An Interview

(Holding my great niece -sweet baby Felicity- with my two youngest waiting for their baby-hog mom to hand her over and share.)

You can hear me talk too fast and burst out crying here today.  The beautiful Marianne Anderson interviewed me about mothering, balance, cancer, tech for teens, life trials and more.  It was so fun!   I am going back through all her podcast episodes and they are awesome.  This is one to subscribe to.  (Check out Dorothy Dersch's interviews-really really good.)


A Reader's Question:Large Families and Being Enough

I asked permission to post and answer this question on my blog because I had a few similar emails just like this one and I thought I'd share my thoughts all at once.

Hello Sarah!
I've been reading your blog for about 10 years now.  I stumbled upon it when my oldest was just a baby and I was trying to navigate life as a new full time mom.  I always look forward to reading your thoughts on motherhood and your wisdom, advice and toy recommendations have been like gold to me so thank you!  

Your latest blog entry about attitude really struck a chord with me and as I was looking through your book recommendations for boys (thank you!)  I thought I would email you and seek a little more advice and wisdom in regards to the area of attitude.  I am now a mom to 6 kiddos 10 and under.  10, 8, 6, 4, and 2 year old twins!  Lately I am having a terrible time finding joy in my role as a mom.  I feel so overwhelmed with the needs of six kids, my husband, the house, food prep, grocery shopping, cleaning, organizing and then trying to look all my kids in the eye and have meaningful conversations with them - especially the older ones about school, friends, faith, etc.  I feel like I'm completely failing the older ones...the only calm time of the day is after the twins are down and it's after dinner and I'm having a hard time not just wanting to sit and zone out on my phone OR just keep pushing the pace by prepping lunches for the next day or making sure everything is put back in order.  I hope I'm making sense here!  I know you have 6 kids with a wide age range so I'm sure you've felt the difficulty of having older kids with babies still in the mix.  

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for balancing a large family and how to find joy when it just feels chaotic a lot of the time?  How to parent the older ones when you feel like you're living in two worlds - pre teen (new territory!) and baby land?  I can do babies easily - just love that phase but as my oldest gets older the fear sets in on how i don't know what I'm doing and it's all new all over again!

Dear Mom of Many Who Feels Overwhelmed;

I love you.  I was you and I still am you sometimes.  Maybe not every day since my older three are "adults"-but I remember the days when they were all at home too.  (I put adults in parentheses because I am still mothering in a different way, sometimes with more on the line and more emotion involved-kids ages now: 25, 23, 21,16, 11, 7.)  

It is ok to not feel joy some days because the job you are doing full-time with almost no time off is the hardest work anyone can do.  Yes, because you have six kids and two year old twins, you are doing the hardest work on the planet.  The needs never end, your job is never over, there is no feeling of accomplishment and you are giving of yourself constantly physically, emotionally and mentally.  Even when you are taking a break, you are conscious of the time and what needs to be done when you get back.  And everything is new coming up to teen years, and it's scary as heck.  You are stepping into a foreign country and the travel guides are too general and impersonal. 

You are not failing.  You are doing what you are supposed to be doing and doing it well whether it feels like it or not.  Your children are some of the most blessed children on earth and you are doing more for them than has been done for most children in the history of the world.  They have full bellies and a safe place to live and a pillow to sleep on and parents who love them and care about their future.  

You are probably burned out.  Be so so careful of being burned out.  Burning out for me led to some icky functioning depression and anxiety I ignored for years.  I felt just like you-that I could never be enough, the pace was so exhausting and I wasn't meeting anyone's needs.  Like I was failing.  Like I had no right to complain because look at all I had.  

I remember a book my mom owned for her career that was about girls growing up with pressure.  The cover was striking so I have a visual memory of it along with the catchy title:  


Does that resonate with you?  I often repeated that when I was where you are.  I am dancing as fast as I can...I can't keep this pace anymore, no one understands, I'm drowning.

Step back.  Look at your life really really honestly.  Write down things that made YOU feel good and refreshed. Remember what those things were.  Right down the things that make you feel bad and then brainstorm practically with a business mindset how you can change them.  Do this every year, gosh do I wish I would have done this.

