And the hair is gone…

Being a writer is hard when you are super busy with your family and little thoughts pop into you head, you have to try to jot things down while driving, in the school, brushing your teeth – basically anytime and then if you are lucky at some point in your life you will find said jots and actually make something out of them.

My most reason thought written on the back of an envelope, “so you feel like you made a difference in the world because you gave a homeless bum a dollar”

Random? Maybe. Relevant? Sure.

Today another thought popped into my head after finally finishing a two day process of cutting my son’s curls that he’s been growing for a year and a half. This one I couldn’t jot – I had to open and write; so here I am.

My son has been trying to get me to cut his hair for awhile now, I told him that it’s his hair so he can if he wants but that I love it and everybody loves it, and that I wanted him to be really positive because it’s a huge transition from a mountain of  dreading curls to bald especially in the start of fall in New England. And I have been bartering with him – if you keep it in a bun for a week and you still want to cut it you can. If you really really want it cut then tell me on Sunday etc.., he did. He did not fall for any of my stalling or bartering, or guilting, “I love your curls! I don’t want you to cut them”

It all held him off for a couple months, but the eventual result was in the morning before school he said, “mom I NEED you to cut my hair right now.” So I did.

It took two days to get it all finished because at first he wanted a Mullet style – or West coast style or whatever you want to call it, but then the next day (today) he wanted it bald on top and long in the back – then after seeing it he just wanted it all off.

I cut it all of this morning, even the 10+ inch braid that I tried to convince him to keep as a rat tail, “MOM you said it’s my hair and I can cut it how I want!” He tells me and he knows he is right. SO I cut the last braid and hold back my sadness that my curly haired boy now looks like a sexy little guy. He’s 7.

Yep. Seven.

This got me thinking about knowing yourself and your needs and what you really want despite what anyone (including your mother) has to say about it and it makes me feel so .proud and super happy that I am raising kids that know what their needs are and that I am the kind of parent that allows for that space and growth and individuality.

My childhood was very different. My hair was not allowed to be cut. I wasn’t even allowed to have bangs, I did eventually cut them myself and my father was pissed. I wonder why though. I really sense that it was only a control mechanism which he used as part of many others to keep my sister and I under lockdown from any free will; everything was his way or nothing.

My only reasoning for not wanting my kiddo to chop his locks was that they were gorgeous and I thought that he may regret it after and it takes a long time to grow back. We’ve already had one child who went from super long hair to almost pixie and immediately hated it because the kids at school would not stop commenting on it; it looked great but she couldn’t enjoy it after that.

Why keep a kid from styling their hair a certain way? I can understand some extremes but my father allowed nothing except my natural grown hair – straight long and boring. For me it became a habit that now I am afraid to do anything exciting or drastic my hair is literally the same as it was then. My sister went the opposite route and has done any and everything you can imagine – bald, dread, green hair, mohawk, everything.

It just gets me thinking that children are rarely viewed as competent and actually they can and should be allowed to make these types of decisions because 1. it will grow back and 2. it’s their hair and they are going to always have it. Who gives a shit? Really.

That’s what I had brewing in my mind this morning. Now to brew a cup of coffee and get this laundry switched.

Ciao!

 

 

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boys and growing up; what will i do when they’re gone?

What will I do when all my boys are grown and on their own and the bathroom doesn’t smell like stale urine anymore? What will I do when I no longer have to wipe the seat off before I pee so that I don’t get a piss covered ass? When there’s nobody up at 6:00am using a remote control car and crashing loudly into things while everyone else is still asleep?

And how will I live without someone coming into my room before it gets light outside and waking me up, only to ask a random question about life?

Boys. Boys. What will I do when my boys are all grown and I no longer can force them to cuddle with me? When they are all bigger than me and don’t fit in my lap anymore? When instead of asking me questions nonstop about the meaning of life, trees, birds, dirt, space ships, cars, West African beetles and shampoo…… what will I do?

