Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The answers... finally!

But what I really don't understand is how parents manage all those kids!

Well, I can not speak for all parents but I can say that in our home we use a combination of means to keep order. I have a huge schedule that is about 4 feet wide and three feet long. Across the top are the days of the week and down the side are the chores and under each day of the week is the name of the person who is responsible for that job. Some parents prefer to just ask whomever is around to do the job that is needed but I found that when I did it like that, that I often ended up asking the same kids over and over. It seemed as if a few of my children were born with extra sensitive antennae that allowed them to figure out when I was about to look for someone to was dishes, change the garbage or a diaper, and they would simply vanish.

So I came up with a schedule that offers variety, but is rarely changed. As children get older and can handle more chores, than I take the time to update the chart but as it is a very large chart - it is not a chore I am eager to tackle. (Even mums can be lazy too!)

I also have competitions that allow kids to earn movie nights by winning chore races. If you earn a movie night – you get to select the movie we watch as well as what treats we have. We also can earn points with clean rooms that allow us to have a special treat on Friday nights.

As we are coming up to Advent, many of the children are doing extra chores to earn extra points so that they can buy treats from my treat box with their points to give to the sibling that they are the secret angel to.

Every Thanksgiving we draw names from a bag or basket and we keep drawing until everyone has pulled a name that is not theirs out of the basket. So if the oldest daughter, Amanda, pulls the baby’s name, Elsa, from the basket she is then the secret angel to that child and will leave little treats and gifts though out the weeks of Advent for Elsa to find – usually on Elsa’s pillow. She also prays for that child and does acts of charity for her. For example a secret angel might slip into their person’s room and make their bed in secret.

Then for Christmas, Amanda will buy a gift only for Elsa and Elsa will give a gift to the person she is secret angel to. (As she is the baby, I will do this for her.)

But even with all of these schemes to keep order in our home, we still experience chaos on a fairly regular basis. Have any of you watched the Home Alone movies? Well, the general bedlam that you see as the two families rush out the door to leave for the airport is the typical morning scene at our home as we zero into the last minutes before take off time in our 15 passenger van for daily 7 am Mass. We try to go to daily Mass as it really helps to have these additional graces but, to be honest, we do not always make it every day of the week

I wonder what the house sounds like, because in mine it’s not the quietest.

Some families on TV don’t fight and that is so weird to me because my families always fight, I sometimes wish that my house could be very quiet.

When we first moved to this house – I thought I would lose my mind. I even considered looking for a different house because this house has plaster walls that echo and echo and echo and echo…. But we adjusted to it.

Something that I do from time to time is enforce a quiet time, especially when the baby is napping. At that time each child is asked to take a book to their room and read or look at the pictures if they are not reading yet. Other times we put a movie on and sit quietly together to watch it and the baby will nurse and eventually fall asleep in my arms. It is very peaceful when we do this and we all enjoy it.

But typically there is always a back ground hum going on. Someone will be practicing on the piano, someone else will be listening (at the same time) to their favourite artist on Rhapsody while another person is playing a computer game what is bleeping and dinging. Occasionally a little one’s voice rises in an argument with another sibling over all of this music. Sometimes I put headphones on and listen to a radio program while I work at the computer so that I can concentrate. And sometimes it is very, very quiet. And that usually means trouble is brewing somewhere. (And yes I agree, families that don’t fight, argue or have disagreements on TV are not normal! Learning how to settle differences of opinion is an important skill to learn in life.)

What kind of job does your husband have to support 12 kids? I think that the amount of grace God has given your family is amazing.

