day in the life

wake up at 5am - try to get Kembe to go back to sleep.

doze until 7am, discover both girls have peed through diapers.


throw crib bedding in washer.
throw India's bedding near washer.

feed Karis while snuggling Kembe.


get kids dressed.


discover we have no breakfast foods.

remember valentines are due at preschool.


frantically address 24 valentines from Jafta, 18 from India.

plop Karis in an exersaucer while Mark drops off kids, take shower.

realize it was snack day for India.

find snack to have Mark take back.


get call from Mark - he forgot he had a 9am and missed his first client.


lament with Mark about what a hot mess we are right now.


blow dry hair while Karis tries to climb up my leg.


change a diaper, realize I have no baby wipes.


load Kembe and Karis into car to do a grocery/diaper run.


stop by Starbucks for the first time in months, feeling free with only two kids.


go to Target - debate taking in double stroller or chancing that a multi-kid cart will be available.


remember last week and the lack of multi-kid carts and the chaos in cause.

take stroller.


pass by 3 multi-kid carts at the entrance.


ponder how to fit all my diapers and groceries into teensy stroller basket.

get shadowed by a security guard who thinks I'm shoplifting.


become subject of stares as Karis has full-scale tired meltdown in Target.

do laps around store as baby cries for 30 minutes.


shove groceries around both kids and into every available space on stroller.

contemplate abandoning groceries and high-tailing it out of store when screaming escalates.

complete purchases while holding screaming baby and wondering why she didn't just take her nap while I shopped.

scold myself for trying to make a plan.

realize Karis will now fall asleep in car and leave me in a bind when I pick up older kids.


shove groceries into car around ginormous double stroller.


drive to preschool.

Karis falls alseep.

stroller falls over onto groceries as I drive.


arrive at preschool.

contemplate how to keep Karis asleep when stroller does not fit through doors of classrooms.


attempt to carry the carseat in my arms.

make it halfway across parking lot
turn back for the stroller.

open trunk. groceries spill out.

raw eggs crack ON MY SHOE.


stash eggs in a bush in front of other preschool moms.

take off shoe.

open pack of baby wipes to clean it off.


wrangle Kembe and still-sleeping Karis into stroller.


abandon stroller (and children) outside classroom door while retrieving children.


decide to salvage eggs, because I don't want to go to another store with four kids
.

find eggs, pull out shells, place the rest in a grocery bag.

head home.
open trunk, snag sleeve of on-sale-but-still-spendy anthropologie shirt on trunk handle.

rip sleeve off new shirt.


unload four kids from car
.

remember I haven't eaten lunch.

nor has Kembe.


start prepping lunch.

offer Kembe a peanut-butter sandwich.


deal with meltdown that ensues upon discovering I forgot to buy peanut butter.


console a grieving 3-year-old who just needed an out to let go of some very strong emotions about being homesick for his friends and nannies in Haiti.


hold Kembe for 45 minutes as he cries, thinking about groceries still in the car.

still hungry.

have panic attack about the state of the house.

need to pee.


get Kembe distracted with promises of goldfish.


bring melting groceries in from the car.


put away groceries while attempting to feed Karis.


abandon non-perishables for Mark, sit down to feed Karis.

check email.
discover nasty comment on blog.

try not to let it affect me.


let it affect me.


stare at mess of house and wonder where to even start.


get pressured into playing Kembe's favorite "pretend you are asleep until I scream and wake you up" game.


kids bring ALL of their bedding into living room to play this.

another panic attack about the state of the house.


try to ignore it and play with them anyway.


put a grumpy Kembe down for his nap.


attempt to put Karis down, realize her bedding is still in dryer.

lay out a beach towel.
emphatically request that India go poop on the potty instead of 2 seconds into her nap in her pullup.

she declines.


2 seconds into her nap, discover India has pooped.

change her diaper.


India and Kembe fall asleep.

Karis poops.

risk waking India to get diaper from the room.


put Karis down for her nap.


begin to get a bit giddy about potential for a simultaneous nap.

have a little quiet time with Jafta.

warn Jafta within inches of his life that he must enter his bedroom quietly and not call out during his nap, so he won't wake up his brother.


Jafta lays down, and then calls out for water, waking Kembe.


lose my cool with Jafta.


watch my only moment to finish laundry/return emails/make phone calls/clean house drift away.


try to coax Kembe into sleeping more.


accept defeat.


snuggle with a groggy and grumpy Kembe.

realize I still haven't eaten.

or peed.

hear Karis wake.

