Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Advent

Around here, it’s starting to look a lot like Advent. I was inspired by Like Mother, Like Daughter‘s post on decorating for Advent, and Elizabeth Esther’s post on her Christmas decorating, and I thought that I would share what we were doing around here. Advent, by the way, is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a time to get ready and anticipate the birth of Jesus. The tradition of Advent is a great antidote to the over-hype and over-spend of Christmas today.  Why?  It means that you don’t actually start celebrating Christmas until December 25.  Instead of being sick of the holidays on December 26, and Boxing Day is notable as the  day you burn your Christmas tree, the 25th means that the party has just begun.  So, if you are tired of seeing holiday decorations beside the Halloween candy at your local Wal-mart, give Advent a try.

In addition to our Advent Wreath, we have a couple of Nativities missing Jesus:

(guess which ones the kids made!)  …and I made a new Advent door wreath…

Is anyone else celebrating Advent?  How does it look in your house?

Looking for more Advent info? Try these links:

Catholic Culture
Like Mother, Like Daughter (look at the sidebar for more articles)
The Advent Conspiracy


I Think I’m Normal, But I’m Not

We take up a lot of path when we go walking

Today’s Parent On line sent out a call for parent bloggers: “Topic: What makes your family unique?”  Gee, that’s a tough one, I thought.  I’m so normal.

Except I’m not.

I keep forgetting that the rest of the world doesn’t have six kids, 10 and under — or, as I like to put it,  2 kids 3 times.  I mean to us, this is normal when you have a 10, 8, 6, 4, 3, and a baby: dinner for 8 every night, $43 dollars for a fast food meal, boxes and boxes of hand-me-downs waiting for the next kid to grow into them.  We love our life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I forget just how weird we must seem.

Weird like this:

  • We will be shopping in the Toy Department for 21 consecutive Christmases, before our youngest outgrows toys.
  • A jacket is worn by five different children, before we donate it to Goodwill.
  • We have to get two hotel rooms.  Otherwise, we’re breaking fire regulations.
  • Costco is our regular grocery store.
  • I have been playing “Bear in the Big Blue House: Time to Go” intermittently for 8 years now — and I’m still not done toilet training.
  • My husband calculated that we have changed 20,170 diapers costing us $7,100.  (He did a spreadsheet.)
  • We wore out our crib, our supersaucer, two highchairs, a bouncy chair, and two strollers.
  • I was going to try to list some of the funny places where I breastfed or changed a diaper, but I can’t think of a place where I have not breastfed or changed a diaper.
  • We take our 3 month old babies camping with us, because otherwise we would never go camping.

So you see, I’m a little unusual.  And deep down I know it.  Both my husband and myself came from families of two kids (a boy and a girl) and, while I always wanted  5 or 6 kids, I didn’t think that it would actually happen.  If you had told me while I paced with my colicky first born that things would turn out this way, why, I just might have screamed louder than her.

But, I’m not that weird.  We don’t do family closets, all wear the same colour, or co-ordinate outfits from Gymboree.  We attend the local school, listen to the local radio, and the girls’ go-to outfits are jeans and a T-shirt.  We play Wii and watch iCarly.  Yet, when I’m out and about with my 4, 3 and 7 month old people always smile and comment “how busy you must be.”  Meanwhile, I’m thinking I’m having a break with only half the crew along!   Sometimes I feel like a professional mother.

And that’s okay.  Because there is nothing like having 6 little people crowding your bed to wish you Happy Mother’s Day.  Or seeing the 8 year old reading her younger brother and sister a story — while she’s holding the baby on her lap.  Or knowing that you don’t have to worry about how the kids are going to entertain themselves on your camping trip — they have 5 playmates already along.   Things might be noisy and a little crowded, and OH!  the laundry.  Lord knows I can stretch a dollar until it screams.  But in this texting, tweeting, IM-ing world today, sometimes you just need a hand to hold,  a real live warm hand of someone who loves you.

As of last count, we’ve got 16 of those.  And that kind of weird is great with me.

Want to read more about the crazy life we lead?  You might like these posts:

Feel Free to Kick Me If I Nod Off

Why Your Kid is Happy and You’re Not

School bans balls…Next, children

Overheard Around Here…

Sweetie Pie was bouncing around in front of the mirror, admiring her reflection in her multi-coloured crocheted cap.

