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Well, maybe not silence (after all, there are still 4 young munchkins wrestling, chasing and taunting each other) but it’s quieter for sure.  We just said goodbye to our Thanksgiving guests… all 12 of them.  Our sister and her family came to stay last week for Thanksgiving and our family looks forward to their visit every year.  In case you were wondering, of the 12, 10 of them were kids.  Yep. You read that right.  We had 14 children running in and out of the house for 5 days and it was GLORIOUS!  It seems every year, the minor spats and falling outs between the cousins get less and less.  This year I’m not sure we even had any.  If we did, they were very quiet and very short-lived. 

When you have that many young ones visiting (in a very small house to boot), you really just have to go with the flow.  You have to realize there will be chaos and noise.  And some moments, words like chaos and noise don’t even come close to describing situation.  But you ride the wave, go with the flow and absorb every moment of it.  Because you realize, soon enough, the sleeping bags will be packed up, the mountain of shoes by the door will disappear, the once over-flowing food in the kitchen will be all eaten up and the windows will no longer shake from the constant comings and goings through the slamming doors. 

And it will be quiet.

Some quiet is nice. 

But too much of it isn’t. 

Especially when you sit and edit photos like this:

and this:

and you know that more than likely, these precious lil month old pair of feet will be crawling around the floor and getting into all kinds of trouble, next time you see them.   I had the privilege of taking some baby photos of my new nephew while he visited.  He was super easy to photograph! Even with 13 other kids running all around us (and getting in the shots), he happily stared out the window and quickly feel asleep!  We didn’t even get any outfit changes done, he fell asleep so quickly!  But that was okay.  It was a bigger priority to get sleeping pics than lots of outfit changes and poses.  As I looked back at his photos, I realized I definitely have a thing for baby feet.  Half my pictures were feet!  I could seriously post at least four more great feet photos… but I figured that might be a bit much for the rest of ya’ll.  For some of you, I realize feet shots just bring back bad memories of older brothers and stinky feet or ingrown toenails.  Or the king of all toe jam attacks. 

Did you know that my daughter (remember, she was my first baby so cut me some slack when you read this story) had super sweaty feet as a baby?  It’s true.  She could soak through socks like nobody’s business (and it probably isn’t but I’m going to share it with you anyway).  I use to worry that she’d be plagued with sweaty, stinky feet as a young woman and I’d imagine all the great lengths she’d have to go to, in order to keep her feet problem a secret.  I imagine the havoc it might cause to her dating life.  Strange isn’t it?  Mothers are great at worry.  If I were to have listed them all, they’d have ranged from the super paranoid to the silly and unnecessary.  The foot worry was obviously the latter… you just can’t tell a new mom that though.  Nope.  To do that would probably cause great bodily harm.  Human mamas are very similar to bear mamas… and a NEW human mama is far worse.  Kinda like a mama bear on steroids… or crack…

I apologize for the randomness of this post.  I blame it on the Claritin.  Yes, it’s another windy day here at the Runningamuck neighborhood and I’m high on allergy meds.   My thoughts are as scattered as the leaves outside.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. 

I promise to “sober” when I write my next post.

button - at the beach

So, as usual, I’m late in the game on this one.  I just found out about iHeartFaces.  I’m loving this site and I’ve barely even scratched the surface of it.  They have a contest going on right now for beach pics.  I LOVE beach photography so of course I have to jump in. 

Here’s my entry:

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My blogging friend Lisa is adding a third child to her family.  While her sweet new addition is not a newborn but rather a 6 year old niece, a third child is a big adjustment no matter how you slice it.  That would mean slicing of the situation, not the precious addition!  Just to clarify.  Lisa asked for tips and advice from those of us more-than-the-average-sized families.  And since I feel somewhat qualified to offer up some insane advice (Hubby and I have four wonderful additions to our family) I thought I’d add my two cents.  It has nothing to do with the fact she’s included a give-away… NOTHING… NOT. ONE. BIT. 

