How does she do it?

The majority of my mom friends only have one or two children. So whenever we get together and/or have a chance to talk, it’s inevitable that they remark about how much more I have to handle and deal with.

And it’s true. Having 5 children certainly does make for more chaos! I just brush these comments off though because little do they know that I have a handful of secrets to manage the stress. Most moms with less than 2 or 3 children will not understand these methods, and that’s OK. Moms of 4 (or more) will totally get this. There are numerous issues I encounter while trying to get through my day. These issues include:

    1. Idle hands spend time doing terrible toddler things (e.g., picking their nose, putting their hands in their diaper, dumping cat food into the cats’ water bowl).
    1. When toddlers step out of line, the punishment must be swift and harsh.
    1. When toddlers do good work, the reward must also be swift (and sometimes harsh).
  • The following are 4 of my secrets for getting through the day without beginning to drink at 8:45 a.m.

    Secret #1: Your 2-year-old is more capable than you think:
    Put their incessant energy to good use by making them perform the household chores that you hate. For example, let your toddler wash their own bottles. In addition, have them finish up the leftover dishes from the previous night’s dinner.

    Also, cleanliness is next to godliness, so have them wash their hands repeatedly. This is a double bonus, because they will have relatively clean hands (for a couple of minutes) and they find this exercise enjoyable.

    Secret #2: 2-year-olds are excellent at doing laundry:
    Here you can see Coraline cleaning out the lint filter. Another double bonus, because the lint problem gets taken care of and thoroughly punishes the toddler who has just spent 20 minutes washing her hands.

    Secret #3: Your 1-year-old is more capable than you think:
    For example, Halsey does an excellent job of (re)formatting his father’s Kindle.

    Also, they say a 1-year-old’s mouth is cleaner than a dog’s, so let him disinfect those germ-ridden game controllers.

    When your 1-year-old does his chores appropriately, a suitable reward is letting him play with plastic bags.

    However, when your 1-year-old tries to run from helping fold laundry…

    Suitable punishments include making him smash his own fingers in the kitchen hand towel drawer:

    Locking him in a dark bathroom:

    Making him watch TV from outside of the family room gate:

    One item of importance is making sure your 2-year-old doesn’t get lazy. You’ve got to make her sharpen her incredible gymnastic skills.

    Also, you can’t let your toddler get too comfortable. A good way to keep them in line is making them nap without their favourite blanket. Note the look of glee on my 2-year-old’s face. She clearly enjoys my creative methods for compliance.

    Secret #4: Your cat can actually be helpful:

    Here is Lieutenant Clawhugs reporting for duty.

    He helps by using his entire furry body to dust off the kitchen table.

    Cats are also excellent inspectors.

    In fact, cats are very thorough inspectors.

    Once your cat is done inspecting your toddler’s work, he’ll likely want to take a break by laying on a clean kitchen towel. (This is because cats are notoriously lazy.)

    At least he makes up for his laziness by voicing his complaints. (Cats hate the paparazzi.)

    This Is Love ♥

    (From left to right: the Middle, a Little, and a Biggle)

    Better late than never.

    My oldest boy turned 12 years old (born on the 4th of July!), the other day. Rather than just slapping on a normal gift tag, I decided to create one, specially for him. I went through hundreds of pictures in order to add a picture from every single birthiversary he’s had so far.

    Sadly, I realized that I have zero pictures from his 4th birthday (because his 4th birthiversary just so happened to be celebrated while he lived in England with his father, so naturally, I never received any pictures – if there even were any). Sidenote: Additionally, I found that for his 5th birthiversary celebration (also, while he lived with his father in England), I received a total of 3 pictures of his celebration, and (again), zero pictures of this 6th birthiversary. (If you guessed it was because he was still living with his father, you’d be absolutely correct.) /sidenote.

    Regardless of this, I still managed to create this, something that I, myself, was proud of. I’m happy to report that Todd really enjoyed it too. So much so, that he wants me to reprint it so I can frame it and hang it in his room.

