Shredded Wheat

You know…there seem to be two extremes of families with many children. Families that have great systems in place and are very organized, and families that try to establish these systems, only to be thwarted constantly. 

Guess which one we are? 

I love being with my kids. Even when they’re driving me mad, I adore them. I’m honestly happier now than I’ve been in years, and have zero desire to work anywhere else. (Though I also have zero problem with OTHER women working outside the home, just to clarify. I definitely don’t think I’m a better mother, or a holier one just because I stay home.)

I am constantly trying to battle the filth and mess. Trying to simplify. Trying to teach my children to think, problem-solve, work together, and be kind. 

I know what you’re going to say (unless you’re a terrible person). “You’re doing great!” “I see you!” “It’s a season/phase!” And you are right. I know this! These are all the things I would say to you, if you were writing this. 

But today…oh, today. While I tried to finish rotating my kids’ wardrobes, my darling almost-3s broke into the kitchen and got into the shredded wheat container. There is shredded wheat everywhere. And I found a trail of ants in my son’s room. And I haven’t walked or done yoga even once this week.

Right now, I’m putting Baby Wia down for a nap, and listening to my twins destroy the kitchen, trying to put together a plan to clean up the messes, and have them “help” me. Maybe I’ll take everybody to the river for a walk after we pick up the big kids. 

You know what…

I had a semi-decent night of sleep, and made a decision this morning. 

I am going to did a way to make the good stuff happen. And I’m starting right now. 

We usually finish dropping big kids off 7:30-7:45, and if there is good weather, we are going straight to the park or Riverwalk for an hour or so. 

I know me. If I go home, and plan to go do the fun stuff later, I’ll get bogged down with my to-do list. 

The last time we came to this playground was for my birthday redo in JULY. That’s too long ago. 


Thoughts at the beginning of another year

I know that I’m the best mom for my kids.

And yet…I am not the mother I want to be. 

All my energy and effort is used up in trying to maintain some semblance of order in our home. 

I literally cannot leave the dishes in the sink overnight, because my older, not well-sealed home would be overrun with…unwelcome pests…immediately. I can’t skip the laundry, because people wouldn’t have clean clothes for school or work. I can’t wait to sweep and mop, because Maria is starting to crawl and Sarah and Sophia are potty training. I can’t just leave the kids toys scattered everywhere, because there are seven of us, and space is limited. 

Samuel and Rebekkah are both in all-day school now, and I have really mixed feelings. I’m glad that  they’re happy and doing well. But I don’t like the busyness and the effect on our time as a family. I feel like…like I’m struggling to make home a desireable place to be. 

When I was younger, home was a place of last resort. I did not enjoy being home with my parents, and not just in a standard adolescent way. And although I know that I am not my parents, I am terrified of my kids feeling the same way. 

I talked to several people that I love, respect, and trust, about my desire to homeschool. I wish I could make that happen, but I can’t right now. And I know that the older Samuel gets, the harder it will be to start. 

To most people, it probably makes no sense that I am saying I spend all day doing chores, and Oh, yes, I want to add in educating all my children personally. I know that reads like just plain Crazy Talk. 

I feel like I spend every moment tied up with chores and crisis management, when what I want is to create and do crafts with my kids. I want to take them to the park after school, or for walks after dinner. I want to snuggle them and read together. I want to teach them to bake bread and cook. 

I have a cozy vision of family life that I keep tucked away in my heart, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make that vision a reality. 

All that said, I’m honestly happier (generally speaking) than I have been for a while. Wia is a blessing. My parents closed their business, and aren’t next door anymore. Things are pretty tight financially, but we’re putting together a plan. 

I’m not trying for a gold in Reverse Pain Olympics, but things could be a lot worse right now. 


Miss me? It’s time for me to complain again! Honestly, it’s not anything specific. I’m just feeling low and struggling, and I feel like I complain enough on Twitter. 

So I just came over here to wallow for a while. I’ll think of a plan tonight while I fold laundry, and tomorrow will be a little better. 

But this evening…this evening, I’m frustrated and tired. The weather, my herbs mostly dying, Rebekkah being totally unhelpful during cleanup, our lack of structure,  and just life in general. 



There have been a lot of conversations in our corner of the Internet, about housework, and attention to little details. And tonight, some friends and I discussed my Alma Mater, and I realized some interesting things about myself. 

