Paper versus Digital

If you read much online you will see discussions about things digital versus things paper. For example: paper books or kindle?  A lot of people seem to feel strongly about maintaining their paper. Something about the old fashioned feel of holding something in their hand, etc. That’s a nice nostalgic thought and all but really impractical in my house. It’s not that I don’t like paper. Not at all!  In fact I have splurges where I buy really cool pens and notebooks and write things down for a while. Or I purchase books for use in homeschooling just to have that whole paper thing going.

The problem is I have five kids. Four under the age of five and one who would lose her brain if it wasn’t firmly inside her skull. That means stuff gets intentionally torn up, inadvertently scribbled in, left in the bathroom to get soaking wet, taken outside and left where the elements destroy it etc.

Therefore, I try to stick to primarily digital things. I have tons of kindle books and Google play books. I keep track of all my appointments on Google calendar (though I use Jorte because it can be all girlified lol).  My to-do list is digital. My routines are digital. I have a digital cookbook and grocery list. Contacts are digital. Basically everything I need is digital.

This really helps preserve all of the things important to me. No longer van kids run off with and destroy important papers because they instantly get digitized.

Life in the digital age is good. Of course on the off chance I DO need to write something down, my stylus is a pen too lol.

Introvert + appointments everyday = suckage

So I am an introvert. My primary social life even with my own family is done through the internet and not that often. It is just absolutely draining to me. This week has been pure torture. Monday I had to take Mark to the urologist. Tuesday I took Sierra to the doctor because we were concerned she might have caught Shane’s pneumonia. Wednesday was shopping day because money came in and we had no groceries so it was a big trip. Yesterday I had to take David to the hospital for presurgery and then today was David’s surgery. Oh and tomorrow my brother-in-law is coming over and we’re role-playing. So way way way too much socializing for a poor introvert like me lol. Top that off with the fact that since I’ve been away so much my little all crowd me like crazy when I do get home. No rest for the way I swear!  On the upside at least I know my kids love me lots!

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David waiting for his surgery

The Realities of Pregnancy in a Big Family

So time to time when I’m pregnant I feel like a bad mother. Why exactly, do you ask? Because when I’m pregnant I have the audacity to ask my kids to step up and help out. Gasp!  How dare I?  I’m the mother after all right? I’m supposed to change every single diaper, keep the house all times, wash fifteen loads of clothes a day, fold them and put them away, cook dinner from scratch, have fresh baked goodies for my children to eat, homeschool them all and maintaining civility at all times, plus make sure they are all clean at all times, well feed all the time, and put them down for their naps plus supervise their play outside and in at all times. Oh and do it with a cheery disposition. Right?  Isn’t that what the poster mom of all mothers of the year do?

Pft. Right. Like that EVER happens. Here’s how it really goes down. Thanks to being pregnant I can’t sleep at night. I get in bed at ten or earlier because I’m exhausted. But then I toss and turn, get up to pee, and otherwise cannot clear my mind enough to fall asleep. I often find myself awake at 2 or 3 in the morning still. Unfortunately, Mark and David, my one and two year olds, didn’t get the “sleep in late” memo they’re up between 6:30 and 7 an every morning. Rarely they will sleep till 8. So I begrudgingly pull myself out of bed, or if I’m feeling really lazy, I try texting Emily before she leaves for school and I get Lilly up. She’s now 10 and maybe some people think that’s too young to watch siblings but it’s not like I leave the house and the alternative is insanity due to sleep deprivation. Besides I sleep so lightly I usually get about an hour of sleep extra, sometimes two. Sleep my pregnant sleep deprived busy desperately needs. I always wake up feeling exhausted. Anyways I leave her with instructions to change the boys and make them some breakfast (usually cereal, oatmeal, or grits. Occasionally she makes them toast or boiled eggs though but usually it’s the cereals).  Then I try to get a little more shut eye knowing the house will be a disaster when I wake up.

I’m usually up by 9. I quickly get dressed and head out to the main room. Shane is still asleep at this point because he works second shift and doesn’t get home till 2 am. I sit down with my tablet, send the boys outside to play (not Mark because he is too little to have sense enough to stay out of the road).  Then I have Sierra and Lilly clean up.  Lilly and my eldest stepdaughter, Dixie, have kitchen duties after breakfast and lunch and Sierra cycles laundry for me. 

“Quickly” I always tell them to clean up but apparently that means “take two hours”.  So by the time they get done and often before they’re done, Mark is absolutely screaming for his nap. I try and put all four of the little guys to nap at the same time but it rarely works. If I do it works like this: Mark passes out right away. David passes out like thirty to forty five minutes later. Then I come back into the den, yell at Sierra and Jordan to stop playing take their naps, and hope to God Lilly has finished cleaning up from breakfast. Assuming she is, I get Lilly started on her school work for the day. Of course by this time she wants lunch so it’s kind of a slow start as she makes and then eats lunch at the computer. Plus this is around the time Shane gets ready to leave for work so I’m socializing with him since this is really the only time of day I get to see him during the week.

