Thursday, December 30, 2010

She's Part of the Family Now

The older children have now initiated Ellie into the family. Alan was holding her during dinner tonight and I noticed she had marker on the back of her clothes.  Yup, they drew on their sister.  Sigh.  Guess this means she is part of the family now. 

Just wanted to add that I am pretty darn sure it was totally accidental since the older kids were watching her while I was making dinner and they were also playing with Kieran's new Crayola Glo type toy. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Alan

Happy Birthday to a wonderful husband and father.  For the times it gets too loud to hear yourself think and 6 kids come running at once. For the good times and the not so good times.  The moments of unbridled joy and the moments of indescribable pain. For all of our life together.  Just wanted to say thanks and I hope you had a wonderful birthday.  Yup, I'd do all over again.  All you have to do is ask.

M&M's plus Pretzels plus Kisses

. . . equals the easiest holiday snack ever.  Something the kids make every year on their own.  Ok, I buy the ingredients but that is it for adult involvement.  And you can get creative with colors and such for other holidays. You just need some sort of large chocolate piece to place on the pretzel that will get soft but not melt after a few minutes in the oven.  These were delicious with Rolo's and I think my favorites are the ones made with peppermint Hugs.

Christmas Eve Pictures

Around here the tree does not get decorated until Christmas Eve.  Then the kids open their present with new pj's.  We attend Mass on Christmas morning so we can avoid the sheer chaos that is often Christmas Eve Mass plus we can easily find a seat for the entire family in the morning without having to arrive 30 minutes early.  Makes for much happier parents.  As usual, we have no pictures from Christmas day because we were much too busy but here are a few from the night before if you are interested.

Look, it's Alan's snowman.  I love that we have a few ornaments from when Alan little.  Heck, they were the only ones we had our first Christmas together since there was no money in the budget to buy anything at all that year.  Yup, the tree looked rather pathetic that first year. I hope to be able to send our kids off with a small box of their own ornaments when they start their families.  Just a little something to hopefully remind them of these days of chaos and not being able to see the floor through all the paper.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

I picked up a few of the ready to go gingerbread house kits at the store. Told Alan we would have a gingerbread house village.  I don't think he was excited about this prospect.  Some days he is such a fuddy duddy.  But the kids enjoyed making them.  And making a mess.  I tried supervising for a while but then the baby needed to eat so the evening's events were turned over to Alan.  I think he just failed to appreciate the point of the exercise.  Or maybe he got tired of having to rebuild the houses when they fell apart under the weight of 10 lbs of candy.  Or trying to keep Robert from eating the hard candy.  Frosting off a knife, sure kid. Go right ahead.  But hard candy is not quite allowed at your age.  Robert says we are mean, terrible, awful parents. First we try to insist on a daytime ban of the pacifier, then we limit his access to choking hazards.  But everyone had a good time I think.  The kids enjoyed it and are asking when they get to eat the houses already.  Yes, this is the important part.  Eating the houses.  Bryan really got into the project and spent time dying the frosting and getting rather creative.  That strange dichotomy of teens.  One minute they seem incredibly grown-up and you'd think they'd never want to participate in something that is so child like. Then you stand back and give them a chance and realize that they still are truly child like in many ways and have many, many years ahead of them of enjoying the simple fun stuff before life demands that they truly grow up.  Please remind me not to force it early and to allow all the kids to enjoy the fun stuff while they can rather than pushing them aside for the younger ones. 
The girls' house

The younger boys' house

The older boys' house

Eating the frosting, yum!

The finished products.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Making Cookies With Dad

Alan made sugar cookies with the kids yesterday.  Apparently when making Christmas cookies with Dad, anything counts as a Christmas cookie.  There were dinosaurs, cars, musical notes, letters, all sorts of things.  And by the time the decorating was done, there were sprinkles everywhere. I think the kids were trying to decorate the table and the floor. 

Crock Pot Peanut Clusters

I decided to try a new recipe for candy this year.  Something super easy. The kids can very easily make this recipe themselves which is always a good thing.  And if you make them, they pretty much make themselves so you don't have to watch them or spend a bunch of time on them.  Crock pot peanut clusters.
This recipe make over a hundred clusters so if you don't want that many, make sure to adjust the recipe.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Growing Greens Diapers

Ok, right now we are really on a bit of a pocket/AIO diaper kick because we have 3 kids in diapers.  3 kids in diapers is a lot of changes and a lot of laundry.  This is the third time we've had 3 kids in diapers.  No, we aren't crazy.  Yes, Gabe is resisting the potty training ideas.  But we've learned it's better to take it at the child's pace and make it easier in the end.

