Salt In The Wound

Wife has been close to pulling her hair out for the last few days. She is quite the accomplished little home doctor, but when her patients won’t follow the prescription, well I guess that will drive any doctor insane. So, the two little boys, again, took off their Band-Aids.

#7 and #8 have been pretty rough on their feet lately. From my experience, they will learn to step softly and watch where they are going, but until then, it’s splinters and stubbed toes. So, #8 has the splinter and #7 the stubbed toe. There go the Band-Aids again!

When #7 hobbled into the house, complaining that there was dirt in his wound again, Wife nearly went into a tirade with the two year-old. I can’t blame her short temper, it was the second Band-Aid that morning, and not even ten-o-clock. But she held it, and instead whisked him to the tub and started a bath, so he would clean and soak his toe at the same time.

As the bath began to fill, #8 waddled in also complaining about his foot. Well, two little boys can fit in a tub as good as one. Wife made the water a good temperature, mixed in Epsom Salt to help heal their injured feet, and put the one and two year-olds into their shallow bath. As they began to splash each other, Wife walked into the next room to check on #1, who was holding the baby, #9.

She had not been out of the room for more than a couple of seconds, when she heard #8 spluttering and gagging. She rushed back to the tub to find #8 looking very sheepish. Next to him, #7 had his own sour expression.

“I’ve told you not to drink the bathwater!” Wife nearly shouted at #8.

She then saw #7, looking rather green himself. “Did you drink it too?”

He looked up at her, still showing every sign of a bad taste in his mouth. He nodded regretfully.

This is not a picture taken at the time or place of this post. Nor is it an accurate reenactment. The lack of bubbles in the original salt bath would have taken away our "G" Rating.

This is not a picture taken at the time or place of this post. Nor is it an accurate reenactment. The lack of bubbles in the original salt bath would have taken away our “G” Rating.

Every child I’ve know has had the awful custom of taking a drink or two from their bathwater. Each of our children had that issue. And Wife had to battle each one, some more than others. These two boys have been the worst. Now, Wife has successfully broken the habit from all of our children, including those two boys. The secret… just add salt.

Morning People

Early MorningI have been a morning person as long as I can remember. Early activities were right up my alley. Rising at 4:00am on Christmas day, was no problem. Getting up at 5:00am for work, is normal. And many of our children are the same. Often, as I am getting ready to leave the house for work, #2 will get up to keep me company. As summer days grow longer, and the sun rises earlier, my company grows.

Wife, on the other hand, is not a natural morning person. She has been forced into posing as one by our many babies. (You know children, they are just so demanding.) She used to roll out of bed, crawl out of the bedroom to change diapers and feed the children, only to crawl back into her bed and hope to be left alone until the sun rose. Now, because of the help of her big girls, she is reverting back.

#3 tends to follow her mother. When she is woken up early, she truly resents whoever woke her. Some days, I think she resents the sun for rising. I’ve seen her tromp out of her bedroom, eyes barely open against the assaulting sunlight, blonde cascading over her downcast face, and even her nightgown hangs depressingly limp. When I asked her what was wrong, she whined out, “I don’t knooooow…” I can tell, this one will be fun when she is a teenager…Morning People

Now #1, who I thought was a morning person, seems to be taking after her mother more and more as she grows into a young lady. I’ve seen her less and less in the mornings. Maybe she is going through a growth spurt. Or perhaps this will be the natural evolution of my girls, and #2 is just behind the times. Come to think of it, #4 is not a morning person either.

Oh no… am I to have four teenage girls who loath getting up in the morning… at the same time? Let me see… I have three more years before #1 becomes a teen, and six years before #4 becomes a teen… so six years before I get out numbered four to one by teenage girls, who are not morning people. It is time to put together a six-year-plan.

Little Vacation

A three hundred mile trip can take about five hours. With traffic, it could be driven in five and a half to six hours. Add nine small children into the mix, and we are up to somewhere around seven hours. “Why all the math,” you ask. Well, because math is the first tool utilized when planning a long weekend… or mini-vacation… depending on who you ask.