Kembe won't let me go.

Walk into nursery holding Kembe in one arm, grab Karis with another.

plop all of us on the couch.

snuggle.


think about all of the things that won't get done again today.


eye the thank-you cards, the filthy floors, the laundry on the sofa.

try to enjoy the snuggle.

breathe.


hope tomorrow is easier.

53 comments:

  1. You BLEW DRY YOU HAIR?!?!?! Trust me, I am soooo impressed!

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  2. I don't know whether to laugh or cry over your recount of your day. :) I am smilng though sort of an understanding of the chaos and the fullness your heart must be experiencing. The person you are after a day like that, if you survived, is a stronger person. I'm glad I have found your blog.

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  3. praying for you. the Lord will provide.

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  4. I laughed sooo hard and it's 5 AM here. My husband thinks I am crazy but that is the scene every mother has one way or another at one time or another and the more babies the worse it gets and the more often it happens. There is grace in letting go of your expectations of yourself. Thinking of you all. Breathe!!!

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  5. Hugs, wish we lived closer....

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  6. One more comment about your post.

    Thank you.

    Once this stage is over there's another one to conquer and you forget the details of this one.

    I laughed the hardest at the poop stories.

    Those were the days...

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  7. Anonymous6:29 AM

    I am so glad to have found your blog. You are an AMAZING Mom :)

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  8. I don't know you and you don't know me, but mom to mom you are an inpiration! You are rockin it, even though you feel like a nutso right now! Hang in there! Hugs to you and your family.

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  9. I love how real you are! great post, even though it is just your life! haha

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  10. On days like yours, I always like to think of the song by Trace Adkins "You're gonna miss this". It's so true. Time flies so quickly and one day I will miss these times...and laugh about them. Laugh or go crazy! Prayers for you and your precious family!

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  11. Okay ... I'm laughing, because I was going to say JUST what Kerrie said!!

    When we fostered, I always had four kids under the age of six (several were newborns discharged to us from the hospital). It was completely psychotic.

    And I was reading your post and thinking, "Wash AND dry the hair in one day?!?!" Yeah. You're a miracle.

    That was always my big joke. If the hair got washed, it never got a blow dry. If the blow dryer came out, it was usually to dry up the bodily fluids in it before we walked out the door.

    It was unlike anything I had ever done. You will get into a groove, but not like a "groove" where everyone naps at the same time, and no one is having grief/transition issues, and you have a cute calendar with color coded stickers and volunteer for crap.

    Nope - nothing like that. Instead, you'll find all sorts of short cuts, and you'll realize that you actually get everyone fed a reasonable amount each day. You'll find yourself recording and replaying Oprah episodes about hoarders who live in filth, while you look around and go, "Oh yeah ... this isn't so bad." It's a new type of "groove," and it works.

    One tip for the pee'er-outer's: buy several sets of sheets and mattress pads. Put 2-3 layers on at a time. Keep a big bucket (like the ones you buy at Home Depot) full of vinegar water near the washer. When they pee out, throw all pee pee sheets into the bucket (the pee-soaked clothing can go in there, too!). You DO NOT have to wash them that day. The vinegar will take care of the pee smell. You can buy yourself at least a day or two. Immediately upon pulling them off - voila! The bed is already made and ready to go underneath. TOTALLY WORTH IT!

    Is also a life saver for middle-o-the-night puke fests. No re-making of the bed. That's when I throw the puke covered sheet over a back fence and just hose it down til morning.

    Big, filthy hugs to you, friend!

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  12. Panic attacks that melt into snuggles is just like me, and I only have two! I am praying for you, because on a MUCH smaller scale, I have been there, err, I mean, am there--let's be honest. *hugs*

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  13. Anonymous7:10 AM

    Just need to offest that snarky comment you recieved yesterday. I think you and your family are AMAZING and I love following your day to day adventures of melting into a family of 6.

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  14. Oh my gosh, you are awesome. As for the unwelcome comment you received yesterday, squash it like a bug and flick it off your hand. You are an inspiration.

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  15. Oh hon, I'm so sorry! It's insane isn't it? And I only have two!! Here's hoping you somehow get some sleep... skip the laundry and go to bed (I say that like that's something I could do! hehe!) Well, try! Sending up some sweet prayers for an easier day today!

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  16. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Christine's totally right about layering the sheets. Saves my bum all the time.