I probably get one to two hours of nap time out the kids which I use to read my daily Bible devotionals, check Facebook, watch a bit of Netflix, continue directing Lilly on her schoolwork so she doesn’t get distracted playing games. I also plan dinners, make grocery lists, get something to eat myself, fold laundry (easier to do when Mark isn’t all over the clothes), etc.

Shortly thereafter the boys all wake up and sometimes I make them lunch, sometimes Lilly makes them lunch, sometimes even Sierra makes lunch because she knows how to make sandwiches and ramen in the microwave. She knows, four, which numbers to put it on and with the exception of melting a spoon one time she actually does a really good job, albeit a messy one. Well of course the boys are making a mess the whole time and I’m trying to split my attention between them getting into sugar, creamer, ketchup, syrup, or whatever other condiment they’ve decided to try and eat today, and supervising Lilly and Sierra homeschooling. After lunch I send the boys out to play and try to finish school with the girls. Sometime before three thirty though we have a cleaning frenzy and I work on daily and weekly chores while the girls try to clean up after lunch before Emily and Matthew get home from school.

Then confess the inevitable drama as the teens find something the little guys got into during the day (we have a girls room and a boys room not individual rooms so we are struggling with teaching boundaries and respect for others personal things).  The remainder of my afternoon is spent finishing homeschooling, miscellaneous chores, and putting out drama fires with all my kids who start acting worse as the afternoon wears on towards the supper hour (right now we don’t really have anything for them to snack on but we usually try and have fruit and such for them. Plus I usually bake more when I’m not pregnant so there’s usually more snacks around).

Then I start making dinner. Of course this is the time the kids like to act the craziest so I usually turn on Spiderman on Netflix during this time because all the little guys like it. They’re quiet enough for maybe an hour so I can cook. Usually. A lot of times though they come in the kitchen and annoy the crap out of me getting into everything and making a mess. Plus I’m still working with all the kids about the quality of their chores so I freak out a bit while cooking because my feet stick to the floor and it’s still messy. I tend to stress out a lot to tactile sensations this so it’s difficult to cook. Plus the whole I stand on my feet for five minutes and I’m exhausted and have to sit down thing.

If the kids are acting unusually crazy I have Emily start their baths while I work on dinner. This is pretty much the only time during the day that I can day they’re clean… I just see little point in cleaning them up during the day. They play in the dirt all day and the boys absolutely don’t even care how disgusting they are.  They are the boys that play with bugs and put rocks their pockets.  A little food on their faces is not even anything to blink at. I try to clean them up before nap but that even always happen. I know. I’m bad. I do clean them up before I take them out somewhere though so that’s a plus. Also I try to remind my daughters to brush their hair everyday but truly sometimes I forget that too, being caught up in all the day’s happenings. I forget that just because I’m clean it doesn’t mean everyone is.

So when supper is finally ready after an endless chorus of “I’m starving. When supper. I’m so hungry.” The wolves then come stampeding to the table. You’d think there would be a few minutes of quiet while they eat but no…that would be too easy. They always play, make a mess, and try and get into stuff. One day I will be able to buy a kitchen table big enough for everyone but right now it only seats the little guys.

I look forward to after supper time because it’s usually around bedtime for Mark and David then. I have them all go brush their teeth and put the boys to bed. This is kind of a relax time for me. Daily chores are done except maybe some crafts after the boys are out or a last load of clothes. So I research on my phone, read on kindle, or watch Netflix on my phone while I put them to sleep. Usually they are pretty good about going to sleep – one of the biggest perks to their play hard mentality!

After they are out I get my bath and relax with Netflix, research, playing a game, doing crafts, etc. Usually one to two hours. Then I try to go to sleep, have a semi regular bout of insomnia and do it all over again the next day!

So I’m far from perfect and it’s often chaotic here but everyone feels loved, we go to bed clean with the house clean, and everyone contributes to the household work, thus learning responsibility plus how to do their work. Since there are so many kids and we all do some work everyone is able to get down time. Everyone gets play time. Maybe not as much as they want but they do all get fun time. Usually at least two hours too, often more.

So maybe I don’t micromanage every detail of every child’s life because it’s just not humanly possible but we have worked out a system which works decently well at least big picture wise lol. Day to day it feels chaotic and busy but we get what needs to be done finished every day so that’s good.