Think of all of this as temporary during the most intense period of your life. Lead well!  Make the logistics and practical housekeeping the easiest you can make it!  You are trying to find a way to relax more and have more fun.  


-Meal prep-buy frozen foods and make the same easy meals all the time.  Do only cereal in the morning. Go through the pick up line if you have one.  Order from Amazon Prime for everything else.  (I just discovered this and why am I always behind on these awesome inventions!)  Just do ANYTHING to make it all simpler for a few years, and a little more automatic so you can get it off your mind.  Yes I am giving you permission to not buy organic food and cook something amazing every night.  Right now your number one word for meal prep is EASY.

-If you can afford a house cleaner twice a month get one-remember this is temporary if that makes you feel weird or guilty.  If you can't do that than streamline like crazy (a million suggestions on Pinterest) and give your kids jobs, the same ones, every day and every Saturday.  Cut your housework as much as possible-delegate, but don't make it complicated.  My mom used to post jobs on the fridge and you didn't go anywhere or do anything till they were completed. 

-Say no to your older kids if driving or activities stress the family out.  Or hand that duty to your husband IF that works.  The parents COME FIRST.   

-Organizing-start putting half your house away.  Half the toys up in the attic or away where probably no one will miss them.  Half the clothes.  Half of anything that makes you have more work.  (For me this is clothes and toys.) Less things = more time.

In other words, take a week to figure out how you can streamline the practical work of raising a large family down-WAY down. 

-Look at your calendar.  Mark aside a time every week to connect with that older child in a meaningful way. Ten minutes, a breakfast, a walk, a laying on the bed and quick conversation when you are exhausted moment.  Of course you are always there, but YOU need to KNOW that you did this to feel better.  And if you schedule it, or write it in a list you will relieve yourself of the thought "I am completely failing..."   Or write them notes and put them on their beds with gum or a candy bar.  Capitalize on the time they are in school and it's quieter at home. My older kids say this meant so so much to them and that they read them all the time in the hard teenage years.

-Share with your husband how you are feeling and ask for help, or suggestions.  


Write out what makes you feel good. SO much of this is a mindset.  If you feel like you aren't enough and something makes you feel guilty (which never feels good, it's supposed to be a sign to wake up and assess) than see if that is actually warranted.   Maybe it's just that your expectations are way too high?  Examine that.  

Comparison is the thief of joy.  Do you read a blog or look at Instagram and think that moms are always looking in to their children's eyes with big smiles on their faces while they are thin and have makeup on and all the kids clothes match, and having deep felt beautiful best friend talks with their teens who adore them every moment and that every home is organized and clean?  (If you think that's me and I ever gave you that impression than I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart.  I love my kids as much as you and have felt EXACTLY like you do now and that is SO not my life, in a million different ways, heck no.)  Sometimes those images and ideas can seep into our minds as much as we know the truth-even I who write about this am guilty still of thinking some mom has special magical powers to do it all perfectly or "better" than me at all the things.  

Remember we live in a culture that thinks if you don't throw your child a birthday party you must be the worst mom ever.  If your house doesn't look like one of those fake images on Instagram you must not have your act together.  If your baby isn't speaking full sentences by the time they are 18 months old, you didn't stimulate them enough.  If your teen isn't begging for service hours and wanting to wear one piece turtleneck bathing suits and read all day and go to church we really screwed up.  When I compare our expectations of mothering to my grandmothers expectations (who each had a boat load of kids) it's laughable.  Because we are going to KILL ourselves trying to meet those expectations and yes-never find joy. 

