Friday, May 29, 2009

The Oldest and Youngest

Bryan was carrying Robert around in the sling yesterday so I could have both hands free to decorate his birthday cake. He has mastered the use of the sling lately and can get the baby in all by himself. Something tells me that he will make a good dad some day if his life takes him in that direction.
This picture reminds me of how much Bryan has grown. You'll notice as the kids get older, you won't see quite as many pictures of them on the blog. As the children get older I feel it is rather important to respect their privacy on both a personal and emotional level. Safety concerns also lead to me to leave pictures and information about the older children off the blog at times. I realize some parents believe that as long as their kids are around, they are free to tell the world anything they choose about them but we believe it is important to respect their need for and right to privacy and personal space. So the older ones are around and just as busy as the younger ones, you just may not see them quite as often.

Happy Birthday Bryan!

We celebrated another birthday this week. Bryan turned 12 on Thursday. It is rather amazing to realize you almost have a teenager on your hands.
We celebrated Bryan's birthday with pizza, wings, cake and ice cream. Who could ask for more?
Bryan got a new camera from his grandparents and is has not yet left his side.
As you can see, everyone was rather impressed with his new gadget.
Happy Birthday Bryan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Book-It Enrollment

If you homeschool, have you signed your elementary aged kids up for the Pizza Hut Book-It program yet? Enrollment is currently open for the 2009-2010 school year. I know my kids have enjoyed this program and any excuse for free pizza works for me.

Science Experiment for the Brave

If you are in the mood to take a chance, here's a wonderful experiment for you to try. Take one disposable diaper. Spend some time doing research on all the chemicals in said diaper that make it so darn absorbent. Then stick the diaper in the washing machine. One of two things will happen. The diaper will either absorb way more water than should be allowed or it will explode in your washer and create a big huge mess. I've had both happen on occasion when a babysitter accidentally tossed a paper diaper into the diaper pail with the cloth diapers. This morning I accidentally washed one with the diapers. I found it after the rinse cycle and it had not exploded. All I can say is that a size 1 diaper should not be able to absorb that much water. The sucker was huge. Seriously, if you leave a disposable diaper on your child long enough to use the full absorbency of the diaper, you should be slapped.

Art Time

Thanks to Grandma, we have discovered a new wonderful art material. Something low on the mess factor, low on the maintenance factor, easy set-up, easy clean-up, what more could you ask for? Oh right, do the kids like them? Well, I think these pictures speak for themselves. I just loved watching Liam working on putting his creations together. He seems to take all building so seriously. And I loved seeing the different ideas/abilities coming out of each child using the exact same materials. So what are we playing with today? Magic Nuudles. Try some with your kids, I promise you'll enjoy them. And in case you were wondering, they are made out of corn starch so no worries if a little one puts them in their mouth. For those of you with environmental concerns, this means they are also completely biodegradable. Just wash them away with water.







Monday, May 25, 2009

Paper Diapers

We are having some issues with our well lately so we decided it was time to shock the well again. That means putting a bunch of bleach into the well and hoping it kills the wonderful bacteria we had/have living in there. This process always leaves us with water that is highly concentrated with bleach for a few days. This means we have to drink bottled water and can't do laundry for a few days. Which means we are stuck using disposable diapers for a few days. In the past we made the mistake of washing the diapers in the water before the bleach had worked it's way out of the system sufficiently and we ruined quite a few diapers. Elastic does not like bleach and pul fabrics don't like it either. And let's be honest here. With 2 kids in diapers, the laundry would pile up quite a bit if I had to wait 3 or 4 days before washing the diapers.

May I say that I hate the smell of disposable diapers. That chemically perfumed smell makes me want to gag. I pick up the baby and the smell gets to me. I have to wonder why on earth so much perfume is put into disposable diapers. Add to this the sheer frustration when you end up with a batch of diapers that have the velcro tabs pull of easily and the increased cost of the darn things. I swear every time we have to buy them for some reason the cost has gone up yet again. We do keep a package of them around for each child for emergencies. When you live on a well, you loose water if you loose power. If we loose water, I can't do laundry. But I really can't wait to get the kids back into cloth diapers again. The smell alone is enough to drive me batty.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wedgits

The children have recently rediscovered their wedgits. I love these toys for the creativity they inspire. Everyone from Gabe up to Bryan can be kept rather entertained putting these structures together. I have a feeling that a few of the kids on our gift list this year will end up getting a set of these this year.

Sunday Smiles

Just wanted to share a few pictures from today.
Robert entertained a few guests and was even in a nice enough mood to allow a few of his grandparents to hold him for a bit before he'd decided he had quite enough of being social. As small as he is, Robert is decidedly not quiet when he decides he has had enough.
Gabe got up a bit early from his nap and then spent a good hour snuggling with Grandpa. This is quite unusual for Gabe since he is usually up and running as soon as his feet hit the floor.
The crew seems to have had a good day and will hopefully sleep well tonight. We can always hope, right?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Sean!

