Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Can Someone Just Come and Tell Me I'm Not Alone?

A few months after I married my second husband, we began planning our dream home in Mexico. We were expecting my seventh child, our first together, and we wanted a home that would reflect the needs of a large family. Our focus was on the children, while maintaining the hacienda style we thought would be perfect for living in Mexico. We planned for each child to share a small bedroom with a sibling, thus leaving more space for three great rooms in the main area of the home, plus a large basement we hoped to complete with a game room, theater and music studio.

We painted all the walls with semi-gloss paint, which is easy to clean, we tiled every square inch of the floors, choosing to use only area rugs, and not carpet. Kids have been known to stain carpets, at least our kids, as I learned from living in John's cream-carpeted home, where we lived during the first two years of our marriage. We did carpet the stairwells, to cushion any accidental falls, but used a multi-colored brown. All these things we did to keep our home looking presentable, even with a large family.

The process of building our home went on for over two years (and still continues). During this time, we welcomed John's first-born son into the world, then, 12 months later, we discovered we were expecting our eight child. No biggie, right? What's one more? We had designed our home for lots of children, so having eight kids would be no problem.

Until one egg split into two (as far as I believe, although John thinks they're fraternal), and our lives were turned upside-down. We had twins. Now I had my big, beautiful dream home, but NO TIME to keep it clean. For the first year, there were piles of dishes in what were supposed to be my three pristine restaurant-style sinks...,



...piles of dirty laundry on the floor of my Mexican-style pink and green laundry room, and piles of papers, bills and books on the granite office area in our kitchen. It was not the home I had dreamed it would be. Yes, the walls were the colors I'd dreamed of, the floors the perfect Mexican style I had designed, and my kitchen was a dream come true, but I often found I was embarrassed to have people over!

Now that the twins are 22 months, things have improved drastically. Yes, there are usually toys strewn over all three great rooms in the main section of the house, but I am able to keep up, generally, with the dishes, laundry and paper piles. However, to keep the twins from completely destroying our surroundings, we have had to take measures which protect, yet uglify, our home. This does not make me very happy, but I know it's only temporary, so, like all things difficult, this, too, shall pass. Here are some examples...

Upon first glance, this looks like a lovely decorated Christmas tree, complete with eclectic and hand-made family ornaments...



But here is the bottom, because I can't seem to manage to keep the twins away from said Christmas tree...



This is just completely ridiculous...



Next we have what should be an inviting dining room table...



NOT! Note the rope. (Honestly, John gets so annoyed that he can't sit at his own dining room table without untying a double knot. No, we never had to do this with any of our singletons, but having twins walk, or run, together on a dining room table is just not a safe thing to allow.)

Then there are the hall closet doors. Isn't this just a lovely way of keeping the twins out...



Let's move on to the 3 three and under's bedroom. What was once a lovely quilt designed and sewed by my sister and her husband...



...is now duct taped to the wall as a way to keep out light during nap time...



This door...



....it may seem like a normal door, albeit it scratched from two years of use by children, but this door is not what it seems. You are viewing this door from the hallway. Yes, the lock is on the outside. We don't believe in having locks on the insides of bedrooms, but when the twins got old enough to open these doors and go through their older siblings' bedrooms like hurricane Katrina, we had to place locks on the outsides of all the bedroom doors. Yes, sometimes the 3-year-old finds it fun to lock his brothers and sister inside their own rooms, but this is something they have grown accustomed to. At least they can escape through their jack and jill bathrooms to adjoining bedrooms.

Let's move on to the dream kitchen.

I took the following photo from a previous post...



When I dreamed about my dream kitchen, I always dreamed it with colorful Mexican-designed towels hanging from the oven handles. For now, this is not to be, as we must keep the towels on the stoves or the counters, like so, or else they will end up heaped on the floor....



What was supposed to be a clean, uncluttered island...



...has become this...



...as we are not able to keep things in the bottom drawers because we have not found cabinet locks the twins cannot destroy.

And the hickory cabinets....oh, the hickory cabinets. What was supposed to be this...



...is now this...



...and what was supposed to be this...



...is now this...



So, as per my question in the title of this post, am I alone in this or does anyone else struggle with the fact that their home has turned into Fort Knox? Of course I don't resent the twins for the fact that I've had to alter my expectations of living in my dream home, because just look at them....






...but it sure will be nice when, next Christmas, we can have the bottom of our tree decorated...



Wait, what am I talking about? We will have a crawling 9-month-old next Christmas. Never mind.

Oh, the joys of family!