Just so we’re clear.

I think the biggest ONE thing that helps me get through the day is ROUTINE.  I know, I know.  We all fight it.  I still do on some days (like today for example… I’m still in my pjs and we’re about 30 minutes behind on everything).  But it really is our best friend.  Well, our best non-humanfriend.  And that’s just a really weird sentence.  It’s also the best thing for kids.  They thrive on knowing what comes next, on the security of not having surprises everywhere they turn.   So my first tip would be to create a schedule that works for your family.  Make it as detailed or undetailed as you like.  Just make something!  It could be as simple as set timesfor meals, naps and bedtimes.  Or as detailed as homework time, tv time, chore time, gardening time, shopping time, coming to my house and detailing my van time… 

Just making sure you’re paying attention.  But feel free to work that last one into your schedule.  

Important note: STICK to your schedule.  Obviously, things happen but I’m not talking about those crazy random days.  On normal days, work hard at not letting anything disrupt the routine you have put in place.  Otherwise, you’ll always be fighting to “get back on schedule” and that is no fun.  I speak from experience.  It’s what I’m battling today. 

Second tip:  Allow extra time.  Since Lisa’s addition comes potty-trained, self-dressing (not that that’s always a good thing) and doesn’t need to be carried around, there may not be such a big difference in getting out the door with three kids as it was with two.  But it might.  And for me, it was a HUGE difference.  For many months after Tiger (#3) was born, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong… it just took waaayyyy to long to actually get kids out the door, loaded up and buckled in.  And then I realized, there was nothing to be “fixed”.  It was, sadly, just how long it takes to get three little ones out the door.  Plain and simple.  So I had to make adjustments and allow more time for getting out the door so as not to be 30 minutes late to every single thing I did. 

Third tip:  Share the load.  Lisa can implement this right away.  Divvy up the chores.  Granted, a two year old can’t do much but my 7 year old loves to let him tag along and help her with her own chores.  Two birds with one stone… she gets help and he’s learning how to do the chore!  (She even created a sticker reward system for him when he helps her)  For example, here is what my three older ones help out with around the house in the morning on a daily basis (just know that the two year old shadows everyone and helps here out as allowed).

7 year old: Wipe down bathroom sinks (clorox wipes – LOVE ‘EM!), empty dishwasher, makes bed and tidies her room

5 year old: Wipes down toilets (Clorox wipes again!), all levels (very important if you want to keep that stale pee-smell at bay.  Sorry, it’s just things you learn with boys), helps unload dishwasher, makes is bed, tidies his room with his brothers and helps the 2 year old with his bed too.

(almost) 4 year old: Wipes down bathroom counters (say with me, “Clorox wipes!”), helps unload dishwasher, helps tidy his room with his brothers and makes his bed.

One thing to note, I monitor the wipes closely in the beginning.  Let’s face it, they aren’t cheap.  Even when bought at Sam’s Club.  So I give strict instructions on how many are to be used on each surface.  For instance, Monkey uses two per toilet.  One for top surfaces (handle, lid and then top of seat… in that order.  And the second is for the behind where the lid attaches, the underside of the seat and then the rim of the toilet… again, in that order.  Call me a control-freak but I just hate to see stuff go to waste.  Especially expensive stuff.  So I guess that makes me a tight-wad AND a control-freak.  Dang it!

Fourth tip:  And my husband will laugh at this because some areas of my house are VERY unorganized!  But some areas, like the bedrooms that siblings share, have to be organized.  We have Poppett in her own room and the three boys in another.  Obviously for gender reasons.  So the boys room is always a challenge.  It’s an average, small bedroom.  I’ve already written how the we have worked the bed situation out… for now.   We also have one dresser.  It’s one with six drawers so each boy has two drawers.  Hanging clothes are all separated by child and I have a different colored hanger for each child.  I think that is a key tip, at least it is for me.  Since all my boys are fairly close in size, it’s hard for them to know whose clothes are whose.  But they all know their color so they just have to look for the group of clothes hung on their color of hanger.  Second, when I’m hanging up the freshly cleaned clothes, I don’t have to look at clothes tags for sizes to know where that shirt needs to be hung.  I just have to look at the hanger and I know instantly who’s shirt it is.   

