Saturday, August 30, 2008

Do you ever wonder why you bother?

I do. Yesterday was an extra-heavy laundry day. With the kids back in school and the way the twins go through clothes, plus sheets and blankets, it was a bear. Lillian folded two baskets as part of her chores yesterday, and I folded the rest. All those pants, shirts, pajamas, and even underwear were neatly placed in huge baskets. The older three put their own clothes away, but for the twins (age 4), I put them carefully away in their drawers. Two hours later, I go in their room to find that they have pulled all the pajamas out of their drawer and strewn them over the floor. Not that I'm surprised. Almost every day, as I teach them to clean their room, we're sorting out what's clean and what's dirty on their floors, as they insist on pulling out all the clothes in their search for the perfect clothes to wear (Allison's favorite right now? Loud, Hawaiin fushia flowered pants paired with dainty pink flowered T-shirt. Because flowers always go with other flowers, right? But that's a whole 'nother post). By the time we shove the clothes back in the correct drawer and the dirty ones in the basket, they hardly look like the neat little piles I once made of them.

The boys are a whole different story. While they don't pull the clothes out of their drawers, they do put their own clothes away. Somehow, by the time the clothes make it into their drawers, they look like they've been tossed up to the ceiling, hitched a ride on a tornado and been crumpled into a pulp by a passing motorcycle gang. At least they are still clean!

So I wonder -- why do I bother to fold all those clothes in the first place? Wouldn't it be easier to just skip that step altogether?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Another Classic Mommy Moment

I have a lot of people fooled. They think I have it all together. They're amazed that I'm at the pool with four kids just a week after giving birth! That I'm outside making sure my kids don't get run over or that I took the trash out to the street three days after Harmony was born (I know, it doesn't take much to impress some people!).

But all it takes is a moment and my true life shows. Today I went to church with my family. DH was teaching the 3 year olds so I went to Sunday School alone after feeding Harmony. I was holding Harmony against my chest, the picture of perfection as she quietly settled in. I was feeling so good I decided to make a comment -- as I was finishing my profound remarks, IT happened. Yep, baby Harmony, whose spit up has up until now been just a trickle, threw up a river. Her whole stomach of partially digested milk ended up running down the front of my shirt and onto my skirt. I gasped and grabbed her blanket to try to minimize the damage. Since all eyes were on me, I lost all credibility as the perfect mom. Darn. But I'm proud. A lesser mom might have given up and gone home. But not me. I bravely snuck out to the bathroom, where I cleaned myself and Harmony up as best I could before sneaking into Relief Society with a wet shirt and wet skirt.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Awards Time

The Gorgeous Award . . .

goes to Harmony Anne. Isn't she beautiful? It never ceases to amaze me that I can love my fifth, sixth, and seventh child as much as I loved my first. There's just something so pure and wonderful about a newborn.

The Ugly Award . . .

goes to Joey's catch this morning. Isn't this the ugliest carp you've ever seen? Ick! One of the great things about living in a neighborhood with lots of older folks is the interest they take in my kids. One nice neighbor took Joey and DH fishing twice this week.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Comedy of Errors

This morning, I was up at 4:30 after feeding baby Harmony. I lay awake trying to go back to sleep with no luck. I got on the computer for an hour instead, then at 6:00, I thought, "Hey, instead of going back to sleep, I'll exercise!" Great idea, right? After all, all the kids are asleep, so I'm assured of no interruptions. So I decided to take a Pilates DVD upstairs to do it. But once I got it in, I couldn't find the DVD remote and it was one of those videos that needed me to scroll down to choose a workout (Don't you hate it when you can't do anything from the stupid player itself -- why do you HAVE to have a remote just to run a stupid DVD?). So I searched for the remote for 5 minutes with no luck. I went down and tried to see if I could find an exercise DVD that would just start with a simple "play" from the DVD player. Nope, they all had some kind of "choice" involved. So I figured I'd start a video on my VCR downstairs (where all our bedrooms are). I did, but I was joined by Allison & Sarah almost immediately. "Mommy, I love to exercise. When I am a mom, I will exercise a lot, right?" says Sarah.

So I figure I'm being an extra good mom and setting such a great example for these gals, and I let them join in. We're step-tapping and arm-raising happily through the five minute warm-up when I hear Harmony crying for a feeding. By the time I finish feeding her, all seven kids are awake and it's time for our morning scripture study. So no exercise for me today. Do I get credit for trying?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Remember this?

I still haven't had a chance to upload it to Scrapbook-Elements or to turn it into a kit. But I feel bad with it just sitting on my computer not being used, so I'm offering it free. Download it by clicking here. I know not all my readers are digi-scrappers, but feel free to use these as blog backgrounds if you like. Please leave me a comment if you download it. Enjoy!

This just about says it all, doesn't it?

We're huge Olympics fans at our house, which has not helped with new-baby exhaustion issues. We don't normally have TV, but every 2 years we get it for the month of the Olympics and get ourselves glued into the action.

