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HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY, SETH!!

seths-7th-birthday
Born February 10, 2010
8:25 am
7lb. 13 oz.
20 in. long
Happy birthday to Seth who turns seven today. Mama is having a hard time with this one, folks. The youngest of 12 kids. I was pregnant or nursing for over two decades and this lil guy isn’t a baby anymore. He was born the same year we opened our business (because we are a “special” kind of crazy) and started his life in a commercial kitchen. (Okay, he wasn’t born there but he’s spent a heck of a lot of time there…and loves it!) He is small for his age but his vocabulary is huge, although he still says “OsmOs” for “almost” and “Mousegeeowski” for Mike Wazowski. Some folks are critical of our having a large family; some are simply taken aback but all I have to say is the world is a better place because I was willing to go through labor one more time. God has huge plans for this little guy. He is an absolute delight and ready to take on the world!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SETH!! LOVE YOU BUNCHES!
What’s not shared is lost,
Michelle
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I will send the bill….

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I grew up with a dad who felt his primary obligation to the family was to “bring home the bacon.” Oh, and to “exact justice.” But that’s another tale. It’s the “financial” burden that has always griped me. My dad was raised that women were lesser beings and that their roles were not as “important” or arduous as men’s.  I am by no means a feminist, but when I hear the occasional comment made from a male whether in print or via a friend weary of hearing her husband’s reminders that “he’s the one paying the bills,” I want to punch the guy.  This financial worth thing has been on my mind so I decided to look into a little of my “financial worth” just for the fun of it. Let’s just pretend for a moment that I have been hired to serve….

I have given birth 12 times. The average surrogate mother’s fee ranges from $20,000 to $35,000 plus expenses. I have never received an epidural or any other type of pain reliever while in labor. That being said, I gave myself the maximum fee of $35,000. I know they charge extra for the pain relief but I have no scruples about earning for braving transition. There was also that labor that lasted seven days….I could charge extra for that one…

So…

12 x $35,000 = $450,000

That’s the minimum.

A quick search on nannies resulted in the following:  “Check your state guidelines to determine whether live-in nannies qualify for overtime above 40 hours per week. For part-time nannies, hourly nanny rates start around $12 per hour and can run as high as $20-25 per hour in affluent areas, particularly those without public transportation. You get what you pay for.”

I don’t really know how long a child “needs” a nanny so I’m just going to guess until they no longer need a babysitter. I believe in Indiana, a child must be 14 to be of “legal babysitting age” so I’m going to go with that.

So….

For 12 children receiving in-home nanny care from 0-14 without overtime:

$3,066,000

I didn’t add in overtime just to be fair to my olders who have helped tremendously with the youngers. If they were getting paid, they would have earned a pretty penny themselves.

I could stop at $3,516,000 but why would I want to do that?

We homeschool. I’m a private tutor, a proven method for superior education. (Can I just interject and say that if all these years of people asking my kids where they go to school, if my kids had answered, “Oh, I have a private tutor,” folks would be all impressed and “Oh, la-dee-da” then commend us parents for going the extra mile to provide our children with exceptional education. I think we’re going to try this. I’ll let you know how it goes.)

For a private tutor – $10-$15 per hour. Holy cow. I have no idea how much time we’ve put in. I’m going to give a low-ball estimate based on the 180 day school year, average 4 hours a day (sometimes more, sometimes less – the kids do more on their own as they get older) and include all 12 kids AND preschool though we’re far from done. I want to know the grand total!

$1,555,200

We’re at $5,071,200.

I have to include my laundry service as there has been rarely a day in the past 20-some years that I haven’t done at least one load of laundry. I’d say the average is 6 loads a day, some days more. I looked at a couple of sites and laundry services such as Laundry Locker or Lazy Bones who charge by the pound or item and charge for each additive such as detergent and softener. I have no idea how many pounds of laundry I have done! If they charged by the mountain or trash bags, I might be able to guesstimate but that’s overwhelming. I can’t NOT include it, though, because I have spent so much of my life on it! So, going with Lazy Bones’ $1.70 per pound, and I average out the fact that in the earlier years of our family, we did not have MOUNTAINS of jeans, towels, etc., I’m going to guess 25 pounds per week. (I know this week, I’m working on at least 50 pounds if you could weigh it all.) 25×52 weeks = 1,300×27 years=35,100 x $.73($1.70-$.97*-the cost to do one load at home) = $25,623.

That makes $5,096,823.

