“But you’re so young!”

Let me begin by saying: your marital or parental status doesn’t matter to me. This isn’t about why I married young or why I’m happy. It’s about a few things I need people to kindly stop exclaiming when they become aware of my army of children and my wonderful man.

I was married at 21 to a pretty great man. I had my first biological child before my 23rd birthday; we had five foster kids before my 24th. I enjoy the life I choose to live much like I hope everyone else does, whether they’re married, divorced, parenting alone, single and looking to mingle or happy to be alone.
This isn’t about those choices.
It isn’t me going into all the reasons I’m happy and blessed to be married to the man of my dreams. I have a plethora of reasons but none of those pertain to anyone but myself.

No, this piece of literature is meant to be what, I hope, is an eye opener to some of the usual suspects in comments about myself(and many other young married men and women.) It’s a gathering of things I’m sick of hearing, whether it’s murmured in the bars while I’m “stuck at home” or said directly to me in a tone of disgust and disapproval.

Again, allow me to reiterate. I don’t care who you are, who you’re with, who you’re not with. If you’re content, I’m happy for you. This is not written to attack you. It is written for those who assume my discontent and verbalized it. Something I’m a little annoyed with hearing.

Things like “But all the things you’re missing out on!”

This list varies from person to person, in what they are sorry I’m losing out on. Sometimes it’s traveling the world to which I have two responses, who says everyone wants to travel? And where is this rule that traveling can’t happen with a husband and kids?

I’ve never had much of the travel bug. My husband is even worse than I. We are homebodies, enjoying the comfort of our own back yard. And even if I did want to travel, who says I can’t once in married and have kids? I’m just going to leave a few photos here:

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Various photos of my family traveling. Before I was 18, I had been to at least 20 continental states, on a cruise, and spent a good amount of each summer on a lake. Family may make traveling harder, but it definitely doesn’t make it impossible.

I’m always love the question “But what about having fun when you’re young?”
I’m having fun, we just usually have a different definition of fun. I’m not saying mine is right, yours is right, we’re both wrong, etc. I’m simply saying that the idea of going out and partying isn’t fun for me. I have a blast sitting in my pajamas and watching Disney movies. It’s a great time here-ask my husband I made him do that before we had our kids too!

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy those things. You should go out, you should experience what makes you happy. But is it so hard to acknowledge what makes you happy does not make me happy?

I hope you’re content in your life. I know I am. I’m just annoyed with the people who insist I must not be.

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Things Mothers to Multiples Are Sick of Hearing–And Rightfully So

I’m a biological mother to one. I can’t pretend to understand what having 3+ kids does to your body, I can’t begin to comprehend the ramifications of multiple pregnancies. 
I do however walk around with five kids following me like ducklings most the time(yes there are six, but common sense usually stops anyone from assuming I have a biological son who is 18.) Since most our placements, except the 6, look just like my blonde hair, blue eyed family, a common misconception is that I have in fact given birth to five children. So I do understand however is the judgmental women and men who walk by and throw out.
How many different dads do your kids have?” 
Uh wait, what? In what world is this question acceptable to a complete stranger? 
I get it. I’m 23 and look like I couldn’t be older than 30-and that’s stretching it. But since when does young mother equate having multiple sex partners? And why is that something you feel you can invasively ask as my children are sitting in a damn stroller? Unless yore a geneticist or our doctor-in which case you’ll already know the answer, the biological and genetic makeup of my kids is not a concern of yours. 
Sassy response? “I don’t know the paternity tests aren’t back yet.”

Do you know what birth control is?” And BONUS POINTS if “Are you catholic?”

Do you know what manners are? If you choose to ask me this I will more than likely go into a very long spiel about different kinds of birth control and the side effects to each because, here’s a real kicker, I was a peer sex educator. I’m actually well versed in different forms of reproductive methods. What I choose to do; with my medical choices, is none of your darn business. Also, I’m not catholic. I know a cute mama to six who is an atheist. There are reasons to want lots of babies that don’t include religion!