My husband used to work for a very large telecommunications company, NORTEL. Then the high tech bubble collapsed and many people were laid off. My husband was one of the last to be laid off from his company so by then – there were no jobs left in his area of expertise. So he took a hobby of his and turned it into a business. We lost our home and our van and we have had to build our life completely back up from scratch. We are still struggling. We only have eight children still at home but it is still a lot of people to support. Our oldest sons have made a lot of sacrifice to help the family. Our son who is 20 has stayed home and not pursued further education so as to help his father with the business. Recently we learned that he has a serious heart condition which was very hard for him as his dream was to eventually join the army. Now he might not be ever able to do this. Still, he works hard to help us and is trying to discern what is God’s will in his life. Hopefully he will completely recover from this heart condition. Our oldest son has taken two semesters off from his University studies to help with the business and is hoping to be able to continue to help us with the bills next semester with a part time job while he finishes his last semester at college. Our oldest girls have helped whenever they can in little ways and they have certainly prayed a lot for us.

The past six years of our life has been a very long test of faith and we have been blessed with the opportunity to actually see ourselves grow in faith. It has not been easy and sometimes we have felt that our faith has failed us greatly - only to be given the graces we needed to get up, dust ourselves off and start yet again. And each time it has been just a little bit easier. What has kept us going is that we have tried to remember that God never gives us more than we can handle. And sometimes – it is ok to get angry with God and demand more graces. Just two weeks ago – I cried out to God that He must absolutely give me more graces if He wanted me to carry this cross any further because I was falling! Never be afraid to call on God for help, never be afraid to tell Him “I can’t do it, YOU must carry me now!” I have had to do this a lot the past six years and I have realized that I will have to keep doing this the rest of my life. I simply can not do this alone – Jesus and Mary are my partners. Mary prays for me and Jesus gives me the graces through her prayers.

Is it a hassle to have that many kids??? But I bet it’s a blessing to have so many kids.

Is this many kids a hassle? Not really, but making 30 or more sandwiches can be a hassle. Keeping track of the number of socks we need – can be a hassle. Trying not to lose any of them (the children, not the socks) at the zoo – can be a hassle. Settling the numerous arguments can be a really big hassle. But every single hassle is more than worth it for we are paid over and over in love and blessings. I am almost 46 but I feel as though I am still in my late twenties or early thirties. I am so very, very blessed. There is always someone nearby me to hug and kiss or to hug and kiss me, or to remind me in no small way of God’s love for me.

Now if I was this mom I would really want a couple of priests and nuns out of such a big family.

We are praying that we have a few vocations out of our family. My husband and I think it would be very strange if we did not. Besides if ALL of them got married and even only had four children each, we would have 48 grandchildren, and if the average number was 5 than we would have 60 grandchildren - and I am not sure I could remember that many names. Whatever happens, I think I will be needing a very large calendar to be able to record all of the special dates and occasions that we will be able to look forward to as grand parents, and hopefully also as the parents of some members of the religious.

I sometimes feel like my moms only paying attention to my sisters or my brothers. With your family that would be super hard.

I think that this is super hard, even when you only have four children as each child is an individual and brings his and her own needs to the family. These can greatly vary. When we still only had four children our youngest had serious food allergies that were affecting his behavior that required us to focus a lot on him. Sometimes the other children felt very jealous and did not understand why the family rules did not always apply to him. As adults now, they understand but then – it was very difficult. It was also very difficult for us.

Still we made an effort to compensate and have from time to time, we have made the effort to take one child at a time out once a week, so that each child had an opportunity to spend time alone with one of their parents. We have not done this as much lately, because with the family business there has often been the occasion to take children, in small numbers, on business trips. Sometimes they have even been able to go alone with their father on long trips or short day trips. We are continuously adapting and changing how we do things based on where and what we perceive the greatest needs to be. Again – this is where our need for God’s graces comes in. We are able to gain the graces we need through attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion and also through Confession. We try to take advantage of these sacraments as much as possible.

But in addition to this, we have also told the children that it is important to tell us when they are feeling alone and ignored. We have told them – “We are only human and sometimes we are not aware of what you are feeling so please, please tell us when you feel you need sometime alone with us.” This has helped because sometimes a child has done this and occasionally – it has been an adult child who has come and said – “I need to talk, there is something wrong between us and I want to fix it.”

I don’t know if they would have been able to do that if we had not made them, when they were children, partly responsible for the relationship between them and ourselves.

