Mommy Soup

How soup for 7 really works.

I hate cleaning

I went to see Breaking Dawn Part 2 (don’t judge me!) last week with a good friend and a former co-preschool mom. The other mom was teasing me about doing to much (sewing, baking, homeschooling, etc) and I answered with my usual, “My house always looks like a natural disaster happened in it.” My friend agreed that it does and we continued with our jokes.

Her agreement stuck in my head. What did that mean? Is my house really that bad? Am I failing as a housewife? I was up for hours mulling these questions over. When the kids got up the next morning, I started mapping out what needed to be cleaned.

Monday morning, I started moving my house 2 inches to the left. I
baked, shipped orders, and homeschooled. I scrubbed walls and baseboards. I vacuumed and dusted. I moved furniture.

It’s now Wednesday afternoon. In my quest to clean, I’ve washed and dried 17 loads of laundry, rearranged my whole front room (moving a couch, a corner office desk, craft dressers, chairs, and a changing table), dragged a mini bookcase around, and shifted my 200 pound dining room table. Oh, and we put up winter window decorations.

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You know what? I bet no one will even notice…

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Normal Shopping

We ventured out as a complete family unit to shop today. The usually chaos ensued, but there were a lot more witnesses. Children pointed and shouted things like, “Look how many there are” and “There’s a baby on that lady!” But while everyone else was out deal hunting, my clan was simply restocking our regular supplies.

People always ask how we can afford to feed a family this size. The secret is bulk and no extras. My husband would cook everything from scratch if I let him and I bake from scratch. It’s fun but also drastically cheaper for a family this big.

We do 1 big shopping trip per month and that’s when my pantry and deep freezer are happiest. Today was that day and, oh, what a sight we were. Pushing 2 shopping carts with 7 people surrounding them seems to short circuit people’s brains. They just stare…or ask us if we’ve ever heard of Sam’s Club.

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That’s about 80% of my pantry. Add in a full size deep freezer and a fully stock ‘fridge and you have enough to feed 7 people for a month on exactly $505. And, yes, that includes fun stuff like cookies and pizza (from scratch).

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Thanksgiving

I have a confession: Thanksgiving makes me jealous.

I’m very thankful for all the things I have. My family is healthy, happy, and fed. I have a home. Most of my problems are what I call “First World Problems” and I always try to remember how lucky I am.

My jealousy has to do with family. More specifically, it has to do with Thanksgiving dinner.

I’ve lived in California my whole life. For most people, a lifetime in one place means being surrounded by family. That’s not the case for me. Both of my parents are from the east coast. My mom is from a long line of New Englanders (traced back to the Mayflower) and my dad is a New Yorker whose parents were from Virginia. The only family I’ve ever had close by was my immediate family. Even though I grew up with 3 siblings, I can’t remember a single Thanksgiving with my brothers. I remember my sister, my mom, and my dad.

I’m now 28 and have a husband and 5 children of my own, but I still get jealous at Thanksgiving commercials. Are there really families that have those big Thanksgiving gatherings? Facebook reminds me that, yes, there are many families that do that.

I’ve had 2 big Thanksgivings in my life.

The first was when I was pregnant with my first child. It was a bitter sweet event because it was a farewell to my dying grandfather. It was the day after my first wedding but my husband didn’t come. That was the only Thanksgiving I’ve ever had with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was a lot like what I’ve seen in movies in both the good and bad. Good in that it was the most unity I ever saw in my extended family. Bad in that it made ripples in our family that are still settling all these years later.

The second was with Ant’s father a year later. He was recently married and his new wife wanted to show off her new money. It was all her mother and all her siblings. Our trio was there to represent Ant’s dad’s side of the family. Again, it was like a movie, though less fun than the one with my family.

In the years since, we’ve added to our own nuclear family many times. Having more kids became a good reason to host at our house, but there just isn’t that much family to host. My mom and sister always come and my dad occasionally drops by, but Ant’s dad and newly exed wife live in Montana now. Almost all the rest of Ant’s family is in Washington or Virginia.

One day, I want my kids to have a Thanksgiving with cousins and multiple aunts and uncles. I’m jealous of those who have that. I’ll continue to be thankful for all that I have, but I still want a massive family Thanksgiving dinner. ūüôā Think of all the pies and cakes I could bake…

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Looking Ahead to Christmas

I was at the store with all 5 kids today (as usual) and I got a new question from a random stranger. ¬†“How can you afford Christmas with that many children?” ¬†I just sorta smiled and walked away, but it got me thinking. ¬†People have asked me similar questions about all the birthdays and its never been an issue for me. ¬†So, here he how I do it:

First of all, I’m not rich. ¬†It’d be fun to spend $1000 per kid (a standard a friend of mine actually uses), but that’s just not possible. ¬†Plus, I’d hate for my kids to think that they should expect that much crap from me.

That brings me to me second point: ¬†I don’t want my kids to expect to be given stuff just because they’re sitting in front of me. ¬†I want them to appreciate everything that they get and¬†truly¬†be thankful for the extras. ¬†I’ve spent years telling them that, beyond basic food, shelter, and clothing, all the other stuff is extra and not needed. ¬†Sure, its fun, but it isn’t essential.

Third, I have some how¬†managed to convince my children that cool versions of essentials are the best gifts ever. ¬†Case in point: last year, all 4 of the kids (#5 was a fetus) needed new sweaters. ¬†I could have just gone out and bought them new sweaters and put them in their closets but they wouldn’t have noticed. ¬†Instead, I let them pick out the yarn at craft store for their own sweaters. ¬†I then told them a little story that went something like this: ¬†“Remember the Weasley’s from Harry Potter? ¬†Mrs. Weasly makes all of her kids new sweaters for Christmas. ¬†Since we have a big family like them, we should do the same thing!” ¬†They were all super excited and watched me knit each of their sweaters, though I did the finishing at night when they were asleep. ¬†When they opened the boxes of sweaters with all the fun additions they never noticed before, they were¬†ecstatic. A year later, those sweaters are still their favorites and cost me way less than buying 4 sweaters.

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This year, we’re sticking with the homemade and Harry Potter themes. ¬†The kids need new hats and scarves. ¬†Thanks to a great friend with a co-op, I’m buying them hats and scarves in all the Hogwarts Houses.I’m also getting them individualized wands from the Harry Potter movies. ¬†Less than $100 and the kids are pretty much set. ¬†

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Persephone has asked for new clothes for her American girl doll and I’ll be making those. ¬†Dimitrios and Lucius have asked that I make them new underwear, so that’s easy. ¬†Calandra just wants anything with Tinkerbell on it, so I’ll be making her some twirly dresses (her favorite) with Tinkerbell on them. ¬†I’ll cook them things from my Harry Potter cookbook (yes, I have one) and maybe knit them some more scarves and socks and they’ll all be perfectly happy.¬†

My kids now ask for practical things and I can make most things for them. ¬†They have more toys than they can ever play with (usually given as gifts by other people) and we’re actually planning on giving a bunch away this year. ¬†And by “we” I mean that my kids came up with the idea of giving them away.

Oh, and the “big present” my kids are asking for this year? ¬†Another hiking and camping trip. ¬†ūüôā

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