Sassy response: “You. You are my birth control.”

You know where they come from right?
Well the majority of mine came from a city about 45 minutes away. This is so demeaning guys. And a little creepy if you include a wink of the eye or a nudge nudge. The number of children who come home with me at night isn’t a good reason to be weird about my sex life. Yes obviously it exists. But it does for anyone with kids….and in addition

How do you guys manage to have sex/alone time with that many kids”

Creatively. But in all seriousness unless you’re someone I know asking for advice, it’s off limits okay? Multiple kids does not make this less awkward.

Sassy response: “No can you tell me where kids come from? I just keep having them!”

Where do you put them all?”

Sassy response: “In crates in the basement”

In bedrooms? This one has always freaked me out because…where else would they sleep? I highly doubt unless you are a social worker, you care about where my kids sleep at night. I know there’s a lot. I really do.

And my two honorable mentions!

Please tell me you’re done”
Sassy response: “I was done three kids ago!”
Do you get a lot of welfare?
Sassy response: “ALL THE WELFARE”
But really, when did my lifestyle choices become such an acceptable topic of conversation? My contraceptives, or lack there of, my housing, my financial status. At three kids? Four?

The thing is, random rude strangers, we KNOW we have a lot of kids. We are well aware we have one on the slide, one biting her sister, one crying and one on our breast nursing. You aren’t telling us anything new when you make snide comments about “handfuls.”

The funniest part is though? My heart isn’t full yet; I’m still not done. So random, rude strangers of the wold, when I’m chasing after five kids and showing a big pregnant belly? These comments can be kept to yourselves. I love my big family and cannot wait to expand it even more.

****THIS IS NOT A PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT, I am not pregnant****

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My hands are full, but my heart is fuller.

Those of you who know my in real life, have probably heard by now. The rumors are true, the tabloids are in fact, factual.

We have in fact accepted another foster placement. 

(the stroller is there for…well no real reason!)

Yes, we are crazy. You get a phone call about a little love who has no where else to go and the state is so overrun with children in need and has no foster parents. Really, guys, please if you have ever considered fostering “in the future”….make the future now.

So this is just a quick post asking for some grace. I had a great  idea for a post, about the things foster parents are sick of hearing, but alas, my life is a little crazier than usual. Six kids, one husband, a whole lot of doctors appointments for the little new love and school in full swing and appointments appointments appointments!

I will try to update with that very soon!

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

Hobbies? Just Maybe.

Those who know me are well aware that talents aren’t my thing. I’m a great person, love with my whole heart, sweetest friend and most loyal family you will ever find–but I’m not talented. My best friend can take photographs like no other and sing like an angel, my husband also has an eye for photography and can draw magnificently. Aesthetic talents though? Not my thing. I’m the girl who painfully aches over a drawing of a tree, who takes pictures blurry and too slow. I can’t sing a note(this isn’t me being degrading…ask anyone. I can play an instrument in a day, but singing a note of music? nope.) Everything I excel in–and things I’m average in I have to work my behind off to be.

(Camp Ashmere, Hinsdale MA, Fall 2014)

I’m not extremely embarrassed by this. Overall I know I’m a pretty amazing person. I can write well, though you’ll never hear most of what I pen. I can play instruments and read music. I can make a damn good bow for a child’s hair and I enjoy embroidery even if I spend three hours making things. I’m not naturally crafty, but if I put my mind to it-I am decently crafty. Most the reason? I have ADHD and pretty much everything I focus on lasts maybe a day.

(My home, Charlemont MA, Fall 2014)

In my attempts to be okay with being a stay at home mom and having something positive(other than my baby of course) and being less bored, I’ve decided to find a hobby. Or multiple ones. Right now? I’m trying drawing/sketching, photography and embroidery. I’ve been reading up on photography, practicing stitches and looking at artists blogs in hopes of any hints how to shade/enjoy drawing.

(Bridge of Flowers, Shelbourne Falls, MA. Summer 2014.)

