I guess everything seems extra peaceful given that we're back to just our five kids and the occasional neighbor around here. For the past couple days, Jared and I had the chance to see what it would be like if we'd had three more kids after the twins. My brother Noah and his wife Kristi are on a trip and my parents have been taking care of their three very cute kids for the past week. But we wanted in on the action (my kids love love love their little kids and we figured that my parents could use a little break). So we've had Cubby (2), Lyla (3) and McKay (6) with us for the past little while. And it's really been so fun!
Oliver and Silas and McKay make a wonderful threesome. Oliver and Silas got their somewhat cautious cousin up in their favorite tree (but totally respected that he didn't want to go up as high as they like to go up), got him climbing over most every railing we encountered (but respected that he wanted to go around some of them), and were totally impressed with the sound effects he made while playing computer games. They set up three chairs right smack up against each other so they could be right together, McKay in the middle, at each meal. And they were delighted when McKay loved all their toys so much.
Ashton and Isaac couldn't get enough of little Cubby. I heard one of them say "I love you Cubby" to the little guy about every 2 minutes and they were constantly telling me the cute things he said (he's quite an amazing talker for a 2-year-old!).
It was more work to feed everyone and get everyone to bed, but for the most part, my big kids were delighted to keep their little cousins very happily occupied and it really wasn't much more work for me or Jared at all. I now understand a bit better how my parents were able to effectively raise and care for 9 children. They've always said effective use of "middle management" (the older kids) is a real key for large families and I totally see how that can work now. But I think we'll stick with five kids. No matter how helpful middle management might be, the buck still stops with the executive management - the parents! And I'm finally feeling like I can manage my five kids quite well (most days). * but see my P.S. below...
Yesterday we played in the backyard and ate banana chocolate pops that we made (pretty darn tasty - just dip bananas in melted chocolate chips and put them in the freezer for a while).
We went to the library down the street to do puppet shows (they have lots of puppets there) and learn about whatever the kids were interested in - frogs, monsters, and kittens were the favorite topics to research. Then we went on a nice walk on a deliciously cool evening and I was sad I didn't have my camera because the light was gorgeous. But sometimes I guess it's good to enjoy the moment w/o worrying about trying to capture it on film.... We finished off the day with three slumber party groups - Lyla in with Liza, McKay in with the twins, and Cubby in our old port-a-crib we unearthed from the basement in with Ashton and Isaac. No one got a whole lot of sleep. But they seemed none the worse for the wear today.
Breakfast for 8 (the twins and McKay HAD to sit together at the head of the table at each meal)
Then today we went on an excursion downtown (it totally took me back to pack up diapers and wipes in my purse...). We got tasty slices of bread at Great Harvest. We played at the park. The kids put on little shows at the empty amphitheater downtown. We visited the invisible man who lives at the invisible house down the road (there are some old steps that go up to an empty lot). We found a friendly lion and some huge firefighters plus lots of gorgeous flowers. The kids played in the fountain and found a new secret fort under a tree. Watching my little nephews and niece brought back such great memories of when my kids were little. But while excursions with my own small kids were always pretty stressful and very hands-on, today I was able to mostly just observe and enjoy. It was heavenly to have big kids around to help hold little kids' hands and chase after them when they decided to run. We wandered. We didn't hurry. We noticed lots of new things. We laughed. We had a really great day.
|We talked about what "fallen firefighters" are and talked about what it means to be brave|
|We met a friendly lion who gave everyone a ride|
|Liza and Cubby put on a little dance at the amphitheater (and everyone else performed as well)|
P.S. When I wrote this post earlier today, things were quite lovely. Since then, we've had several major kid melt-downs about usually non-major issues (this seems to be the price we pretty much always have to pay for action-packed days and late nights with cousins - but the cousin-bonding that results from those late nights and busy days is worth the price). My brief thought that 8 kids might actually be a manageable thing was doused by the craziness of this evening with just my 5 kids.
The dinner I worked hard to make turned out to NOT to be tasty to Silas and he was in tears about having to eat a few spoonfuls. Oliver was totally lost it when I asked him to finish a job I asked him to do earlier in the day then let him leave for a while to play with McKay. Eliza kept getting her feelings hurt by EVERYONE. Isaac randomly decided he didn't want to go to scouts and really doesn't like scouts (He let me know about this via Silas - Isaac wouldn't respond when I was calling up to him after dinner to get his scout shirt on because it was time to go - so I sent Silas up there to get him while I searched for his scout book and Isaac sent Silas down with the message that he didn't like scouts and didn't want to go to scouts anymore. That lead to a little yelling on my part, I'll admit, and some tears on Isaac's part. But we had a good talk about the importance of scouts on the way to the scout meeting and things ended well.) . Then when I went into the bathroom to grab something later on, I found that there was a thin coating of powdered bathroom cleaner all over the walls, mirror, sink and floor (I'd asked Ashton to just clean the toilet in there earlier today and was pretty perplexed about how the toilet cleaning powder could permeate so many areas of the bathroom - especially when the toilet itself is in a separate little room...). I called Ashton down and asked what happened. He said the powder just spilled. I pointed out that spilling usually means things go DOWN - not up and all over the place. He didn't really have an answer. I didn't really care. I just told him to get that stuff cleaned up really well and get to bed.
So no, it's not all sweetness and light around here. But I'll keep the bad stuff since I can't really have the good stuff without some bad I guess...