Were that my life was The Sims…

I swear I sometimes wish that my life were the Sims. Why you may ask?  Because the Sims has a feature that could come in so useful at times – the fast forward button. Just imagine…no longer would I have to wait seven painful days between paychecks. Therefore less temptation to buy something small to make the time passing more pleasant. Right now that thing is a new tablet screen. My stepdaughter, Emily, recently dropped my tablet by accident and the screen cracked. Luckily the touchscreen still works and it looks like I can get a replacement screen for less than $30 which is awesome but since we live paycheck to paycheck currently I have to wait till Friday before I can try to get one. A fast forward button would be so nice lol…

Or like if I could fast forward I could pay all my bills in like a year of my “game time” but twenty minutes of my time… no agonizing if we can afford to pay this bill this week or wait till next. That would be nice. I could get the annoying stuff out of the way quickly and get to the good stuff.

On the other hand… If I was fast forwarding, I might miss that minute or two when Mark climbs up into my lap and actually wants to cuddle without screaming. I might not hear that joke Shane cracks. I might not see that look of excitement on Lilly’s face when after two long months she finally gets to use her tablet again now that she got a new charger for the one that was lost. I might not have that time to spend reading to Sierra or heading Jordan being a potty mouth and calling his dad a penis….lol. I might miss that chance to comfort David when he hurts himself…and I definitely wouldn’t have time to talk to God or give Him my concerns.

I think a fast forward button is the same thing as giving my kids puzzles. It seems like a good idea at first but then you realize how bad a thing it is when more and more pieces are missing as time goes on. Pieces lost forever. So I think I am pretty happy suffering through the bad because the good more than makes up for it!

Perspective

Life can be a challenge. Especially when it feels like you’re being kicked into the mud, then trampled upon, and then spat upon just for good measure. That’s the way it’s been around here lately. Family life itself has been fine more or less. About the worst that happens there is David’s temper. He gets so angry, but I think the majority of it is due to the fact that he doesn’t talk well. He is difficult to understand even when he says something that sounds like words. And he still gets picked on, being the little brother. All this ends up resulting in a volcanic eruption of temper every hour or so EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But children squabbling aside there is still laughter, still smiles, and in general everyone is happy there.

But then comes the bad areas. First there is ex drama. Whether it’s the kids getting attitude or the ex starting drama, there is almost always tension in the house every single evening because of their mother. Then there are the that’s she gives, the misinformation she spreads, and the outright lies she spreads. That’s always fun to deal with the aftermath of that.

Then there’s money. While Shane is actually making decent money we can’t seem to get ahead between stuff breaking down and taking care off the kids. Our car needed repairing, so that was some money for parts. Then Emily broke the window killing a wasp and we had to go get that taken care of. Then there are the non-stop school fees that Emily and Matthew have at school. Did I mention how much I loathe public school?  I will be glad when the custody situation is resolved and we can just homeschool them. Which is another place our money is disappearing to – lawyer fees. Plus the absurdly high utility bills due to the poorly maintained trailer we live in. Our electricity bill was more than our rent and that’s more than a little crazy. We are looking into ways to resolve this situation but only time will tell what the outcome will be.

Then there is the issue of our rental trailer itself. It’s very rundown. It’s almost uninhabitable. The air conditioning barely works, there are rat goes all over the place, the cheap flooring is getting destroyed on a daily basis simply by walking in it and putting furniture on it, and the pipes are constantly breaking. On top of that, the landlord are the do it yourself sort, which is normally fine, but they seem to out us at a very low priority. We’ve had the air reported as an issue for over two weeks and it has yet to be repaired. They were supposed to come out last weekend but it didn’t happen and they were supposed to come out tonight but it didn’t happen. And then they called on the second to say we were late with rent….never mind that Shane was working on the first and couldn’t get the money to them. Just seems like a contradiction there.

I’m glad we have a place to live and that with effort we can live a decently clean life but I will be so glad when I no longer FEEL like poor white trash. It’s a hard feeling to overcome when you feel blessed at spending a cool day in the house rather than sweating like a stuck pig.

I feel like I’m complaining an awful lot but there are a lot of good times. We joke around at night. We watch Netflix as a family. I love watching my children being adorable. My eldest is doing very well in her homeschooling. And we have made it this far. We are now two months on our own after a year with Shane’s parents. We can feed everyone. We all have beds to sleep in and clean clothes. We can all wash our faces at night and brush our teeth. Even prego me can occasionally treat myself to something special. Life is not bad, even though it is rife with issues. God is there. He is always there helping me out of the muck in which I keep finding myself. He keeps me focused on the positive when I might otherwise descend into derision and self loathing. So no matter what – life is good. Life is awesome in fact.

God bless air conditioning!