Our second child hit double digits today. His day started with donuts for breakfast and ended with dinner at Applebee's with cake and ice cream at home. I think he rather enjoyed himself. He also learned that it is not a good idea to mess with the gel frosting dye. Turns out you can't just wash that color off your hands. I think both of our hands will be looking normal again about the time I have to decorate Bryan's cake next week. I think I have also decided that it would be a good idea to invest in a cake decorating class one of these days so the creative endevours involved in making cakes for the kids will take on a slightly more artistic look. I did master a homemade marble cake this year so that is a start.
This picture has managed to capture Sean's angelic side.
The older two got a joint birthday gift this year so we decided they should open it today rather than making Sean wait.
He is thrilled with this car and it was almost too much for him to wait the extra 10 minutes to open it until a couple of the younger kids went to bed.
This picture has captured more of his devilish side. Especially since I think he took it himself while Mom and Dad were busy elsewhere.
Happy Birthday Sean! Hope you had a good day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fresh Asparagus and Chicken Casserole and Black Forest Parfaits

I was trying to use up the last of the frozen asparagus from our garden and the leftover cherry pie filling from making cherry bread over the weekend. The result was Asparagus and Chicken Casserole with Black Forest Parfaits for dessert.
Which led to a huge grin from Gabe. Something tells me he approves of his dessert.

Warmer Weather is on the Horizon

There have been many signs today that warmer weather just may be here to stay. I found a small child wandering the yard carrying some freshly laid eggs.
Gabe has spent enough time outside to today to manage to cut both his head and his elbow. And the older children had to freak out since there was blood involved on both occasions. Blood and band-aids seem to be required in this house every summer.
Clothes on the clothesline are always a sure sign that things have warmed up. I love being able to put the clothes out on a nice warm, windy day like today and have them dry in under an hour.
The chickens have taken to roaming the yard again in search of bugs and grass and other things to eat.

Robert on Wednesday

Robert actually allowed me to put him down long enough today to do some work in the kitchen. Poor little guy has major Mom withdrawals the second he feels himself hitting any foreign surface.
And here is a picture of the little dude with his eyes open. Yes, he is still on the small side but we just seem to grow them that way.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sometimes you Just Shouldn't Ask

I was just informed that a light bulb was broken downstairs. When I asked how it happened I was told by the offending child "I was banging two light bulbs together to see if they would break." Yup, sometimes it is best not to know how things happen I think.

View From the Sling

Or perhaps I should call it view of the sling. This is pretty much the only way Robert is happy with Dad holding him. Robert still seems to be firmly in the middle of that stage in life where there are only two types of people: Mom and everyone else. He will tolerate being held by other people for a short time if he absolutely must but is typically only happy with Mom. I find with each new baby that I must remind myself that it is totally normal for a baby to want to be held all the time and that yes, I must toss the baby into a baby carrier most of the day if I hope to get anything at all accomplished. There is a reason the first few months of a baby's life are often referred to as the 4th trimester.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yes, You are Seeing Yellow

While I was gone today, the painting crew struck again. They all did a wonderful job of painting the front hall (and themselves at times).
You just have to love that big cheesy grin from Abby.
Liam is a very serious painter.
Kieran says Hi.
Katie managed to not walk into a wall of wet paint this time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kieran Tackles the Monkey Bars

Kieran has finally tackled the elusive monkey bars. At least from underneath. I have a feeling it won't be long before he is climbing along the top of them with his brothers.

Robert of the Day

One of the very rare moments when Robert was sleeping without being held. I do believe he woke up a few minutes after this picture was taken which means he was only put down for, um, about 5 minutes or so.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Grocery Shopping with the Crew

I have decided that grocery shopping with a large number of children in tow is not for the faint hearted. Shopping for a large number of people, sure, anyone can do that rather easily. As long as you don't have a budget to stick to. But shopping with a large number of children is a monster of an entirely different sort.

First of all, you have to decide which of your kids is responsible enough to push the second cart without smashing it into your heels 20 some odd times during your trip. You do hope to make it out of the store still able to walk. Sadly I have yet to find a child who is truly capable of not ramming the extra cart into me at least 2 or 3 times and just figure that it's better they run into me than someone else.

Second, you have to decide which small child can be trusted to safely ride in the cart pushed by the older child. With rare exceptions, no 2 kid combination will last the entire store without some sort of fight. Same question applies to who will sit where in the monster cart you are pushing. With several small ones a cart that allows 2 or 3 to ride is a must which means figuring out which two kids can ride next to each other without beating on each other. Sure, I could resort to bribery to get them to all sit down and be quiet but I really hate using that for anything other than getting them to be quiet in church. Priorities are a must and if they are loud in the grocery store, other shoppers can deal with it.