When their is nobody breaking my stuff anymore, or losing my stuff or eating my secret snacks, and when I no longer have to yell at anyone to stop wrestling, or stop farting on someone, or stop burping in someone’s face, or to be nice to your sister, and not to hit girls, and not to put caterpillar’s on your sisters bed.

What will I do with all of that extra time. 

This might seem like a sarcastic way of saying I can’t wait; But it is not; these questions are very real. I do not know what I will do without all my little boys driving me crazy with their wrestling and teasing and throwing stuff around, when I don’t have anyone to say, “if you want to wrestle go outside” too, or “If you want to play ball go outside” will I be an old lady someday in a nursing home sitting in a wheelchair and yelling those things out loud to nobody? 

Sometimes I know that the boys think I can’t stand them; and sometimes I honestly can’t. When you get a call that your son “pants” a kid at recess it’s hardly a proud moment. But that passes, it lasts only briefly and the sounds of the boys, and the smells of the boys carry on as a part of my life that I love. I may not know what to do and how to do it, or the answers to all of their questions, yet I try my best.

I give them things to make messes with; I let them run wild with no shoes or shirts and experience the feeling of the earth beneath their feet. I let them cook and explore the kitchen and make a mess when even though they ^promise^ that this time they will clean it up; I know they won’t.

And I give them the same weekly chores as the girls, to show them gender equality and personal responsibility; I will not be raising a lazy husband if I can help it. 

I teach them to be kind, to love each other; to love family and protect each other, to stand up for each other if anything goes wrong . I remind them, “don’t forget to wash your hands, and don’t forget to say thank you” so that sometime it will just become something that they remember without having to be reminded…

I tell them it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to have feelings;  I want them to feel comfortable talking about their feelings, to me, and if not me than to someone; anyone as long as they know that it’s normal and a part of life to feel if you are a boy or a girl.

I talk openly about breastfeeding, I want to raise men that know it is a normal thing to do.

We discuss health issues, nutritional issues; and about all the new things that I learn  I try to share my knowledge with them, my boys.

 I want them to be confident, independent and ready to conquer the world, all the while knowing that if they need someone they can call me. 

That is what I will do; Someday they will be grown and gone and that is ok and I will be here navigating my new quieter life without the farts and wrestling yet I will always be just a phone call away.

But for now I will go and clean the pee from the floor by the toilet…… 

The Secret, Universal Principle & choosing pain.

I am currently reading the book You Can Have It All; a simple guide to a joyful and abundant life by Arnold M. Patent. I am still in the early parts of the book and honestly at first I thought that I was going to ditch it, because the author was blabbing too much about his experiences in a non interesting way, but once you get past that fluff it starts to get down to explaining the Universal Principle. (Note to self: If you want to talk about yourself in your book – at least make it interesting). It is starting to remind me of The Secret, which is all about the law of attraction which is something that I was formerly obsessed with and surprise, surprise REALLY WORKED.

Maybe I have just gotten off the path of my truest self in so many ways that I have not been able to be who I really am? I have chosen anger and hate over loving-kindness and that is really not me and the sad part is I am doing it consciously out of fear of some kind.

For whatever reason a wall just seems safer right now…. but does it? At some point I turned to the dark side and said fuck it. Fuck it I am sick of being nice to people because I always get hurt and…..

BOOM!

Bitchy Ruby is back. I missed her and I hate her at the same time. I am hoping to find guidance through this book, meditation and other arenas to get myself back to my truest form.

More to come……

The laundry dilemma

This is the first part of many posts on laundry. Having such a large family;means having a large amount of laundry to deal with. Living in New England makes it even harder because you really never know when the weather is going to be consistent enough to put away winter clothes, or pull out all the summer clothes.

For  example this morning it was freezing, last night I had the heat on, and now it is sunny and breezy and it looks like it might rain.

What do you really do with that?