It sure seems like every day there's some new China-cheater scandal, doesn't it? It's pretty pathetic that someone can land on their knees during a vault and still get a bronze medal, while another person can land her vaults perfectly and not even reach the podium. I think it's sad that appearance and saving face means more than honesty, and even sadder that so many Chinese athletes have such pressure on them to perform -- this article makes me so sad.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Some things I've learned . . .

I like to think that experience counts for something. What? I don't know. But in any case, here's some things I've learned over the years:

About New Babies:

* They don't tell you this, but you don't have to wear those awful hospital-issued nightgowns while you're recovering in the hospital (while you're in labor, probably). I bring my own pajamas and feel like a member of the human race instead of a lab rat.

* Ditto on the hospital-issued T-shirt for your baby -- you know, the ones that fold over your baby's hands so they don't scratch themselves but also can't find their fingers to suck either (My third child Michael was born a thumb-sucker. I knew this and kept uncovering his fingers. As soon as I was out of the way, the nurses would cover his fingers back up again. I think it's a compulsion.). I've learned to bring my own adorable outfits and dress my babies.

* You don't need a baby bath. The kitchen sink is just fine. Have you ever seen the nurses at the hospital bathe a baby? After the initial scrubdown, they just hold them under a faucet in what looks like a kitchen sink. The regular shower works just as good and a lot faster for cleaning a baby. Once that cord falls off, it's a simple thing to bring the baby into the shower and then hand her off to your husband when she's clean.

* Pacifiers are not the devil. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. Nipple confusion is a myth! Your baby will still nurse just fine even if she is given a pacifier, and you'll be thanking yourself over and over again the next two years. It's magic, I tell you. She'll be screaming in the car and happy one moment later, all because of a small piece of plastic.

* "Sleeping through the night" is actually a fluid term. Sometimes people are LYING when they say the baby sleeps through the night. When pressed, they'll admit that their baby wakes up once or twice "just to eat" then goes back to sleep. Well, as the mother of 6 children who woke up once or twice "just to eat" until they were at least 9 months old, I can tell you that is NOT sleeping through the night. I did have one friend whose seventh child came home from the hospital sleeping all the way through the night. When I asked in wonder how that happened, she said simply, "I think God just knew I had seven kids and decided to send me one that slept." I had 3 kids at the time. I just had my seventh. I waited in anticipation for that same blessing. I think I'm out of luck.

* The book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth is a must-read. Even if you don't follow his methods exactly (I use a pacifier with my children against his advice), the knowledge of how important sleep is to a happy infant is critical.

* Hooded Towels are awesome. I got some at my baby shower when I was 8 months pregnant with #1. I had never seen them before and managed a "thank you, what a useful gift" without having any clue how I'd possibly use such a thing. One month later, I found out. They're just the right size. In fact, my neighbor Meradith just brought us two more, and I'm so glad.

* Burp cloths are overrated. They aren't big enough for the real messes, they're never positioned right, and they're a pain. Since the baby spits up on her blanket and you have to wash it just as often as the burp cloth anyway, save yourself some grief and just use the blanket to wipe up spit-up.

* Take lots of pictures and write down everything you can. Your baby will grow up way too fast and you will forget things you thought you'd never forget.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Some things get easier!

When Eliza was a few months old, I began to feel the exhaustion of a new baby keenly. I knew that the few months since her birth had been overwhelmingly and unusually busy; after all, we brought her home to a hotel room, then moved into our new house when she was just 8 days old. Between clean-up, unpacking, organizing, chasing after 2-year-old twins who never napped, dropping off and picking up my preschooler, kindergartner and 2nd-grader at school, and running a household, I was extremely stretched. It didn’t help that I was up several times a night to feed a baby and had no opportunity to sleep during the day except for a Sunday nap. Even that Sunday nap went away when Eliza was 2 months old and our Church schedule changed to 1:00. I was beyond exhausted.

Even though I knew I wasn’t being rational, every day of sleep-deprivation had global implications, and I’d think, “I can’t handle being this tired any more. I can’t handle any more children. I wish our family were complete so I know I won’t ever be this tired again. Can I really handle this 3, 4, 5 or even 6 more times?” I knew there were more children to join our family, but I wanted nothing more than to declare our family complete and look to a future full of good-night’s rests.

It didn’t help any that two of my close friends had babies within weeks of Eliza, and both of them were done, one with six children, and one with five (Ironically, 18 months later one of them would decide to add to their family again). I envied them and thought of how nice it would be just to raise the children I had and not be laden with the illness and discomfort of pregnancy and the exhaustion and sleep-deprived months of the new babies.

At the same time, I knew that our family was not complete and that there would be several more children to join it. I prayed a lot that I would be up to the task and that my negative feelings would change. Last summer, I felt an answer. I was prompted to know that there was a baby girl ready to join our family and that she would arrive in a year’s time. I felt great comfort and determined to enjoy the last few months before I became pregnant again. Eliza, at 9 months old, finally began sleeping through the night, and I felt stronger and excited about the future.