Toys… I have organized the group toys into stack-able bins that are kept in the boys closet.  Individually owned toys are put in each boy’s toy “box”.  For us, that means an old wooden ammo crate.  Unfortunately, we only have two and Lil Blue is starting to need his own box.  But we don’t have room to lay out another crate in the bedroom.  So I’m on the lookout for another military-type way to organize three different sets of toys.  I’m open to suggestions…  My tip to Lisa would be, however she decides to organize toys in the shared bedroom, the boundaries must be clear.  Make it easy to tell what toys are open to everyone and which ones aren’t.  The less squabbling the better.  

And there will be squabbling.

Oh! That reminds me.  One last tip regarding toys.  Our house rule is that if there is fighting over a toy, it automatically goes to the child who “owns” it.  If anyone else wants it, they have to ask the “owner” who has the right to share or not to share.  (of course we always encourage sharing but we want it to be a heart decision… not a coerced event)  If kids are fighting over a group toy (one with no particular owner), neither gets to play with it.  It’s called Share It or Lose It. 

Just don’t ask me share my candy stash.

I’m sure I’ve lost most of you after the first paragraph… this is a mighty lengthy post.  I apologize. 

Lisa?  Hope I helped.  Here are some more related posts that might help….

Hero Points

Summer Activity Ideas

Birthday Party Planning

Being Prepared for Crowded Situations

I’m not one to write about shoes… Oh wait, I havemicah-toes-email-copy

Let me rephrase, I’m not one to write about infant early walker shoes.  Honestly?  I just really don’t think they are very cute.  Occasionally I see some really cute ones but the thing that always stopped me from purchasing them for my own walkers? Okay there are two things. One is the fact that I never had EARLY walkers.  All four of my children decided they’d rather be carried around a few extra months and not start walking until around 18-19 months of age.  Ridiculous and a thorn in my side at the time.  Now however, I would LOVE to be able to carry them around more.  My 7 year old though is getting a bit embarrassed by it so I had to promise her I wouldn’t do it anymore.  Anyway, by the time mine were walking, there wasn’t anything “early” about them and they were more than ready for full-blown shoes.  Those almost 2 year old arches were screaming for support under the weight of all that toddler chunk.

The second reason why all those early walker shoes is the fact that my children all have, let’s see, how do I put this delicately?  Well, they all have sweaty feet.  I’m sorry!  I’m not web-bashing my children.  It’s something we talk about as a family frequently and we’re all very secure in their sweatiness.  So the thought of my 18 month old wearing those little leather shoes with no socks or moisture barrier of any kind was just gross. And smelly.

HOWEVER!  I just caught sight of these little early walker shoes and if I found an extra $45 in the couch crevices I’d snatch ’em up like no-body’s business.  And if I hunted around in the other couch and in all the pants pockets and last years coats that haven’t been brought out of summer hibernation (don’t pretend this hasn’t happened to you.  We ALL find money months later in those coats!) and I was able to scrap together $180, I’d make all four of my children wear them.  Yep, even my daughter.  They are THAT cute!

This ends my Stride Rite commercial.

But doesn’t he look so scrumptious during the process though??!!!!  Man, I serious could eat him up with a spoon. 

He’s my newest nephew, Baby O.  He and my sister and BIL came to visit us last week.  Baby O was part of the reason behind my bloggy disappearance.  I couldn’t put him down long enough to formulate a single thought that made any kind of sense whatsoever.  I can multitask like nobody’s business, don’t get me wrong.  I just can’t do it while holding a baby.  Everything else just plain goes out the window.