We have a laundry rotation for the youngest six; most of my posts will be about these six (because the older children have noncompliance difficiencies) so it goes like this Mon-Fri each child has a “laundry day” it’s added into our Chore Chart. That is the day you are supposed to wash, fold and put away your basket of dirty clothes from the week. The younger two share a day, and we wash their clothes together as they share most outfits anyway or have matching outfits.

All of my kids age 8+ know how to run the washer and dryer. It is such an easy skill to learn, and I believe children should be taught young. This is a skill they will carry through their entire lives. I never understood the idea of a college kid going off on their own and not knowing how to wash their clothes…. (not WANTING too is a given, but not knowing how??) Hell no!

The mothers/parents of those children have done WAY too much catering and babying!

Also boys and girls should both be taught because hey- boys need clean drawers too… It’s easy to get used to making the girls do laundry but tht is not helping anyone out, especially our sons!

Also I do a laod at the end of the day everyday, of towels and/or any random dirty clothes left around. They will be washed together, yep I am not going through pockets either.

If a kid has an event or sports I usually grab their basket (or all the clothes off their floor..)for them and wash it and they get it out of the dryer in the morning. We also fold random laundry that fathers if they are watching TV or sometimes on Saturday mornings if anything has accumulated; which it has.

I used to do all this myself and since I revised the chores and added it in it really has made a big difference in my life as far as giving me time for other chores 😉

I would love to hear how other large families deal with the massive amount of laundry! Please comment!

Oh and as for socks…..I have tried everything under the sun but they always disappear so now we have a “Sock basket” that lives in our living room and the kids dig through it in the morning and when they find a match their faces light up as if it was Christmas Morning!

 

It’s time for YOUR kids to make their own lunches too

I was given some really excellent advice recently by someone who had my best interest in mind.

It was about minimizing the amount that the mother/father or “head parenting partner”or whomever is in charge with the daily routines involving the children to minimize YOUR stress and amount of responsibilities in order to make things run as smoothly as possible, and at the same time teach responsibility and accountability to your children… Ok big words I know.

Basically it’s time for the kids to start making their own lunches. Yep, check one more thing off your list. In our house it’s Mommy that feeds the masses and….

in our house we go through food like a country just coming out of a serious year-long famine so it is my job to make sure that there is stuff for them to pack. Believe me we have had some weird lunches when we are low on groceries,  which happens every other day if I do not go shopping constantly.

I also am taking the responsibility of assisting them if they need it and the best part I have found since I recently implemented this is that THEY LOVE DOING IT! 

I was told about a recent study which showed that boys were less likely to know how to prepare their lunch than girls.

I can’t find it online but I thought about it and in my house at least for the younger 6 children, it rang true. I thought about it and when we are running low the girls will find something to make and the boys will opt for school lunch.

Slightly ironic since our oldest, who is male is a professional chef…. 

So after self-reflection I realized I am raising some Mamas boys and there is no reason why the girls should be pro-active in their lunch making but the boys shouldn’t.

So here are my five reasons that I recommend implementing the rule that you have to make your own lunch: 

  1. It teaches responsibility. When you move out of the house you are going to be responsible for feeding yourself; so why wait!

  2. It lessens the burden on “Mom” there are a trillion other things that you could be spending time doing, making lunches for 5 of my kids takes me about 30 minutes. Now I have 30 more minutes to myself…or um…actually for laundry!

  3. It’s healthier. There are numerous studies on the web that indicate that even though there is a healthy lunch initiative the school provided lunches are still very bad for our kids, and they are filled with processed foods and junk.

  4. You know what your kids are eating; and THEY know and learn about healthy food choices. This piggybacks off of #4 but it is so true; you can buy what you feel is healthy and appropriate for them to eat. (Do not be surprised when you find out they traded that $2.00 organic granola bar for a pop-tart though!)

  5. You can contribute to a green lifestyle by using re-usable containers for everything.

And an added bonus – if they don’t finish their lunch at school then they can eat it as soon as they get home for a pre-snack before asking for another snack!