Painting flower garden beautiful 26+ Ideas for 2019 - #flowergardenanime #flowergardenbeds #flowergardendrawing #flowergardenvintage #miniflowergarden

Watch your negative thoughts.  They grow.  If you think "I am never enough" or "I must be doing this wrong" or "my kids will be messed up because they are being neglected because I am taking care of babies" :)  STOP.  I told my good friend with eight children (Hi Sarah) one day after my sixth was born that I go to bed feeling guilty, thinking of everything I didn't do, or who I didn't hug or talk to, or who I snapped at.  She said, "I try to go to bed thinking of what I did give my kids that day."  HELLO!!!  And if it's a warm bed, and food, YAY!!!  If it's a house where they know they are loved, boy, do they have an incredible start in life.  If they have all that and a mom and dad who are setting an example of what love really is-serving others-how awesome is that.  Go on from there-toys to play with, good schools, siblings to learn about life with, a mom who cares enough to write to me about how she is overwhelmed...see!!!  They have what they need.  Period.  

You are doing enough.  You ARE enough.

Love, Sarah

I could write a book on all this so two things I will still address-transitioning to raising teens as a mom (OUR transition can be just as rocky as theirs), and raising many kids at once (so many benefits if you are lucky to have many children.)


Ordinary Days

Beautiful autumn days here-cold mornings and mostly sunny afternoons.  Baking, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, and reading-fills up my days, along with the new venture.

I wrote down two funny things my kids said this week:
Janey told me this morning-"You should only call 911 if it's an emergency.  Not if it's like "my stuffed animal doesn't have anything to eat!"  That apparently is a different sort of emergency.

Andrew called me from home and said "Mom are you giving these loaves of bread to anyone?"  No.  "Can I please eat them all?" 

Here's a quick disorganized ordinary days.

One of my pieces.

The store I have a booth in, on a pretty autumn day.

Matt's welcome home from college.

Andrew's last soccer game as a sophomore.  They won!  He scored twice.  And I was there and watching and missed them both somehow.  Really!  I think I need a new contact prescription.

Stopped to see my niece who is such a hard worker and who I adore.

Patrick and his BF doing what they love best. 

Another piece.

Aren't those flowers gorgeous?  I know I just said something about just going and getting bouquets at Krogers but wowzers-my friend's niece's wedding.  Sweetest girl ever.

Mom I lost my braid at recess and I didn't know how to do it so I just left it like that.

Didn't work.

Friday Night Lights.

Babysitting for a neighbor baby who happens to be the cutest chubbiest baby in the world.

We walk by the bridal store where they have 3 mannequins set up in each window and we choose our favorite dress.  Family tradition.

Scootering around town.

Tired selfies.

Special guy who is almost driving.

That's all...on to the weekend.  Have a happy one!


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Two things:

Even if it's just $10.  Please!  She had triple negative just like me and it's back again and that is a nightmare...for every cancer survivor who went through hell to get healthy again, and for every mother diagnosed with cancer, especially a cancer like triple negative that is aggressive. 

Wearing a pink ribbon isn't enough.  We are all aware of breast cancer.  This is the way to help.  To support someone just like you, who is going through hell.

Don't think it can't happen to you, like I did.  I had NO risk factors, the opposite of risk factors.  I had a clean mammogram.  I never did breast checks because I didn't 'have' to.  And I was always pregnant or nursing too so it seemed silly.  My lump grew from undetectable in January to golf ball sized in October and STILL I only felt it when I lost 10 pounds.  I am SO lucky I caught it when I did and truly it is LUCK.  I was only 48 years old.  No family history. 

And I only am a "survivor" by pure luck.  I did nothing to survive, nothing anyone else wouldn't have done.  Showed up for chemo, and cried my way through it.  Got thrown on the cancer train one day and stayed on till they let me off a year later.  I was lucky that I had people encouraging me and the best friends ever and parents who offered to trade places with me and served me hand and foot and a doctor who I loved who didn't let me jump off that train even one cold day in January when I said I was done and not doing it anymore. 

Survivor?  I deserve no accolades for it and feel guilty when I hear that word.  Luck.  Period.

I don't know that I am ready to write about it all because I still live in fear and gratitude and anger and trauma and it seems like ages ago and then something will trigger it and it floods back.  Did this really happen to me?  I was going through Abbey's art work trying to find a picture to frame and I saw the photos she took of me and I look like hell, a stranger.  That was last week and I am still shaking from just seeing those photos.  My little Patrick-he takes it the hardest, and it was so scary for him.  For all the kids.  It does change your life and it does make you see more of the little things-that is the good part but not worth it.  I was a grateful mom anyways.  I didn't "need" cancer to see the little things.  It's just plain unfair all the way around.