“Oh, I hope this hat still fits me when I’m sixteen.  All the boys will want to date me when I wear it!”


By the way, do you remember how nice it was to be so innocent, that you thought the main thing a 16 year old boy was looking for in a girl was a nice hat?


“Come on!  Let’s play ball in the toilet!”


I was admonishing Tall Girl for her bad attitude as she put on her coat for school.

“Don’t say that this is the worst day ever!  You have to have to look on the bright side and be positive.”  I said.  “Now, have a good day.  I hope you all get to play on the new playground.”

“No, the playground doesn’t open until friday,” Sweetie Pie answered.  “Wait — be positive.”  She threw her arms in the air, stuck out her hip, and shouted: “Yay!!  The playground doesn’t open until friday!”


“Stop playing with the baby’s head.”


I finally found out what happened to Purple Peanut.  Purple Peanut was Sweetie Pie’s imaginary friend who suddenly moved to the Town of  Athabasca.  Turns out, Purple was concerned about Art Girl’s peanut allergy, and thought that he should absent himself before he caused too many problems.  He also wanted to live by the Athabasca River.  (Makes sense.)   Turns out he’s coming back, and is planning to squat in the play house in our backyard.  No word on his exact arrival, but Sweetie Pie says I should check the expiration on our Epi-Pen sometime next week.


Speaking of which, our backyard playground has seen a lot of action this past week.  Thursday noon, the girls returned from their early dismissal day at school without Tall Girl.  She was trying to wrap her little shy of 5′ frame onto the roof of our Little Tykes playset in the backyard, bawling furiously.

“She’s crying, Mom.  She got a bad mark on a test.  She says she’s no longer perfect.”

Turns out it wasn’t a test, it was a sketch, and she had missed half the instructions when she was sick.  This goes with the other “terrible disappointment” of a 73% on a social science quiz.  I tried to remind her that she had two perfect marks recently, but to no avail.

It seems our little Hermione has decided to take a “Second Place is First Loser” approach to the 5th grade.


Happy First Sunday of Advent, everyone!

Feel Free to Kick Me If I Nod Off


Last night was my fourth(?) Sparks Mother-Daughter Sleepover, this time with Art Girl.  What a blast!  It’s so much fun to have some one-on-one time with your 6 year old, especially in a big family.  Last night sitting in the “Camp Fire Circle,” (since it was inside the fire was 2L pop bottles filled with water and glow sticks,) my girl leaned into me in the darkness and whispered, “I wish this night would never end.”  Me too, sweetheart.  Later, trying to fall asleep, I was struck by how much I missed all my family at home.  Should everyone have my problems!  Too much love.

Sleeping was another story.  About 30+ people all laid out on air mattresses and Thermarests in this huge room at the local Community League Hall.  It sort of had a barracks or emergency shelter vibe, all we needed were cots.  I kept waking  just to assuage my fear that the new air mattress I bought two days before had shipped to the store with an air leak.  Or that Art Girl had fallen off the air mattress.  Or that the baby was crying — oh, yeah, the baby’s at home….With my wonderful husband, who gets Dad of the Year for staying home with a partially-breastfed 7 month old.  I love you, Sugar!  You are totally awesome!

As I said above, I think that this is my 4th Mother-Daughter Sleepover with different daughters, and depending on Girl Guide uptake, I may still have 2-4 more coming.  One thing that struck me as I lay staring at the ceiling last night, was how different the room sounded.  After the girls fell asleep five years ago, the only sounds you heard were the quiet chuckles of the Moms still chatting to each other.  This time, it was full of chirps and beeps, and various points of the room glowed with the backlight of touch screens.  The texting technology has permeated the world so far and so quickly.  It was also a little sad, that instead of chatting with the ladies next to us, we were messaging with someone miles away.  It’s similar at other places Moms gather.  Where once you would strike up a conversation with a gal with small children like yourself, now everyone is hunched over their screens, typing furiously with their thumbs.  It’s impossible to make eye-contact, or any other contact for that matter.

