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Thursday, February 26, 2015

One More Blessing to Rejoice In


Jules here-
We have an official announcement: Gemma Bernadette joined Em's brood one week ago today! She weighed in at a whopping 7#10oz (Em's biggest baby) and was the fastest delivery yet! CONGRATULATIONS!! (To me too, as I am an Aunt again :))  
Simona & Gemma
Once again, I have braced myself for the shock of people saying, "EIGHT children?!!? How can she afford it? She must have a huge house!" Or even, "What is she thinking?!?"  
 
Cousin fun! Three year old trouble makers....
Though I just missed the birth of precious Gemma to drive back to NH, I did have the opportunity to spend a few days with her LARGE family and I gleaned some precious insight into her lifestyle:
  • Having a Large Family Makes You Forget About Ridiculous Standards- Ems doesn't have time to worry about finding all the letters in the Cheez-It Scrabble crackers to make a Pinterest-worthy lunch. She just feeds the kids.  She doesn't try to throw themed birthday parties- she simply makes their favorite foods and a simple cake on their special day.
Yes, I am a true word nerd.
  • Large Families Entertain Themselves- No play dates? Who cares. No friends at the playground for pick-up soccer? You have enough for a team.  Ems doesn't have to come up with activities, games, or crafts- the kids are incredibly good at finding things to do.  Her kids made my kids look whiny, dramatic, and unimaginative...
Reading Curious George

The girls!
Blurry as they are rocking...
  • Children Learn Empathy- Older children see how to care for younger ones; they are able to learn precious life skills.  Theo was incredibly patient with the ever-pestering Lissie (who ADORES him) and he was able to chuckle at her playful persistence.  Each love to hold the new baby, and most of the time they are big helpers to Em!
Theo with the sleeping Gemma!
  • Babies Are Tiring No Matter How Many Children you Have- Newborns are precious- but also exhausting.  No matter how many kids you have, newborns make boot camp look like kindergarten.  One thing that IS a challenge with a large family, is initially finding the energy to cope with feeding, clothing, and schooling the rest of the family during this crazy time. Luckily, she has a great community helping with meals, transportation to sports, and an awesome husband who makes delicious grilled dinners and can shower seven kids in less than 15 minutes…
    Sleepover girls after showering!
  • Nobody Regrets Having Children- Only NOT Having Them- I work with the elderly; I can't even TELL you how many patients have said something like, "I had 4 children, but I wish I had more! I thought I couldn't afford them- I was wrong!"  Nowadays we say things like, "Oh I had my boy- now I am done!" or "I can't handle any more after two!"  Ems is embracing every gift from God- and she will NEVER live with the elderly guilt of not being open to life.  Each child brings a special joy, love and happiness to her family!!
One more blessing to add for next year's photo! Congrats!!!!
Easy Rule #353- Who’s going to take care of you when get older? Have a back-up plan. Or eight back-up-plans.
Easy Rule #9808- Raising children IS what life is about. Though it can be trying at times, try to remember that they grow quickly!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hiatus is Over

Jules here-

We know we have been incredibly slacking on posting.  However, with the start of Lent today, I have made a vow to increase my blog entries-- except on Phone-Free Fridays of course!

So what have we been up to that has consumed our time and effort? Well- Ems is still growing her baby which will hopefully arrive by this weekend.. and I did an impromptu drive to visit her last week!  Our mother had an untimely broken arm which inhibits her driving, so Ems' well-thought-out-baby-arrival-plan hit a hiccup with this development.  Being an awesome sister, I decided to up and drive my mom to Ohio for our annual trip (that had been delayed from the fall).    Plus I am in the process of buying a house, moving, and working... just a tad busy.

I will blog about my incredible, whirlwind visit next time, but for now, I am going to focus on my 13 hour return trip solo with three kids in a minivan.
No, this isn't my minivan. Mine is filthy.
Evening before:
I packed all snacks, equipment, toys, games, books, etc. in easily accessible containers. I used many of the snacks & techniques I did for last year's trip.  