(But really, you know I love 'em, right? I do!)

50 comments:

Emily said...

You're not alone! I was sitting nodding along to everything you wrote. I'm impressed you have the Christmas tree up (mine is still sitting in the box, I'm too scared to see what they will all do to it). Thanks for the great idea to keep the kids off the table, I'm off to get some rope!!

chibbylick said...

No, you are not alone! Our Christmas tree is in a playpen. We will not even try to put gifts underneath it until Christmas morning. We have had doors sealed shut with hair elastics, and purpose made plastic locks. For a while we had our fridge locked... but it only too about 1 week for our son to figure out how it worked and we were back to square one.
Just remember this too will pass, one day you may miss the "good old days" when your lovely home was tied up like Fort Knox!

Julie said...

You are SOO not alone. I have one three-year-old that destroys my home. My other children didn't do this like he does. I've decided it's because my other children were raised in smaller quarters, so I could keep up with them so much easier--they were always under foot, but I have to know where he is every second of every day, or he will find something to destroy or deface.

I'm already to preparing mentally for the Christmas tree we will have next year with a seventeen month old. It will be very similar to yours, but we've done this every year we've had really little ones who don't understand yet, so that'd be at least six Christmases at this point.

I still think your home is beautiful.

Kristin said...

I actually think you're really materialistic, and a pretty bad mom. JUST KIDDING!

Kristi said...

The first few years with kids found our Christmas tree out on the front porch in front of the picture window. I could open the curtains and enjoy it, and the boys couldn't get to it.

And we pulled the child locks off of the cupboards and the safety gates off of the stairs about a year ago...and I kind of miss them sometimes, just because it reminds me how quickly the kids are growing and how sweet they were when they were little. Still sweet now, of course, just in bigger bodies!

Lydia said...

You are definitely NOT alone, I too have no ornaments on the bottom of my tree and am looking forward to next year when I can have a whole tree.

My little guy knows what cupboards he is allowed in. Yet still I have 2 pans/stones that make 6 cupcakes instead of 1 that makes 12. And I can just imagine if there were 2, 15 month olds running around.

I still love your house and would not even think twice about the locks/ropes and other things if there were not pointed out.

Yes I know you love them.

Rebecca said...

Our Christmas tree has no breakables on it. All the ornaments are kid friendly now. It use to look like yours- with no ornaments on the bottom. Now they just rearrange all the things on the tree and they all seem to migrate to the bottom!

We rarely have company because its so much work to get the house clean enough to let people see it. When my visiting teachers come, I spend hours decluttering, picking up toys, clothes, who-knows-what-els, and when they arrive, I say "Wow! I haven't had time to clean at all!"

Kami said...

I can understand! When I moved into Monte's home, everything was child-proofed, as Colin was only two at the time. Thankfully, over the next year, we've been able to teach him what he can and can not do, and have removed all of the child-safety stuff! It's been amazing :)

Fisher Fam said...

I caught my 3 1/2 yr old with his lightsaber up inside the middle of my tree last night... It's not just that they are twins, they're boys! My Logan too has the lock on the outside of his door, so he'll stay in at nap and night time. Before that we used those plastic door knob covers with the grip things you have to push in. When he figured that out, my husband had the bright idea of just cutting off the grips, so you had to reach through and actually hold the knob with your fingers to turn it, he's mastered that now as well! I only have two kiddos and I can't always keep up :) You're doing an amazing job!

Melinda Arnold said...

lol I remember the top third of the tree decorated and leaping over baby gates. Good times. Glad they are over lol

Karin said...

We also frequently just decorate the upper half of the christmas tree. And then a couple of years ago, we put it up the day after Thanksgiving and it was down before December even started. The toddler had pulled it over and broken the tree stand. So it just leaned against the wall for the rest of the month. My husband keeps reminding me this is just a phase. But how many times will we go through this phase. At least one more time as we are expecting another munchkin in the summer.

Jessica said...

My Christmas tree is up and decorated (quite heavily on the bottom half due to the help of a 3 and 6 year old) ONLY because it is in a downstairs room we never use, except for me to do west at home work during nap time and the evening.
We are "lucky" enough to be able to baby gate off the kitchen area, BUT we can't baby proof our stairs so we have a laundry basket, full of laundry, shoved between our couch and a small table to prevent the 13 month old from getting to the two sets of stairs. It is very "ghetto" and I can't wait until it can be gone for good.
So, nope, not alone at all :)

Living It, Loving It said...