There are lessons in hardships-I know that for sure.
I know I can survive anything.
I know that cancer is more than a rah-rah ribbon and pink t-shirt and booby jokes.
It is shitty.  That's the only word I can think of to describe it.


An Etsy Shop and More...Bucket List Check Offs

I finally opened my own Etsy shop-something I've always wanted to do, and rented a space in the coolest vintage boutique in my small town.

It is funny and weird and one of those meant-to-be sort of things the way it all came about, but the most important thing is I am loving it all.  Well not all, like when I overwhelm myself with projects and have no time to blog or keep my house the way I want it and homemade dinner plans fall through, but I am learning to pace myself all over again.

I am just starting out but...

...here is my Instagram where I plan to sell online besides at Etsy.

(Social media is NOT my favorite thing and never will be..we will see how it goes...still working on a Facebook business account and trying not to swear as I figure it out.)

And Etsy.

I have so much more to add, but all in good time.  If you are local stop in to Vintage Groves on Louisiana Street in downtown Perrysburg.


Easy Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread New and Improved Recipe

So I made it again...and I didn't burn it this time.  And took more photos.  And I made the frosting...and changed the recipe slightly...and it was HEAVENLY.

So easy and so good.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread Rolls
12 Rhodes Dinner Rolls (in frozen food section), thawed but still cold
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Rum Glaze:
3 TBS butter
2 TBS brown sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
3 TBS Kahlua liquor

Spray a loaf pan, or an oval Pyrex.
Once thawed, but cold, slice the bread rolls in half.  Melt the butter in one bowl, and mix the sugar and spice together in a another bowl.  Dip each 1/2 in the butter, and then in the sugar mixture.  (I put all of them in the butter, and coated, and all of them in the sugar mixture and coated well. Sprinkle any butter or sugar over the top.

Put the bread pieces in the loaf pan or Pyrex, and cover with a sprayed Saran wrap.  Let sit till double in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, but cover with foil half way through so the top doesn't burn.

Meanwhile mix together the rum glaze ingredients well.

When the buns come out of the oven, spread or drip the rum glaze on the bread.

Eat when warm...they are incredible.


Encouragement For The Week

What if we just tried contentment? What if we accepted our homes as they are, linoleum, old cabinets, tiny closets, squeaky doors, hand-me-down sofa, and worked with and learned to love what we have right in front of us? I think our grandparents did this much better than we have ever done. Most of them lived in the same home for their lifetimes, and took such good care of what they had, whether it was the "in" thing or not.


Easy Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread


I might have to admit it's fall because well...it's October.  But you know I will stretch summer as long as I can and heck here in Ohio it still feels like summer.

But I did have a little craving for pumpkin bread...so I made this...and it was delicious.  Even though I burned it.  So much for cute photos, but it's also real life, so that makes up for the lack of cute photos.

Pumpkin Spice Pull-Apart Loaf with Rhodes Dinner Rolls

12 Rhodes Yeast Dinner Rolls
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Glaze: (Which I didn't put on because I didn't have a chance before everyone attacked the bread)

2 TBS butter
2 TBS brown sugar
1 1/2 TBS milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp rum flavoring (I am sure you could omit-I couldn't find at grocery store anyways.)

Let rolls thaw but not rise.  (They took about 2 hours out of freezer for me.) . When they are thawed, cut each roll in half.

Combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl.

Dip each oval in melted butter and then in sugar.  Line them up in a sprayed 9x5 loaf pan.

(Just a note-once I cut the rolls in half, I put them ALL in the butter mixture and coated them, and then ALL in the sugar mixture, and then put that in the loaf pan-I don't have time or patience for lining things up nicely.)

Sprinkle remaining butter and sugar on top of the slices.  Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until double in size.

Remove wrap and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through to keep from over-browning.

While baking, combine the butter, brown sugar and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and flavoring.  Drizzle over slices after baked.