I think I have covered all of the questions that came up in the comments. And I want to thank you all again for the wonderful comments you shared about your thoughts about my article on family life and discerning family size.

I hope and pray that all of you have a peaceful Advent season and a wonderful Christmas.

God Bless

mum2twelve aka Christi

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Share and Share alike...

We all like to teach our children to share and typically when they are not willing to share we are not very happy with them. On occasion though, their devious means of getting out of sharing something is so funny that we can not help but laugh.

Jonathan (22) seeing an opportunity to teach a sharing moment with 2 year old Elsa asked her for a taste of her "bug juice' that she has been proudly announcing to one and all as her spider juice!

Elsa, normally willing to share was not so inclined to do so that night. Perhaps she was still offended by the fact that so many others had legitimately not been willing to share drinks with her earlier this week as several of them had active cold sores. She clung to her little bottle of blue juice protectively and shyly said no to his repeated requests.

Suddenly her face brightened as we all insisted that she share just a little taste with her big brother. Boldly she pronounced:

"No, I can't share wit you. I has a cold sore!!" and she slapped her hand over one side of her mouth and with the other she clasped her little bottle close to her chest and beat a hasty retreat out of the dining room.

Happily she later decided to share her bug juice with her oldest brother who bravely strove to hide his shudder of distaste for the sickly sweet blue juice. There is no end of sacrifice these siblings are willing to make for each other! Read more!

Missing Person here in NC

I have received this poster through a prayer line that I belong to. I hope to be able to add a photo later today. Please share this information with as many people as you can and please pray that this young man is reunited with his family and that this missing person case, has a happy ending - in contrast to the normal very sad outcome that most cases have.

POLICE Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department

601 East Trade Street

Charlotte, North Carolina 28202

Missing Person

Date: November 13, 2007

(First) (Last)

Name: Kyle Fleischmann

Race: White Gender: Male

Height: 6'0" Weight: 180 pounds

DOB: 9-24-83 NIC Number: M826970506

Eyes: Green Hair: Blond

Date of Last Contact: 11-09-2007

Last Known Location: 201 E. 5th St.

Complaint Number: 20071109-201500


Additional Information:

Kyle was last seen leaving the Buckhead Saloon at the corner of 5th St. and College St. at 02:20 AM on

November 9, 2007. Kyle was wearing a dark colored shirt and blue jeans.

The cell phone activity on Kyle's phone is in the uptown area and mainly in the 1st Ward area. The

activity on the cell phone concludes around 04:00 AM.

Anyone with information about Kyle, Please call

Crime Stoppers at (704) 334-1600 or 911

Detective J. L. Tuttle (704) 336-3949

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A Man's viewpoint....

While I suspect the majority of my readers are women, I think all of us will all enjoy these rules. Please feel free to copy and post them on your blogs if you wish to. Anything we can do to help our men get their point of view help I am sure will be appreciated. (Please note I have tried to make the font unified through out the post but as this was a cut and paste from an email, in some spots the size is varied and I could not fix it. My energy is severely limited at this time so I did not waste a lot of it in trying to make it perfect.)

The Man Rules­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
At last a guy has taken the time to write this all down

, the guys' side of the story. (I must admit, it's pretty good.)

We always hear " the rules " From the female side.

Now here are the rules from the male side.

These are our rules!
Please note.. these are all numbered "1 " ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.
We need it up, you need it down.
You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports It's like the full moon
or the changing of the tides.
Let it be.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:

Subtle hints do not work!

Strong hints do not work!

Obvious hints do not work!

Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem
only if you want help solving it. That's what we do.
Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become Null and void after 7 Days.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are.
Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the
other one .

1. You can either ask us to do something
Or tell us how you want it done.
Not both.
If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials..

1. Christopher Columbus did
NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have
no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it
will be scratched.
We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong.
We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine...
Really .

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball
or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape.
Round IS a shape!

1. Thank you for reading this.
Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;

But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Thank you to Dorry who shared these rules with me.
Great timing Dorry, I really needed a good smile!

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