You are definately not alone! I have two children and work a fulltime job and it gets so overwhelming. My house looks like Fort Knox five minutes after I spent hours cleaning it. I don't get a moment of peace, and I don't get a break until my head hits my pillow. My toddler (now 15 monthes) turns my home into Fort Knox on a daily basis while my nine year old cheers him on. I have not yet put the tree up because I am not sure how long my toddler will let it stay up.

Mrs. Mordecai said...

My son was 17 months when he learned to climb out of his crib. It took him less than a week after we installed the kitchen cabinet locks to figure them out. He broke the desk drawer locks. He opens the bifold door locks with a broom handle. He usually doesn't bother with the doorknob cover child locks (for which I am so thankful) but if he really wants to get them off, he knows that a few bangs from his toy hammer is all it takes.

So yes, our home looks like Fort Knox, but I'm not sure how much good it really does. :)

Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" said...

You are so not alone...my little brother was like that and he wasn't a twin and now my sister has a son that is the same way. She has locks on her oven, fridge, toilets and locks high up on the doors (she caught her son trying with a broom handle to unlock the door locks, the ones high up,the other day). All of her cupboards look like yours.

Doesn't it make life so fun!

Anonymous said...

You could do a whole other post about how MY house looks before and after!

Love, Mom

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Haha! Yes, Mother, let's do! We'll do it at Christmas time! What do you say? We could also do one before and after at Aunt Bobbi's house during Christmas dinner. We could do a before and after of the Christmas tree ornaments! 'Member that? The priceless turquoise ornaments? Yes, Bobbi and I have already had a talk about that.

Amy O'Connor said...

You are most definitely not alone in this.

thedailydelights said...

Oh, Jen :). We have a two toned tree as well...I'll post photos tomorrow...top half with pretty ornaments, and the bottom: grandma's handmade-soft ornaments. :) All my beloved ornaments are strung in windows so up and away...and yes, we have everything locked as well. I ask them to stay out of my art studio, then want them to enjoy it with me and then find one of my paintings bound for a show in a few hours has been desicrated (sp). Anyways, I feel your pain!!! And I only have 3 wee ones! luv you, trina

Bobbi said...

You definitely are not alone. Just enjoy it now, because before long there will be just a few of you rattling around in that big beautiful house and you'll be wishing they were all back!

Mandy said...

When my oldest was younger I used my hubby's old work ties to "secure" our dining room chairs to the table! It drove him nuts that he had to untie a knot to sit down too!

Luvmy9 said...

You know what really stinks, Jen? I thought when my little ones finally were older I could have a lovely tree with breakable ornaments and lovely furniture, too, like, oh say a white couch. well, the white couch has permanent red stains (under the throw pillows, at least) and I STILL can't decorate with breakable tree ornaments because of...the Grandchildren! Why didn't anyone warn me about that? I think we had all just better give up our "Better Homes and Gardens" ideas and enjoy the kids AND the clutter. Hope I see you at Christmas time.

Dee said...

I have twin boys who are now 5 years old. They still distroy stuff! I so feel your pain. I've given up on having anything "nice" until they leave home.

On another note, please do not keep towels on the stove. Your stove looks to be a gas stove and the knobs are on the front. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Just a friendly caution from the daughter, sister, cousin and niece of firefighters and wife to a former volunteer firefighter. I would hate to see your dream home destroyed by more than twins having fun.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

One year we put the Christmas tree up in a playpen. I had only had the playpen to keep things (not children) in, and that worked very well for us.

I have used rulers (yardsticks), bungie cords, and similar items to keep adept small children out of drawers and cupboards where they did not belong.

Kristi said...

I just remembered about a family that lived near us. They had 9 kids. The dad installed a heavy duty hook/bracket thingie on the ceiling, and they hung the tree upside down every year. Ooh, I bet it saved on floor space too!

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Dee, point well taken. Thank you, and I'll go move my towels!

Deb S. said...

Ok, you had me rolling on the floor ,your post was so funny! I have no experience with twins or 9.5 for that matter. That fact did scare me enough to stop laughing for a second....but I remembered I only have 4 so I could laugh again. But I am racking up the grankids at 41 so I am installing cupboard locks again. Unfortunatley Im still not smart enough to open them but the toddlers can. I guess I will just keep myself out of the no-no's!

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Deb, I got really confused for a minute. I thought you meant you had 4 kids and 41 grandkids! But then I realized you meant you are 41 years old!

Jes said...

This time shall soon pass, but boy I think we can all relate...I think the worst we had was when we had to place 4 baby gates locked together to surround and old furnace in our old living room in order to keep the kids safe...