This was a family trip you understand, otherwise I wouldn’t tell you about it.

Yes, everyone packed neatly into our fifteen-passenger van, each in their place. The children all had their own little bubble of space, all very comfortable… until someone had to use the bathroom. That was when it felt like the car had to be completely unpacked, only to be repacked once everyone’s bladders were empty. Come to think of it, once all the children were out of the van, that probably equaled about half of the contents, and all the valuables.

They came!

They came!

At last, late in the night, after a lonnnnng drive, we descended onto my sister’s house. I’m sure some would think that our entrance was like a clattering clan of pot banging monkeys. I would have liked our appearance to be closer to the quiet descent of a flock of owls. But, in reality, we sounded something more like a pack of sleepy pups; anxious for sleep, with a few short tempered growls, and plenty of whining.

They saw!

They saw!

With a few blow-up mattresses, a bunch of sleeping bags, and a rather large living room, we took any possible boredom out of my sister’s weekend. Not that we did much. We did take the children to the zoo, and my sister took us on a tour of the hospital she works in; but for the most part, we simply spent time together. And with nine children, that’s never dull.

So much time is spent working, or schooling for the children, that we loose a great deal of time with each other. A little vacation provides the ability to recharge our batteries, granted the adults are the ones worried about recharging. However, the children do want the extra time with their parents. Throw in an aunt for good measure, and they can’t loose.

They ate!

They ate!

The cliché is, “a good time was had by all.” But I think that is inadequate. Better to say of the children, “they came, they saw, they ate, they pooped, they slept, and they left!” … no, maybe the first was better?

Boys Are Boys Are Boys Are Boys

Boys are different from girls, or if you prefer, girls are different from boys. If anyone disagrees, then you need to birth yourself a matching set. Or better yet, a couple of sets. In fact, you could take Wife’s approach, and birth four sets with an extra, just for good measure. Maybe then you’ll agree.

After four girls, Wife became very good at raising little girls. Now, she is in the middle of raising big girls and little boys. The girls make sense to her. The way they mingle, the calm and collected way they play. Their growth is expected. She understands their moods. How they can snap from happy to sad, and slowly regain their lost happiness, usually after a little mommy-time.

The boys are a different animal. They roughhouse. They play loud. They hit each other and laugh at it.roughhousing

I think it took Wife two or three boys to get used to the idea, they considered roughhousing a fun pastime. Wrestling on the floor, elbows and legs spinning about, all fun, up until the point when a nose made contact. It drove Wife crazy that they just couldn’t see it coming, or that they had fun hurting each other. She’s finally coming around that it is simply something boys do. Now, she feels the need to referee.little boys play

The boys also have a different energy level than the girls… way different. They not only run off a higher voltage, but also run on a new kind of battery. Instead of slowing down when the batteries get low, they maintain the same energy until they are completely drained. They would run in circles (literally), and then fall asleep at the dinner table.

And speaking of the dinner table, Wife declares that none of her girls were as picky about food as the boys have been. For some reason, they think they are experts on whether a meal is eatable or not. And if it falls in the “not” category, well then they whine, cry, moan, reason, plead, hide, lie, and suffer throughout the entire meal. I admit, I do not remember that the girls were that stubborn with meals. They were more reasonable than the boys. That is to say, they could be reasoned with. The boys have been like mules who had decided they would not take another step. They plant their feet, and Wife and I pull and yank on the lead line, and end up nearly dragging them up the trail. As I am gone during most of the day, the majority of the pulling and yanking falls on Wife.

Little boys getting into trouble.

Little boys getting into trouble.

I have come home some days to find Wife in a murderous mood. That is usually when I hear the phrase, “Your sons!” somewhere in her greeting. I could offer her Abraham Lincoln’s line, “Boys will be boys,” but I know better… now. Instead I go to work disciplining whoever needs it, and encourage Wife. “They’ll grow up,” I offer. “With your help, someday they’ll grow into good men.”