In case you haven't heard, Ellie is a bit on the small side.  Even preemie prefolds seem big on her.  The flats are big on her.  The x-small Mother-ease fitteds almost hit her armpits.  The Little Joey's work great. Even newborn diaper covers are usually too big on her.  We've been making due with wipes and such things for diapers when needed.  Today I pulled a growing greens one-size diaper out of the diaper bag and amazingly enough, that sucker is not too big on her when folded down.  That is amazing in my mind.  A one-size diaper that can fit my chunk monster, my super skinny toddler and my 5 lb newborn.  Simply amazing. 

Yes, I realize I need to get out more if I'm getting excited over diapers.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Read Aloud Math Books

I love finding somewhat non-traditional ways to get some school time in. We love books on tape, puzzles, educational games, movies, art projects, file folder games and the like. When it comes to math, I have a couple of kids who simply are not math oriented thinkers. This has caused me many hours of frustrating and banging my head against the wall. Ok, maybe not literally but it sure seems like it some days. So we now use Teaching Textbooks and The Life of Fred math books and lots of manipulatives when needed. But something we also use for the younger kids are read aloud books. A great way to sneak in those math concepts and help the kids understand them. Nothing better than reading a funny book with Dad who seems to make the books even funnier. And nothing better for me than listening to him read the books while he tries to keep a straight face through some of the more trying jokes.

Our current favorite series of math read alouds are from Charlesbridge Publishing. I love the Sir Cumference books and hope to collect more of this series. The kids are learning all sorts of geometry ideas while reading books before bed. What could be better than that?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Birth Story of Sorts

Ok, if you are a birth story reading junkie, this likely won't be like most of the stories you read.  Just not in me I suppose to write like that I think.  But a few folks have asked for a story so this is the best I can do.  Yes, this is my opinion, thoughts, whatever.  So, um, please don't gripe at me if you don't agree with something.  Please.

Anyway, for years we have been doing everything in our power to get away from hospital births.  I am the type of person who really truly mourns when I hear of someone who ended up with a c-section.  Especially all the first time moms who end up with a c-section for failure to progress.  Yes, I realize they are life saving operations and a wonderful thing to have available to us at this point.  But I also realize they are so over used now and many folks end up with them who did not need one for life-saving reasons.  I realize that my own c-section would have likely been avoided if I had delivered in my hospital with my doctor rather than out of town.  I realize that with every single pregnancy since that first one, my c-section has left me with more "risks" and a harder labor experience.  I also realize that it helped induce post-partum depression and that it was very traumatic not only for myself but for Alan. He told me shortly afterwards that we could never have any other kids because he simply could not go through that again (yes, he's changed his mind) and counsels other expectant fathers who have asked to simply never ever ever look up or beyond the screen during the operation.  Enough said. So since then we've been trying to find a better solution.

I've experience inductions, epidurals, natural birth in a hospital and everything in between.  I've delivered in hospitals that welcomed a VBAC patient with open arms and in hospitals where it was against their rules to allow a VBAC.  Done that 3 times now and it's never fun because you do truly have to fight for everything in most cases.  I've had incredible doctors and midwives and those who have no business being in the business of delivering babies.  So several children ago we decided we'd had enough.  We tried to use a birth center for the first time with Abby but the laws in Florida quickly risked me out of that option because I'd had a c-section and too many other babies.  We tried a homebirth with both Gabe and Robert but since they decided to arrive at only 35 weeks, we were forced to go to the hospital for their own safety.

With this pregnancy, we tried everything possible to keep her from coming early.  Not too easy since we did not have a set reason for the other two arriving early.  This is where I love the care I received from the homebirth midwives. Rather than waiting for a problem to occur, they helped me do research and find proactive things I could do to make a difference.  We changed my diet a bit, added 3 or 4 different vitamins and herbs, operated under a strict policy of reducing/limiting stress (ok, as much as possible) and resorted to bed rest near the end.  Whatever we did seems to have worked.  I passed the 37 week mark and was cleared for a homebirth.

On December 1 my water broke.  Called the midwife and then went back to bed.  Woke up in the morning and nothing had happened.  This is where I love the difference in care.  When I was seeing an OB and had my waters rupture without imminent labor, I was told to go to the hospital to be induced because "it was dangerous" otherwise.  This time I was told simply stay hydrated, eat normally, rest and watch for signs of a fever or a problem.  We called a friend to come out and hang out with her kids to keep everyone distracted so the kids spent the day playing and having a blast.  About 23 hours after my water broke, contractions actually started.  Alan was sound asleep on the couch and I let him sleep for another 2 hrs.  I called the midwife after about an hour to come out.  Maybe I should have called her earlier since it was snowing and all.  Around 4:15 I finally woke Alan up to help me.  25 minutes later Miss Ellie made her entrance to the world.  Quietly, peacefully, absolutely no work on my part.  I told Alan the baby was coming and he runs out to grab a towel.  I suppose he was thinking we had as much time as we did in a hospital or maybe he was thinking new couch, new rug.  Who knows.  But I delivered her before he returned.  Poor guy. But we were able to spend the next 45 minutes alone before the first midwife arrived.  It was 2 hours before the baby was taken away from me and that was only so I could move upstairs and get a shower before the older kids woke up.  I did have to convince Alan that it was totally ok not to cut the cord and to just leave the baby alone.  The only thing that went "wrong" was that the baby got a bit too cold because the house was cold that night but that was quickly corrected and she's been fine every since.

