I know someone who IS, and I do mean IS CURRENTLY working on the endeavor of raising TWELVE children; she and her husband are doing this with FLYING COLORS. She has all kinds of inspirational quotes on her walls such as:
"This house isn't under construction.
Kids just live here."
"A clean house is a life wasted."
Despite all of these inspirational quotes to remind you that the true meaning of life is not about removing the last dust speck from the baseboard in the corner, this house STILL had the cleanest bathroom I've ever seen. It was sparkling. How on earth do you raise 12 kids (8 of them being boys for that matter), and still end up with a sparkling bathroom? My cousin, Tiffani, is a SUPER-Mom.
I was fortunate enough to spend the majority of a day with Tiff a couple weeks ago. I knew I would be traveling through her town on my way home from the Homestead, and I asked her if we could have a play date with her 12 children. :) Let me tell you, it was a MEMORABLE experience for me and my 'offspring'. Hang on to your seats, because I've documented the ride:
1) A few steps after you enter the Martineau home, you might be lucky enough to spy this table in the Living Room. It includes 14 copies of the Book of Mormon, and it looks like at least 7 Bibles are in those Scripture Cases. What a beautiful sight! This is a home that reads scriptures & has prayer daily. I love that EVERY child has their own copy of scriptures to help them stay alert and awake. I didn't really notice until later, but look at the table cloth--it's PATRIOTIC. They teach their kids to love God AND Country...what greater things could strengthen their family than a heritage like that? I dare say nothing.
2) Since we were camping out for most the day at their house, and since I knew they would be feeding me dinner, I thought, "Maybe there's some way I could give back." And that's when I spied a basket of socks. My BRILLIANT idea kind of back fired & in the end I'm pretty sure it wasn't even helpful. Timing myself for fun, I had TWENTY straight minutes of sorting socks by colors. Then I recruited help from Eva and we started matching up socks. We got sick of the white ones really fast. Then we moved to the dark colors, and then we moved to the small pile of colorful socks, because we thought we'd actually see some progress there. After AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES, I started delegating to Tristan and Eva, but not to Michael, because he said he wasn't allowed to do the socks. Haha! They finished up for me, and even then, we had what looked like a FULL basket of socks left over.
Here's some crazy math for you. This family lives in a place where they have to wear socks often, especially in the Winter. If they average one pair of socks for everyone each day, that turns into 28 socks per day. 28 socks/day x 7 = 196 socks/week.
196 socks/week x 52 = 10,192 socks per year!!!
Once we realized this astounding laundry trivia fact for the Martineau household, Eva asked me, "Is this why you only had 3 kids?"
3) Everything was all hunky-dory while we were folding socks, and that's when Tiffani told me she needed to leave to the store for just a little while. Her famous words were, "You're in charge of twelve kids." I thought it wouldn't be a problem. She told us to get the hot dogs out of the freezer, and open 3 cans of Hormel Chili to put on the stove. Easy, right? Ready for that crazy math, again?
12 kids + my 3 kids + 3 cousins + 2 friends
12 kids + my 3 kids + 3 cousins + 2 friends
= 20 children!!!!!
Being a teacher with 30 kids in a classroom is totally different than having 5 kids outside, 4 going around the block, 4 squealing in the hallway, 2 trying to tell the little boys that they need to give up the video game controllers, 2 folding socks, and 3 others who knows where.
That's when the GOAT showed up.
Don't worry, we were eventually saved by the owner of the goat. The owner's name was Billy, which is nothing short of IRONIC. His first words were, "Be careful, he butts." Gee whiz! The goat episode could have been awful, and it wasn't! I had a big sigh of relief until I turned around and found kids climbing on the car. (Please don't get mad at them, Tiff, I actually made them pause for a picture before they got down, so it's really my fault now.)
Eva looked at me on the lawn and said, "Boy, you sure are making a lot of memories, aren't you?"
What a darling and happy kid. That's Paul. He was very helpful, too.
5) Seconds after we saved "The Loser Cruiser" from potential dents & scratches, I got a text from Tiff & Brandon saying they were on their way back. I started freaking out inside my head, because NOTHING they asked us to do was done. What kind of a dog-poo reputation would I have if they saw I couldn't even handle the simple tasks they needed?
"Eva! Did you get the hot dogs out of the freezer?"
"Oh, no! Are you serious? Why not?"
"Because, remember? I told you I needed help moving something first, and you said you would help me, but THEN THE GOAT CAME."
"Oh, yeah! Oh my gosh! Hurry! Where are they? We've got to get them out of the freezer before your mom & dad get back!"
I was laughing the whole time. It's not like Tiff wanted us to MAKE the dinner. All she wanted was the ingredients ON the counter, and we were frantically running to get them as they turned onto the street. And then I saw red drips from otter pops all over the tile floor. Amelia wiped those up for me seconds before Tiff & Brandon walked in the door. And *WHEW* that's when everything calmed down again, and that's when having 12 kids seemed like it was easy, because the PROS were BACK!
Tyson & Morgan
Miles, Milly, Gracie, Miles, Maron, Mallory
Tyson, Emmett, Nate, Morgan, Titan, Tristan
Tyson, Emmett, Morgan, Nate, Neighbor kid, Caden, Zack, Titan?, Other kid, Tristan
Paul, Kaylin, Zach, Mallory, Miles, Amelia, Marron
Zach?, Marron, Miles, Milly
6) This sweetheart is THE BEST BABY SITTER EVER! I never had to worry about my 1 year old, because this darling girl carted him around everywhere. I LOVE HER! Honestly, ALL of Brandon & Tiff's kids are like this--they are the most loving, most helpful, quick to obey, sweetest, funnest kids you've ever met. I would keep them all if I could!
Miles, Emmett, Tyson, Zach?, Neighbor
Miles & Miles
D-Jo & Tiff
7) Side note: Amid everything else, they still had energy to have a yard sale. The necklace I'm wearing in this picture was one of my treasures from the garage sale when I went back the next day.
8) One more fact about this family: They call almost everyone Aunt ______ or Uncle ____ . I was amazed at the way they open their arms & hearts to everyone who comes to their doorstep. Friend, neighbor, or actual family, you are treated like family. There's an abundance of love in that household.
And as for your first question, Eva: After having so much fun, I am sure that more than 3 kids would be a BLAST in my household, but I'm also pretty darn sure that after the hot-dog FIASCO, I may have to leave the raising of TWELVE kids to the PROS. :)
I walked away inspired, happier, and with new, AWESOME memories!
That was one of the best days of my life, Tiff! Thanks for the play date! Gosh I love you guys!