Category Archives: motherhood

New title and tagline

WordPress is sending me daily emails. Trying to help me with my blog education. Today I was supposed to update my title and tagline.

When we got our first foster care placement back in September, our number of kids went from 5 to 6. At the time, my Instagram account was titled 5grubbworms. That was driving me crazy because now there weren’t just 5 there were 6. Even if Pipsqueak is only here for a little while, she’s a Grubb while she’s here. So I pondered changing it to 6grubbworms but I have no idea if we will foster more children in the future so why place a limit on the number? So my @5grubbworms became @allthelittlegrubbs on Instagram and I liked it so much I decided to revamp the blog name too.

The tagline is a different story and requires a little more explanation.

I love children. All the children. I really do. I’m the grown-up who will fight for the kids. I want to protect them all, heal them all, love them all. I would gladly give them my all.

Unfortunately, I’m also an introvert. Most small humans under the age of 18 tend to be loud and have endless stores of energy and emotional needs. It’s the way they are wired.

In essence, what I love about children – their innocence, kindness, excitement, energy, creativity, transparency, affectionate natures and potential, is also what is so, so exhausting.

Are they worth it though? Are they worth wanting to crawl into a shell after being with them all day? Are they worth never getting to have a complete adult conversation? Of not having time to read a book, or write a blog post, go on trips, etc.? Of course. No doubt.

My new tagline: Give me all the children. Then get them away from me.

Fatty, Fatty 2 by 4

*This post is a follow up to my Social Media Fast post, if you’d like to start there.

Funny-Weight-loss-Cartoon-W630

I decided to move on to another area of my life that has been weighing me down (literally). My eating and my exercise habits (or lack thereof). I have approached these changes with a totally different attitude than I ever have. I am only drinking water and black coffee, no more sodas or tea, creamer or Frappuccinos (evil Starbucks). I was consuming a lot of sugar and crap through what I was drinking and I wanted to see if the same amount of self-discipline that allowed me to quit social media would also be there while I quit eating desserts, eating after 6:30pm and drinking sugar.

As with the social media fast, I quickly realized that this was going to be more of a psychological battle. The first challenge? Becoming obsessed with a number on the scale. So many experts out there will tell you not to worry about what the scale says. I don’t have a specific number in mind, but I do have a range I’d like to be in. And I have to make that my goal because I can’t see my own body for what it is.

When I look at myself it is all subjective. My number on the scale may be 50 pound less than the person next to me, but I still see and feel that I am too big. I know everyone may not have this problem, but I’d venture to say the majority of American women do. We are not usually pleased with our bodies, no matter what we say or project. There is a certain amount of my “give a damn” that broke when I turned 40. But I am human. I’d rather not be buying bigger sizes of clothes. I’d rather be comfortable in a swimsuit. I’d rather not look 6 months pregnant when my youngest child is about to turn 5.

So my motivation initially to make diet/exercise changes was to lose weight. But just like with the social media fast, I quickly realized with every day that passed that I was sleeping better, having fewer headaches and fewer mood swings. It’s funny how much and how long we justify our bad habits. I have had so many sweet friends over the years try to give me advice on how to better care for myself physically. Drink more water. Walk or run. Cut out most sugar. Don’t eat late. Eat more veggies. Don’t eat out.

And I appreciate every moment they took to try and help me. Unfortunately, what comes easier to some, comes very painfully to others. I DETEST exercise. I didn’t say that so plainly for many years, but it’s the truth. I didn’t play sports as a kid, the opportunities weren’t afforded me to even try. By college, my roommate was a runner and exercise science major. At that point I was about 120 pounds and thought exercise was a) BORING b) quite uncomfortable (with all that sweating) c) pointless. Then my mid-20’s hit and along with it came 5 babies in a less than 8 year span. And I grew all those babies. Like I gained all the weight and have all the stretch marks (making me regret the belly button ring I had in college).

Along with the eating changes, I do want to start walking. The three oldest kids will be running cross country this semester. I’m hoping to walk while they are practicing three times a week, IF Parker and Jonah will cooperate and walk with me.

Here’s to hoping I can continue to establish good habits, feel healthier and lose a few pounds. Without having to eat a skinny person.

Family Meeting

If I had to name two things that bring me joy they would be organization and change. I happen to think these are good qualities that enable me to be able to thrive in chaotic, stressful environments. My poor husband on the other hand really likes for things to be predictable. I don’t think he knew what he was getting himself into when he met me 15  years ago. Even when we were first married and we would be working different shifts or days, he would come home and the furniture would be rearranged and the plates moved to a different cabinet. I would be fired up about a new plan for getting a pet, moving, a new place to buy groceries or new budget spreadsheet. Bless him.

