Thursday, February 28, 2013

Williamsburg Pictures

Our goal for this last vacation was to mostly stay relaxed and not stick to a schedule. We were hoping to use the time to somewhat heal as a family and just reconnect after our last year. For the most part, we were rather successful.
Leatherworking at the MOMYS Meet-n-Greet

Making a Bookmark

Katie fell in love with the horses and now wants to move closer to Aunt Lisa so she can take riding lessons.
I will say that looking back on it, perhaps attending as part of a retreat run by a group of pretty much Evangelical Christians was perhaps not the best of ideas.  Yes, the kids loved the built in playmates.  We loved knowing that all the condos surrounding us were also filled to the brim with families with many young children so if the kids made some noise, we didn't have to worry. We loved the discount on the lodging and the plan of free activities if you wanted to participate.  But we only attended one day of planned activities before realizing that theologically we were not quite the in the right place for our family.  I'm not so into the patriarchal ideals that pretty much say the wife should not speak in a public gathering if the husband is present.  Gee, who would have thought? At the evening potluck/meet-n-greet activity, the guy in charge was asking each family (which translated to each husband because the wife should not speak) a rather personal get to know you kind of question.

Listening to the answers ahead of us, we knew we were the only Catholics hiding among this group of folks.  I have a feeling a few folks might have flipped out if they discovered that little fact or noticed our kids crossing themselves before prayers.  So after listening to the questions of when did you become a Christian and what Christian book would you suggest for this audience and who has been the biggest influence in your personal walk with Christ, Alan thought he had answers for whatever might be thrown at him.  Instead, he was asked what is your biggest fear.  Um, seriously this was the wrong question for us.  We both instantly felt like we'd had the wind knocked out of us.  I was about to jump in and give a slightly rude answer starting with "well, if you are going to ask such a personal question, I can give you the answer you don't want to hear and tell you why we are here in the first place" but Alan eventually answered instead. He said he thought about answering with the Borg but given that most of the folks were dressed in Colonial garb, he figured the Star Trek reference would be lost on them.  Sigh.  So overall we had a wonderful time though.
Love Kieran's expression

This could be very helpful at home

We spent two days at Colonial Williamsburg itself.  The first day the entire family went but on the second day I stayed back with the younger 3 so that the older 6 could get to everything they wanted to see. On that day, they met an interpreter who grew up telling her Mom that she wanted to be Felicity when she got older (from the American Girl collection).  Given that she is now spending her days working at Colonial Williamsburg dressed much like Felicity would be and spending lots of time standing out in the cold, she warned the children to be very careful about what they wished for.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Vacation pictures will be coming soon but I need to really look through them and sort them out. So instead for today I will share some bowling pictures. On the way home from Virginia, we stopped in Maryland to visit Alan's brother's family and took the entire crew bowling.  Even Ellie sort of bowled (in other words she used a ramp and had lots of help from older children which means that is what she'll expect in the future if we go bowling which is going to cause a problem, I'm sure). So just sharing a few pictures.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to take decent pictures of people bowling? You end up with lots of pictures of backsides which are not exactly the best things to look at so you'll just have to trust me that everyone was there.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Plan

M: oatmeal (B), curry chicken (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), pulled pork (D)
W: cereal (B), spaghetti (D)
T: pumpkin bread (B), peanut satay (D)
F: yogurt (B), fish sandwiches (D)
S: muffins (B), pizza (D)
S: hoping for leftovers

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


My kids have access to cable this week. So they have been staying up late watching Food Network.  This cracks me up for some reason.  Granted, we've once again had it confirmed that most of what is on cable is pure junk so I'm rather glad our budget necessitated getting rid of it.  But Food Network seems to be a favorite around here.  Come to think of it, that was mostly what we used to watch when we had cable anyway.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gabe-isms of the Day

You never quite know what is going to come flying out of Gabe's mouth.  He has often been known to jump quite quickly from saying it is the best day ever to my life is awful.  In the same five minutes.  About the same activity.  Some of my favorite comments today:

(while looking at a solar system exhibit) I can't find Uranus! It's supposed to spin on its side.
(on why he has no desire to go on the catwalk) I'm frightened. I'm afraid of heights.  (This coming from a child who is often climbing trees and scaling other tall objects is a bit hard to take.)
(while pretending to drive a boat) Be safe. Make sure there are no sea monsters.