The midwives hung around for the morning to get everything cleaned up and make sure the baby and I were doing fine.  At one point Alan walked into our bedroom and found all 4 of us either sprawled on the floor or sound asleep.  It was overall an incredibly peaceful and wonderful experience.  The kids got to meet their sister when she was only a few hours old.  The midwives came back several times to do newborn checks and make sure everyone was fine.  I have to say that if I could have them all that way, I'd happily have 10 more kids.  It was an amazing experience and I am so grateful to have had things work out for us this time.

Christmas Card 2010

Here's the card for this year. A much better option than getting all the kids in one single shot.  And did I mention I got these for free this year?  How cool is that?
Stocking Bliss Christmas 5x7 folded card
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

First Pennance

Katie and Liam had their first confession today.  There is something reassuring when you witness that childish innocence of kids coming out of the confessional skipping and happy.  I have to wonder where in our lives we loose that sense of security that all is right with the world and our lives now that we've been to confession.  And seriously, wish I had a camera to catch Liam for that 5 seconds where he was totally still, kneeling and praying his penance. Didn't last long before he was back to making paper airplanes out of the program.  Seriously that child never stops moving. 

While trying to convince the parents to go to confession as well, Father said something along the lines of "the kids like to go to the priest they know, the adults like to go to the priest they don't know."  Again, just wondering when we make these changes in our minds.  I think it is a mystery that will never be solved.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Very Girly Afternoon

Abby and Katie went to a princess birthday party today.  They got to put on make-up and face paint and color their hair.  Even better, they got to hang out with a house full of girls and play.  There was pink frosting and sprinkles and decorating cupcakes and just plain fun.  The kind of party I can enjoy because the kids truly just played together, brothers were welcome to hang out and play and no one seemed worried about everything being perfect. We had a great time.  Abby's make-up seems to have lasted longer than Katie's because it was put on with a bit of a heavy hand.  Just had to share a picture.  Yes, she went for blue eye shadow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What Really Happens When We Take Group Pictures

St. Nicholas Day

The shoes were all laid out excitedly last night.  The row is getting longer and longer. 
For some reason the older children decided Ellie needed to borrow a pair of shoes to put out as well.  I think they were hoping they could split her share of the chocolate.  Everyone was thrilled to find the shoes full this morning but not so happy when Dad said they actually had to eat breakfast first.  Yup, he's a bit stricter about these things than I tend to be and well, he was around this year so they had to follow his rules.

We often watch the CCC video about St. Nicholas on this feast day but for some reason have not gotten around to it today.  Perhaps we'll watch it tomorrow.  If you are looking for some history and coloring sheets and activities to help celebrate St. Nicholas Day, check out the website run by the St. Nicholas Center.

Happy Birthday Kieran

Our early St. Nicholas present turned 9 this year.  He was really hoping to end up with a birthday buddy and have the baby arrive on his birthday but seemed just as happy to have the baby arrive a bit before his birthday. It's a bit obvious that Kieran is growing up since he requested enchiladas for his birthday dinner.  We'll take him out to eat probably sometime next week when the snow stops falling so darn much. 
Can you count the candles on that cake?  Yup, someone accidentally put 12 on there. 
Hope you had a good day, Kieran.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just a Little Size Perspective

Robert walked over to the couch carrying his baby doll so we had to take this picture.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Music Recital

Eleanor Grace

Here is our latest addition.  Baby Ellie decided to join the world on December 2 early in the morning.  The first midwife did not show up until 45 minutes after she was born.  Totally wonderful experience to just be able to hold your child for almost 2 hours without anyone messing with you or trying to take the baby away for something or other.  Ok, I let Alan hold her for a few minutes but otherwise we were just able to snuggle.  Quite a different experience than the other 8 kids.  I'd definitely do it this way again. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendars

Another must in our house during Advent is the chocolate filled Advent calendar.  These are super easy to find, inexpensive and make the kids very happy.  This is a very low key easy way to keep a simple tradition alive with your kids.  Small things do seem to make a difference.