Then I silently pray, Please let them grow up some day!

Good Providence

Ever since I was young, I have been taught to trust in God’s providence. I should work hard for what I wanted, but have faith that God has an overall plan. About six years ago, I started to wonder about that plan. And what happened six years ago, you ask. Our fourth girl was born.

I’ve always considered myself a manly man. I hunt, make all my own repairs, I work on the car. I even grew a beard that makes many men envious. So naturally, I wanted sons to teach and pass on manly endeavors. I also wanted boys to help take some of the work load off my shoulders. But, after four girls, I had my doubts that they were ever coming.

big-babiesSo, I resigned myself to be content with a family of girls. I loved my girls with all my heart, and would be happy with whatever help they could offer when they were old enough. Until then, I worked alone.

About six years later, Wife gave me a bumper crop of boys. They are still too young to lend me any real help, but the time is coming. Until then, they are their mother’s problem, and what problems they can be. Luckily, we have four older girls.

Six years and five boys later...

Six years and five boys later…

It may have taken me a while, but in the end I saw the wisdom of God’s plan. By giving us the four girls first, we have built in mess-controllers instead of mess-makers, baby-carriers instead of big-babies. While Wife runs our household like an admiral at sea, our four girls are her captains and lieutenants. With those girls under her command, the household is kept running as well as a Man-Of-War.

I guess God does know what He was doing. Wife and I trusted Him, and He delivered more… much more than we had hoped for, and in a much better way than we could have planned.baby-carriers

Baby holder

Weekend Flu

There are certain inevitables when raising so many children. For instance, someone is always hungry. When food is prepared, someone is unhappy about it. When the day is sunny, there is always someone who wants to play inside. And when the flu comes around, no matter what you do, someone is bound to come down with it.

That is what happened this last weekend. All my projects were put on hold, including my weekly post. All I was able to accomplish was to rock one baby asleep, only to pick up the next. Wife and I switched off between #9 and #8, with occasional turns with #7. #6 came down with it yesterday. This flu seems to be crawling its way through the ranks in order of age.

As surprising as it is, Wife finally met a virus as orderly as she.

#7, #6, and #8 sick together, as our front room is turned into an infirmary.

#7, #6, and #8 sick together, as our front room is turned into an infirmary.

Because It Was There

It was a sunny day, in the middle of winter, with moderate temperatures. The high winds had stopped, and the cows had been chased out of the yard. All that said, it was a good day to send the children outside to play. But #8 has a love of travel. To keep him from wandering off somewhere in the wild-blue-yonder, Wife closed the porch gate.

The rest of the children were absolutely, under the pain of great punishment, forbidden to open the gate. So, like miniature mountain goats, they leapt back and forth over the gate, while #8 followed them as far as the barricade. He would try to scale the gate from time to time, but he has of yet been met with little success. So he then turned his attentions to whomever or whatever was still remaining with him, in his caged domain.

He would take on the tricycle, and show it just how strong he was by pushing it into the railing. The scooter would take on #8, and prove its wits by tripping the toddler. #8 would also set his little mind to cow-tipping. Lacking any cows, he would start tipping deck chairs. There was simply, and still is, no idleness in the little boy.

I guess he had gone over the porch a thousand times, but he had always overlooked one aspect of it… the winter firewood pile. He had seen the wood before, but only as individual sticks to be thrown and scattered. For the first time, he noticed it as a whole, and above all, he saw it was there!

The nature of boy rose up in our toddler, and overtook him. He started climbing the woodpile, and set to it with a will. Over the unsteady logs, he gingerly made his way to the top, where he stood up and slapped the house just to prove he was there. Smugly, he looked back on the track that he had defeated, and his muscles froze. With the terror that is only so absolute in children, he screamed.

On the top of the world.

On the top of the world.

Wife found #8 trapped on top of the woodpile, though it was only as high as her knee, but for the little boy, it was taller then he was. Attracted by the screams, many of his siblings gathered around and found much delight in #8’s position. Wife picked him off the wood, gently scolding him for climbing it.

