Monthly Archives: November 2009

fall activity #9 and #10.

Think outside the box.

#3 pretending to be on TV...American Idol to be more specific.

#2 and #3 playing school. (#4 is in there too somewhere...I think they might be sitting on her.)

Now, they're hosting a cooking show on The Food Network. The recipe for the day has something to do with "pasta soup."

They've made me change the channel and now I'm watching American Idol again.

This is a picture capturing #2 and her next idea for the box. "A rocket ship Mom!!!"

Non-stop fun in a cardboard box.

Great fall activity for the kiddies on cold and rainy days.  Take a couple of boxes and let their imagination run wild.  (Not pictured:  two other boxes that they have transformed into cars…but are now contemplating adding them to the box above to make a whole apartment complex because when they grow up, they are all going to live together next door to each other apparently.)

The fun was also in the planning process for them: deciding the purpose of the box, decorating it, and adding other recyclable items like smaller boxes, paper cups, and scrap paper to the inside.  This “boxed” fun lasted for hours and they still pull the box out when they’re bored and figure out another use for it like:

  • a princess castle
  • a store front
  • a train
  • a submarine
  • a super-duper computer
  • a camping tent
  • a robot

This “box” activity is also not limited to children:

This led me to fall activity #10:  The Big Purge.

The kids playing with blue bin items for hours led me to wonder if they indeed really needed all the toys that are cluttering our basement.  They tended to gravitate to activities they could play together and that ignited some sort of creative spark.

So….

We have donated a huge chunk of their toys that have been sitting in piles in our basement and books that they are not interested in anymore.  I’ve realized that my children love playing pretend and creating things so we are now limiting most of their play stuff to fall under the following categories: Dress-Up/Pretend, Kitchen/Food, Arts & Crafts, Family/House, Sports and Board Games.  They now choose an activity to do together and run with it on their own.  On mornings without #2, the little ones need a push to play together.  For example, I’ll set up a grocery store, complete with shopping bags, a cash register, and money.  This is usually enough for them to get going.  This activity can now morph into bringing the groceries home to cook or set up a restaurant.  At this point, they’re in full make-believe mode and I can now tend to the baby, attack my laundry, or eat (OR do all of the above simultaneously).

With the holiday season approaching, we decided that streamlining makes room for all the goodies the kids will be receiving.  In one corner of our basement, where a huge pile of miscellaneous toys used to reside, we now have a pile of blankets and pillows and large stuffed toys where the kids build forts, nests, or just cuddle when they watch a DVD together.

Just another way we are making our lives simpler as a family of 7 living in 1100 square feet of space.

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an update from the trenches.

we are in full ground assault…two loads left to fold…baby is in full gassy mode and #4 is headed for another crank-fest – it’s like land mines surrounding us…phew…the cavalry is here – #1 has been enlisted…she is taking a load and running…God speed girl.  God speed.

waging war.

I am in the middle of a full ambush on a lifelong arch enemy.

This is an enemy that has haunted me for the most of the past decade.  Every day we have a face off.  I make the decision whether to engage in hand-to-hand combat or wave the white flag.  When I choose to surrender, the opposition grows in strength.  There are days when I think I should make a stand and refuse to shower knowing that it will only give my enemy more ammunition against me should I decide to.

Who is this threatening nemesis, you may ask?  I have used the following terms to refer to it:  “the thorn in my side,” “the never-ending chore,” “the headache,” and “the thing that kills me slowly.”  For the rest of the general population, its more recognizable name is LAUNDRY.

This past week I have drawn the battle lines and have attacked and counter-attacked, doing up to 3 loads a day.  It has occupied every spare moment of my time (except for the few minutes I have to write this).  If I don’t persevere with my “shock and awe” strategy of continuous, non-stop laundry, here is a list of the potential casualties:

  • the kids dipping into their summer wardrobe again, i.e. wearing capri pants with leg warmers
  • no more showers (therefore no more dirty clothes just dirty people)
  • pile of clothes in every room and mass confusion over what is clean and what is dirty
  • wearing my pre-pregnancy pants (although I am still unable to zip up or button the top button)
  • spending money buying more underwear and socks
  • start using pillowcases as receiving blankets
  • live in anarchy as everyone starts to steal clothes from their sister, mother, father, brother

My goal is complete victory and domination: empty hampers, empty laundry baskets.  I want ALL the clothes, towels, blankets, sheets, and jackets, washed, folded, and put away.  My plan of attack is to fold (even with one hand if I have to) until my hand(s) cramp, put away clothes even if it’s the middle of night (the kids are heavy sleepers), and just keep washing and drying until there is nothing left.