For the record: for me photography is a HOBBY. I however recognize and have many friends and family who have made it into a career. I’m not pretending to be a professional photographer. I will never take classes about lighting or posing. I just do this to have better pictures of my children and to find something I enjoy.

(“Self portrait”, Charlemont, MA. Fall 2014)

Hopefully my photos will get better, I’ll decide to show my drawings off, you will all enjoy my stitching. The pictures will be shot on my iphone or a Canon Rebel XSI!

Tell me, mommas, what are your stay at home hobbies? What do you do to past the naptimes.

Be blessed,

Lauren Jane

Enchiladas: Homemade Style!

I made homemade enchiladas the other day, everything except the tortillas had been made from scratch. I made enough for about 7 tortillas across with enough enchilada mix to make another seven(I froze the leftovers!)

What you need:

~1 onion

~1 bell pepper

~2 cups of leftover chicken

~1 can black beans

~1 can dark red kidney beans

~1 can sweet corn

~4 tablespoons of Canola oil(and an extra splash for cooking the veggies)

~6 table spoons of dark chili powder

~garlic powder

~onion powder

~4 tablespoons of flour

~4 cups of chicken stock/broth.

~7 tortilla wraps

~2 cups of cheese(I used mozarella, but any kind would probably be delicious!)

 What to do:

~In a big pot, put the chopped up peppers and onions with a little oil. Cook until they’re soft(it will help hide them from the children’s if you have ones like me)

~Add the chicken, beans and corn to the pot. let cook down.

~As this happens, make the enchilada sauce. For the enchilada sauce: Put 4 tbsps of canola oil into a pot. Let warm. Add the flour. Mix until smooth. Add in chili powder, garlic and onion powder(I put in like two shakes, it’s up to you how garlicky and onion you want it!) and stir. Slowly mix in the 4 cups of broth. Continuously stir; make sure to not allow any clumps to form. Let simmer and become a sauce for about five minutes. Mix this 3/4s of this slowly into the bigger pot.

~Let everything simmer for about 30 minutes on your lowest setting. Leave the sauce on the stove with a cover.

~Put the mixture into wraps. There should be enough to make seven wraps and have leftovers.

~Lay the wrapped up meat and beans into a pan. Once all are laid out, pour the remaining sauce over the wraps.

~Sprinkle two cups of cheese over the entire pan.

~Cook in oven on 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy! You can add jalapenos or extra vegetables if you please, my kids love these and wouldn’t eat spicier foods but for adults this would be delicious with more spice!

Enjoy!

Lauren Jane

Happy Sixth Months Little One.

My baby turned six months yesterday. It was harder than I thought, taking the photos of him at six months.

(James, smiling at six months)

James is pulling himself up. He sits up, but very rarely, since he never wants to be still. He loves peaches, carrots and bananas. He crawls around like a champ.

His eyes are still bright blue like birth and show no indication of changing. He’s over 17lbs and longer than 24 inches.

He talks freely, babbling along. He knows who his mama is and asks for me when he wants something-usually to nurse! He most recently went to his first weekend away, on a Woman’s Retreat.

James is an absolute peach. He’s such a good and happy baby; I know there’s no such thing as a “bad baby” but man, am I glad I got one that sleeps through the night!

Have a little flashback!:

(day of birth)

(one month)

(two months)

(three months)

(apparently I missed the four months? I cannot find it with just the white diaper on with mr monster…)

(Five months)

Zucchini Lasagna-or something like that.

We had a plethora of vegetables this fine summer, and like any good homemaker, I didn’t want to waste any. However, when you throw into my dinner plans a house that hates tomatoes, five children who won’t eat jalapenos and a husband who doesn’t touch zucchini? I was left over with a whole lot of produce and not many people willing to eat it all.

(one day of produce we brought in!)

And in my attempt to waste less(something I’ve been aiming to do since we added to this crazy family and I realized just how much food went into the trash!) I created this recipe! Behold, zucchini lasagna.