I haven’t even included my earnings from being a private chef, private chauffeur, event planner, “administrative assistant,” not to mention MAID! Nope, can’t leave that out –  I briefly peeked at what a house cleaner earns: “Professional house cleaners typically set house cleaning prices one of two ways: By hour, or by square foot. Hourly costs range from $25 to $35; square foot rates are often used for a “first clean,” as a baseline for pros to work from.” If I “just” cleaned 5 hours a week at $25/hour, and we know it’s more some weeks, less during “those” weeks, that’s an easy $175,500

Ahem…. $5,272,323

I could go on but then this post would be one of those you look at to see how long it is then pass it up because you don’t have the time. Am I right?

You pay the bills? Well, sir, pay that one. Better yet, try doing all of the above. One of the reasons a woman’s brain is spaghetti is she has to tackle all of her professions pretty much every day, keeping track of it all and mentally preparing for the next task and the next day and the next week… A man’s compartmentalized brain would implode!

Well, I must be off…I have to “earn my keep.” The first thing I’m going to do is delegate because I didn’t even get to my roles as a business-owner…which I need to do today in addition to all of the above…sigh….

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

 

*I found the cost to do a load of laundry at home in this fabulous post, “A Cost Comparison of Home Laundry and Laundromats” on “The Simple Dollar,” a resource to save to your favorites. Incidentally, in this post, the author says it will take 600 loads to recoup the price of the washer and dryer which will take 2 years if you do one load a day, compared to going to a laundromat. Yep, our appliances paid for themselves a long time ago….

(Photo Credit: http://cdn.moneycrashers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/man-paying-bills.jpg)

In The Laundry This Month

 

 

I started collecting the stuff I find in my washers and dryers (I have two of each, one washer is out of commission for the time being). I have a little brass pail on one of the washers and whatever I find I toss in the pail. (Change goes in a bank I have on the washer, too. I’m going to save up for a trip to Hawaii with pennies). I’ve been so intrigued by the variety and strangeness of the pail’s contents each month, I just had to start taking pictures! Now I’m posting the pictures because I can’t think of anything better to do with said pictures. I figure we can have some fun with this. Some people read tea leaves, let’s read what I found IN THE LAUNDRY THIS MONTH. This pic is actually from February.
FEB 2015I could do an eye spy. That’s what I’m going to do! At the end of the year, I’ll have a book printed for the kids! He he…in the meantime, there are stories that could be derived from the plethora of junk. And mysteries. For example, how in the heck did the buckle and clasp from a long-gone newborn car seat get in the wash? How did that horse sticker end up in my pail? It, obviously, did not go through the wash.  I see an old Creative Memories cell phone charm. Somebody has been digging through my stuff because I didn’t know I still had that thing. One thing I’ve learned for sure from this pic is that, the next time one of my girls says they can’t find a ponytail holder, I’m sending them to the laundry room.

JAN 2015

Playing catch-up, this one is from January. I spy a knob from a piece of furniture. I need to find out what’s missing its knob. There is a rock in both pics. It looks like the same rock! We don’t keep rocks, people.  I have reason to believe one of the boys is “borrowing” his brothers’ guitar picks because the green one keeps ending up in the little brass pail.

The crocheted doll pants are…weird. Did not know we had such haute couture in the house.

I see this junk as reminders of how blessed we are so why not? I have reminders here of my daughters’ pretty hair, my kids’ love of nature and creating art, of Christmas, imagination, my great-grandmother (I see one of her earrings up there – why, I don’t know), of music in the home and my kids’ love of making obnoxious noise to drive their mom crazy because they love me (pirate whistle in the top picture).

There you have it. Tell me my future from these, make up a story, judge my kids, or quiz me on the items and I’ll guess at what they are.

What’s not share is lost….in the wash,

Michelle

A Stitch in Time

Several years ago, I met a “mom of many” who became a sweet friend but, at the same time, she made me sick. She sewed most, if not all, of her children’s clothes and they usually matched. Sometimes she would even match. Our kids were in homeschool band together and during rehearsal, moms would chat in the nursery and this friend would sometimes discuss sewing techniques she had discovered. I remember thinking, “I need to try that! (except when she spoke of an easier way to make the boys’ ties…my eyes glazed over for that one. I’ll just buy the matching vest and tie, thank you).  I used to sew all the time. In my younger days, I would take advantage of the quiet of the night and sew til 3 a.m. so as to finish my project. My first two girls had a few matching dresses, many that didn’t match, costumes, doll clothes and I made all of the kids’ stockings until child number 8. I have fabric for everyone’s stockings. I just don’t see that hunk of time sew. I asked my friend (we both had “only” 6 kids at the time) how in the world she found time to sew so many outfits. She told me that some days, she only gets one stitch done. Say whut? She said she leaves her sewing machine out with her current design left under the presser foot ready for the next five minutes she can sneak in and sew a seam. My personality type was stymied. I’m the kind of person who wants to get a project DONE in one sitting. I could not wrap my brain around it.