I have tried hard for his sake to limit these changes and he’s done an awesome job at realizing that his wife isn’t trying to make him crazy, she just loves change.

When it comes to having children in your home, whether its one child or eight children, organization and change are imperative. Now, I am not saying that consistency goes out the window. All children flourish with consistency. What I’m talking about is organizing environments and schedules and being willing to change methods and plans.

For example, yesterday morning I called a family meeting with the kids. There were 3 major discussions we needed to have; chores, schoolwork/reading time, “that’s not fair”.

In the area of chores, our kids have a good amount of responsibility. Now that everyone is getting older, I’ve added a few more to their list. We talked about combining a few chores and made assignments for the next week or two. For example, Foster has laundry and bathroom #2. He is responsible for washing, drying, putting away all the laundry. He also wipes down the bathroom sink, mirror, toilet at least once a day. He only has to scrub the tub if it needs it.

The second thing we discussed was the expectation that they need to either work on schoolwork (we never finish Math in a typical school year) or read for one hour before they have any screen time or friend time. With breakfast, chores and reading time they should be done by about 10:30 am and that leaves the next 8 hours for them to be free and have fun.

The third item on the agenda was about attitudes. We discussed how much we have in way of toys, clothes, safety, security and comfort compared to other children. We talked about gratitude and not comparing what someone else gets to what we get. In our home, we have lots of discussion regarding “sometimes its your turn and sometimes its not”. This week Foster was able to spend extra time with visiting family and go to the science museum. Katie got to go with them to the Lost Sea. The younger boys got to go to Chick-fil-a (like go inside and play, which is a rare treat).

This understanding is imperative in our family because not everyone is the same age and maturity level. And the gap will just continue to widen as everyone gets older. When Foster gets a phone or is able to drive the younger boys will still just be 12, 10 and 8 years old. They’re going to have to see him with a lot of privilege and freedom that will be years off for them. In keeping with that, I told them that if I hear “that’s not fair” in any form, like “but he got to, Katie got more than me, I didn’t get a turn,” then they would get a check mark on the white board in the kitchen. Each check mark equals 5 minutes earlier bedtime.

When we have these family meetings, I try to keep the list of items or things we’re changing or working on down to 3 or 4 items so that the kids don’t get overwhelmed and the expectations are clear.

The kids really respond well to these meetings. They will chime in with their own ideas and opinions. They are willing to be flexible and try new routines and rules. Each time I make these changes in the house, I’m showing them that they can learn new things and change their own attitudes. Chris and I are trying to teach them that a family is a team. We work together and not against each other. When we do work together, we feel closer and we can accomplish more.

 

Wishes and Obstacles

I turned 40 years old in April.

I am probably about halfway there, if I live until I’m 80.

A little backstory to my wish. When I was 8 years old my cousin, who was 6 years old, spent time with us pretty often. Things were rough at her house. My aunt had made another bad man choice and I’d say odds are pretty good that my little cousin was being abused. She was definitely being neglected. I grew up on the good side of town. But my cousin, she was on the poor side of town. The times I went to her side of town and stayed are burned in my memory. The games we played in the trailer park where we dug for treasures in the dumpster. The times we stayed outside as long as possible to stay away from her “step-dad” and all the smoking and drinking. Her mom and step-dad fought a lot. They screamed and threw things. Then as we got a little older, they had a baby. He was left next door with his grandmother for hours or days. They preferred the baby boy so my little cousin was treated even worse into her preteen years.

As I got older, my middle school, middle class attitude caused me to draw a line in the sand between myself and my cousin. She was over there with THEM. I was over here, where things were clean, quiet and comfortable.

When I left college to work in a group home filled with girls in state’s custody, I encountered more girls like my cousin. More children who had grown up not just in poverty, but were growing up with abuse, neglect and hopelessness. For every teenage girl that came through and stayed at the group home, there were a many younger siblings they had left behind. They were old enough to run away, or get in trouble so that they were removed from the home but their younger siblings were still there. Or had been scattered among foster homes.

At 23 years old, I knew that I would be a foster parent. What I really thought was that I would open my own group home. Then the state decided every child should be in a home, not an institution, so true long-term group homes have been all but eliminated. The vision, the dream, the desire I had then looked like this: A safe, stable, clean place that any child could find refuge in for as long as they needed it. This vision included meals together, chores and outings, hugs and encouragement, protection and spiritual guidance.