The other thing I wonder about, is the bizarre proliferation of “activities” we drag our kids to.  Over the course of these Mom/Daughter events I have learnt of 5 and 6 year olds enrolled in acting, yoga, and pottery, just for starters.  Isn’t that just the average afternoon at home for that age?  Is the tuition and commute really adding anything?  And how do you teach acting to a Kindergartener?  Do they do Baby Hamlet? (“To tantrum or not to tantrum…”)  I once saw an episode of Oprah on family over-scheduling, where an expert “helped” a busy Mom balance her daughter’s pitching coach and voice lessons.  This brought to mind an image of a soft ball game with the pitcher winding up on the mound,  simultaneously belting out, Ethel Merman-style, “Take me out to the ballgame…

But maybe that just the natter of the sleep-deprived.  I’m just glad to have my girls and my boys and my home, and be with all of them now.  There is nothing like coming back to that which you miss to make it all the sweeter.  Like my bed will feel right away.  Sleep tight, everyone!

For the Next Birthday, I’m Just Getting a Vat of Icing

…’cuz the kids just do this:

…and then leave the rest.

(Those McDonald’s wrappers are there to show the kids what kind of food other people have.  They wouldn’t know what it tastes like.  Hey!  Look down there! More pictures!)

Leaving the icing to the last, well, that I can understand!

So worth it, though.

Why Your Kid is Happy and You’re Not

A kid's dream kitchen

We were enjoying dinner when my husband asked, “Has anyone seen the Earbuds?”

I looked at Tall Girl.  “I think they spent the night under your backside, Sweetie.”

“Oh, my gosh!” she said laughing.  “You totally have to blog about all the weird things I’ve slept on!”

So, in honour of my biggest girls request:

The Weird Things My Daughter Soundly Sleeps On

  • Ear Buds
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo DS Charger
  • Books
  • Dirty Laundry
  • Folded Laundry
  • Folded Sheets That Should Have Gone on the Bed
  • Copper Wire
  • Transistor
  • Mini Fan That You Find in a Computer
  • Nintendo DS Manual
  • Hair Brush
  • Barbie Dolls
  • Her Diary and Pen
  • Those Plug Protector Thingees that you use for Child-proofing

That’s quite a list of very uncomfortable items.  No lambs wool mattress protectors, or feather bed sans pea here.  Nope, just a bunch of things that to an adult would be completely sleep preventing.  But not a kid.  And that’t why your kid is happy and you’re not.

See, adults have certain expectations of the world.  Bump-free beds, lump-free orange juice, pancakes make with the ingredients that actually go into pancakes — these are the type of things that us grown-ups want.  Maybe it’s too much Martha Stewart, too much higher education, but the days of knocking the toothbrush on the floor inches from the toilet, picking it up, and non go back to brushing our teeth are long gone.  No, we have standards.  And these standards are making us miserable.

Here’s another example:  Sweetie Pie, age 8, wanted to make Truffles out of her kid’s cookbook.  I went out and bought all the ingredients.  Sweetie Pie got all her homework done.  She asked if she could proceed, and I assented.  Sounds fine, right?

“I was just going to step around it.”

I walked into the kitchen to see how her progress was, and found none.  Why?  About 30 minutes before, I had steamed cleaned the kitchen floor, and left the steamer right beside the counter to cool before putting it away.  I thought (Ha!) that when my darling child saw it in her way, she would have put it back in the closet where it belonged.  (Ha, ha!)  Instead, my rather diminutive girl pushed every kitchen chair up to the counter in an effort to maneuver around the steamer machine in her way.  When I asked how she planned to make anything in a kitchen like this, she just stared at me blankly.  “I was just going to step around it,” she said.

And there you go.  An adult would say “Hey Liz!  I can’t cook in this kitchen.  There’s, like, 8 chairs in some kind of Stonehenge tribute in front of the stove!  Mise en place baby, mise en place.  Unacceptable!”  Not a kid.  They see all that mess and say “Let’s Roll!”

Kids just deal.  They just take what they get and run with it.  Cake served on the table itself?  Still tastes good.  -15° outside and mitts can’t be found?  Just pump the swings higher.  Bed covered in junk and you’re tired?  Maybe if I sleep on tomorrow’s outfit, it will be like heat-free ironing.  You never know unless you try.  Isn’t that how Newton invented the light bulb, Mom?

And that’s why they can sit on a couch repaired with duct tape, drinking flat Cream Soda and call it “The Best Lunch Ever.”  They’re happy.  And you can be too — just lose every last standard you have.

Good Thing We Don’t Worship Our Ancestors

My Great-Aunt in Saskatchewan sent me a 100 year old picture of my Great-Grandfather.  I reverently showed it to my kids.

“Look!”  I said with awe in my voice.  “This is your Great-Great-Grandfather.  He was born in 1875.”

