Blog Archives

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
Advertisements

2017 Focus Word for the Year: Courage

I made another video. Here it is. Wellness Wednesday post on Thursday. It has taken three days so I may just go back to blogging only after this. Now that write that, I’m thinking that sounds like I may need to muster up the courage to “keep on swimming, keep on swimming…..” Sigh….one take was too long and had too many, “and, ums”, another was great until I realized some child had licked his finger and smeared my lens to be…”funny.” (insert grumpy emoji here) and there were other issues. THEN, it took our internet about 12 hours to upload, no joke. Yea….not feeling warm and fuzzy about this YouTube thing right now…

Well, here is, yet another, attempt at YouTube. If nothing else, it has me wanting to blog again. 🙂

 

 

 

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

Happy Birthday, Benjamin!

Happy 21st Birthday, Benjamin!

I miss having you around, mister. I can’t believe the tot that used to spin as fast as he could in the exersaucer, believed that Santa flew around in a rocket ship throwing out presents, and coined the term “ice pickles” is 21. I’m waiting in anticipation to see what amazing things God has in store for you, young man.

I’m so proud of you and love you! Have a fantabulous day!!

benjamins-21st-birthday

Junk Food Connoisseurs

Every once in a while, I let the kids pick out the over-priced processed forbidden fruit type of food that I was raised on.  While I grew up with a regular diet of Hostess treats, I get a kick out of asking my kids if they want Ho-Hos or Twinkies and having one ask, “What’s a Twinkie?” No, we don’t live under a rock but we do live without commercials. 😉  The kids were being especially entertaining while on one of our adventures in junk food shopping. I’m glad I decided to record “just in case.”

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

I’m Up Already

This blog has been yelling at me to sit down and include it in my morning routine. Alright already! I’m up. I’m here. I have a morning routine….when the heck did I become a morning person?! I keep giving myself excuses as to why I don’t have time to post but, truth be told, I just haven’t had it at the top of my priority list. Our family was involved with a play at the local theatre, business has picked up for our little catering business, school, nuff said. We’ve been swamped and I’ve been tired. I’m extra tired because, since opening our business, this night owl has been evolving into a morning person. I’m still getting acclimated to this thing called “moving” before the sun shines it’s face.

Unless I stay up late, I, typically, get up between 4 and 5:30. How stupid is that? If, IF, this very light sleeper has not been startled out of sleep by a five-year-old staring at me or whispering to me, “I need to go potty,” and/or the loathsome cat decides to meow incessantly and jolts me out of sleep and/or….fill in the blank….IF I’m permitted to wake up on my own, I get up around 6am. I get up, start coffee and the laundry, fold a couple loads, get dressed, Bible, blitzes and emails, oh my.  When did this happen? Part of me misses being a night owl but I am pretty zonked in the evening and am not very productive. I sat down with this post and 4:45am and realized that I *like* being up before everyone else. I’m still not completely converted…I want to go back to bed. I feel sleepy but if I lay down now, I will sleep all morning and I have to pack for my birthday get away.  I have only scrapbooked once since starting our business. I am WAY behind and need to get back to it for my family’s sake and for therapy. I’m looking forward to solitude but, by golly, I’m chugging a Rockstar and staying up late and (crosses fingers) sleeping in to my heart’s content in the morning.

I might even write a blog post while I’m there! Will wonders never cease?!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

I will send the bill….

man-paying-bills

 

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)

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.

10-DSC01241-001

 

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….

12-101

04-20040_1300950897858_1138601_n-001

03-20040_1300950857857_3328875_n-001

02-18374_1126846029691_3030730_n-001

 

05-20040_1300950937859_1261413_n-001

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.

06-DSC01619-001

 

08-DSC01633-001

 

07-DSC01628-001

 

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.

09-DSC01689-001

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

Music Monday – That Old Wheel

Yes, I’m still here. I continue to do that “thing” where I tell myself I’m going to reward a finished to-do list with sit-down-with-my-blog time. Yea…right…12 kids, 3 grandbabies, catering business, homeschool, laundry.  In light of the fact that I still have taxes to prep, I’ve decided that if I’m ever going to post again, I better sit down and do it then get on the list. Everything important eventually gets done and the things that don’t get done are the things that never get finished anyways. That being said, I’ve had A LOT on my mind! I could have 50 posts since the last one if writing was my job. I’ll get there…I won’t give up!