I am not an orderly, tidy person by nature. But I like order and tidiness. I know I appreciate the effects of routine, but I’m not the best at creating them. 

“Work smarter, Fleming, not harder.” My chef instructor used to say it frequently. I am a hard worker! But I tend to just work on whatever pops into my head, and I would like to be more efficient.

Tonight, I spent a fair bit of time mapping out how I would like my workday to flow. In my bullet journal, I wrote an ordered list for each day this week, with all my regular tasks, a weekly task, and a bath schedule for the kids. There are FOUR of them, and ONE bathroom. They can’t all bathe every night! {editing to say, okay. Technically I have FIVE kids, but Maria is WEE, and does not need regular tub baths. Yet.} I wrote each day on its own page, so I have plenty of space to make notes about what worked well, and what didn’t. 

I’ll say this: writing these lists made me feel good. I sometimes get to the end of the day, and feel like I didn’t get anything done. All the things I wrote on my list are things I get done on a regular basis! I do A LOT! 

I just want to do it better. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Gingerbread Pancakes

YUM. This makes a pretty good batch. I usually make pancakes at dinner and freeze leftovers for easy breakfasts later.

Dry ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 3.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp salt

Wet ingredients in another bowl:

  • 3 cups buttermilk (I’m not telling you what to do… but I use full fat.)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3-4 Tbs molasses
  • 1 Tbs melted butter
  • 2 Tbs neutral-tasting oil

Make a little well in the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients in, whisk gently, try not to beat it to death. Some lumps are okay!

Grease your pan/griddle/skillet, heat over medium. I use a 1/4 cup per pancake, but you do you. Wait for the bubbles, flip.

I drizzled this royal icing on some, maple syrup on others. Both were delicious.

I was sad that I didn’t have any pears… I felt like spiced pears would have been a nice side, along with the bacon we had. OOOOH… spiced pears with RUM. Yes? Yes. We had applesauce, which was fine, because the pears would have been wasted on my very lovely children.


Okay, so… I am juggling a lot of scheduley-things, and I’m really struggling with getting stuff done. SO. I am going to tell you about my schedule, and if you make it to the end, you can tell me what I can do to make it better. Because I KNOW everybody is SO BUSY, and I want to know how you handle it. Actually. Even if you don’t make it to the end, if you see something that really sticks out, tell me!

I try hard to pack lunches the night before. Some nights, it just doesn’t happen.

Every morning

5:30-6:00 Get up. Shower, pack lunches if that hasn’t been done, get grab&go breakfast stuff ready, get dressed…ish.

6:00-6:30 Wake Samuel, get him through the morning grind. Rebekkah usually gets up at the same time as him, no big deal, because her stuff is later. Clothes, teeth, socks and shoes, double-check backpacks again.

6:45-7:00 Load big kids in the van. Wake Sarah and Sophia, stuff them into carseats. Pass out breakfast.

7:30 Back home from dropping Samuel. Take care of Sarah and Sophia, make sure Rebekkah is dressed, second breakfasts if necessary.

Mondays and Fridays:

7:30-10:30 Hang out with my girls, snuggle, read, color, keep them from killing each other, try really hard to get something productive done. No really. You would think this three hour block would be useful. It is not.

10:30-11:00 Lunch

11:30-12:00 Try to get Sarah and Sophia snuggled in for naps. Not that they actually fall asleep during this time. haaaahahahaha.

12:30 Load Rebekkah and take her to preschool. (Mom is in the shop with the adjoining door open, so she can hear if Sarah and Sophia actually need something. Mostly, I tell her to leave them alone unless she thinks they’re injured, or the building is on fire.)

12:45-1:45 Try to get SOMETHING done. Fold laundry, do dishes, prep dinner, tidy the bathroom. Some days, I lay down for a few minutes and mess around on Twitter.

2:00 Wake Sarah and Sophia (sometimes after a meager 30 minutes of napping yay), and load them up to go sit in the car line to pick up Samuel and Rebekkah.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I work and the girls go to Mother’s Day Out and Extended Day/K3 at 9:00

9:30-2:30 Work for my parents.

2:30 Pick up Sarah and Sophia, go pick up Samuel, go BACK to the first place and pick up Rebekkah.

Every evening

3:20 Arrive home, unload everybody, encourage the kids to play outside for a little while.