    Happy 12th Birthiversary, Todd. I love you more than you will ever be able to measure. ♥

    Overheard in the Household – Volume 4

    From several weeks ago:
    Logan: Julie, you’re pulling my leg off!

    Another “conversation” later that same day:
    Logan: Julie, you knocked my shirt off.
    Me: Do you mean, you knocked my socks off?
    Logan: (Muttering under his breath as he walked away.) Yeah, you knocked my sock off.

    An Open Letter to Coraline “Jones” Dukes

    Today, you turned 2 years old. I am both astounded and horrified that you’re already another year older.

    Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve had a 2 year old that I wholeheartedly believe that you are an absolute genius. (Or, it may just be because I’m your mother.) Let me list the ways:

    • You know and regularly use close to 200 “signs” (in American Sign Language).
    • You know your colours (although you still get pink and purple confused sometimes) and can sign them all.
    • You can count to 10, both out loud and with sign language.
    • You recognize all of the letters of the alphabet, along with their respective signs.
    • You are already an amazing gymnast. You regularly climb on top of your little car all the way up to the handlebars, then proceed to balance yourself on the handlebars on the tiptoes of ONE FOOT, just to reach things we intentionally try to keep out of your reach. (Like the television remote, wet wipes, vodka, whatever.)
    • You idolize your big brothers. You always walk around the house asking (i.e., yelling) for Todd while he is at school during the day. You get so happy when you see him walk through the door because you know that means it’s time to play. You do the same thing with Logan.
    • You are an incredible climber! More than once I’ve caught you sitting in the middle of the kitchen table because you’ve climbed up onto a dining room chair to reach the table’s surface. (Our kitchen table approximately 4.5 feet tall.)
  • At your party today, you single-handedly astounded Great Papa by counting to 10 out loud. You shocked Papa and Gramom by naming all of the coloured polka dots on the wrapping paper your gift was in. You made Great Grandmama laugh at the way you are so particular sometimes (OK, all the time).

    But here’s the news of today’s heartbreak: When I came to scoop you up out of bed first thing this morning, instead of allowing me to do so, you threw your leg over the bar of your crib and shimmied down to the floor, all on your own. It was gut-wrenching to witness this, but it was also incredible to see how confident you are in all of your amazing, glorious, precocious, 2-year-old self.

    I couldn’t be any prouder or more awestruck at how lucky we are to have you as our daughter.

    I love you fiercely, Coraline Grayson Dukes. Happy 2nd Birthiversary.

    Overheard in the Household – Volume 3

    This little nugget is also from several months ago.

    Me: Now that she’s done napping, Cora is currently in her crib dancing and making out with Eeyore.
    Derek: I always feared that my daughter would end up dating a jackass.

    Overheard in the Household – Volume 2

    This installment of OHH is brought to you by a child named Logan:

    A while back, Logan ran into our front room where Derek and I were sitting in order to ramble off some completely random fact he felt important enough to share with us. (Because it’s been several months now, I can’t remember what it was exactly.) Before he sprinted back into the family room, we had the following conversation.

    Logan: (Insert random knowledge trivia here.)
    Me: Wait, wait, wait! What made you think of that?
    Logan: My brain just thought of it. I had a brainstorm!

    From this past weekend…

    Logan: Guess what? We have a new student in our class!
    Me: That’s exciting! Are they nice?
    Logan: Her name is Amelia. I introduced her to myself!

    There is no cure for curiosity.

    Benjamin Franklin, in a 1773 letter, expressed regret that he lived “in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science” that he could not be preserved and revived to fulfill his “very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence.”

    You have NO idea…

    How much I want her to marry this boy. (Once they are both in their mid-thirties or so.)


    When I think about the world and how big it can seem, I know I can get through it all with my best friend right next to me.

    We started out as little kids and watched each other grow, and anywhere I went with you I felt like I was home.

    We won’t worry about our future, or fret about our past.

    We’ll enjoy our time together knowing that this quietness will last.