My belief system is anchored in the belief that God has a plan. He knew my childhood, He knew my early working years, He knows my marriage and family now. He is in control.

What I also believe is that I have to move forward with my wish. So that He can show me how the obstacles can be removed. I cannot stop moving forward because of what other people may think, because of discomfort or inconvenience. I will not stop moving forward. If God wanted me to have a different dream, He would have given me one.

My inspiration for this post came from this TED talk.

Getting ready for 2016

2016 is almost here and I’m excited!

Personally, I’ll be challenging myself to continue to add balance to my life. Somehow, when I began to have children and then decided to stay home and educate them myself, I made a dangerous trade-off.

Not only did my husband and I decide to become a one income family but I lost something much more valuable than a paycheck. I lost myself.

This is a risk for all mothers, I believe. Whether they mean for it to happen or not. Some women pride themselves in throwing their all into their children’s lives, thinking and feeling like their children and their husband should always be first and be given the focus of ALL their energy and time. I did this at first. I decided to stop pursuing a career in the social work world to instead stay home and raise my first baby boy.

I have never regretted my decision. Our family grew quickly, five babies in 7 and a half years and I was BUSY. Busy with nursing babies and changing diapers, chasing toddlers and teaching preschoolers. Busy learning how to home educate. Busy learning how to be married when the shiny and new wears off and the hard, lean, trying years crowd out romance and time together.

In all that busyness, I did forget to add in a little margin for myself. I let old friendships die, I stopped reading almost completely, I did not write my thoughts or my favorite quotes anymore. I did not go out to eat with a friend and sit and talk for hours on a regular basis. I did not ask for what I needed, I did not seek out ways I could continue to fight for children in foster care and meet the needs of a population I feel most called to help.

I let it all get lost and while I can (and have over the years) blame circumstances and my husband and others for this, the responsibility lies with me. This TED talk really sums up the gist of it. It is up to me to get what I want.

If I want to read, I need to take the time and let the people around me know that it is a priority. If I want to write, I need to do just sit down and write. I have participated in and won NaNoWriMo 2014 and 2015 and that has done wonders for me. In 2015, I challenged myself to read 48 books. I won’t make it to 48, not for lack of trying but because my spinal fusion recovery caused me to miss more reading time than I planned. I am on my 43rd book of the year so I feel like I’ve still accomplished a lot!

Deciding to fight for my health, to fight against my own fear of surgery and the feeling of “who will do it all if I’m out of commission for that long”. Making the decision to have spinal fusion surgery – that was another accomplishment for 2015.

So why I am so excited for 2016?

First, I’ll be adding a photography challenge to my current reading and writing challenges. I know NOTHING (a big, fat zero percent) about photography. All I know is that when I look at some of my talented friends’ photos, I am inspired to be creative.

My children are always asking me, “What do you get if you win?” They aren’t very impressed when I explain that I just get the satisfaction of knowing I’ve done it!

Second, I’ll be training and working as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer again. I did this for a short time when I left the Blount County Children’s Home in 2002. I am so passionate about this organization and advocating for children. I can’t wait to get started!

And last but not least, I turn 40 this year. I plan to celebrate the whole year, but so that I don’t drive everyone around me crazy, I’ll try to limit the blatant celebrating to the month of April.

spring 2014

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a moment captured

 

It’s not often that I catch a picture of all of my babies smiling these big, genuine smiles. I am not a photographer. The lighting is always wrong and their are weird blurry spots where there should be a child. The background is full of unflattering things no one wants to see, like dirty dishes, filled to the brim trashcans or toys randomly thrown about the yard.

I have a couple of friends who take pictures of my kids because we run in the same circles and I look at their pictures and think “that is the most beautiful child in the world” (not that I’m biased).  You’ve seen some of them, I post them on here and tag them on Facebook.

I always do feel a little proud that somehow my husband and I managed to give birth to these little beauties. Well, I feel proud briefly until I have to break up a screaming fist fight before someone ends up bloody. Then, I realize that pictures only tell so much.

I want to frame the pictures from the professionals. They are classy and elegant.

This picture, the one where all of my children have piled into a cardboard box, is the one I want to memorize.

The one I want to stare at and have the image burned into my brain.

I want to be able to smell the smell of summer and dirt. I want to hear the sound of giggling and laughing and jostling one another. I want to see the sight of Foster’s sense of humor, Katie’s desire to please, Theodore’s sweet spirit, Parker’s adoring look at Daddy and Jonah doing his best to imitate his big brother.

Only my pictures, the ones I took, the moments I felt compelled to pick up my camera and “capture” are the ones that can give me all of that. Imperfect as they may be.