In light of that, I am proud to say we just removed the locks on our cabinets last night and honestly don't know what to think about the newfound freedom... :) I'm sure that will pass soon as well! hehehehe!

Hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

Amanda B. said...

three words........ I soooooooooooo understand....... :)

Cheryl B. said...

Jen, you started with, "Can someone just come". I would be honored to! I will bring homemade peanutbutter cookies (made with Skippy smooth peanutbutter) dipped in chocolate. And we shall grant the children two each (one for each hand) and then talk and share all sorts of stories about our children and their shanagins while we eat our cookies (always secrativly replacing one with another so that it always appears as though we too only have two cookies o;-p)and laugh and survive life together.

As all of the others shared, no, you most definetly are NOT alone!!! F-a-r from it!!!

The challenge in that for me,was that I had a few to many 'well meaning'people always/continually advising me that if I would "just"... . And I believed them to the point that I thought I pretty much was the only one. Trust me, I have most definitly learned differently!!!

Where will I start in sharing stories with you? Hum mmm
~ when 15 month old son #3 moved a chair, pulled out drawers, opened cupboards and fought his way to the top of the fridge where I had just placed something he wasn't suppose to have, before I returned to the living room to nurse son #4 ...
~ having to place a hook andeye lock on the basement side of the basement door due to the boys "needing" mom, the challenge of climbing narrow wooden steps, carrying a full laundry basket, and unlocking a door to fight your way through witing little bodies ...
~ Installing spring loaded hook and eye locks up so high I had to reach up to work them on the inside of storm doors, because son #3 would patiently stand there bouncing the door just right till the regular hook and eye locks would come free and he could escape.
~ I read one commenters remark about putting presents under the tree ... when did that start? ;-p
~ The three and a half year old whom took the two minutes while I ran back into the house to get the forgotten item to decide he would put the fixed tire back on the car for me. And in that short amount of time had actually got the jack out of the back of the car, jacked the (full size station wagon) car up to the very top of the jack, and had even managed to start loosening the lug nuts .... YES, he WAS only 3 1/2 years old!!!

I'll save more stories to share over our cookies ;->

To quote Red Green - "I'm pullin for ya (Jen), remember, we're all in this together!"

Heidi said...

At least you have a tree...we're putting ours on the porch so we can close the door.

You are so not the only one!

Expat Mom said...

Oh, you are definitely not alone! I don't have twins, but mine are considered Irish twins and we actually call my youngest "Dante the Destroyer". He has singlehandedly eliminated all the plastic balls from the bottom half of the tree, broken every snowman ornament and frequently pulls the tree skirt out so he can hide under it. My older son joins in the fun, though he realizes he shouldn't wreck the tree . . . he just takes all the ornaments off and hangs them on one branch. I've given up on a semi-organized tree this year . . . maybe next year!

Heather J said...

Oh wow, I never imagined tying a rope around the chairs to the table! I get so frustrated with my daughter because all she ever does is push those chairs ALL over the house when she wants something she can't reach. I get so tired of chasing her down. Your tree makes me laugh because only moms know why it looks like that, anyone else would think we were just crazy! If they only knew....

Anonymous said...

Putting towels on the stove is not a very safe idea, it only takes a turn of the knob to catch them on fire. keep them in the drawer it may not be your ideal picture but atleast what you value won't go up in flames.

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Thanks anonymous. The towels are actually on a cast iron griddle, but still not a very safe thing, and as I mentioned to Dee with the firefighter relatives, I'm definitely going to change! :)

momstheword said...

Oh I remember those days. My youngest was quite a climber and got into everything. He broke a t.v., two lamps and a vcr all before he was two.

We put our Christmas tree in a play-yard which we already had, otherwise we would have used the playpen.

I bought a few cheap things at the $ store, so that if he broke them I wouldn't mind.

Eventually he grew out of that breaking stage and it was so nice to take the locks off the cabinets and the drawers and doors.

~ Nan

Bethany Cox said...

i like how you take after ed and call them the "great rooms"

Lisa Curcio said...

You are not alone lol!

Our house is built for 1 maybe 2 children, we have 5 crammed in here with an addition that we have been working on for over 19 months. It started simple with just a bedroom for me & my husband, and then a few weeks after we finalized the design, I was pregnant with #4 so we changed the addition to include 4 bedrooms...and then after the framing was done I was pregnant with #5. We have piles of random things all over the place, our book case with drawers is now a play center for kids my queen sized front loader washer is now too small for us. there are piles of both clean and dirty clothes that seem to migrate from room to room, my 19 month old has turned into a climber and gets into everything, I spend my days picking up tiny toys and telling big brothers to be more careful. We have 2 bathrooms that will be in the addition, but for now we are all sharing 1.

