your children. (It’s actually kind of entertaining watching my husband try. ūüėČ )

Your toyroom looks like a hodge-podge toy store for boys and girls of all ages.

You have to start getting ready to leave an hour before you need to be somewhere 10 miles away.

You can’t imagine life any other way. ‚̧

Flashback Friday: Pardon me, but your flaws are showing

This post was originally published April 18th of this year. But I really wanted to share it again. So I’m making this my “Flashback Friday” post. Enjoy!

I just want to get this out in the open: I am not a perfect mom.

Phew! I feel so much better having said that (typed that?) out loud. Because, I mean, everyone thought I was perfect, right? (~crickets chirping~)

Let’s be honest here. I will never blog about things I’ve perfected, because that wouldn’t be physically possible. Imperfect me training up my imperfect children in the way they should go is a constant work in progress. I (as a mom, wife, human) am a work in progress. (And I don’t aspire to perfection; I want my imperfections and trials and improvements to help other people know they aren’t alone.)

It seems like there is some invisible expectation out there that says moms should have it all together. All the time. And never complain about anything. Ever. Especially not about their darling children. Because raising children is easy peasy, rainbows and sunshine all the time. And if you complain about your kids you are either a terrible mom, you can’t handle your kids, or you should stop having kids.

Am I the only one thinking that sounds nuts right about now? Believe it or not, I’ve heard people say these things. (Even from people who don’t even have children! What?!)

There are lots of things I have learned about parenting through trial and error. And error. And error. Life doesn’t come with an eraser or rewind button. We (moms) are imperfect people trying our hardest to raise our children as best as we know possible. Unfortunately every child is different, and unfortunately kids do not come with instruction manuals. There are some things about parenthood that no amount of parenting books and child-rearing classes can teach you. There are some things about parenthood that require rolling up your sleeves, pulling on your mudboots and jumping in head first.

So when moms feel the constant pressure to always have a cheerful façade on their faces (butter up, Buttercup, right?), to never talk about the struggles of the daily grind that goes with raising children, to always portray the epitome of Suzy Homemaker, we are really only setting each other (and ourselves) up for failure (at least in our own minds).

There is no such thing as a perfect mom, nor should there exist a ‚Äústandard‚ÄĚ that makes raising a family more difficult than it has to be.

Social media has made this almost exceedingly impossible. Instead of seeing the nitty-gritty things moms encounter on a day-to-day basis, we only see snapshots of the times that go right. Here is a typical conversation I have with myself in my head while scrolling through Facebook on any given day:

‚ÄúSo-and-so‚Äôs kids are always dressed perfectly; they never have snot trails dribbling down their noses or leftover spaghetti noodles dried in their hair. Her house is always immaculate (when is the last time I could walk across the floor without tripping on a toy?) and her food is always equally portioned (why won‚Äôt my kids eat anything but Goldfish crackers and pizza??). Her completed Pinterest projects are awe-inspiring and she is always doing awesome crafts with her kids. She just ran her 20th marathon! Her kids are even smiling while sitting in the shopping cart at Target (I‚Äôm usually the frazzled/frustrated mom with a screaming baby trying to corral her kids to stay near the cart). Even their recent family picture is flawless with everyone smiling and looking at the camera. What am I doing wrong?! World‚Äôs worst mom.‚ÄĚ

I need to knock it off! Deep down I know it isn’t always like that at their house. But when my own daily imperfections are sitting there staring me in the face, and I’m not allowed to talk about them openly with other moms to see if I’m the only one, it is hard to remember that we all have days like that. It is hard to remember my house isn’t always a war-zone, my kids are usually well-behaved at the store (I’m giving my kids the benefit of the doubt here), we do eat healthy food (although I wish my kids weren’t so picky about some things), I do find time to go on my elliptical (ten minutes a day counts as something, right???)…

And my kids are just as loved as anyone else’s. Period. At the end of any good-or-bad-or-in-between day, that is all that matters.

I don’t have this parenting thing figured out, and neither do you, and that is okay. We don’t need to figure it all out all at once. Take the little successes in stride and work on areas that need to be improved upon (FYI- I have found that bribing my kids with Dum-Dum suckers at the store is a HUGE sanity-saver!!!).

Don‚Äôt be afraid to share your struggles and successes with your friends and family. Post a status on Facebook without fear of negative judgments. Call up your support system and let off some steam on days that seem to offer more bad than good mommy moments. Because at one time or another we all have hard days. We all have days where we feel we are missing the mark in more ways than one. Days we need to be reminded that we aren‚Äôt alone in this journey. Celebrate the successes with each other, and build each other up in times that are extremely difficult. Set aside the assumption that if things aren‚Äôt going right today‚Äď things aren‚Äôt going as ‚Äúperfectly‚ÄĚ as they should‚Äď you have somehow failed Motherhood: 101. Remember: we are all works in progress!