Here’s another random shot…

These are some of the flowers that we planted in McKee’s memorial and I love them.  L.O.V.E. them!  The rest of them are a paler pink but these ones are just so vibrant  (I feel like Anne of Green Gables whenever I use that word. That and “bosom friend”.  Although I don’t say that one very often… like never.  My friends/sisters would seriously run screaming from the room if I said that out loud.  I just don’t tell them when I think it).   These flowers pull me outside daily.  I walk over to them and just stare.  They wow me everytime.  All the flowers are taking off and filing in the area around McKee’s rock so nicely.  I’d post a picture of the whole thing but I couldn’t pull my eyes/camera off of these particular flowers.

I’ve met lots of great gals here in this huge bloggy world.  Most of us can say that I think.  It’s one of the perks after being willing to constantly opening yourself up to a world of strangers and possible ridicule.

One of my new blogger friends is Keri.  We’ve never met in person but I just love her sweet spirit and fabulous smile.  Add to that the fact that we have several things in common, young kids, a love for Jesus, great hubbies, LOST, Dane Cook (*smile*)…

Well, I totally freaked out when I was reading her blog the other day because in some of the pics she’d posted I saw the area around her kitchen sink.  And folks, it’s very similar to mine.  Here, go take a look at this post of hers first.  And be sure to take a few moments to just absorb her precious new baby girl, Piper.  Dontcha just LOVE that name?  I do.  And ya’ll know how much I love me a newborn baby.  I have to be careful and not let Hubby catch me when I’m trying to get a good whiff of that sweet newborn baby smell through the computer monitor.  He gets a bit worried when I do it… he’s silly like that.  Doesn’t everyone try to use the smell-a-vision feature on their computers?  No? Oh. Well, pretend I didn’t say that then.

ANYWAYS!! Now that you’ve taken a gander at Piper, Keri and her kitchen sink, take a look at mine

*** insert Twilight Zone music here ****

Crazy huh?!  Okay maybe not to impressive for most of you but it knocked my socks clear off.  BTW, please ignore the empty paper towel holder… I’m getting to it, I promise.  It’s only been like that for 3 days now…

Alright, alright, I release you from this post to go back to Keri’s and soak in some more Piper-ness.  You know you want to.

of the Runningamuck births has been added.  Again, if you don’t want to read about the effects of castor oil or if the word “placenta” is more than you can handle, don’t go there.  Go read some of my recipes instead. 

But if you get a thrill from reading up on births, then I’m your gal.  I love ’em.  I can never get enough of them.  So I welcome you to read mine. 

 

I don’t know if any of you watched tonight’s show The Baby Borrowers.  I did.  And I felt an overwhelming amount of emotions all at the same time. 

Humor:  Is that an emotion? Well, it was there anyway.  There were funny parts.  The girl gagging when her baby spit up.  Almost all the teeny-bopper girls throwing tantrums left and right for various reasons.  Hilarious. 

Aggravation:  Those teeny-bopper girls were so annoying.  So self-absorbed.  Yet so willing to pop babies out.  All the same things that made me laugh, were things that irritated me too. 

Sadness and Fear: Watching all those mamas hand over their precious babies to total, very inexperienced and self-absorbed, strangers… left me with a knot in the pit of my stomach.  I could not even imagine doing it myself.  The parents did get to watch via cameras and there were professional nannies at each home to monitor the safety of the child.  They were not to step in unless the baby was in danger.  Slight comfort.  I had tears welling up every time I watched one of the parents say goodbye to their babies.

Horror: Oh my lands do some kids not know how to care for a baby.  Even with very specific instructions written out for every minute of the day.  One poor little BEAUTIFUL baby girl was being put to bed for the night, totally crying, in the same outfit she came in that morning, hungry and no diaper change.  FINALLY the mom jumped in to lend some advice.  I was amazed that she managed to hold off that long.  Several times, many of the babies were referred to as “it”s.  The mama bear in me just reared her big ol head and gnashed her teeth every time I heard “it”.  That poor helpless baby has a dang name ya’ll.  Maybe they should have put name tags on them to help the teeny-bopper parents remember.

