Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Day in the Life

Life at our house is never boring!! How can it be with two cats, a dog, and seven children?! Lately, though, a whole new dimension has been added. I don't know it is because my husband has been traveling more, or because of how old my children are, or if it is because of how old I am and how much slower my response time is. Whatever the reason, life has been full of surprises, and not necessarily the kind I enjoy.

Take the other day. Things went fairly well for most of the day. We had the usual accidents by a potty-training toddler, squabbles and such between per-adolescent girls, the dog trying to exert dominance over the cats and the cats reminding him who is really in charge. Somewhere in there, several eggs were dropped on the floor and not cleaned up enough to prevent someone (Mom) from slipping. Then, dinner didn't quite go as planned, and we were eating much later than expected. While we were cleaning up dinner, the mason jar of homemade vinaigrette broke. You guessed it, the oily, smelly mess went all over the floor.

When mason jars break, they leave shards of glass everywhere. Sure enough, we found glass everywhere. In the end, I had to throw away the towels we soaked up the oil with - the thought of trying to find and then dispose of all the glass was much too overwhelming. I can buy more towels!

After cleaning up the floor, it was past time to get kids in bed. By the time kids were in bed, it was past time to get Mom in bed! So, the rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. The next morning I woke up without a toddler wetting the bed, no jars of anything broke during breakfast, and I think it was dinner before a cup was spilled. Having so thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, I can now say spring cleaning is definitely well underway. Only a few more weeks before it might actually be spring so kids can play outside, and I can regain a semblance of order and inner peace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Joy of being TV Free

My family has been "TV free" since we became a family. Even before children came into the picture, we decided the only thing we'd watch on television was an occasional movie. When kids came along, that was amended (at the recommendation of a mentor) to allow for one movie a day.

Now, generally speaking, our children watch a movie while they fold laundry in the afternoon. Rarely, they will be allowed to watch both a "just-for-fun" movie AND an educational movie (educational movies are determined by Mom) in the same day. But, that happens VERY rarely. Their average time in front of the television is 60 minutes a day; much lower than the national average of between four and six hours, not including computer games.

Because we haven't ever made it a habit to watch television, we have developed the habit of finding other things to do. A recent weekend is a perfect example. After dinner was finished, around 7pm, you could find the various members of my family engaged in various activities. My oldest daughter was working at the computer on a school-related project. My second oldest daughter was on the floor beside my youngest daughter, getting some "face time." The third girl was washing dishes (her chore for that week), the fourth daughter was calling a friend, and the last two were playing with Daddy in the living room. Over the course of the evening, books were read, games were played, jobs were completed, we even made cookies. All that before kids were tucked in and lights turned out at 9pm.

Our family is far from perfect, and we've fudged on the tv time occasionally, but for the most part, a typical day includes FAR less than four hours in front of the gray babysitter. Instead, we spend time together as a family, making memories and having fun. That is why I enjoy being tv free.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Never too late

I've been doing this parenting thing for a long time - more than 13 years. In that time, I've learned much about myself, like how little I know about parenting, how very selfish I can be (and have been), how amazing my mother was to put up with a child like me, and how very much it requires to be a parent.

I've also gained a valuable perspective on life. As a child, if I wasn't good at something, generally I quit. If what I was trying didn't come easily to me, then I found something that did. The steepness of the learning curve greatly affected my desire and willingness to learn. In retrospect, I missed out on quite a bit because of my poor attitude.

I felt like if I couldn't do something well right away, then I should leave it to people who could. I didn't understand that I could ask questions, or that others had spent time feeling just like I felt; like a failure.

As a parent, quitting isn't an option. Instead of simply walking away and finding an activity that was easier, I've had to persevere and push through the challenges. In doing so, I've learned a most valuable lesson; life doesn't stay hard. After making LOTS of mistakes, I began to learn how to not make those mistakes anymore. At some point the learning curve lost some of its steepness. I learned. Then I began to realize that life is that way. You make mistakes and you learn from those mistakes. Somewhere along the way, the learning curve levels out until you get to the point where you've learned!

Now I'm enjoying the freedom of knowing that I can make mistakes without the world coming to an end. I can learn to do what it is I need, or want, to do. To quote a very dear lady, it is never too late.

The problem with dinner in the freezer

I recently delivered baby number seven. With so much practice, I was finally able to accomplish my lofty goal of getting some meals made ahead of time.

In anticipation of needing dinner when I had better things to do, I dutifully laid out the recipes, purchased the supplies, and had a power-cooking marathon with my very wonderful and very helpful older daughters. Long before the baby arrived, my freezer was filled with tasty casseroles and pre-made lunch treats just waiting to be pulled out and served to hungry children.

There is, however, a caveat to this success story.

To be successful serving dinner when it is in the freezer, you must take it out of the freezer before mealtime. More than once, when it's been time to put dinner in the oven, I've realized that dinner is still in the freezer. Hungry children don't enjoy eating frozen food that is designed to be eaten hot. You can pull said dinner out of the freezer and soak it in hot water in a vain attempt to get it thawed in time to actually serve it before breakfast. Or, you can simply pop it in the oven in hopes that perhaps it will defy the laws of Murphy and get hot all the way through. Unfortunately, neither option is very successful. I know. I've tried. Maybe next time I'll leave dinner in the freezer and serve breakfast instead!