I have implemented that principle of getting things done in bite-size pieces in many areas but mostly with housecleaning and business projects. I can organize a pile for five minutes then stop when the timer goes off. That’s a big deal for me! I did have it down for the sewing at one time but got out of practice. Now I have a new laundry room with a sewing table and I feel motivated and obligated to get back to it.

One area I struggle with the “one stitch at a time” method is writing. For example, I need to quit right now and head to the shop to carve a cake and make curly Q fondant strips for the mane but I’m having a hard time stopping because I’M NOT DONE, YET!!! Oh, fine….I’ll be back….

Okay, I’m back. It is not easy to get back on the train of thought after being derailed by the to-do list. So…where was I? Oh, yea…early this morning, I took a moment to read a post from one of my favorite bloggers and guitarists, Mark Lee.  His latest post is “Embrace the Chaos,” which totally describes my life, talks about learning to blog amidst the nuttiness of life rather than wait for that ideal day or idea. He also suggests working this habit into other aspects of life.

That takes practice and an attitude of “must write.” People often ask me, “how do you do it all? How do you balance the big family, homeschooling, theatre, owning a business?” Balance? Um, no. We have had to learn how to blend.  Having babies constantly in our home became a part of our norm. Home educating became a part of our lifestyle. Theatre came into our lives and it’s just “what we do.” The catering scene has become a big part of our days and that’s just it, it’s something that becomes a part of our schedule. Sometimes we work what needs done for the business around our homeschool; sometimes homeschool is worked around the job that needs done. I know I need to squeeze in two loads of laundry a day in order to maintain the piles and keep everyone in clean socks and underwear. I use a lot of post-it notes and checklists to stay on track. I’ve also learned to use a timer to limit time spent decluttering or cleaning projects. If I didn’t, I would spend the whole day on that one project until it was done. I have other things to do! Like write. I have blogged many times here about how I haven’t been blogging, yet have not once considered quitting. I don’t think I can. Some of us think through the written word! I need to blend the writing into the batter and stop treating this as if it’s “extra;” something I can do after I get everything else done. Being  practical, if I need to set a timer, I’ll have to learn to stop then pick it up later and add “another stitch.”  I received a Bluetooth keyboard for Christmas and it’s one of my favorite tools. I fumble around with texting and trying to email on my phone.  My keyboard not only removes that frustration but I can sit in the car waiting for play rehearsal to finish and start another post on the WordPress app…which I have done. But you’ll have to wait for that one…it needs a few more seams.

I did it. I have proven to myself that it’s possible for this “must finish” personality that I can step away from the project and come back to it later then just  add to it in between the other parts of my day. Guess what else I did today? I started hemming some jeans I found at Goodwill. I only have them cut and pinned…and waiting for the stitching to begin.

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

 

My M.O.P.S Days are Over

My last day as a Mother of a PreSchooler was Monday. I haven’t attended a MOPS meeting in several years but, if we still had a group in our area, I could still be attending. I have been the mother of a baby and/or toddlers since 1988. It’s not complicated math; that’s 27 years.  Almost 30 years of mothering babies and toddlers. Now that I just put those words in print, I’m flabbergasted! Time flies, they say, when you’re having fun. Time flies faster with each child added to the family. My head is spinning! I cried a few times Tuesday as I saw my baby boy grin from ear to ear each time we referred to his being 5, now. Yesterday, he was playing the GeoSafari and exclaimed, “I’m FIVE, now, and this is so easy for me!” Ha! He’s loving being a big boy.

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In the meantime, I was feeling so very sad. Bittersweet was the mood of the day. I’m sentimental. I cherish the memories with my kiddos. It didn’t help at all that I went looking for baby pics to post but most of them were lost when my laptop AND my backup external crashed right about the same time. Most of my Seth baby pics are gone. That’s a tad heart-wrenching to this Katy Kodak. But I did find some, thank you, Facebook….