Yup, the kid keeps us busy and scratching our heads on a regular basis.  And often laughing and wondering what will come out of his mouth next.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Why Behind the Meal Plan

I don't have a meal plan this week but here is the why behind posting it on-line most weeks.  Alan gets up in the mornings with the kids and supervises breakfast.  He loves having a meal plan posted so that he can figure out what to feed them that keeps our budget in line with my thinking.  And, well, he likes having one less decision to make in the morning.  Yes, this does indeed mean that I am the last person in the house to get up in the mornings. Yes, I know how awesome that is and plan to enjoy it as long as I can.  It also helps keep me organized and prevent me from loosing the meal plan around the house.  Yup, such things happen around here.  Frequently it seems.  And several folks have requested that it be posted to help give them ideas so that would be the reason behind the seemingly pointless meal plan posts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What to Do

A friend suggested to me that perhaps I put together a post on what folks can do to help someone dealing with the loss of a child.  Awesome idea, truly. But I will admit I am not quite ready to think clearly enough about things to put one together. It would be entirely too rambling and make positively no sense.  This, of course, assumes that I make sense on a regular basis and that is likely up in the air.  Right now I think I am still living mostly on autopilot and still haven't quite come up with a way to process what I'm feeling.  So instead I will suggest that you read this post instead.  I'd say it says just about everything I would.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Praying for Our Pope

This morning finds me as it does many others, I'm sure.  Feeling slightly confused by the news that Pope Benedict has chosen to step down.  While I respect his decision and pray for his health, I'm sad this morning.  Uncertainty is what is in my heart right now. I completely agree that leading our Church takes a huge toll on a person's physical health. We must all start praying for our future Pope and for the cardinals as they come together to determine who that man will be.

Menu Plan

Putting this together as I type. Something I am getting better at or just more used to doing I suppose.  Crazy week so things will be a bit different I think.

M: eggs (B), sweet-n-sour pork, egg rolls, fortune cookies if the kids have not raided the pantry (D) or at least this is my current plan but now I am wondering what we should do to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes so that may trump celebrating Chinese New Year
T: muffins (B), our traditional pancake Tuesday dinner of pancakes, strawberries, whipped cream, and bacon (D)
W: oatmeal (B), macaroni and cheese (D)
T: cereal (B), salisbury meatballs (D)
F: muffins (B), tuna sandwiches (D)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Belated Christmas Pictures

Yes, I just pulled the Christmas pictures off the camera.  Yes, I realize it is February.  Yes, I realize in some parts of the civilized world that will win me some award as a neglectful parent.  Yes, I can live with that.

Proof that the kids decorated the tree. 

The hands down favorite present of the year. No, not the DS. The hat.

The aftermath.

Loading some new songs on itunes for the new Ipod.

Enjoying new Christmas jammies.

 I honestly did not take many pictures this year.  I decided to focus instead on trying to just be with the kids rather than take a bunch of pictures.  And I was in a wee bit of a funk this year for many reasons.  Very few of our normal traditions happened because the boys absolutely insisted they had to serve at Christmas Mass which meant the only available spots left were midnight Mass.  I was not about to take the little ones to Midnight Mass so I took the middle kids to a family Mass at a local parish. I was reminded why Christmas never felt like a religious day to me growing up.  It's awfully hard to get any meaning out of those jam packed crazy insane afternoon family Masses that are so packed with people that you can't see a darn thing, hear a darn thing, and are so far away from the actual Mass that everyone is simply socializing.  It truly did not at all feel like we were at Mass, merely like we were just checking the box in some obligation in an attempt to move onto the fun stuff.  Exactly the way it felt when I was younger.  I understand the concept behind family Masses and I'm thrilled to see so many visitors on holidays in church, God Bless them.  But next year we'll go back to going to Mass on Christmas morning.  Without the rush and the noise. It just did not feel the same this year at all. Yes, someone was missing and doing without all of our normal family traditions this year just made that absence harder to take I think.
The making of the gingerbread Home Depot.
Dr. Jones, I presume.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Science Museum

Just sharing a few pictures from our latest trip to the science museum.  We wanted to take the kids to see the Sue dinosaur exhibit.  When the older kids were younger, we visited this exhibit at a science museum in Mississippi. But that was quite a while ago and their Dad was not with us at the time.  One of my goals as a parent is to make an intentional effort to take the younger kids to do the things we did with the older children whenever possible. Not necessarily the same exact trips and experiences but rather making an effort to give them similar experiences even though it's not always fun as the adult to keep repeating the same things over and over again.  Just because you remember doing something with your kids when the oldest one was 4 does not mean that any of your kids remember it. So we went to check out the exhibit again.

We also spent quite a lot of time with the Keva planks. I'll admit that I have heard friends sing the praises of these toys before but I never quite understood the appeal. I mean, what exactly is so exciting about a bunch of wooden blocks and how is that any different than the myriad of other blocks we have already. But what I saw was every single child from 2 to 15 actively engaged in building something with these blocks.  Gabe actually sat still for at least 30 minutes.  It was amazing.  And somehow the simplicity of the blocks gave rise to quite a bit of creativity.