Oh, the delight. Oh, the struggle. Oh, the terror.

Oh, the delight. Oh, the struggle. Oh, the terror.

So, our toddler is crossing into little-boyhood. He is starting to look past whether or not something can fit in his mouth, and is now seeking objects that he can climb… to the top of. There are some, with too much education, that might give some long explanation as to why little boys hunt for climbs to conquer. But, as I was once a little boy, I understand it perfectly.

You climb it, because it was there.

Not ME

When I was small and still growing upwards, I used to read the newspaper comics religiously. I only understood about a quarter of them, but that did not stop me from laughing at all the points that seemed appropriate. The truth was that a lot of the jokes simply flew right over my head. I had to finish growing up in order to reach them. And other jokes required children for true appreciation.

In the classic comic strip “The Family Circus” by Bil Keane, I needed my own children to fully understand the “Not Me” ghost.Not ME

While I was still young and my mother was upset over a mess, if I had not made the mess I would tell her it was not me. And she would sometimes respond, “Then who was it? The Not Me ghost?”

I knew better than to answer out loud, but I would think, No, that’s silly, it was one of my siblings. We don’t have a ghost in our house. Our house isn’t old enough to have a ghost.

Many years and a few children later, I understood my mom’s sarcasm.

Now that I’m all grown up, and my growth is currently directed outwards, I now have to deal with a “Not me” ghost of our own. No, that’s not quite true, Wife has to deal with the ghost causing a mess. And it must be “Not Me” because none of our children know how all the toys made their way out of the toy box. They are unsure who tossed the cushions off the couch, and spread blankets around the front room. And they all, every single child, vehemently deny dropping food onto the carpet and declare “Not Me!” He has even taken up slamming doors, an occupation Wife takes quite personal.

We need to take care of “Not Me” before this gets out of hand. I considered writing Bil Keane to find out what he did; however since “Not Me” still appears in the comics, I figured he has yet to rid his household of the ghost. My mother said that “Not Me” is always attached to the children. So… considering the youngest is six weeks… plus the bad job market… equals a very long time. Unless “Not Me” is attached to me, in which case I should give him the guestroom.

Let’s face it, we either need a ghost-buster or an exorcist… who ya gonna call?

WHO?

WHO?

One of Those Days

With so many moving parts in our family, it’s common for one piece or another to be out of sequence. In other words, they don’t always march to the same beat. Most often, only one or two are out of orbit at a time, and only once in a while does the entire thing spring apart like a dropped clock.

And so it began.

And so it began.

Wife had one of those days not long ago. She was already in a state of worry, sure that she would fall behind with the children’s school, because #9, as a newborn, was demanding much of her time. Then, an internal switch was remotely triggered within the children. As a result, everything exploded at once!

No seriously, the first thing to happen was that the toilet backed-up… and it was FULL. Not only did Wife have to de-flood the bathroom, she then had to bathe the two little boys who had been stomping around in it. All the while, #9 was insisting on his mama time. Apparently his eldest sister wasn’t good enough.

The next problem placed before Wife was a couple of bumped heads with some hurt feelings. Then #7 broke a plate while helping to unload the dishwasher. (It had to be a clean plate.) Then the dishwasher did not get started. With Wife occupied in the bathroom, #1 was holding #9, and the other children had no particular jobs to do. The living room became a mess. Someone dumped breakfast cereal under the table. Another spread crayons across the carpet. While two others industriously threw all the cushions off of both couches.  And to top it all off, when Wife returned to the once clean room, no one was listening to her.

In short, it was one of those days when one parent was not enough. If only we could be in two places at once, provided the children could not do the same. Then they could be handled so much easier. Wife could feed the baby and cook dinner. She could wash the young boys and clean house. I could go to work and help at home. I could write and watch the children outside. The options to make our lives easier, are endless.

To bad, huh? You see, I have every confidence that Wife would do exactly as I described above. But I’m afraid if I were blessed with such a gift, I would end up watching TV with myself.Watching TV