(an extra large zucchini! my pride and joy this summer)

What you need:

-1 large onion

-2 cans of mushrooms

-1 jalapeno

-2 green peppers

-1 large zucchini(mine pictured above was too large! I only used half)

7 medium/smaller tomatoes. I used 6 Roma tomatoes and then one ugly tomato at the end!)

-1 clove of garlic

-lots of basil. or a little-again, this is a preference sort of recipe. I used a LOT however, I am Italian and we eat our basil off the stem.

-Salt/Pepper to taste

-Left over turkey

-(When you freeze it, do NO add until after your heating it up!) Cheese

What to do:

  1. Take the onion, peppers, mushrooms and jalapeno. Cut them all up finely and begin to sautee them.
  2. Core the tomatoes and cut them up, preferably diced, however some food processors have more capabilities than our oldie but goodie. process the tomatoes. Add in some basil(I used 10ish medium sized leaves, again, ITALIAN, so feel free to use less.) Add garlic. Mix all the sauce up again and add in pepper and salt to taste
  3. Thinly slice the zucchini. I used two small containers and a serving sized bowl. This can also make a real sized pan of lasagna, but again, these are mainly for myself when I want to eat healthier than the Chef Boyardee days!
  4. Put a layer of zucchini into the pans. Add a dressing of the red sauce. Put a layer of zucchini on top again
  5. Add a layer of your sauteed veggies.
  6. (optional again) Make a layer of Basil leaves!
  7. Add another layer of zucchini and top all of this with the red sauce.
  8. Finely chop up the turkey and lay it down in a layer. Put over it some more sauteed veggies and another spoonful of red sauce
  9. Finish with a layer of zucchini. Put into an oven at 350* and cook for 45 minutes.
  10. This is where I froze mine, if you plan on freezing, wrap nicely and freeze. If not, add on the cheese and heat up an extra 15 minutes.
  11. When unthawing, layer cheese on top to your discretion. Put into an oven heated to 400* and cook for 30 minutes.
  12. ENJOY

(the heated up finished good!)

This is delicious and super healthy! If you don’t eat meat or cheese, feel free to abstain from adding either of those steps. It’s a quick healthy meal you can throw together while there’s a lot of produce and reheat when it’s the middle of winter and your kids want something absolutely terrible- and you’re going to let them have the preservatives! If you decide to try this, let me know how yours comes out!!

Be Blessed;

Lauren Jane

Sunday Funday Birthday Style

Yesterday we had our good old Sunday family time. It began with a lovely drive over the mountain to the First Baptist Church. We had a good old time getting back to the basics, with Pastor Anderson’s new series “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.” He went through the story of Moses this week and let me tell you, Exodus is honestly one of my favorite books. It was a fabulous sermon.

(A bee on the sunflower in front of our home. I needed a photo break to jump to the next part!)

We then headed up to the wonderful Mema and Papa’s for the day. We had Taco Sunday, one of my favorite meals of the week. hung out, and the kids played. We had on some good old football(The Patriots were playing and I think won!) and we relaxed for awhile.

Then about 6pm, we all headed to my mothers for a little get together for the Princess’s birthday! She loved it; complete attention on her. She got wonderful presents and had a great time.

This week, I hope to upload a recipe for my kitchen sink chicken noodle soup and a review on “Proof of Heaven”. I also plan on spending a weekend away on a Womens retreat with the amazing ladies from the FBC. So expect some thoughts from that!

Be Blessed!

Lauren Jane

Happy 6th Birthday to my little Princess!,

Today the beautiful little princess turns six! I wish I knew more about the day she was born, about the first four years and 8 months of her life. I’ve got the current though, and her growth over the past year.

When she moved in with us 15ish months ago, the princess was still in diapers. She didn’t speak, couldn’t write any of her numbers or letters, and barely knew her own name. Everyday was a battle; every meal was dominated by whatever demons existed in her life before. We didn’t hear her speak until hours after we picked her up, and our families wouldn’t hear her little voice telling stories for months.