    Also, remember that you're in the early days of this 4 kids thing. Triage. Accept that the house is going to be wrecked for a while. Focus on the absolute basics, including getting everyone tired out enough to nap & sleep at night. I like to put on music and have dance parties, pull out a giant piece of cardboard (I take boxes from Costco and break them down) and let everyone color on it with crayons (I do not even own markers right now, since I'm not cleaning them off stuff).

    If it's warm enough to play outside, get a bunch of chalk and let everyone go to town.

    If the kids aren't afraid of the vacuum, I let them take turns vacuuming while the others pick up the stuff in the way, open doors, move chairs, etc. It gets them moving & helping -- I have a weird kid who loves the vacuum & the dustbuster.

    If your house is already kind of a wreck, build a fort...or two, depending on how many people are getting along at a time.

    Can you call your pastor and ask them to recommend a young teen to act as a mother's helper? I know money might be tight, but having another set of hands for a few weeks (even just after school) would probably help you get your bearings.

    Most of all, take heart. You are doing a great job.

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  17. YOU. ARE. AMAZING. I would have lost it at realizing we had no breakfast. What a WONDERFUL Mom you are... and an inspiration to me. I know I will be thinking of you the next time I THINK I'm overwhelmed.

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  18. Laughing with (?) you and thinking of your family all the time. You will settle in. And, if it is any consolation, I am sure you looked marvelous even while stashing broken eggs in the bush. Blow-dried hair and an Anthropologie top? I settle for wet hair in a bun and old, spit-up stained ON shirts nearly every day. :) You have inspired me to try harder.

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  19. Oh I've soooo been there.

    My adopted children were much older so most of my poop stories involve overflowing toilets while company is walking through the door, but since my 14 yr old daughter only recently stopped (I hope) wetting the bed you have my total sympathy.

    I've also been in the store with the screaming baby meltdowns (and screaming 11 year old meltdowns).

    Anyone who gives you a glare or a nasty comment has never been there. Know that some of those people staring have total empathy for you. Thanks for sharing!

    Hugs and prayers,
    Mary in TX

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  20. oh girl! I felt like i was reading my own journal! The target/grocery/broken eggs in the bush is classic and sadly hilarious (of course only for the outsider looking in, I'm sure!)! Hang in there.

    joy!
    Emily V.
    vogeltanzfamily.com

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  21. MY GOODNESS!
    I'm tired just reading it!
    I'm sorry you had to endure some nasty blog comments. People don't 'get' what others are going through sometimes.

    I hope you have a better day, too!

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  22. While I didn't have 4 small kids, I did have 3 in 3 years. Boy was I busy. My kids did NOT sleep well at night forever and wouldn't take naps. There was just too much fun to be had. One thing I can say is take LOTS and LOTS of pictures. Sometimes amongst the 'busyness' of the kids you can actually forget a lot of the fun things. Once Karis gets a little-bit older it will start be a LOT more fun and easier.

    One tip for shopping ease (not quite with Karis yet), but... I use to make shopping a game with the kids (so they didn't make me crazy). We would pretend we were spies and had to get the items on the list without anyone hearing or seeing us. The kids LOVED it! It was seriously funny to watch the kids trying to be super quiet and hiding behind the cart if we saw anyone. Another favorite game - the statue game. Whoever could be a statue longest without moving won a quarter. Thank goodness for competitive children.

    Anyhow, love to you!!! Good luck! It WILL get better, before you know it you will be looking back going -Wow, where did the time go???

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  23. i was laughing OUT LOUD reading your day. oh my word. you are hilarious...i am so glad you wrote this down because one day...one day..you will sit and crack up. some days i have one motto for my day: get through it. you made it!

    i will be praying for you...really. xo

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  24. Anonymous10:01 AM

    I found your blog randomly just after the Haiti quake... Have thought of you daily since first reading your story. Hang tough. You, like every other parent who loves, feeds and nurtures children despite the chaos you feel, are doing amazing work on behalf of God.

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  25. You crack me up! If I lived nearby, I would go get you some new eggs and help pick up the kids from school. Love your blog!

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  26. Wow, Target and able to blow dry your hair in the same day??? You are my hero!! I am so happy to hear I am not the only one living this kind of life! Thank you for writing this post. It made my day and made me laugh. Now I have to go take care of this creature pulling on my leg. Good luck making it to the "best" time of the day....dinner time....ugh!!!!!!!!!!!

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  27. I wish I could share my twelve year old. She is such a big help. Maybe you could hire one?? neighbors?