All was silent for 30 seconds, and then they erupted into giggles.

“He looks like Alfred the Butler from Batman!”

Happy Birthday Big Boy!

You’re 3 years old today and you rock!  I remember rushing to the hospital that night, with the neighbour watching your sisters, because everyone had their cell phones off.  In honour of boys who get stitches, I have a little tribute to you:

I love how bounce on your toes, laugh at SpongeBob, look for the garbage truck to wave to the driver
I love how you fight imaginary bad guys with your sister’s recorder, added “sweet, sweet” in front of honey, stand in front of the neighbours’ house to call out the boy who shoved you off the swings
I love that you call your sister “my best friend”, that you still want to cuddle, that you think people should stop when it says “stop”
I love your great big smile, that you hold my hand, you still need me to kiss away the tears
I love that you’re here
Happy Birthday Big Boy!

Thank you! And please hold…

I used that line when I was a receptionist.  I would pick up the phone and say “Good afternoon, (Business Name.) Thanks for holding!” in an uber-cheerful voice, and before the caller could argue, hit the hold button.  Hey, when the switchboard’s lighting up, and you have three people standing in front of you waiting for appointments, you gotta do what you gotta do.


Which brings me to the first order of business:  Thank you, thank you, thank you Kana!  Kana from Kana’s Notebook, generously and shockingly nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award.  Shocking!   You are a shocking woman, Ms. Kana!  But, I would like to thank you for considering me a good read, especially in light of the wonderful writing that you post day after day.

…for holding!

I’ll be passing the Award along, and listing 7 things about myself in a couple of days.  This weekend involves a boy’s birthday, babysitters, a sleepover, meetings and enough precision planning to launch the Prussian Army on a winter campaign.  Why right now a 6, 4 and almost 3 year old are eating a Peep! on a stick left over from Easter.  And it’s not even 10:30 a.m.  Yep, buckle up folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride (or depending on how many Peeps! are found: crunchy.)

So, thanks again!  And if you can hold on a sec, I’ll be passing that award along to some deserving bloggers.  Or regaling you with what eight-month old Peeps! do to the under 6 set.  Well, hopefully not the last one….

School bans balls….Next, children

Because that’s what this is really all about, isn’t it?  Adults don’t want children around with their shouting, and running, and interrupting, and growing-up-and-paying-taxes-to-support-the-welfare-state.  Children should now all now be girls, who sit at tables and colour nice little pictures of all the damage human beings do to Earth.  Banning things you play with from a playground, is like banning liquor from a bar.  Oh sure, you can just sit around and talk, nibbling on deep fried chicken wings, but what’s the point?  The point is that whoever is doing the banning doesn’t want bars and their patrons, to exist.  Sort of got to wonder what’s going on in the minds of these Administrators…..

Anyone around my age (41) remembers all the super-dangerous toys we played with.  Things like cap guns, lawn darts, flimsy 4′ above ground pools, bikes without helmets, un-cut up hot dogs.  The only kids with any sort of padding were on a hockey rink (maybe.)  I don’t remember any concussions from a soccer ball.  I didn’t even know a soccer ball was hard enough to give you a concussion.  Could it be (no don’t say it) that maybe, not letting kids play is actually making then less safe, because they don’t know what they are doing?

And when did it become a crime to act like a kid, or more specifically a kid who’s a boy?  To run, jump, and take chances.  There is a reason that more and more people are trying, when they have kids, to have girls.  We like sit down, talk it out, get good marks, relationship minded ,”girlness.”  Hey — I’ve got five girls and I love them dearly, but I can also see that my Big Boy is getting a raw deal.  Like in Kindergarten, when 4 year olds are expected to sit immobile while listening to stories (hey — former porn stars don’t have time to sit through your kids’ fidgeting.)  Like is an emphasis on safety at all cost in the slowed down slides and imagination play stations at the park.  The characterizing of toy guns and other play that involves good and bad guys as anti-social, and imagining that it is an unnatural invention of a war-like culture.   I know girls, and girls love to get in a big group and talk out a pecking order.  Boys just want to take it outside.

This ball ban will probably be overturned, now that everyone is squawking about it.  It’s the attitudes behind it that make me crazy, (like don’t let your kid walk alone anywhere.)  Childhood is a fundamentally normal stage of human development.  Stop treating it like a prison sentence.


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