(The princess and her big sister heading into school! 2014)

Now I am so proud to have a reading, potty trained(and in a house that at one point had three in diapers, THIS IS BIG), sweet, loud and cherished baby girl.  Nothing warms my heart like her crawling up in my lap to read me a book about God making the world. It’s amazing to see her run up to Papa and Mema, loudly protesting my rules and flashing her sweet little smile to get her way. The amount she’s grown is obvious to everyone. My pastor came up to me a few weeks ago and told me he teared up, watching my once painfully shy child step up on the stage in front of the whole church with a big smile on her face.

We don’t know what her birthday next year will consist of. Her future, like ours-by choice, is not written in stone. We don’t even know if we will be able to sing her happy birthday in years to come. I hope we can, this princess has stolen the heart of many of us in this clan, but regardless we want her to have wonderful and huge birthdays she will remember for years to come.

Isn’t that how we all live though? We all want to pretend like today is forever; we will always have our loved ones, always have this house, always have this job. But nothing is set in stone for any of us. For any of us, this could be the last birthday with someone. So we should make the best of it<3 

We will be celebrating her birthday with a party at my parents tomorrow. She will be sang to, blow out her own candles(maybe, in our family you never know if the candles will be remembered or not…I’ll try!) open her presents and be the center of everyone’s attention and love-one of her favorite things.

Photo: Wrapping up the princess's birthday presents.

(Her presents before we got them wrapped; the princess lives up to her nickname)

We love you, miss Princess. Never lose that though, Mama Lauren and Daddy Josh love you. We are so proud of who you are and where you are going! I can’t wait to see you grow and change and become all the girls you are capable of being.

Be Blessed,

Lauren Jane

September/October goals!

I’m going to make a list of goals every month, since it’s already halfway through September, I’m just going to add an extra and have my goals go to the end of October instead! There are four areas of goals I’m going to have: health, blogging, kids!, and personal betterment. Most months there will only be three goals, but I’m going to aim for four this time around because it’s closer to six weeks than four!

So here are my goals until October 31st!

Health:

  • Once a week, I will have a day where I only will eat vegetarian meals, all day!
  • Walk a little bit every week, my aim is five miles a week, and to walk at least five days a week. I will be using the I-Phone app “RunKeeper” to record it! I’ve used this application before and I love it so much.
  • Drink at LEAST 64oz of water a day! I will be using the I-phone application “Waterlogged” for recording, I just downloaded this application so I will be letting you all know if it lives up to my personal enjoyment;)
  • Yoga once a week

Blogging:

  • Once a week, post about a do it yourself project! 
  • A recipe a week! Which also is part of personal betterment, practicing the whole cooking thing. Cooking is not my thing.
  • Promote this blog on two other social media platforms once a week
  • Read a book and write a post about whether or not I liked it, what it’s about, etc.

Kids!:

  • Make Halloween costumes for the littles! 5 year old wants to be Pocahontas, 4 year old wants to be a dinosaur(with his sensory issues, I’m using sweats to make him one) and the baby will be some animal.
  • Set up Fall creative projects for Saturday nights. Expect some photos!
  • Snack and birthday treats for the 5 year old. And her amazing Pinterest party! The PInterest party can always be a lot of fun.
  • Switch out the summer and warm clothes for the winter and warm clothes and shoes.

Personal Betterment:

  • Write on my own, taking a few minutes to breathe. 
  • 15 minutes a day with Jesus, whether I’m writing/reading my Bible/sitting outside praying.
  • Get dressed and put real make up on at least once a week, dressing nicely makes me feel like a million dollars and I would like to feel like a million dollars every so often.
  • Give up caffeine. This one is going to hurt but my anxiety has been super high and I can’t help but blame it on the caffeine!

 

These are my goals for the lovely next six weeks. I can’t wait to show y’all how it goes and how we grow! 

 

Be Blessed,

LaurenJane