Unconditional love and acceptance goes a long way in a world that seems to look down its nose at us. Stop judging other people by their current situation and, instead, start loving them for the total, beautiful mom they are growing into.

(When I was editing this blog post today, I found this quote and thought it fit perfectly!)

image

Have a blessed day at the start of this wonderful weekend of new beginnings!

On the Duggars and why their family size is none of your business

A¬†friend of mine and I went to the McDonalds play place yesterday with our collective¬†11 children, ages 7 and under, in tow.¬†It has already proven to be a long, cold winter, and our kids needed to burn off some pent up energy. ūüôā¬†Before we entered the building, she sent me the text, “Ready for lots of looks?!”¬†I had to chuckle because we are both so used to those looks.

source: snarkerati.com

source: snarkerati.com

And the comments, and the head counting, and the questions.¬† All are par for the course when you’re the mom to¬†multiple little ones.

And I usually don’t¬†mind.¬† I’m proud of my kids, and I want my kids to be proud to¬†be a part of our family. I¬†know that not everyone has had the ability to be part of a large family, so they generally don’t understand how much fun it is.

Recently, however, I have begun to notice a general “distaste” some people have for families with, what is perceived as, “a lot” of kids.¬† Most notably was when Jill (Duggar) Dillard¬†and her new husband, Derick, announced their first pregnancy shortly after they said their “I do”s.¬† (If you aren’t familiar with the Duggars, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have 19 biological children and are open to having more.) The backlash, hateful words, rude judgements, and internet “eye rolls” came flooding in shortly after they made their public announcement.

Many were mad that she announced her pregnancy before her first trimester was over (but when¬†Kate Middleton did¬†the same thing¬†shortly thereafter, no one even batted an eye). Others were counting the days to make sure that no “hanky panky” had happened before the wedding (don’t worry, guys… this baby is a welcomed, wanted honeymoon surprise).¬† And still others were frothing at the mouth in anger that the Duggar family is the single cause for global overpopulation, and how could they be so selfish, and carbon footprints, and haven’t they ever heard of birth control?!?!?!?!

Let me tell ya, it is extremely nauseating seeing this kind of hate over what should be a joyous occasion SPEWED all over the internet. Don’t believe me?¬† Just Google search “Jill Duggar pregnant” and see what comes up. My browser says 5.9 MILLION results, many of which, I’m assuming, are nothing but rude vitriol.

source: people.com

source: people.com

And now that Josh and Anna Duggar have announced their fourth baby is on the way, I think the crazy comments have really ramped up a notch. The heads are spinning and “the people” aren’t happy.

Listen, “people”, we live in the 21st century.¬† In the United States of America.¬† Where feminism is “all the rage”.¬† Where women viciously fought for the right to their reproductive choices.¬†¬†Abortion, whether I¬†like it or not,¬†is legal here in our country.¬† A woman can¬†legally dispose of her unborn baby at any time up until birth. ¬†And no one had better try to stop her or they will come face to face with the most repulsive¬†forms of feministic banter¬†known to man kind.¬† They would undoubtedly¬†be met with the “don’t like abortions, don’t have one” argument.

But when a man and a woman, in a loving, stable marriage decide to have a child (or multiple children, or children by the dozens), suddenly that woman’s reproductive rights are hauled out into broad daylight, ridiculed, shamed, and made fun of.¬†Because she is allegedly selfish, and foolish, and stupid, and any other mean-spirited thing one can come up with in their narrow-minded mindset.¬† Obviously she should not be allowed a choice in this instance.

Anyone else see a problem with this line of thinking?

To them, I say this:¬†“If you don’t like large families, don’t have one.”

The birth rate in the USA¬†is actually on the decline, ¬†and has been for the last six to seven years.¬† I, for one, am not the least bit worried about overpopulation anytime soon.¬† (And actually, that claim has been¬†proven wrong¬† many, many, many¬†times.)¬† (I am, actually, concerned about the future ramifications (less people paying in to taxes and social security, economical implications, etc.) of having a lower population.) (Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses.)

When we announced our last two pregnancies, we were met with an¬†array of comments. Everything from the simple-yet-appropriate “Congrats”, to people making jokes (yes, we know what causes it; yes, we own a TV; and comparison to the Duggar family… because having¬†six kids is really close to having 19 kids), to other people all out ignoring our announcement.¬† And while the positivity far outweighed the negative, the negative reactions are the ones that stuck with me the most.¬† Many of the naysayers are people that spend less than a few hours with me and/or my family each year.¬† So really, they don’t truly know us or our family¬†and they¬†had¬†no right in making any sort of comment beyond “Congrats.”