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It was a blessing to babysit my newest grandbaby and her big sister the same day Seth turned 5. I got my baby fix. 🙂

But, alas, it’s a new season and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Unlike most tales of terror about “the baby of the family,” our younger kids are the best behaved ones of the bunch. Seth is one of the most, obedient, sweet-natured, self-controlled youngins I’ve ever met. His big brother, Isaiah, too. They still act like children and throw the occasional fit but they have been well-trained by mom, dad and a team of well-trained siblings. We’ve learned a “few” things having so many like “learn from your mistakes.” It seems like common sense but common sense is sparse these days. We’ve been learning the whole 27 years and we’re still learning. If you think you’ve got it all figured out, I’m here to tell ya, you don’t. There’s always somebody you can learn  from. On the other hand, to those young moms who have 6 month old and a 2 1/2 half-year old and want to share their wisdom with me, shut up. Close your mouth and listen for a change. We all know them. They’ve read the latest books on parenting and are enthusiastic, zealous and, yes, I was one of them at one time, usually wrong. Not about everything but a lot. I realized early on that I didn’t know what I was doing and sought out moms with older kids that I saw as well-trained, happy, well-behaved, etc. and started taking notes. I wouldn’t trust an expert that wrote a book unless you’ve seen how their kids turned out…as young adults. Okay, my two cents….end of rant. Back to the birthday boy and being a mommy of many….

I have some regrets but I will NEVER regret having so many children.  As I posted on FB on Seth’s birthday, “People say they can’t imagine having so many kids.We can’t imagine life without Seth.”  Is it hard work? Heck yea. Anything worthwhile is hard work and there is nothing more worthwhile than children.  And, oh. my. wurd, do we have fun together…

So…my youngest is five…I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. We’re having a Minecraft Birthday Bash Sunday but we celebrate the “official” day with a menu planned by the birthday child and they get out of chores for the day. Seth chose donuts for breakfast, something we don’t eat a lot.

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The sugar buzz helped him get through a grueling day of unlimited Minecraft time. We had his Pizza Rolls and other health food while watching a movie then he opened his cards and a gift I picked up at the local children’s consignment shop, Cradle and All. I’d like to take a moment and pat myself of the back for spotting said gift. I looked it up on Amazon. I need you click on that link so you can see how much that piece of plastic costs new! $12.50, baby. Thank you very much.

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Yes, it’s another piece of furniture to take up space but Seth loves Batman and he was delighted. He’s still delighted; he told me today how much he “weally likes the Batman toy I got him.”  So much fun!

And so begins, yet another, NEW season of life. Every time I turn around, I get hit upside the head with a new season! My babies are growing but there are still babies and toddlers in the house! And the grandbabies are so much fun!

Happy Birthday, little man!

Me: "Why are you holding your fist up?" Seth: "I'm Batman getting ready to punch somebody."  Yep...that cute face with the Minion hat is SO intimidating! LOL!

Me: “Why are you holding your fist up?”
Seth: “I’m Batman getting ready to punch somebody.”
Yep…that cute face with the Minion hat is SO intimidating! LOL!

 

 

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

39.95 plus shipping and handling

“I have decided that I am not a 40 something. I am 39.95, plus shipping and handling.” That was one of my tweets today on this, my 45th birthday.  It’s also Thursday which anyone on social media should know is Throw Back Thursday #tbt.  SO, having  a birthday that ushers me further away from 40 and closer to, gulp, 50 ON Throw Back Thursday is just asking for sentimental notions, denial and a midlife crisis.  We see our kids turn 10 and we say, “Oh, they grow so fast!”  I see me turn 45 and I’m thinking, “Where did the time go?”

baby me

TODDLER me

Holy cow.

There’s a saying that goes “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.”  Add that to one of my responses to inquiries about the number of children we have, “They keep me young,” and we have a formula for a fountain of youth.  Now that grandbabies have entered the scene, there will be no end to my shenanigans!

It’s been through being a mom that I have, quite serendipitously, re-discovered my “inner youth” and have tried to get it right this go ‘round. For example, when I was a school-girl, I would bring home those arts and crafts books from the school library, look at all the cool projects I wanted to tackle then promptly NOT make a single one of them.

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This school girl here. The 70s, the height of fashion….

 I believe that was due to my serious lack of self confidence…among other things. Then comes along the Fecher kids

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who don’t know they’re supposed to be intimidated by trying new things, have creativity and talent oozing out of their ears and I’m a new woman…girl. They have been contagious.  Now, when I get on Pinterest, I see a project I want to attack, make a supply list and the next thing we know,  the kids are asking each other, “Why is Mom painting clothespins?” (True story).  I have a refreshed appetite for adventure, travel, friends, creativity and play.

