We have truly lived our vows: for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, til death do we part. Love is not just a warm fuzzy feeling, and it's far more than just putting up with each other. It's rooted in trust, loyalty, fidelity, being a cheerleader for each other, and just having each other's backs no matter what. Love is a verb, and it's expressed in our actions every day.
One of the things I'm most heartened by is that my eleven kids are not just siblings; they are a squad. While they each, of course, have their own friends outside of the family, they are truly best friends with each other, and they hang around together by choice quite a lot of the time. My daughter Christina recently got engaged, and the first thing she did was ask all five of her sisters to be her maids of honor.
Christmas is our favorite holiday! Between the Christmas decorations, cutting down a tree, putting up lights, making Christmas cookies, and wrapping a multitude of presents, it's always a whirlwind of excitement.
Christmas in a large family has brought us its own set of unique challenges over the years. For instance, when our kids were little, we had to use picture frame wire to tie the Christmas tree to the wall, as inevitably one of the little ones would try to climb the tree and knock the whole thing over! And then there was the time when we found three year old Lisa drinking the Christmas tree water. Four year old Katherine decided to eat a glass ornament, and we waited, terrified, for it to pass through her digestive system, hoping it wouldn't cut up her insides! I wasn't able to actually put any presents under the tree until Christmas Eve up until just a few years ago because there was always a young child or two who couldn't stop themselves from unwrapping the presents long...
What would the holidays be without the smells of cinnamon, apples, and a turkey or ham cooking? Through 30 years of marriage and 11 kids, I have developed a holiday menu that I make for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter (with slight variations in each) that has become a tradition for our family. One year I wasn't going to make the poppy seed cake to go with the bacon and eggs for breakfast, and I thought I was going to have a riot on my hands, so I quickly went back to the plan, made the poppy seed cake, and all was well in Cimorelli-Land again. I have found that following these traditions also helped ease our transition whenever we moved; they bring familiarity and makes anywhere suddenly feel like home. I like to cook everything from scratch, and I have gotten numerous requests for the recipes, so here goes!
Here is the menu for the big day:
Breakfast is bacon, eggs, fruit salad, and the poppy seed cake made the night before.
Multi-tasking is the lifeblood of a mom, especially in a large family. While there is evidence to support the idea that multi-tasking is not the best approach in a business environment (you actually get more done if you focus on one task at a time), in Mom World, that's just laughable. Like I'm going to put in a load of laundry and wait until it's done before I run the dishwasher so that I'm only doing one task at a time? No, I don't think so. The key to efficiency in Mom World is to multi-task at a very high level. Here's the breakdown:
1. Get your machines working for you
With eleven kids, there are always mountains of laundry and dishes, so first thing in the morning, I get my appliances going. I get a load of laundry going, and I unload and reload my dishwasher and get it going as soon as it's full (which is usually right after breakfast). I only have my youngest six living with me currently, but when I had all eleven , we had two sets of washers and dryers (which was a godsend!) and...
My dad has been gone for almost 28 years now, and yet there still isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him. At only 60 years old, he died way too young, but his faith and love of family, as well as his humor and daredevil spirit, have proven to be a powerful and lasting influence in my life. I am particularly grateful for the fact that he chose a job that not only fulfilled his dream of how he wanted to earn his keep but also allowed him a great deal of free time, which fortunately for me, he chose to spend with his family. I remember being shocked as a teenager when he said, "What's so great about working, anyway?" What? My dad said this?? What he went on to explain was that the ideal thing was find a way to do something you love and figure out a way to make it pay well while working as few hours as possible instead of being a workaholic. Pretty idealistic, but he pulled it off, and we, his family, were the grateful beneficiaries!
This week I am profiling Ash Greyson, who with his gorgeous wife Mindy has a beautiful family of 7 children whom they homeschool. Ash works in the movie industry promoting Faith and Family films.
Ash Greyson—Founder and Chief Evangelist, Ribbow Media Group.
1. Tell me a little bit about your childhood and where you grew up. How would you describe your family and your town?
I grew up in Tulsa, OK, for the most part. It was still booming from oil money in the 70s and 80s. I have a crazy family history! My father died in a car accident while my mother was pregnant; he actually didn’t even know she was pregnant. My grandparents stepped in to help raise me, which became especially important when my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when I was 12. She had one of the worst cases ever documented, which led to many other terminal conditions. They told me and my half brother who is 4 years younger than me, that she would only live 6 months. She went on to live 18 more years, which was a...
I was pregnant with my first child in 1988, and I had never heard of homeschooling. One day when I was in my 9th month of pregnancy and in my usual spot lying on the couch, watching TV, and feeling like a beached whale, I was watching the precursor to Oprah, which was a popular talk show hosted by Phil Donahue. On that particular day, he had on the Colfax family from Northern California who had successfully homeschooled their four boys, two of whom were their own biological children, and the other two of whom were adopted and of different races. Clearly there was not a purely genetic edge with this family; they were doing something really interesting and, at that time, cutting edge. At the time of the show, their oldest three had gone on to Harvard on full-ride scholarships, with one becoming a doctor and the other two on their way to becoming lawyers. The fourth was interested in becoming a chef, so he was on a different path.
...there was just Mike and me. We met in college in the early 80's and immediately became good friends. We had noticed each other on campus several times, and we both lived in the dorms. One day when I was in the dining commons talking to a mutual friend, Mike jumped in the middle of our conversation and said to my friend, "Do you know this girl? I need to meet her!" My friend gave me a quizzical look and said, "Do you want to meet this guy?? Are you sure?" Of course I said yes, and we ended up talking for hours. I had this feeling that we were going to be friends forever. I had no idea we would actually get married, but I knew he was someone very special.
Four years later, after developing a strong friendship that had seen us both through other relationships, graduation, moving out of state, and all the other interesting kinds of changes people go through in their early 20's, we decided to tie the knot on Valentine's Day of 1987. I was 23 and he was 25. I was in the middle of gra...