Questions? Ask away!
I'll start with the ones we get most often:
HOW many kids do you have?!
25. Here's the longer explanation: 4 by birth, 20 by adoption, (8 different countries)1 by legal guardianship, ages 2-29, 21 still living, 4 in heaven, all girls, all very disabled. Our youngest was 12 until we got legal guardianship of our 2-year old granddaughter and now we begin again. Greg and I are both over 50. Yippee! No, they were not all little at the same time, yes, we know what caused it (the computer!!), yes, I giggled every time I took 6, 7 or 8 to the grocery store and when asked if they were "all mine" I could answer, "No, this is just a third." If you want to read a little more, just head on over to our Family page.
How do you feed them all?
I swear to you, this is the #1 question we get. I shop sales, Costco is my normal grocery store, I don't coupon (no time for that), I have a huge food storage room, we cook from scratch, I taught my kids how to cook and we quadruple, sextuple and even octuple recipes. We make the meat stretch. We have 2 dishwashers and we currently do 4-6 loads on an average day. 8 on Sunday. Keep in mind that more than half our kids are out of the home.....When everyone comes home, we feed 27 or so.....I also love to cook, mostly easy-to-fix recipes that can feed a crowd. With so many kids coming from backgrounds of food deprivation, I made it a goal that they would never experience hunger or food insecurity again. Now you know why I don't weigh 120 pounds. Well that, and I hate exercising.
How do you keep from going crazy?
Come on - I know what you REALLY want to ask is "Are you freaking crazy, woman?!" I know some people think so. I like to think I'm just "living a bigger story" and pursuing my life's many callings with gusto. Marjorie Pay Hinckley captured my life goals:
“I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”
OK, back to the question at hand. How do I stay sane? I learned a long time ago that taking care of myself was critically important to being able to take care of everyone else in my life. (Did I mention I am also a midwife??) You can check out my page on self-care or for the nutshell version, I do things that fill my soul: temple worship, pedicures, reading, meditation, serving others outside my home and as often as possible, travel.
What do you think are the keys to "living a bigger story?"
Just do it.
Easier said than done, I know. Time constraints, fear, negative input from others - I've experienced them all and I bet you have too. The bottom line for me is that to "live a bigger story" or to live a life of meaning, I have to have some foundational things in place: time management skills (sometimes called work/life balance, but believe me, that's an illusion), self-care and a solid grounding in a spiritual life. "Living a bigger story" means serving others, stretching myself, doing things I am scared of that help me grow. I live by this Ayn Rand quote: "The question isn't who is going to let me. It's who is going to stop me." I've been stopped a few times, but I've also had the chance to do and see some amazing things. I also try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to detach from the outcomes, meaning I throw myself wholeheartedly into the current project or projects, regardless of the outcome. Like running for political office. I've won (once) and lost (twice). Winning is more fun, but I ran full-out every time. And when the calling changes (actively adopting is no longer it), I gripe and moan and stumble around in the dark until I begin to see the next steps of the staircase. One of these days, I'll be gracious about the in-between times......