Now you must deal with the barrage of questions that start before you even get into the store. "Are they all yours?" Seriously, I must ask how many folks you know who just pick up random children to take with them to the grocery store. I think you can safely assume that any adult who is alone at the grocery store with a gaggle of children is there with only their children. I don't think any parent would list "Take the neighbor children to the grocery store" high on their list of fun activities.

We've finally entered the age where some of the children have their own spending money. They seem to think this means that anytime they set foot into a store they must throw said money away on candy and junk food. I guess I am just plain tired of the senseless waste or mean because today I declared they are no longer allowed to waste their money on such junk. Truly I am not really mean. I can understand an occasional treat. But every single stinking time you set foot into a store (or the bowling alley) means it is no longer an occasional treat. Then these same children complain that they wasted their money and can't buy anything fun. Apparently they need a little help making the connection.

We finally meander through the entire store. Along the way we have dealt with a few kids who want to go home, picked up a few free samples, refused to allow errant items entry into the cart and answered the now famous "Are they all yours" question at least a dozen more times. We now approach the check out where one wonderful child decides to plant himself in front of the register screen. He proceeds to loudly read out the running total off the screen. As if this wasn't enough for one day, he then proceeds to make comments about how much money is being spent. Then another child starts to argue that it doesn't matter because Mom has not handed over her coupons yet. Then the total gets higher and the first child must make some astonished sounds even louder. Seriously, I must ask how much the children think it actually costs to feed 10 people. I also tell myself that we will not be heading out to pick up the rest of the groceries at the warehouse store today because I have had enough fun and excitement. And my husband wonders why I prefer to do the shopping alone and tend to take my time wandering and walking slowly and enjoying the blessed silence when I'm at the store alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Blast From the Past

Just a picture from the parish picnic last year.

Kieran's First Driving Lesson

Kieran got to try mowing the lawn for the first time today. Yes, Alan walked right next to him the entire time for safety. Big huge grins from Kieran. Seems amazing that he is this big already.

Granola Bars

In my ever constant search for healthy yet inexpensive snacks for the crew, I came upon a simple recipe last night for chewy granola bars. This recipe uses all normal, easy to find ingredients. Chances are fairly good that you will have everything in your pantry already which is a huge plus to me.
I made the initial batch with chocolate chips since that's what we have in the house at the moment but I plan on making a second batch with dried fruit and some nuts after grocery shopping this weekend. I'm also planning on teaching a few of the kids how to make the granola bars so they can take over. Give them a try yourself and let me know if they are a hit at your house. Chewy Granola Bars

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Need a Chuckle?

All mother's with more than one boy will appreciate this one. Just a warning, some of the language may not be small child friendly but it is very funny.




And let's be honest here folks. Chances are the yearly "Oh my gosh, we must get something for Mom for Mother's Day" freak out happened in some small fashion like this in most houses with more than one child at least once. I know I can remember a time or two when my older brother just threw money at me and said to go buy something and say it was from him. I can also remember a frantic phone call from Alan one year when I ended up talking him and his brother through making a gift for their Mom at the very last minute. But at least the thought was always there even if the advance thinking never was.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Gabe Drives the Tractor

Ok, this is just a small lawn tractor but couldn't you just picture him behind the wheel of a big tractor?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring in the Yard

Ok, I will admit that our yard is actually rather pretty in the spring. Just thought I would take a few pictures to share today. I did avoid the heaping pile of scrap metal that used to be a shed and the junk pile left behind by the previous owners that we have yet to remove. Yes, we are behind on yard maintenance around here. Only so many hours in the day and there is a lot to do.
Just some trees and bushes.
One of the fruit trees. I think this was one of the peach trees but don't quote me on that one. I'm never good at remembering which is which until the fruit is recognizable.
Love that color on the tree.
Here is the first sign that it is time to start tending to the garden. I walked back there today and found quite a bit of asparagus already growing and sadly most of what has already grown is past the point where it should be harvested. Guess what I'll be working on tomorrow?
The start of the grapes for the year. Hopefully we will actually be able to harvest some fruit this year from the vines. Last year what little grew was eaten by birds. We've learned grapes are rather particular fruit.
The lilacs are in bloom. These bushes are very pretty and smell amazing when they are all covered.
Just another lilac bush.
Bird's nest in the tree outside our dining room window. You know it is rather hard to get a decent picture of something that is over your head but I did try.
Said tree that is housing the bird's nest.
And another colorful addition to the yard. The kids are simply fascinated with these "pretty yellow flowers" which are pretty much carpeting our front yard. They keep bringing me bouquets of the flowers to display in the kitchen. I don't have the heart to tell them that they are lovingly picking weeds. Ah, the simple joys of being a toddler.