So ever since we moved we’ve had intermittent issues with air conditioning. You see, there are two trailers on this property and we are renting the larger one. My husband called about a week before we moved to have the air turned on. They told him it would be 125 deposit on his first bill. He said ok great, turn it on.

So moving day comes. We get the uhaul all packed up and are ready to head out. Then we get a call from the landlord saying there’s no power in the trailer and did we have it turned on?  Shane calls the power company and verifies that it was turned on and about a two hour delay while the problem is sorted out. We find out that the power was turned on to the wrong trailer. In order to turn the power to our trailer we would have to wait for a technician to arrive on Monday. Shane flips out. He is thinking we should unpack the trailer and wait till he gets paid to turn on the power. The problem with that was the power at the house we were in was getting turned off in three days and it was in my mother-in-law’s name so we couldn’t cancel the order. Plus we were still on the line for the u haul. I told my husband we should just go, that it was just two days without power. Nevermind it’s the middle of summer and I’m pregnant. He agrees eventually and we go.

We arrive and camp out on mattresses in the den with a fan going from an extension cord hijacked from the other trailers power. It’s not ideal but we survive. Lots of cold baths. At least we had water.

Monday rolls around. Shane takes the lease to the power company to straighten out the mess. He returns home furious. They told him in order to turn our power on we have to pay $640 upfront, which we of course didn’t have. We sigh and plan to turn the power in that Friday when Shane gets paid.

On Friday Shane to pay and is told  they will send out a technician Monday. So now it is over a week with no power. I cook microwave spaghetti. We eat ramen noodles and cereal. We have to be very careful since our fridge isn’t working properly due to not have correct power output. We manage to hook up the tv to watch some dvds to kill time. The breakers flip a few times when we ruin the microwave but we get it up and ruining again. Imagine…a house with 8 kids and no power for over a week. It was epic.

Power finally gets turned on at the end of the day Monday and there it’s much rejoicing. We quickly move everything into place – beds into bedrooms, furniture to the right rooms etc. We cook real food, though only three of the four eyes on the stove are functional. BUT it’s a real meal. It’s progress.

Life goes on. The landlords eventually come by and finish fixing the floor (oh did I mention when we moved in it was wooden slats laid over the floor, not an actual floor?)  It’s not completely done but it’s enough we can move furniture and unpack all the boxes and get beds put on bed frames.

About three weeks after moving in we are finally able to SETTLE in. It has definitely been an exercise in endurance.

Then something “fun” happens. Our air stops working!  We panic and suffer through a sweltering summer day. It is too hot to move, too hot to nap, too hot to think. Children are pink cheeked and inactive. Finally Shane gets home from work and we realize it was a breaker that flipped. There is much rejoicing.

Then a few days later it goes out again. We are miserable. The breaker isn’t the problem this time. We sweat, moan, groan, etc. This time it turns out the refrigerant lines are freezing!  Which means for an hour or two several times a day we have to turn the air off. Outside temperatures are upper 90s and it is miserable. We call the landlord and they try to tell us it’s because we leave the door open all day because of our kids (we don’t).  They do say they will come out and look at least. When they do, they discover the air conditioner unit coils are filthy which apparently messes the unit up a good bit. Fact is though that it was not our fault after all (surprise surprise).  They say they’ll try to come back the next gay to clean it. Two days later and still no landlord here to clean the coils. Luckily, though, the air has been behaving in the interim.

There are several things in life, in America particularly, that people have and take for granted. We don’t really appreciate these things until they’re taken away from us. Things like clean, running water (we had pipes burst here for a couple days in a row and had no water which meant nothing to drink…), cold air conditioning, warm heat in the winter, clean and laundered clothes, hot food on the table – enough to feed everyone. Think about this the next time you take a luxuriant bath, or indulge in a cool, frothy glass of milk. The next time you get frustrated the piles of laundry you have to do, pick up a clean shirt and inhale deeply and be thankful it’s clean laundry. The next time it’s a scorcher outside and you’re inside drinking an ice tea and perfectly comfortable due to functional central air, give God a praise for providing your creature comforts. He truly deserves to be praised each day we are able to spend in relative comfort. It really puts into perspective the mini dramas we create, the things that truly don’t matter.

God is good. Praise God for air conditioning!

Been crazy

I promise I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth! Just a quick update because I’m sleepy. It’s been really crazy busy. We’ve moved to a new house, I’m pregnant with number six, and we currently have custody of my three stepkids and are working in court to make it permanent. So between the stress of dealing with Shane’s ex, the stress of moving, the stress of everyone on God’s green earth wanting their money NOW, and the complete lack of energy I have due to my little energy vampire, it’s been rough. I’ll try to start my regular postings up again this week!  More then.