4:00 Get Samuel started on homework. After that, the big kids get encouraged to help pick up the living room. Rebekkah usually cries. Sarah and Sophia usually cry, more on MDO/work days.

5:00-5:30 Samuel goes to work for my Dad.

6:00-6:30 Dinner

After dinner… things sort of fall apart. Actually, things usually fall apart as soon as the kids get home, but whatever. We rotate through baths, kids finish picking up, load backpacks, etc. Sometimes they get to watch a show. I TRY to get Sarah and Sophia in bed around 7:30. Actually, I try to get them in bed before that, but it never actually works. AND they would never see Jeremy, who gets home 7:00-8:00ish.

I would LIKE for the big kids to be in bed at 7:30 and asleep by 8:00, but since I’m juggling all four kids during that time… it’s nearly impossible. I aim for 8:00-8:30, but really, they’re in bed around 8:30 and asleep by 9:00.

After kids get in bed, I finish the kitchen, and catch up on what little work I can before I feel like I’m going to stab somebody. Pack lunches. Fold/run laundry. Talk to Jeremy for at least 5-10 minutes.

I’m always behind, and the house is always awful, unless I stay up until 11 or 12, which… maybe while I’m not pregnant. If I do that very often these days, I end up oversleeping every day, which is really problematic.

I try to keep dinners simple, but I really enjoy cooking… when the kids aren’t clawing at my legs and weeping. I mentioned on Twitter that during my last pregnancy, I tried really hard to meal prep one day a week, and I froze a lot of dinners. There were enough dinners that I didn’t actually cook dinner for three weeks! I have zero meals frozen now, at 31 weeks, unless you count the three boxes of Stouffer’s dinners I tucked away. I’m thinking that I might just stock up on a variety of those when Publix has them on sale again– $5!

Back to the simple dinners thing: I’ve tried doing slow cooker meals, but the results are pretty mediocre. OR I think it’s delicious and nobody else will really eat them. OR I don’t get around to freezing any, and they end up mutating in my fridge. I DO buy the bags of frozen, steam-in-the-bag veggies at Sam’s, and we eat A LOT of those. Even/especially the kids.

Laundry usually gets run on Saturday night/Sunday and folded Sunday night. If it gets folded. We’ve been living out of baskets for the last two weeks, which is okay, but I feel like a lot of Sarah and Sophia’s clothes have disappeared?

I just… I wish I had one magical kid-free day a week, where I could do some seriously intense work, and get stuff ready for the rest of the week. Even every other week would help. I don’t know what do to make my days more efficient.

Also, Hi! It’s only going to get crazier with a new baby!


Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

I started with a 3-4 pound pie pumpkin. Scrubbed it down. Plunked it in my (4-6qt) crock pot with a little water. 1/4-1/2 cup.  

Set to low, left it overnight. 

This morning, I (carefully!) removed it. Took of the stem, scooped out the seeds, put it back in the crock pot. 

I cored and cut 2.5 apples, and tossed them in. The last half apple was the result of owning many small children. Added a hefty amount of cinnamon (almost 1/4 cup), 1/4 teaspoon each of ginger and nutmeg, and a few tablespoons of honey. 

Left it on low for a few hours, while we went to mass and Joann Fabrics. Let me tell you about my Joann Fabrics MIRACLE: I am participating in a felt food swap, so I bought 2 yards or white felt, and NOTHING ELSE. I had a 50% off coupon, so I spent only $6. See? Miracle!

Came home and puréed my delicious-smelling crockpot full of ugliness.  Had to taste and tweak a little. Needed more sweetness AND some tartness. Wished I had a lemon and brown sugar. Added more honey and some applesauce, instead. 


IN RETROSPECT:I would have cut the stem out and scraped the seeds out (like a jack o’ lantern), THEN put my apples, spices, and (hypothetical) brown sugar inside. Would that actually make a difference? I have no idea. But it sounds awesome. Also, I bought a vanilla bean yesterday, and that might have been a fun addition, along with some rum or bourbon. 

Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter

I started with a 3-4 pound pie pumpkin. Scrubbed it down. Plunked it in my (4-6qt) crock pot with a little water. 1/4-1/2 cup. 

Set to low, left it overnight. 

This morning, I (carefully!) removed it. Took of the stem, scooped out the seeds, put it back in the crock pot. 

I cut and cored up 2.5 apples.