Some people liken having a large family to having lots of little annoyances and inconveniences (aka children)¬†running around.¬† Those people couldn’t be more wrong.¬† And so we have welcomed each new child into our family with the anticipation and excitement of seeing their little personalities grow and blossom, helping them become the people they are meant to be. Kids are human beings, not inconveniences that need to be managed.

source: raiseawesomekids.com

source: raiseawesomekids.com

We need to stop worrying about how many kids so-and-so is having, and stop letting this media-frenzied world feed us¬†the news they want to sell.¬† The number of children someone has is between them and their spouse.¬† Yes,¬†kids can be challenging and a lot of work.¬† But the effort you put in to raising decent human beings will pay dividends tenfold. The fact that the Duggars (and many other people) choose to have large families does not impact¬†anyone in any way.¬† The fact that good people (like the Duggars) are raising up responsible, mindful, and respectful children-turned-adults should give¬†us hope for our future generations. That is something¬†we should care very much about. ūüôā

And so, if you find yourself wanting to have more children than the national average of 2.1 kids per couple, talk to your spouse about it and come to a logical decision that works best for you and your family. Pay no attention to what everyone else says you should do because, at the end of the day, you are the one raising any current and future children. Not the internet hater across the country.

And if you find yourself on the opinion bandwagon, maybe you should use the advice of our forefathers: if you cant say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

Evolution of Parenting

 

source: pinaquote.com

source: pinaquote.com

The parent I am now is NOT the parent I was when I first became a mom seven years ago.¬† Now that it is two against six or, during the work week, one against six, my mantra is “survival of the fittest”.¬† I’ve had to loosen the reigns to not only survive but because, quite frankly, some of my previous notions as a parent were kind of ridiculous. (Hindsight is always 20/20, right?)

First child: I can vividly remember saying (and, in case I forgot,¬†my mother-in-law¬†has been¬†very helpful in reminding me, LOL) that my first child would never ever be allowed to sleep over at anyone’s house. It’s not that I didn’t trust our parents. I was more worried¬†I would miss him and no one would know how to take care of him like I take care of him and he would be miserable without me.¬†I didn’t let him sleep over anywhere without me for at least the first¬†eight to ten months.¬†Sixth child: Now? With baby #6? She has had at least three nights away from me in her four short months of life.¬† And my other kids can’t wait to spend time away from me (who they see all day every day). Seriously.¬† We pull into grandma and grandpa’s driveway and the kids are like, “See ya never!”¬† We live three hours from our families (aka our¬†babysitters) and, honestly, I look forward to the few precious hours we can spend away from our kids when we go back home to visit.¬† Absence makes the heart grow fonder, no?

First child: I was very diligent in filling out my first child’s baby book.¬† I even had a scrapbook of his first year of life.¬† I literally took THOUSANDS of pictures of him in his first year of life. Like, I’m pretty sure his first word was “cheese” because of how often I had that camera out.¬† I wanted to make sure I preserved every single memory possible. I¬† also made sure that I had recent pictures of him plastered all over our wall.¬† Sixth child: I own one of those fancy-shmancy cameras now.¬† And while I still love to take pictures, I don’t take nearly as many pictures now as I did then.¬† I don’t even have our updated family picture on the wall, or any pictures of our sixth baby printed out.¬† She does have a baby book.¬† That the hospital gave us. That has absolutely nothing in it except for her handprints and footprints from right after she was born.¬† That the nurses put in there for us. BUT each of our kids has a memory box full of different trinkets (coming-home-from-the-hospital outfits, first haircut trimmings, hospital bracelets, birthday cards, etc.), so I’m not too out of touch. ūüėČ

First child: When it came to food, I swore up and down, left and right that my child would never eat sugar, or fast food. I found it alarming that some parents allowed their kids to eat *gasp* non-organic macaroni and cheese. I know, right? Sixth child: While I do try to feed my kids healthy and nutritious meals and snacks, I don’t lose sleep over my kids eating Happy Meals or sno-cones every once in a while. My mama-sanity sometimes depends on a trip through the drive-thru. Plus it gives me an excuse to order myself a caramel frappe. ūüėČ

First child: My first baby never watched television. I used to be a na√Įve TV “snob” and couldn’t believe that some parents actually let their kids watch the electronic box.¬† I eventually tip-toed my way into the world of kids’ TV via Baby Einstein.¬† I mean, with a name like that it had to be worlds better than SpongeBob What’s-his-name.¬†Sixth child:¬†By the sixth baby, I have definitely become more lax with my TV censorship.¬† Typically I don’t like my kids to watch more than a couple of hours of television during the day.¬† But during the freezing cold winter months, and with having a newborn, and a crazy homeschool schedule, and kids that think 5:30 is an appropriate wake-up time… Sometimes we have the TV on more than I would like.¬† And that’s just how life is right now.¬† It won’t always be like this.¬† Remember… This is survival of the fittest, parenting-style.