Yes, we also visited the rock wall and the sand table and the jungle gym climbing tunnels.  And a few of the kids got to take their first ride on the simulator since Dad was with us this time. He is rarely able to visit museums with us which means that kids under a certain age usually miss out on experiences that require an adult to go with them.  I'm pretty often pregnant and unable to do such things so Abby and Gabe were thrilled to have the chance to ride the simulator this time.

LEGO Invasion

Take three young children. Add one bin of LEGOs that are supposed to stay in the playroom.  On the LEGO table. Notice that when you left the room, they dragged that bin into the living room and dumped it on the floor.  Sigh heavily.  Decide that since they already made the mess, you might as well sit back and watch them play with the toys.

Watch them get rather creative with the LEGOs.  Enjoy the relative peace and quiet while they are building.  Decide to sit on the couch for a just a bit longer because walking over the minefield of LEGOs carpeting the living room floor would be a painful exercise that you are just not in the mood for at the moment.  Remind yourself that there are more important things in life than a perfectly clean house.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Meal Plan

Before making up the meal plan for this week, I spent some time getting a basic inventory of the pantry stockpile so that I'd have a better idea of what needed to be used up a bit.  Yes, I'm one of those crazy people who believe in maintaining a stockpile at home. Nothing excessive but I really attempt to keep a 3 month supply of most things in the house at all times.  This honestly allows me to take the best advantage of sales, coupons, and free deals because I can wait instead of having to buy things full price.  This week I managed to get all of the following for free: 2 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of ro-tel tomatoes, 3 frozen pizzas, 3 bottles of soda, and one bag of frozen vegetables.  Many other items were available for a huge discount with coupons as well.  Have I ever mentioned how much I like getting envelopes of coupons from folks who aren't using them?  Yup, makes my day.  Anyway, back to the meal plan.

S: pumpkin bread (B), chili (D)
M: baked oatmeal (B), buffalo chicken pasta (D)
T: eggs (B), cheesesteak sandwiches (D)
W: cereal (B), chicken and potatoes (D)
T: blueberry bread (B), tacos or taco salad (D)
F: eggs (B), bean and rice burritos (D)
S: French toast (B), pizza (D)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ellie's Sled

Ellie's Godparents gave her an awesome sled for Christmas this year.  Everyday that we had snow, the older kids begged to take her outside and pull her around the yard.  Usually Ellie was dressed before the older kids were because she just loves being out in the snow.  I know she does not look terribly excited in these pictures but just trust me when I say she loves being outside in her sled. Now we seriously need snow again because the sleds, cross country skis, and snow shoes are languishing in the garage and that is just a sad state of affairs.
Don't you just love the boot that is half off?

And the mismatched gloves?

This is where we push our little sister down the hill and leave her to fend for herself.

Trust me. She's enjoying this more than you'd think based on that face.

Kids' Workshop at Home Depot

The weather was awesome and everyone was feeling well so I took 3 of the middle kids to the workshop at Home Depot this morning.  They made Valentine Holders or personal mailboxes today.  The store was even nice enough to provide wooden footballs for the boys who might not want a heart on the front of their project so Liam choose to put one of those on his instead of the heart.
For some reason there were mostly fathers at the workshop this morning.  This meant I saw many more kids doing the actual painting and hammering themselves.  Yes, it amuses me when we go to an event like this and you look around you to see a bunch of adults putting the projects together while the kids stand around bored while they watch their parents do the work for them.  Truly sad sight I have to say.
I'm still working on teaching Abby to pay attention as she swings the hammer.  She can't quite seem to understand that if you want the nails to go in easily, you do actually have to pay attention and look at what you are doing rather than look around you at the other folks.  Especially if you are swinging a hammer.  Especially if you are swinging that hammer towards your mother's fingers as she is holding a nail for you.  Ahem.


One of the older boys asked me the other day if hearing Isabel's name upsets me.  I have to say that it does not.  I'd really rather hear people acknowledge her presence and impact on our life than feel the void of everyone pretending she was never here.  Honestly, what really bugs me is when people call her by the wrong name. I realize it's likely not an intentional thing and that many people are doing so because when a relative called to tell everyone that Isabel had died, they used the wrong name. So in most cases it is the first name they heard and what they assume is right. But it really ticks me off for some reason.  Likely because the only thing we could give our daughter was a name.  The poor girl was even buried in hand-me-down clothes because I was not physically able to go to the store for something new.  But perhaps that is for the best. So, no, hearing Isabel's name does not bother me. The ache is not a bother but simply something that will likely always be there.