2 AM: Alarm went off.  Confused, fatigued, and very cold, I stumbled around gathering last minute items, filling up water cups, and putting on pants.  After waking the children, I forced them to try to go potty and then threw them in the car.

2:45 AM: Departure. It was -8 degrees outside when I left Ohio for the return trip and my windows kept icing on the inside of the car. I had to have my defrost on super-high for the first 3 hours of the trip, and the side windows were still completely frosted. I used old CD cases to scrape it to make little peepholes to see oncoming traffic.  Luckily, most people sleep at this time.

3-4 AM: Ah, children are sleeping.... wait.... what.... I peered into the rearview mirror as I drove under a street lamp and my 3 year-old son's eyes glinted wide awake back. It was like a horror movie, I almost screamed:

Side note: After Googling "Killers in Backseat" images I will never sleep again.
4 AM-5 AM: Lord, I was tired. How do truckers do this? Speed, I think. Well, I had sprees and jujubes.  I consumed an entire 2,000 calorie diet by 6 AM.

5 AM-6 AM: Listened to Emma, by Jane Austen on CD.  Quite witty, entertaining, and still couldn't keep me focused.  Initiated "chair exercises while on cruise control"-- Luckily my therapy training has made me a master of exercises one can preform with limited mobility.  I now have buns of steel... strike that- I ate 3 bags of chocolate-covered pretzels- buns are now squishy again.
Still waiting to outgrow my candy habit.
6:30 AM: Two youngest awoke. Ugh.  Shoved pre-made bagels with cream cheese at them while discussing how much longer the journey would be and that they should try to sleep more...  No luck, wide awake.

6:55 AM: Sunrise somewhere in Pennsylvania.  When your GPS says "292 miles until your next turn" it is quite demoralizing. Pennsylvania is a loooonnnggg state.  Sunrise quite pretty and I tried to capture on my flip phone:
Eh. O.k.
It really looked more like:
Picture I stole from the Internet that looks like the sunrise. It was this pretty.

8 AM: Eldest wakes up.  Time for our first stop-- over 5 hours after we started, and I drank two cokes by this point. I pushed past the kids to the bathroom first....

8:20 AM:  Back on the road.  Set up DVD player in case we need it, gave snacks/drinks out, and back on the road.

8:30-10:30 AM: No memory.  I think we listened to a book on CD, argued a bit, ate more food, and then resigned ourselves to the day in the car. At one point, we listened to 30 minutes of Patriotic Songs for Kids.  It is a Grand Old Flag, really.

10:45 AM: Time for 1 hour movie. Woo-hoo! Pressed play with remote. Nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing happened.  Our movie worked on the way out and we used it plugged into the home plug as well. But now, in my hour of need...it has failed me (later I have determined that it is my electrical jack...)  Passed books back to the two youngest for an hour....

11:30 AM: Started looking for McDonalds.... and looking, and looking.... Seriously, suddenly there were no fast food restaurants....

12:30 PM: Found exit with McDonalds, but it was one of those sneaky "really-3 miles off the exit" McDonalds. Not amused with the extra drive.   Obtained food, gas, and bathroom breaks.  Divvied out meals, ketchup set up (we do not eat in the restaurant on trips), and enforced a 30 second jumping jack/squat routine in the parking lot.

12:50 PM: Back on the road.  After french fries were all devoured, I attempted to have "quiet time" to get the younger two to rest.  Quiet time made me sleepy... back to eating.

1:30 PM:  Lissie passed out!! James, unfortunately, still awake.  Gave him gum.  Counted down states as we went: Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont.... come on New Hampshire.... just a bit longer.... Put in last kids book on CD.

3 PM: Yeah! New Hampshire! Full of hope, we put on our favorite Frozen CD and acted out every song. Well, I acted out every song- it kept me quite wide awake. 

4 PM: Land ho!! We made it.... now we had to unpack and make dinner....

Wow, that trip really flew by. Just kidding.  But kudos to my kids who didn't cry, scream, or throw fits!

Easy Rule #535- Nothing is easy about long road trips with young kids, but keep positive, calm, and happy-- and bring a lot of snacks.