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  28. Not that everything is getting done here but she does give me a couple of minutes to remember to breathe.

    Love your words!

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  29. Kristen, loved your honesty in your post. I am not a mom (I hope to be one someday though), but I know and love a lot of moms, and know that mom's lives are similarly chaotic to yours. I know that mom's can feel lonely and then guilty for how they feel. Thank you for sharing about your life, because a by-product of that is that mom's can empathize and gain encouragement from your honesty, and not feel so alone in the wild adventure of motherhood.
    On another note; I came from a family with four kids and I loved it! As an adult I love having my siblings even more.

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  30. Hi, my name is Trish. I started following you after a friend of mine (Sarah Carter) posted your link on Facebook. I have loved reading it! Hearing a fellow mom's perspective on the earthquake in Haiti really made me stop and take notice of what honestly might have just faded into the newspapers I don't have time to read anymore. I wrote letters for the Humanitarian parole after you posted it and I have prayed for the people of Haiti. my heart really goes out to you and your family, so glad you are all together now. This post today had me literally peeing a little. Especially the part about multi-kid shopping carts, I could just so relate. Just wanted you to know I think you're super mom. You inspire me so much! I think you are wonderful for raising those beautiful kids and I'm sure all of them will turn out to be just amazing people! Thanks for sharing it : )

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  31. I'm a nanny of 5 (Five!!) and I have had those days too! :) I'm also a Psych major... I know our type...we rescue but often fail to ask for help! Ask for some help sister!! :) Wish I was in So Cal...I would come rescue you! :)

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  32. aimee h1:16 PM

    Kristen Howerton, you are amazing! Bummer about the shirt :(

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  33. Anonymous1:44 PM

    I just found your blog a few days ago (forget how - linked from someone else) and am sad I didn't know about it sooner. Glad I know now. By the way...what planet is that Rudey McRuderson from a day or two ago living on? Serious case of the stupids, as my husband would say. Thoughtful, though opposing, comments are one thing...garbage commentary like that however should be ignored or deleted with impunity.

    We went from no kids to two just 3 years ago. We adopted a 18 m.o. boy and a 6 m.o. baby girl. I don't know how we made it through those first 2 years because my daughter wouldn't sleep through the night until she turned 2 and my son, oh, my son. He came with a spare tank of gas, springs in his feet, curiosity that killed a billionty cats and Tarzan lungs. And we had a bag of unpleasant health issues to work out those first 18 months. It was quite a ride. Did I mention they wouldn't watch TV during the first 2 years? Not 5 minutes, not Elmo, not nothing. Not kidding. We've been back-filling this last year, while Momma tries to stop talking to the pretty fairies.

    Your day in the life reminds me of every day that first year. You'll make it, and you are doing much better than I ever did, if that helps at all. Can one of your friends go on grocery runs for you? The comment about having high school girls run errands for you...that's brilliant. We had friends do stuff like that for us. Laundry duty...fixing meals for us...whatever. Anything that would free us up to just try to bond with the kids and take care of their needs.

    Starbucks drive-thrus became a necessity, and parks, and one verse "quiet times" on good days, and swearing and retail therapy and blogs...oh the blogs. Just find a thing or two that help you cope and do those things. I wish I was more spiritual during that time, but I was barely human, so I did the best I could.

    Again, you are doing FABULOUS.

    Loved, loved, loved the Christmas letters, by the way.

    Ahdra

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  34. Anonymous2:04 PM

    OH! I just remembered this...at night, put diapers that are one size too big on the kids that need them to avoid the pee surplus. This trick was pure, instant magic in our house.

    Ahdra

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  35. I need to stop complaining about managing two children. You're putting me to shame. I am tired just reading about your day.

    My sister in law has four children and they are now ages 7 to 12. Life gets easier. Hang in there!

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  36. I remember those days! I gave birth to 3 boys in 11.5 months and life was never the same again!! We already had two children at home so life was pretty hectic for a while. You do what you need to do to survive, and for me that meant being organized. I remember feeling like I was just spinning my wheels everyday. Through all of it, I never forgot that God gave those blessings to me for a reason and I was going to do the best that I could. It seemed as though everyday got easier and I was always looking forward to tomorrow. Hang in there!