To sum it all up; making lunches is the healthier option, it gives kids a chance to learn about food and responsibility, frees up some time and at least they are not eating that rubber hot dog that bounces… (every school has that bouncing hot dog story)

In our household shopping for lunches gives me a chance to tailor to different dietary needs, such as vegetarian, gluten-free and the aversion to applesauce that one kid suffers from – but hey he can choose to put an apple in his lunch instead!

I do recommend setting aside a specific spot in the fridge and a special section in the cabinet for “SCHOOL LUNCH ONLY FOODS” and be very clear to them BUT I have very little faith that this will prevent your kids from eating them all for non-school snacks…..

Good luck and I would LOVE TO HEAR COMMENTS FROM OTHER LARGE FAMILIES ON HOW YOU DO YOUR LUNCHES!! 

 

 

Routine, Routine. Routine? An after school routine that works for our large family.

Time to refresh myself on the routine since it is getting to be that time of the year again…

onelessthanadozen

When you have an extra large family it is imperative that you formulate and stick to some type of a daily and weekly routine. If you do not do this you as the parent/caregiver I will be subjected to a mutiny see definition here yes you will find yourself in, “a situation in which a group of people (such as sailors or soldiers) refuse to obey orders and try to take control away from the person who commands them” and you will lose all control. <<insert kids in parenthesis after soldiers>>

Having lots of kids makes many people think that it must run smoothly – all that extra help! It must be so nice to have all those extra hands! Wait a second… hold on here – all that extra MESS! Parents of many kids know exactly what I am talking about. It accumulates ten fold. If you have…

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Large Family Living on One Income

Another Mama with a large group and she definitely knows what she is doing. I have also been shopping at Aldi a lot lately and am loving that their store brand is completely artificial color & flavor free now, also they have many, many gluten free options at a way lower price than any of the other stores around. And avacados for 50 CENTS!! what’s not to love?

There's No Place Like Home

(Originally posted in 2014)

Being the stay-at-home mother of eleven children, I always face the inevitable question- How can you afford to live on one income? It’s not something I actively think about often because it’s been a way of life for such a long time now. Lately, though, I’ve been getting many inquiries about not only raising children on a tight budget but homeschooling them, too. Since I am a staunch homeschool advocate, I really want to encourage women that it can be done! Today, I’m writing the first of a two-part series about living and homeschooling with limited funds. My hope is to help some of you who want so badly to homeschool but aren’t sure whether or not you can afford it.

Part 1- Living Frugally

The most obvious place to start would be how to live within your means. I think the most important thing…

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Time for “The Talk”

It’s time for “The Talk.” No, not the SEX talk but the talk with my “adult children” where we explain to them that it is time to contribute to the nest or fly away. I am going to be asking a lot from them and it is not all about money, although a monetary amount will be determined per monthly, which includes access to the internet, hot food, a shower a day and in this house unlimited people in your way.. It is time. It is time for them to understand that they are no longer exempt from helping with chores and expenses. I have heard the “I have to work” argument one too many times.

I have woke up to a sink full of dirty dishes from their midnight munching one too many times.

I have listened to parenting advice from them, example: “YOU need to make sure so-and-so cleans their room MOM!It’s trashed”; as they sit in a living room surrounded by mess not lifting a finger; I have been disrespected one too many times.

Yep. I am working my way to this, because I already have talked to them at various points and they have expressed to me that THEY ARE NOT going to pay me anything or essentially do anything either.

Well I am not going to let these boundaries get so misconstrued that I have 8 kids in the house someday, plus grandkids and I am the only one cleaning, and nobody is contributing. Hell no. I am done setting myself up to fail! 

The reason it has come to this so far is that it snuck up on me, the whole “parenting after 18” thing.