First child: Whenever my first child’s pacifier fell to the ground, I would wash it off and, more often than not, sterilize it in boiling water. Any piece of food that fell to the floor would promptly be thrown away. Sixth child: I quickly inspect the pacifier and then pop it back in the baby’s mouth without a second thought. (Unless we are at a store or anywhere else in public.¬† I’m not that gross.) ¬†Dropped food? No biggie.¬† We have the ten minute rule around here.¬†¬†When my kids are scavenging for lost Cheerios in the couch, I take that as a signal that I probably need to feed them.

First child: My first child was held by either my husband or myself all. the. time.¬† I honestly don’t remember using the bouncy seat when he was a baby, and we didn’t own a bumbo. I even had a hard time letting family and friends hold him.¬†¬†Ridiculous, right?¬†Sixth child: I do have to say that our sixth child is also held the majority of the time.¬† But by her older siblings.¬† Seriously, they bicker about who gets to hold her, and there are plenty of “You are a baby hog” comments that are shouted out every day. So while I don’t hold my baby as much as I held my first one, she is still getting snuggled up and loved on¬†pretty much every minute of the day.

First child: I vowed I would never, ever¬†be angry with¬†my sweet firstborn.¬† Looking at my tiny, innocent¬†newborn, I not only thought, “My child will never ever do something naughty enough to provoke anger out of me,” but I also thought, “I will never, ever be mad at/frustrated with my child.” Famous last words. Er, thoughts. Sixth child: I’ve learned that, while my kids are angels, they are most certainly not perfect. They are humans and have a big learning curve.¬† On occasion they will need correction.¬† On occasion they will make me upset.¬† And that is okay.¬† That is life with kids. The good news is that, over the years, I’ve learned that consistency is key. And while my sixth child doesn’t have the capability to be “naughty” right now, I know that, at some point in the future, I will have to put my parenting skills to use.

First child: I remember holding my son for the first time, gazing at this tiny person who was fully dependent on me.¬† My heart literally grew three inches that day.¬† I couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than I loved my firstborn.¬† When I got pregnant with our second child when my first was only 9 months old, I remember worrying that I would never be able to love another baby as much as I loved my first. My mind couldn’t even fathom it. Sixth child: I think it is safe to say that a mother’s love is not divided but rather multiplied. I’m always amazed at the instant love I feel after the birth of each of our children.¬† I love our sixth baby as much as I loved our first.¬† And the love each of my kids have for each other is nothing short of heartwarming. It makes all of the times they argue and fight a little more bearable.

For those of you with kids, how has your parenting style changed over the years?  Are you more lax than you were at the beginning?

That time all my blog posts disappeared…

Imagine my surprise when I logged on to WordPress this morning to discover ALL of my blog posts had been deleted.

My stomach got sick immediately.¬† Granted, my blog isn’t anything special.¬† Nothing glitzy or heavily-trafficked like many of the bigger bloggers out there.¬† But still.¬† This is my tiny sliver of the Internet.¬† A place I feel like I am safe in talking about my life; a place I feel like I can somehow make a difference in the life of someone else.

Immediately I got defensive.¬† “Who did this??” I thought.¬† “Who in the world hacked into my blog and made this nightmare happen??”

Thankfully, I had all of my posts saved to my laptop hard drive.¬† But what a headache to go through and repost everything. Tears came to my eyes thinking about all of the time and energy I put into each post, only to have them all simply taken away by some devious person. I text messaged my best friend and told her what happened.¬† Why are people so bored and intent on making other people’s lives miserable? And for the sake of what??

But then, humility.  Oh yes, humility.  That seems to be the theme in my life lately.

On my blogger’s “dashboard” (which, for you non-bloggers, is the command center of all of our posting), under “posts”, I noticed¬†“trash 51”.¬† Surely if someone had wanted to make my blogging life difficult, they wouldn’t have forgotten to empty the trash can of all of the posts they worked so hard to delete.

And then I remembered that yesterday I went through my post dashboard and decided to “clean up” my drafts that have been sitting for months.¬† Somehow I must’ve clicked the “select all” and subsequently “trashed” all of my posts.¬† All of them. And then busily went to attend to my son who woke up from his nap with a special “diaper surprise” for me….

No hacker.  Just me being incompetent and busy.

*sigh*

Isn’t that the way we all¬†react in certain situations sometimes? We always think worst-case-scenario and automatically point the finger at someone else.¬† Because¬†surly our current situation is not a direct result of our own choices.¬† Right?¬† Someone has to be to blame, and it certainly can’t be little ole me…

It is easier blaming someone else instead of realizing that when we point our finger we actually have three more fingers pointing back at ourselves.

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

source: aklimastra.blogspot.com

And so today I am thankful that my blog posts are not all gone.¬† I apologize if you got a million and one notifications from my blog as I went through and re-published my old posts.¬† And next time I will be a little more careful when I am editing my dashboard. ūüėČ