You may think this is a futile attempt and a pointless war, my Vietnam if you will.  But I am not delusional.  I know that dirty laundry is a daily component of my life and that until my children are able to do it themselves, I and Ever-patient will have to be responsible for laundry for 7.  But all I want is just one moment where I can put that last pair of socks in the drawer and feel “done.”  Even if it is just for a day, or an hour, or even a minute.  In the midst of our chaotic life, that one instance of feeling in control and the accomplishment of one thing will do so much for soldier morale in this battalion.

Since the baby has been born, the kids have had to rummage through laundry baskets, throw dirty clothes onto overflowing hampers, and have bombarded us with questions searching for a specific pair of jeans or sweater.  I think of this past month’s laundry madness as I prepare for the final stand-off, chucking this last load of laundry into my little heroic washing machine, and I say to myself, “Not on my watch.  Not on my watch.”

10 things i can do while i nurse the baby.

(No pictures in this post for obvious reasons.)

  1. I stroke #4’s hair as she curls up next to me and falls asleep.
  2. I can put jackets on the kids, zip them up, and tie their shoes.
  3. I prep and serve lunch (yes, with one hand).
  4. I can change #4’s diaper.
  5. I fold laundry.
  6. I help with homework, can read stories, and call a game of “BINGO” – all at the same time.
  7. I can sing along and do the appropriate actions for “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” at #4’s library program.
  8. I can scrapbook and do other crafty things.
  9. I can facilitate wardrobe changes during dress-up time.
  10. I type on my laptop which includes surfing, emailing, and blogging…in fact, #5 is having his late night snack now.

Although I am the master at multitasking, there is nothing more I love than when I nurse the little one and do absolutely nothing else.

Have a great weekend.

k.i.s.s.

Keep.  It.  Simple.  Stupid.

This is the most overlooked piece of advice EVER!  This is my new mantra.

Last night I found myself with 5 sleeping children and a burst of energy. What should I do?  What do I want to do?  After “shoulding” all over myself for a few minutes:  I should be putting away laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, preparing the next day’s snacks and lunches, or sweeping the floors…I made the executive decision to do something creative.

I decided to scrapbook.  But the deal was I had to keep it SIMPLE.  This chunk of time could never be regained and I had to make the absolute most of it.  I didn’t obsess over choosing the perfect pictures or the products I would use.  In fact, I took one of the layouts I had prepped for #5’s baby book and just plopped in the pictures and his vitals.  Easy.  Then I even started a little minibook to document FALL ’09 – I used some of my oldest supplies that have been sitting in my craft stash for years.  Love it.

Here’s the layout:

baby 5's first layout.

On a side note…

I believe we are all creative.  Sometimes we tend to mistakenly associate creativity with just the purely aesthetic.  So you dismiss it and tell yourself you weren’t “born” with “it.”  We forget that as children we all tried our hand at drawing, painting, writing, and imagining.  Then one day someone makes a “suggestion” or criticizes or compares and we lose our confidence.  But creativity can appear anywhere: in the kitchen, when you tell a story, playing pretend with your kids, finding a solution where none seemed to exist, or even in your wardrobe selection.  My husband is the first one to say he is not creative.  But I’ve seen him turn into MacGyver in our kitchen making an exquisite meal with leftover ham, pasta, carrots, and chicken broth. (Trust me, it tastes better than it sounds).  For me, being creative is like breathing.  It’s really hard for me to go a day without doing something that stretches my imagination or expressing myself.  Sometimes I create a scrapbooking layout.  Sometimes it’s just a craft with the kids.  Other times, it’s a blog post or just a doodle in my journal of what I see:

observe and doodle.

Here’s my challenge to you.  Try it for a week.  Do one thing creative everyday.