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  37. Katherine C.4:01 PM

    First, anonymous (from the Kembe post) is an idiot — anyone who has read your blog can easily determine how much you love all of your kids, this person clearly has personal issues they've chosen to take out on you because they know there are no repercussions.
    Two, for what it's worth, although you may feel like life is unorganized chaos right now, the children — especially since you choose to take the time to comfort and spend time with them rather than cleaning what you consider a filthy house or putting away groceries — probably don't see it that way. I have often wondered how my mother made it through raising four girls with only two-year gaps between them. In reading your blog I'm sure she had many days where she felt the same way you do, but what I remember is that my mom always had time to read to me, or play with me, or make peanut-butter crackers and kool-aid picnics on sunny days. I don't remember chaos, I remember love, and I think years (heck, with their attention span, days) from now that's what your kids will remember as well. Good luck, and here's hoping life starts to regain a little bit of that "normal balance" as your family gets settled into its new routine.

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  38. We don't know each other. I just want you to know that I think you are delightful. :-) Praying for this very difficult, and yet wonderful I'm sure, time in your lives.

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  39. This made me laugh. I feel that way and I only have 1 - I'm totally impressed and amazed you can do it with four! :-) you rock girl!

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  40. I'm a long time reader and first time commenter. Is it wrong of me to just laugh right out loud when I read your stuff? Oh my gosh, you could write a book! It's just hilarious to me, and even more so because it's ALL TRUE. Hang in there, Kristen - the weekend is coming and hopefully your hubby can give you some help.
    Thanks for being so real. You're an encouragement to me. :)
    In Christ,
    Mary Franks
    (adoptive mom to 4, including 2 haitian sweeties.)

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  41. Anonymous8:55 PM

    I remember those days...sometimes mine are still like this even though I have four teenagers! Ask for and accept help. Hire it. You have just given "birth". Friends, family, neighbors, church people, ....Hello??? This mama deserves a casserole. Just sayin' Hang in there girl!
    Trudy 2+Twins

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  42. Michelle9:00 PM

    love, love, love your blog! I started reading after the quake (while following Amos' story & then Ronel's). Target/Egg story made me laugh out loud. you keep writing, I'll keep reading.
    Really, though... I am in awe of your heart and your honesty. Thank you.
    Michelle

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  43. Thank you for being real about what you go through. It's very encouraging :)

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  44. man, I had to take a deep breath for you. Bless you heart, you're amazing, even when you're not feeling that way...you really are. Way to go Mama.

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  45. I love your blog! I started reading after a friend had posted a link to it on facebook...Thank you for sharing your stories!! You have a beautiful family.

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  46. Been there!
    Two and a half years ago, we brought home our oldest and our youngest from Ethiopia.
    We had a 4 year old, 3 year old, 1 year old and 7 month old.
    Fun times.
    I remember my oldest, in his sweet broken english, telling me "when I first meet you, you SO pretty... now, not so much."
    I gently reminded him that I hadn't washed my hair in days, make-up was a distant memory, and I was living off of multiple containers of Nutella every week.
    I am sure you have heard it many times, but I am living, breathing proof that IT GETS BETTER.
    And easier.
    And it will be SO MUCH FUN to watch your children grow up together.
    And there will come a day when you can have simultaneously washed hair AND makeup!

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  47. Anonymous9:06 AM

    bless your heart!!
    I've been following your blog since Kembe headed out of Haiti. I'm a friend of Kim Rhodes in SC.
    I have much respect for you!
    Hang in there.
    Bette

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  48. Were you peeking in my windows? I swear you just described almost every day at my house. This is my first visit to your blog and I'm hooked. Thanks for being REAL! I'm off to read the rest of your blog.

    PS- Your family is beautiful :)

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  49. Love it! I only have 2 children and have days like this.

    Total, complete, beautiful chaos!

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  50. Anonymous8:12 PM

    Hi Kristen,
    I just recently discovered your blog but I find myself checking it daily now. I can relate to this post so much as I have four children too (8,6,3, and 5 months) and I struggle daily just to get something, ANYthing accomplished.

    Please keep the blog posts coming, it is a nice little treat in the middle of my hectic days to know that there are other moms out there having days like this!

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  51. You are doing awesome.
    You hugged your kids... most important thing.
    No one has died from unwritten thank you notes, no sheets on bed, messy living rooms, drive-through dinners, or missed appointment.
    You are doing GREAT, Mom.
    xo

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  52. All I have to say is...you are doing AMAZING. The impact you have on these kids as the one that loves them FAR outweighs house mess or cracked eggs in the long run.

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  53. I am so sorry...but this makes me sooooo happy. You are not alone. Love you guys.
    -Troy

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