I also have a constant reminder of what child-like faith looks like.  I get stressed out.  But something has been reprogrammed in me that keeps the worry at bay. Like a kid, I see and feel God taking care of me and I know that even when there’s absolutely no money available for business bills, God will come through somehow and I watch and wait for it. I get antsy when bills are past due or I don’t get a much-needed catering job. I fret when a child is injured or sick or when the youth of our household make less-than-ideal decisions (we’ve had open discussions about how people are all stupid, us included, and this expected). But each time I venture into “worry-land,” the “que sera sera” comes over me like a wave.  Kids love anticipation. I do, too. Something the kids have taught me is that the problems that normally cause worry should create anticipation for what God will do.  I wish I could remember which Christian speaker it was that I heard talk about problems. (If you know who this is, let me know). He said, “All God’s people got problems. If you don’t have a problem, you come forward and we’ll lay hands on you and pray God gives you a problem. Because if you want to see a miracle, first you gotta have a problem! You can’t have a miracle without a problem!”

One of my mantras is “Never a dull moment!”  Big family + new season of grandbabies +a business = problems-a-plenty or, what we affectionately call them, “growth opportunities.” Also opportunities for miracles. Never a dull moment.

I’m looking forward, with anticipation, to another year of growth opportunities…and miracles. :o)

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

People confuse us all the time…

I’m speaking of Angelina Jolie and myself….of course. As I checked out at Wally World, I saw the cover story – “Angelina is pregnant…again!” I just know that friends of mine who go through the check-out lane have to stop a minute and remember which name goes with which face. After all, they’ve said it many a time, “Michelle is pregnant…again!” Alas, this time it is not I that bears glad tidings but that rich, homely chic. One can only hope that her and Brad have read “To Train Up a Child.”

Anyhoo, it has been VERY peculiar, not being pregnant or having a tiny one in my arms by now. Very strange. Some “friends” have likened me to a barn cat due to my predictability – every 2 years, a baby. I use to get the rude questions, “Don’t you know what causes that, yet?” “Aren’t you worried they won’t get the attention they need?” Some are just curious; “Are you done?” “How many are you going to have?” “What does your husband do?” “How old were you when you had your first?” The past year I’ve been getting, “Do you have any news for us?” “Are you expecting, yet?” A friend told me the other day that eventually, one does stop having babies without any external intervention. It really does stop. Most folks decide what size family best suits them, and that’s fine, we’ve just fallen in love with let God do what suits Him and have been abundantly blessed!
If we had done things “my way” (up until I was married, I wanted 2 and no more), we would have never met jolly Jillian with her incredible singing voice, cheerful disposition, peacemaking abilities and the ability to love anyone unconditionally.
Or adventurous, tree-climbing Natalie, another great singer who loves to learn (on

 

 her own) about and how to do out-of-the-norm things like scuba diving, pirates & ships, and how to play bass. (She also enjoys memorizing useless facts like New Jersey is the biggest exporter of eggplant. That one won us a Papa John’s pizza so it’s no longer useless.)
AND, if we had stopped at 2, we would never have had boys! I could go into describing each of my children but will save it for the book (JK) as this would get very lengthy. You get the idea, though, especially if you know our family. If you know my children, you shudder to think of the world without them! They are incredible people!

And so, that is why I don’t feel at all excited at the possibility that I may be “done,” as it were. I would love to have more. One of
 our answers to “how many are you going to have?” is “We’re collecting the whole set.” It just doesn’t feel like we have the whole set.
What’s not shared is lost,
Michelle

Top 10 Things You Hate to Hear on an Airplane

1.This is your captain speaking. I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but if the child out on the starboard wing belongs to anyone, would you please alert the flight attendant?

2.I’m sorry sir but you have one more child than you have tickets for.

3.Boy, Dad, you sure made a loud noise in the bathroom…and what is that smell?

4.Dad, wasn’t there an engine attached to the wing when we took off?

5.Psst, Dad, this big fat lady next to me is squishing me.

6.I know I just went, but I gotta go again.

7.How much longer?

8.How much longer?

9.How much longer?

10. Honey, you take care of the kids and wake me when the plane lands.

and a bonus:

“This is your captain speaking. I have some bad news. We have lost all navigational & communication devices and and we have no idea where we are. We are almost out of fuel and the engines are failing one by one.But I have good news…we are making excellent time.”