.Yes, I was super young (17) when I had my oldest so it has been a learning process and my parenting skills were much different then, then they are now. Now I understand that kids need to do chores, they need to contribute to the household, and  if they aren’t it is MY fault because I am not making them. As a side note: just because I know this it does not prevent arguments over and over about chores…

I understand that it is teaching responsibility to my younger six kids by forcing them to do their daily chores whether they hate me or not, and that just because you have a job at 15, 16, 21 or 45 does not mean that you do not have to contribute to the household chores.

Am I setting up my poor future daughter-in-law to have to deal with an entitled brat for a husband because he feels like he is holier-than-though when it comes to helping around the house?

Am I allowing my daughter to believe that a magic fairy will follow her around the house, and clean up her messes, and put her clean clothes on her bed for the rest of her days?

Maybe I was…but not anymore. I am not feeling the spoiled brat attitude and feel ashamed that I am the only person to blame for it. I was young, I didn’t know!

I still do not know how to “parent an adult child” but I know that I have been doing it wrong, and so through therapy sessions, long talks with my husband and lots of self-reflection,  I have finally got the guts up to have a real conversation with them and my husband about what expectations need to be met.

And honestly they are free to go if they don’t agree…… fly birdie;fly.

Parenting continued…

It is so hard; this job called being a parent. It has been 21 long years so forgive me if I am tired. I am tired. I don’t know why (and I am sure parents with children older than mine will be chuckling at me for saying this) but I don’t know why I thought that when my kids turned 18 they were suddenly going to **poof** into responsible adults and take care of themselves; and not only that but also help me with things;

“oh mom I see that you are tired, and exhausted and you just spent the past 21 years raising us, and you still have 6 more to go so we will help you; sit down! have a cup of tea! I’ll cook dinner and she will do the cleaning!”

HAHAHAHAHA that was my delusional former self. 

Go ahead and laugh at me because by now – with an almost 21 year old and a 19 year old still at home I deserve it. Or if you are the naive parent of still young children you can read this and smirk and tell yourself that YOUR kids will do that for you, and that YOUR kids will appreciate you so much that they will help out without you even having to ask, when they turn 18 they will be begging to contribute to your household in so many ways…. go ahead and let me know how that works out for you….

More to come on this topic but for now rant over… 

Laundry soap, feminine products and chemicals.

Today I am starting a new routine of washing my hair with Dr. Bronner’s soaps instead of shampoo & conditioner. I have been reading up online about people who have also done this and most of them have great reviews and testimonies; saying that their hair has never looked or felt better after getting off of shampoo & conditioner.

I guess this fits into my new minimalist attitude. Reduce the crap that my family puts into their bodies. Why do we need to put so much into our hair, and onto our bodies, and what is really in those products that we use? Deodorants-shampoos-conditioners-body washes-makeup-even feminine products.

What is in them? I have already been buying mostly organic/scent free items for my family for a few years when financially possible. I buy as many natural products as I can and I also make some of my own.

Feminine Hygiene: Do you know what your putting up against your privates? I buy cotton and organic cotton pads and tampons from Whole Foods for myself and my girls. I used to use anything, Always, Kotex, store -brand etc., I never even thought about what was inside of them or how they were made, I suppose I was just going with the flow (haha) of society. I have since thought about it, and realized that I do not want that stuff anywhere near my Vajayjay. I have really sensitive skin, and since I have switched to non-chlorine, cotton products I have not had an issue with irritation. Why do you want chlorine near your vagina? What chemicals are entering into you or your daughters blood stream? This is such an important thing that most females never even really think about! They do sell all-natural products at Target as well, and the price is comparable.

Laundry Soap: I just started making my own laundry detergent and so far it is amazing! I made so much for approximately $10. I should have measured it out so that I could estimate the cost per load but I did not, it is about 8 pounds of powdered detergent and you only need to use 2T for a large load so it is going to last me a long time. I will share my recipe if you ask!

Back to my hair, I am going to share updates on how my hair is doing over the month of April without using any shampoo or conditioner. Just using Dr Bronners. Please comment if you have done this!! Or if you have any wisdom to share about natural products. Thanks:)