I could go on and on...but you know how the story goes lol.

We put all the plastic ornaments on the bottom of the tree and keep the broom handy for the broken glass ornaments. It is what it is and I have worked hard to let things go and not worry so much. In a few years there will be no more diapers, no more little ones to follow around all day...as sad as that is, knowing that day will come is what gets me through the day lol!

Melinda said...

During the past 5 months I have had to make changes to my house due to the 20 month old I babysit. I am dreading puttins our tree up! LOL.... But like Bobbi said before long they will all be gone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Julie said...

We finally gave up on breakable ornaments and decorated the tree with dough ornaments the kids help me make. You can make some salt dough ornaments with cookie cutters and paint them. It is a home spun look for sure. They lasted two or three years at least.

Friends put the christmas tree in the playpen too.

My youngest is now 6 years old and we finally got rid of the plug protectors. I could never get those darn things out! I feel free!!!

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keeslermom said...

While I can't say I've dealt with twins, I think we can all sympathize with this post!

We have had trees decorated with small stuffed animals, baby toys Playmobil people. If they are going to use the decorations as toys, you might as well use their toys as decorations!

Andrea said...

I don't have any children yet (we're just recently married and young!) but I do have two young nephews and a niece who totally TRASH our house whenever they come over. I often wonder how their parents stay sane! I love them so much but goodness--my house can be pristine and they'll turn it upside down in a matter of a few minutes.

I'd also like to say that your home is SO beautiful! I know this post was about it being messy ;) but WOW--I am in love with your kitchen. I have a lot of family in Mexico, including my mom, and your home reminds me a bit of hers!

Okay this was long... Sorry. I'm going to subscribe now.

Anonymous said...

You've reminded me of so much! My twin girls are almost 12 (yes, pre-teens - I'm bracing myself) and we went through the same thing.

One other thing you've reminded me of though - when mine were little they looked so different to me that I couldn't even fathom it when people would say they had to be identical (even though the pathology report on the placenta also suggested identical. Sorry if that's TMI). It was so disturbing to me that I had a DNA test done and they matched in 99% of the genetic markers they tested. So yes, they are definitely identical, but I've never mistaken them for each other (at least not in real life, in photos I can see why people can't tell the difference).

Feliz Navidad!!

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Andrea, thank you for your sweet compliment! Really, the only problem is trying to keep it clean!

Anonymous, I, too, think my twins look so different, but many cannot tell them apart, even their 17-year-old brother! He just always calls them "baby". We don't know if they are identical or not, but I think they are because there are so many similarities.

Thanks for your comment!

Yerdonshawitz said...

Thank you for sharing this, I just discovered you blog today. My twins are almost 18 months old and the only way I have a tree is because it is behind baby gates. My kitchen cabinets are locked by totlok brand locks, which are magnetic and the greatest invention! The bathroom cabinets are tied shut with elastic hair bands. Love your kitchen by the way, it is beautiful.

shannon said...

You are not alone. I have five children, the oldest being 7, a 5 year old, 3 year old twins, and a 20 month old. We had locks on the outsides of doors too. We also only decorate the top 1/4 of our Christmas tree because our kids will pull a chair or toy over to the tree to get to the ornaments. We have locks on all of our cabinets and drawers and even most of our doors. Our front door has a dead bolt, a safety chain, and an alarm on it. Our sliding glass back door has a lock-bar, a lock chain, and an alarm. We also have to keep an alarm on our refrigerator plus a fridge locking strap. Trust me, your house looks absolutely lovely with nothing out of the ordinary compared to mine!

Jenny said...

I have just spent over an hour exploriing your delightful site after finding it through a happy accident. I have laughed, cried, and generally enjoyed you sharing your life.

I'm facinated by the fact that you live in Mexico. We had the pleasure of taking a trip to Alamos, Sonora a few years ago and were so impressed by the Mexican people. Unfortunately we hear such horror stories of the dangers in Mexico on the news that we have put off any further exploration of that beautiful country. I am, however, attempting to learn a bit of Spanish in anticipation of returning.

Thank you for sharing your stories.

Jenny in AZ

Judy said...

Hah! Love that we're not the only ones who have to toddler-proof their homes. Our little one enjoys opening and closing cabinets if we forget to put the little locks on them. Then giggles when we look her way and tell her she isn't supposed to be doing that.