Here are some ideas for a daily creative action:

  • Arrange a bouquet of flowers.
  • Doodle while you’re on the phone.
  • Colour in a colouring book with your kids (or buy yourself one).
  • Write in a journal.
  • Talk about your day but be as descriptive as you can be.
  • Deviate from a recipe.
  • Rearrange your furniture and accessories. (I do this often).
  • Play dress up.
  • Make something.
  • Draw everything you eat for one day.

Don’t make it stressful.  Remember: K.I.S.S.   Being a little creative everyday make life a little more interesting and you take it a little less seriously.

Happy Wednesday!

in case you were wondering…

Last week, I took a brief hiatus from blogland…it seemed like just another thing on my plate that I needed to clear for awhile to ensure I had more time for these crazies:

photo taken by Andrew Taylor.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor.

photo taken by Andrew Taylor.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor.

photo taken by Andrew Taylor.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor.

photo taken by Andrew Taylor.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor.

and of course, the latest crazy…

Recap of last week’s shenanigans adventures:

  • Caught #3 multiple times with her fingers inside the baby’s mouth…Me: “Why are your fingers in his mouth?!?”  #3: “Just checking if he has teeth yet.”  Me (2 hours later):  “Why are your fingers in his mouth..again!?!”  #3: “Just checking if he has teeth again.”
  • Went to the grocery store for the first time alone with #3, #4, and #5.  Realized how hostile I can be to people with just one child who park in the “customer with child” parking.
  • Took #3, #4, and #5 to #4’s library program and was able to breastfeed inconspicuously, cut out a large poppy, and sing “If you’re happy and you know it” all at the same time…though by the end of it all, I was drenched in sweat and felt like I was on fire.
  • Made a few appearances at #2 and #3’s school and had to recount the labour and delivery story at least 7 times.
  • Adjusted to 2-3 hour sleep intervals.
  • Took #2, #3, #4, and #5 to #1’s volleyball practice.  Then watched Ever-Patient run an amazing practice.  Seeing him influence #1 and the rest of the teams in such a positive away made me more accepting of the fact that I am left alone every Tuesday and Thursday night with 4 munchkins so he can coach.
  • Heard this daily: “Hello Mr. Baby Cutie Pie!”  – #4’s new nickname for #5.
  • Was able to have great conversations with great friends.
  • Found:  lost mitten and my sense of humour.
  • Had more conversations with Ever-Patient that didn’t include the sentences: “Can you burp him?”  “Can you put the laundry in the dryer?”
  • Awakened one morning at 6am by #2 (after I had just fallen asleep after being awake with #5 since 4am) to remind me that I needed to blow dry her hair for picture day.
  • Stopped feeling like my uterus was going to fall out.
  • Had lots of one-on-one moments with all my kids and my husband.

It was a good week.  We’re getting there.  Now only if I can find some time to be creative again…

fall activity #8 and a desperate plea.

Prep for the holiday season.

Last week I started to prepare for the upcoming festive season:

  • Updated address list.  (Hopefully, holiday cards will be sent on or near Dec.1)
  • Ordered (and received in mail) return address labels from here.  Here is what they look like (and fyi: I took our address off for the blog post and you can only fit 7 heads across…phew!): (I removed the address for the sake of this blog post...)
  • Compiled (and still compiling) “Secret Santa” wish lists for both sides of my family…which involves a lot of cutting and pasting and sending multiple emails chasing people down for them.
  • Working on some rough drafts of Santa letters with the kids.
  • Created a must-bake list.
  • Started organizing materials to make a December Daily Journal.
  • Began writing December notes for each of the kids to open each day in December.
  • Started prepping #4 for upcoming visit with ‘mall Santa’.

Although there is some heightened anxiety as December approaches, mostly due to unrealistic expectations I have for myself, I look forward to watching the kids get excited for the season and for us to do as many family activities as we can together at home.

As for my desperate plea…

Dear #4,

Please go to sleep and stay asleep.  Go to bed with your sisters at 7pm.  My bed is not YOUR bed anymore.  Instead of lying down with you for over an hour in MY bed (while Daddy tends to the baby), I’d love to catch up on laundry, take a shower, read, or blog.  Please just go to sleep.  Please.  Please. I am begging you.

Love,

Mama