Warm Fuzzies:  Again, not sure if that’s an emotion but nevertheless, I felt them.  Not with the girls.  I was sorely disappointed in the girlies.  But some of those boys?  Well, they got in touch with their inner daddy and it just warmed my heart.  One of them, the surfer dude from CA, after getting a visit from their baby’s real papa, actually listened to the advice he was given via real papa and put it into practice.  It was like you could see the light bulb pop on above his head.  Other guys also stepped up to the plate and it was great to watch. 

Disgust:  Sorry but the girls were sooo emotional, and soooooo whinny, and sooooo witchy.  They couldn’t handle any advice, no matter how gently or tackfully it was given.  I know it’s an age thing… All I can say is I’m soooo in trouble when Poppett hits puberty.  I might just have to ship her off to boarding school.

Just kidding!  I would maybe never do that.

I think next week they get older kids.  At least I hope so.  There’s just something too cruel about handing over infants to these teeny-bopper know-it-alls.  Cruel for the babies that is.  I’ll sure I’ll still watch.  I just can’t handle not making sure that these babies get back to their parents all in one piece.  Well, and there’s the teenage drama.  Who can pass that up?!

…have amazingly great skin and apparently an whole lot of extra time on your hands.  You know, before every waking moment began revolving around all the little people who have blessed your home.  I love this season I’m in right now.  But it does cause me to wonder what on earth I did with all that “free” time on my hands.  And then I start to remember…

Think back to your early 20’s.  I personally like to pretend that I’m still in them.  Actually, I really don’t have pretend.  I catch myself thinking of myself as right out of college ALL the time!  That probably explains why the college kids seem so dang young these days… babies I tell you!  BABIES!!

Anyway, I was reminicing the other day and I remembered that a certain group of young, married girls, with nothing else better to do, got together for a “Wanna Baby Shower”.  Yep, that’s right.  Invitations, party games and all.  I wouldn’t dream of embarrassing the other gals that participated in this party by naming them but she was there, she was there, oh and so was she… hmmm, can’t seem to locate the rest of them but there are a few more… they’re just hiding.

Did I mention we all came with fake preggo bellies?  Umm, yes, we they did.  Of course we had great food to.  We were silly.  To the max.  And yes, the reason behind this ridiculous party was that we were all eager to start popping out some young’uns, like yesterday. We couldn’t wait for all the fun we would have as moms.  So we decided to throw ourselves our own in anticipation shower since we knew it’d be a while still before the real thing.  Well, one of the group showed up WITH a baby (doll) instead of a belly because she’d just found out that week that she WAS preggo.  We all cursed congratulated her. 

Oh! And we all brought a baby gift and drew names for the exchange. 

Seriously, does it get any better than this?

Oh yes my friend… it does…

I just spent the better part of an hour digging through a box of photos from college and Hubby’s and my first few years of marriage.  But I FINALLY found these babies…

  

You can’t see them but K, the beautiful gal in the overalls and black top, came barefoot.  Get it?! Huh? huh?

P and T giving their aching preggo feet a break.  T has a preggo belly courtesy of an old military helmet we had on hand.  If only our abs could be that hard now.  Or even then for that matter.

Here’s a baby game… guessing the kind of baby food in the jars. I could be wrong but JP looks like she likes it. And that’s J in the background.  J is the one who dared show up really preggo.

And then baby game #2, was who could diaper a baby the quickest.  I don’t know if this will disturb you like it does me but we weren’t diapering a baby.  It was a baby pig doll.  That had clothes.  And a “head” bow.  Disturbing I tell you. 

And there you have it.  A disturbing look down memory lane.  ***sigh***  Great wasn’t it?  I ask you, did we know how to have a good time or what?!