In more rational times during those trying months, I would examine my feelings and realize that while the tiredness I felt at the time was overwhelming, it did not mean that I would experience the same level of exhaustion the next time around. For one thing, the twins would be at least 4 before another joined our family, and for another, my other children were growing older and more able to help. I thought that while the next child would probably still be very difficult, with Lillian likely being 9 at the time, the child after that would join our family when Lillian was old enough to babysit. I thought, even if I could just hire Lillian to watch the other kids after school while I napped one day a week, what a relief that would be. And while Lillian is the oldest, I knew that Joey and Michael would also become more helpful as they grew older.

Fast forward a year. Last Friday, I gave birth to the promised girl, Harmony Anne Bartholomew. The two days in the hospital were quiet and lovely. While I knew I needed to rest, I did it as much as possible with Harmony in the room. I spent a lot of time simply enjoying her. We brought her home on Sunday to the delight and chaos that is our home. Everyone adores her, including Eliza (we worried she's be jealous, as she often pushes the twins off my lap and is quite wary of new situations).

And the last few days have been much better than I could have dreamed. My mother-in-law stayed until Tuesday morning and helped out by cooking some extra meals and giving Lillian instructions on getting them to the table. With Lillian helping in the kitchen, and all of the kids used to chores, things have gone well. I’ve even gotten a nap every day during Eliza’s nap, which is no small feat. If I can count on a little rest during the day, then no amount of getting up at night is daunting.

The best thing about bringing home a baby into a large family, though, is the sheer number of people who love the child. Eliza has enjoyed such support and love and spoiling from her brothers and sisters, and now Harmony is being welcomed with that same excitement. When Harmony is awake, Joey and Lillian clamor to hold her. They exclaim over how cute and sweet she is and love to give her attention. The twins and Michael also hold her with supervision, and when I need a diaper or wipes or an extra blanket, Sarah and Allison are ready and eager to help. So far, so good. I’m a bit nervous about new routines next week when school starts back up again and I’m home during the day with four preschool girls, but no matter what, it should be an adventure!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Arithmetic

This whole 7 kids thing is a bit of a new experience. I'm so used to 6. DH & I often take just a few kids with us when we run errands. I'll rush out the door and call, "I've got 4 -- you've got 2!" Or he'll run to Costco and say, "I've got 3 -- you've got 3." It's been pretty automatic. Which is why I'm finding myself counting wrong the past few days. On Monday, I was outside watching Joey and the twins ride bikes. I had baby Harmony as well and thought, "well, I've got 4 out here, so MIL only has 2." I was thinking how that wouldn't be enough kids to really get in the way of what she was doing (prepping some extra meals for us!), when I realized my mistake -- MIL did not have 2 inside, she had 3, and one of them was Eliza, who is into everything these days.

Same thing happened this morning. I did a quick run to Walmart and dropped some of the kids off at a friends' house to play. I was thinking I'd take 3 with me, so Rachel would only have 3. I had to fix my brain again as I realized I would be dropping off 4 and only taking 3. Somehow, 7 seems like so much more than 6.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Welcome to the World, Harmony Anne Bartholomew!

Just a quick post introducing our lovely new baby girl -- our family now has 5 girls, 2 boys, and lots of chaos. Born on 8/8/08, Harmony weighed 7 lbs. 4 ounces and has a wonderful personality!

Here's a few videos so Grandma & Grandpa in Switzerland can get to know their new granddaughter:

Harmony all by herself:

Sarah & Harmony:

Eliza & Harmony (Eliza likes the baby but likes treats more!):

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


And I'm actually hoping I'll make it all the way to induction on Friday now. Up until now, I decided I could care less about the 8/8/08 birthday and would rather just GET THIS BABY OUT! You'd think I would have learned more patience having done this a half dozen times before now, but nope, I think I'm less patient. But now that I've only got three days, it would be quite ironic to go into labor now and have this baby miss out on the bragging rights of a cool birthday.

The only problem I've got is that I have nothing scheduled for the kids to do this week, and I hate just sitting around home waiting for a baby to come. Because anything can happen, I don't dare venture too far from home, but we did go see Prince Caspian at the dollar theater yesterday (long on action, short on plot and character development), and we'll go swimming at the pool this afternoon. We also got a trailer-load full of mulch on Saturday, and with a bit of help from the kids, we got it all spread yesterday and today. I think I'd have enough energy to spread another trailer load, but the scouts are going to borrow the trailer this weekend and who knows if I could get it emptied again in time.

Here's some pictures from the last month:

Here's my backpackers in the front yard, all packed and ready to go. Eliza saw them posing for a picture and had to join them.

We had swimming lessons the last two weeks, finishing up last Thursday. I love that all but Eliza could be in class at the same time, while I watch from the sidelines. My good friend Rachel had her kids signed up at the same time, so there was always someone to talk to while the kids swam.


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