Friday, April 22, 2011

The workings of a "big" family

In the adoption world, 6 kids is not really a lot. I know so many families that have more than 6 kids that I sometimes forget what an oddity we are to other people we run into. And most people can't for the life of them figure out how we manage six kids. I get lots of comments about "How do you do it? I can hardly manage two!" Really, I think once you get past three or four it just doesn't matter anymore. But a little organization does help. And you definitely need to be able to count up to however many kids you have...over and over again. ;)

So how does life work with 6 kids? We're organized and follow a schedule (or at least we try really hard to be!). Every night, clothes are laid out for the next day. Each child has basically 10 days worth of clothing plus dress clothes (and school clothes as applicable). There is an under-bed drawer under each child's bed that has their clothes. School clothes are in a separate dresser with a drawer for each child. We do showers every other night and all six kids go through the shower one after the other. They brush their teeth then shower, then pajamas then stories. They all know the routine. :) In the mornings, I get the kids up and dressed and do the girls' hair. Then I send them downstairs to Mark who makes breakfast. I use my time upstairs for quiet time (praying, Bible reading, etc.) and finishing up any upstairs chores like putting away or gathering laundry. After breakfast the kids come back upstairs to brush their teeth, then it's downstairs for bathroom, shoes, and backpacks. Off to walk to school about 8am (right now that's a family affair unless Mark has to be at work early) then Mark goes to work and Bianca, Julia, and R come back home with me. When school is done I walk down with Bianca, Julia, and R to pick the other kids up. At home, the kids put their backpacks on the back of their dining room chairs and take out their papers from the day. We start homework as needed and the others go play. I finish getting dinner ready (if I've done well there's very little last-minute dinner prep) and we eat between 5 and 5:30. After dinner is playtime or showers depending on the night and we start all over again.

I have separate medical and school binders for each child. In their medical binders I keep their most recent physical and vaccination record for each child. This way I can just grab the relevant child's binder to look things up (or take with me to appointments) instead of trying to flip through information on the whole family. I have found the binders to be invaluable as we have several kids with medical needs.

We also have a big wall calendar that I use to keep track of everyone. It's particularly nice since Mark works occasional weekends plus we have lots of school functions that go on the calendar (two kids who take class snack to school at least once per month plus an amazing number of field trips). The wall calendar is also why I have been adamant that none of our kids have the same first initial. Every even put on the calendar has one or more initials in front of it designating who is participating in the event. That doesn't work well when people have the same first initial. So the kids' last dentist appointment looked like "ATDBEJ--Dr. A... 1pm". I know lots of people like colored pens or pencils for the calendar, but there's no way I'd remember who was which color, especially with eight of us in the house!

Mealtimes are pretty easy for us as we don't have any special needs regarding food. Each person has a specific spot at the table as well as a designated napkin. We had to institute that after lots of fighting over napkins. Now no one can complain that someone else got their napkin dirty. LOL

I'm sure there are other areas I'm leaving off, so feel free to ask questions in the comments!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The new girls

I haven't posted much simply because the girls have really fit in so well that it strikes me as really odd that they haven't been here for longer. About two weeks home I was really frustrated with hearing Russian from them--I wanted them to speak English so I could get to know them better!

But as a side note to how easy our transition was, the first afternoon home Bianca turned to me and said something and I just stared at her blankly. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why she was speaking in Russian and not English. Then I remembered...oh yeah, we got home last night.

Anyway, the girls have really melded well into our family. We're all still finding our spots, of course, and they still have family behaviors to learn and orphanage behaviors to unlearn, but they are doing really well. I love to watch all of the kids (or even small groups of the kids) play together. In the beginning, Julia and Bianca would play together and the other kids would play together, but there wasn't much mixing because B and J play lots of imaginative play, and it was hard for the others to join in with the language barrier. Now some of that barrier has started to go away and they are spending more time intermingling.

Some explanations

I think there might be a little confusion out there about the current state of our family, plus there may be a few of you who are just joining in from this last adoption so I thought a detailed explanation of "us" might be in order.

Mark--sole breadwinner and highly esteemed physical therapist, house rehabber (rebuilder!), and worm digger

Courtney--highly educated (not the same thing as qualified, FYI) stay-at-home mom as of this past Monday, former maker of medicines, now dispenser of more band-aids than can be counted

Alex--8 years old and going on 40, loves history, has issues with anxiety especially with schedule changes

Tim--7 years old, loves to tell jokes and do "magic" tricks, keeps me laughing when he's not driving me crazy with his antics

Danielle--7 years old, thinks she's a princess, prefers not to do any work (princesses don't have to do work, do they?) and is definitely going to want the largest share of the mirror as she gets older

Bianca--6 years old, new to the family in March 2011, loves language and almost knows the alphabet song (there are lots of C's in her version)

Emily--5 years old, thinks she's cute (and will tell you!), never ever EVER stops talking

Julia--5 years old, new to the family in March 2011, has an infectious giggle and a monster pout

Those of you who've seen us out and about during the week have probably also seen another little girl with us. That's R. She's 18 months old and the daughter of one of Mark's co-workers. We babysit her during the day. We did not adopt another child right after Bianca and Julia. :)

As you can imagine, things at our house are a little chaotic. Right now during the day it's usually just Bianca, Julia and R, but on days like today and tomorrow when the other kids are out of school I have all 7 at home. I've found divide-and-conquer to be an effective strategy. As in, send two to play in one room, two upstairs, etc. ;)

In the stay-at-home realm, I am still LOVING IT. I am so much more relaxed than when I was working (that should say something since I have 7 kids at home!). I love that I can do all of our meal preps during the day. I am slowly tackling various projects around the house to try to better organize and streamline our lives.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm free!

It hasn't really sunk in yet, but as of tomorrow morning I am a free woman. "Free" probably doesn't have the same meaning to me as it does to you.

Free means I can go on my kids' field trips.

Free means I'm no longer worrying about home stuff while I'm at work, and vice versa.

Free means when one of my kids is sick, or there's a snow day, or WHATEVER, I don't need to take a vacation day to take care of my family.

Free means having the time to devote to the things my family needs, like a clean house, food made in more than 5 minutes, and clean clothing without having to remind me to get it to them. ;)

Free means having the time to volunteer to help others without taking away from my family.

I am SO excited to be FREE!!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


The Christian band Third Day is sponsoring an interesting opportunity for adoptive families. They regularly show video presentations in their live concerts. During their current concert tour, they are hoping to highlight adoptive families as a picture of God's love for us. They are asking adoptive families to send in pictures that may then be shown at their concerts.

So I got to thinking...wouldn't it be cool to send in a picture of our family? But wait, also one of my mom and my new little sister. And I started counting what I know...

In our parents' generation, two adoptions.

In our generation, three adoptions.

In our childrens' generation, six adoptions.

You may be familiar with the concept of "legacy"--the idea that the choices that people make have a long-term, lasting effect on future generations.

For a long time, when people asked I would say our family legacy is divorce. Divorce stretches back generations in our family and it truly seemed to be what was being handed down to each generation. For that reason I was adamant that I only marry someone who did not think divorce was an option.

I now see another legacy growing in our families, one that excites me and gives me hope for our future generations.

I claim a legacy of adoption for our family--choosing to love beyond what we see.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I did it

I did it.

I DID IT!!!!

I gave my two weeks notice today.

I'm a soon-to-be full time homemaker!!

:) :) :) :)