Pardon me but I must dash now.  Gotta duck before I get hit from the flying cyber-blows that I know will be coming my way as soon as some of the attendees catch wind of this post.

Just remember gals… I DIDN’T name you! *snicker*

Summer Vacation is here folks!  Hip, hip, hooray!  As a homeschooling mom, I think I’m looking forward to this as much as the kids are.  Although we are still doing a small amount of school work to keep the brains from slipping into total slow-as-slugsLand, the pressure is off and therefore, I feel like twirling around on a mountain top and singing, “The Hills Are Alive”. 

But I’ve been thinking about this Summer and what things I’d like to accomplish.  There is the usual: relax, relax, relax.  Or, as much as possible with a soon to be 7 year old, almost 5 year old, 3 year old and 20 month old.  Okay so maybe relaxing is a dream of mine.  Shush, don’t wake me, please

There will be two birthday parties to plan and execute.  There will be weeds to pull and veggies to harvest (yum!).  There will be lots of water play and sidewalk chalk.  There will be weekly trips to free or $1 movies in delightfully air-conditioned movie theaters (check here and here for some participating theaters near you).  And who can miss the Summer fairs?  Not the Runningamuck household.  Or a week of Vacation Bible School? (I just want to point out that three of my four are able to go this year and this will be my first year not to volunteer.  Yep, that means five mornings of one and one time with Lil Blue.  I have no idea what we’ll do but I’m sure hoping they include shopping and yummy morning treats, aka Cinnabon and Starbucks) 

There will be lots of BBQ-ing (hopefully none of this kind).  And cannonballs in friends’ swimming pools.  Library trips are always a must, especially when you have a young reader and an even younger beginning reader under your roof.  I also hope to redecorate both munchkin bedrooms but I’ll be content to at least do Poppett’s.  It’ll be her birthday gift from Hubby and I.  There’s more I’m sure but I think I’ll sum up most of Summer with a picture of my very next purchase.  Mark my words, this will be bought before even the toilet paper we’re in desperate need of.  Because, well, there’s always Kleenex and ivy leaves but how on earth will we make a family tradition of ice cream making without one of these babies?

Just to be clear, the attachement, I already have the mixer.

The Summer will also include some major work at munchkin milestones.  Here’s a list of milestones we’ll be working on:

~ Poppett to learn to ride her two-wheeled bike

~ As many munchkins as possible to learn how to swim (primarily focusing on Poppett and Monkey)

~ Tiger to finish learning his colors and continue learning to write his letters

~ Monkey to continue (and hopefully) finish learning to read and fine-tuning his two-wheeled bike riding abilities (learning how to turn is always a Good Thing)

~ Wean Lil Blue off the pacifier

~ Potty Train Lil Blue

As I write this list, I’m struck with how quickly time passes.  I know, I know, it’s kinda a no-brainer or at least should be.  But cut me some emotional slack here, Lil Blue is the final Runningamuck munchkin.  Last weekend we moved him into a big boy bed and dismantled the crib for the last time.  He’d decided he wanted to nap on the trundle that was pulled out (Poppett has “sleep overs” in her brothers’ room on the weekends and so the it was out from her sleeping on it).  As I stood at the edge of the cliff called Boundary-free-sleeping-for-a-20-month-old, I took the plunge.  I didn’t stop to think, I just jumped.  I knew if I thought through what the process would involve, I’d talk myself out of it and put it off another month or 20.  He’s done pretty well I have to admit.  And he’s so darn cute when he comes running out in the morning, big grin on his face at the accomplishment of getting to sleep like his big brothers. 

So this will be it for diapers, cribs and pacifiers.  And while one side of me jumps for joy at the thought of not having to drag my baby items ball and chain anymore, the sentimental side mourns the passing of time.  Every night I kiss my growing boy goodnight he wakes up a little bit less dependent on me, as do all my children.  And while that is a sign that Hubby and I are doing our jobs correctly, it doesn’t make it much easier to say goodnight…

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