On my mind, recently, have been a few peeps who either are deliberately trying to hurt me or are carelessly and/or selfishly wounding my family and I. An ongoing struggle has been a family member that I sincerely wish would be involved with my children and myself but has spent years making excuses then blaming me that we don’t spend time together.  There’s more to it but suffice it to say, it hurts, it’s frustrating and I’m about fed up.

Others on my mind are some folks who I once thought friends but, because they believed the gossip of others without ever contacting me to confirm that what they were hearing is true, decided I was unworthy and “don’t pay me no mind anymore.”

Finally, I am a business owner. I own a catering and custom cake design business with my family. We have worked hard to create a legitimate food service industry business. There’s a whole other blog post on what that entails but for this one, being attacked by another for no other reason than we’re competition is aggravating. The quality of my product has been questioned and even lied about and it’s been implied that I and others in the business have been trying to sabotage this person who has a reputation for playing dirty.  The other thing about me is I try to be a nice person! I don’t “get” people who aren’t nice to others. And when they come after my family or me just because they’re mean, I kinda want to get mean back.

So these situations have been popping around in my head like popcorn and my thoughts have not been passing the Philippians 4:8 test, I can tell you that. Last week, as I was running errands and running amuck, I popped in a cd I haven’t listened to in a while, Jason Hoard’s The Road Ahead.

cover170x170

That Old Wheel came on and I had to listen to it over and over again (there’s kind of pun there – if you listen to the song, you’ll get it.) This album was released in 2011 and That Old Wheel was originally performed by Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr., so it’s  certainly not new but this song in particular was just a friendly reminder to hang in there; what comes around goes around. The lyrics don’t mention it but it reminded me, also, to “do unto others as I would have them do unto me” and “do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Tsk, tsk….anyone who knows us knows that we’re some of God’s favorites so I feel somewhat sorry for those who want to muck with us.

I’m going to keep hanging in there and keep my chin up. For every person who wants to see me down, there are a bunch more who keep me up and I want to do the same for them. I’m going to try to remember to focus on those friends and family instead how low those “other” people can make me feel.  I hope you will hang in there with me.

Click on the album pic for the I-tunes link. You won’t be disappointed!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle

She said “I do”

 

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess that lived in a castle with her brothers and sisters and as she grew, she would daydream with her sisters about the man she would someday marry and they would talk up a storm about wedding plans and what kind of man each of them would marry. Okay, so this princess and the castle lacked servants so she had to help her siblings with the chores.

My oldest four girls washed a great deal of dishes together and would use those times to sing with favorite soundtracks, rock bands, dance tunes and the occasionally,  Sharon, Lois & Bram to relive childhood memories. The singing (and dancing) alternated with the brainstorming sessions and discussions on what defined a prince charming. I remember thinking those times were precious but had a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea of seeing my daughters walk down the aisle.  They’re my little girls, for crying out loud! This past Sunday, I watched my eldest daughter, Lenae, walk down the aisle and lose the name, “Fecher.” I’m still having  a hard time wrapping my brain around it. She’s my second daughter to be married. I don’t feel old enough for this to be happening! It doesn’t seem that long ago that I walked down the aisle wearing the same veil Lenae wore six days ago. This is my little girl…she’s not little anymore….

_DSC0155

 

She doesn’t belong to me anymore and that’s okay. This is part of what all the effort was for, Heaven and the Lord being the biggest part. From the time she was born, I prayed for the man she would marry. I also, selfishly, pray that my children will marry someone that lives nearby so we can see each other without a road trip. So far, so good.

I am so grateful to God for my family and the precious memories that were made at Anthony and Lenae’s wedding. It was a beautiful day.

_DSC0167

It was also an emotional day!

_DSC0162

Our whole gang! And we’re just getting started on the grandbabies!

_DSC0303My princesses. I won’t lie; I miss the days they were all home. This phase is fun, too, but I miss them all together. Feeling sappy….

_DSC0241

_DSC0269

The creep that stole my daughter’s heart. Just kidding, Anthony. We love ya!

_DSC0300

The girlies of this shindig…

_DSC0066-001

….and the gents.

_DSC0255

Emotional me with emotional daddy
_DSC0315

A sophisticated bunch….or are they?….

_DSC0319

….yea…they are classy.

Just a couple more…

_DSC0176

Sweetness!

_DSC0272

Rosemarie would like everyone to know that this is a happy day

_DSC0179

_DSC0343_pp-001

Here’s to a beautiful couple! God bless your precious family!

What’s not shared is lost,

Michelle