We have added friends and family to our home every day this past week. We kept four girls Sunday through Friday while their parents were out of town, then Saturday friends and family arrived to help us celebrate Faith's graduation from high school.
So every day I made lunch for at least 15 people. You might think that would be no big deal to me since there are so many of us on a regular basis, but it was really different. First, I learned that we don't eat much compared to other people. I think it's because we snack on fruits and veggies and nuts throughout the day, so at meal time we don't need as much. Apparently other people don't eat that way so they need to eat a lot more at each meal. I had to more than double what our family normally eats. Since we eat a lot to start with, that really made a big difference!
The picture is just bread on plates as I began to prepare lunch yesterday. Yep, just plain old peanut butter and honey sandwiches. First we had to clear a huge amount of counter top (and doesn't everyone's counter get covered again as soon as you clean it up? So when you need it there are miscellaneous papers, mail, etc to move? If you don't have that problem, tell me how to solve it!). Then we had to take care of Ezra who gets almond butter due to a peanut allergy. And his sandwich has to be cut and placed just right on his plate so it looks like whatever he is asking for that day--this can only be done after properly interpreting what in the world the 3 yr old boy is saying. Then we have to accommodate special requests such as open face peanut butter with no honey, or peanut butter and butter hold the honey. Of course there are shouts of "I want mine with just honey!" which I ignore. They know me better than that. Or, "can I have 2 sandwiches?" (yes, Samuel, I already know you'll need that 2nd sandwich before I can even sit down.) "How come we don't have jelly anymore?" Can you even begin to comprehend the headache of all the different flavors of jelly they would be requesting and how complicated a simple sandwich could become if I bought jelly? Not to mention it's usually got things in it like sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup that cause me to prefer honey.
While sandwiches are being prepared and handed out, milk is being poured by someone else. There's often craziness in the kitchen as they come in looking for cups or wanting to know how much longer or checking to be sure I'm doing their sandwich the way they want it. And all this for a simple meal of sandwiches.
Bedtime was another thing. Looking back, I'm not sure we did baths the whole week, but we did have them in the pool every day at least. But one evening after I tucked in everyone 8 and under, I came down stairs and one of the girls said, "That sure took a long time!" I felt a bit put down, and defended myself by pointing out that it does take a while to tuck in SEVEN children!
Anyway, my point to this whole thing is that people often ask me how I do it. They have trouble with their 1 or 2 or 3 or even 4 and they can't imagine having 11. I usually respond by explaining I do it one at a time. This week just drove that point home for me. Adding 4 all at once made it hard. And they are good kids! It's a leap from what I'm used to rather than a step. I'm very thankful for my children, and along with that, I'm thankful that I have had them one at a time, not all at once. It's easier to walk up stairs one by one than it is to skip steps.