Sunday, June 27, 2010

Busy B's...

~on Bricks, Baseball, Baby showers, and Beating the heat...

Just breathing (and putting my feet up this evening) after another incredibly busy weekend.

I've been continuing to clean and declutter my way through the house, one room at a time. Friday and Saturday, the kids helped me in the basement. It's been the kids' "haven" since we moved in here, which works perfectly well for us. But with the intention of selling the house soon, it seemed necessary to "take back" some of the space, and show off it's full potential. There's a brick fireplace down there (which we've never used, and in fact has remained hidden behind a large storage chest) that someone would love, I think. Friday evening, we took down posters and kids' artwork, scrubbed walls ( be rid of the crayon markings), and took apart the large wall of desks the older kids have been enjoying for some time now as their "big kid space." We moved and rearranged the cozy couch and loveseat around the fireplace to make a nice seating/tv area. On Saturday we sorted and reorganized all the toys to a smaller designated area of the basement. Between the two areas is a table and chairs for games/coloring/etc. It all flows so much nicer now, and looks clean and tidy. I love it. Alice and Emma helped me with a really cool white-washing paint technique on the very dark, dated brickwork around the fireplace. It turned out gorgeous and I could kick myself for not doing if 5 years ago. The basement just seems generally brighter and more family-friendly, rather than just a giant rompous room. So glad to have that job under my we just have to work to keep it tidy. (no easy task.)

Sam had a baseball tournament all day on Saturday in nearby Versailles. With games at 11a, 2:30, and 5:30p and temperatures in the 90' was sure to be a HOT one. John spent the day there with him, while the other kids and I stayed home getting jobs done in the basement. We met them for the 5:30 game, but with delays in the schedule it didn't get started till closer to 7. Wow. I was hot and tired just sitting around waiting...I can't imagine how tuckered those boys felt (and parents who were out there all day with them!) It was 9 till we were home and ordered some pizza. We met up with other families to end the day with some cold drinks and fireworks at one of the teammates home. They didn't fare well in the tourney, but it was a good learning experience. This is Sam's first year on the traveling team, and he seems to be enjoying it, and's all good. As for me, I'm learning too. Expect delays, pack more cold water, and lawn chairs beat bleachers anyday. Pack them!
On Sunday the girls and I attended a baby shower for our niece. There was another young first-time mom there, who would probably be horrified to know I'm including her on the blog here. But I must admit, I left feeling so grateful to know that my kids are not the only one in the world who managed to spit up all over their aunties, or to poop all over someone else's carpet. Poor little mama. She handled it all in great stride...quite gracefully I thought. I remember feeling so horrified everytime we went to a party and one of my babies would most certainly, spit up an entire feeding all over the most well dressed auntie in the place. Or leak a poopy diaper all over someone's lap. Without fail. And it was only my kids that did this, I was certain. Oh, it was nice to be on the observing end for once, and not have to feel apologetic and guilt-ridden for the messes my kids left behind. I left with a feeling of understanding...been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Grateful to know we mom's are not alone in our personal miseries of doo-doo, spit-up mishaps that our kids leave behind to keep us humble.

As for beating the heat....well, just grinning and bearing it. Sounds like we'll be getting a reprieve here the next couple days. Praise the Lord! Can't wait to open the windows and get fresh air circulating through the house again. I've got some more touch-up painting to do this week. The fresh air will be nice.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bartering Band-its.

Are your kids into these?
Silly bands, Crazy bands, whatever you call them...I wish I'd thunk them up! Simple, colorful rubberbands that take the shape of all sorts of things from sports themes, treats, animals, you name it. When you take them off, they return to their cool shape. My kids are NUTS about them.
I bought a couple packs for vacation as something small that the kids could trade in the van. My sisters-in-law did the same, and as our kids swapped vans for the long haul to NY, they also spent hours (and I do mean HOURS) swapping bracelets as well. Boys and girls alike, all ages, it was a crazy phenomenon happening. Just when you thought all was settled a tiny voice 4 benches behind me would hollar out, "Does someone want to trade an ice cream cone for a hockey stick?" And the bartering would begin again.

Oh, I'm sure it will be short-lived like every little fad, and I am tired of finding them all over the house, but what great travel entertainment it provided. I even caught the kids trading with newfound friends while at the Falls. Very cool the jelly bracelets of the 80's with a cool twist.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Niagara Falls: A travel log

First in a series of posts about our recent travels to New York

Setting the scene:

Our plans were to meet at Grandpa's house early Friday morning, to meet and caravan to New York...leaving by 9am. We would be celebrating Fathers Day at Niagara Falls with John's dad, and 7 other of John's siblings...some bringing kids, some not. Some families had extended travel plans before or after, but there would end up being 6 vehicles traveling together on Friday during some part of the trip, and 39 of us enjoying the weekend together.

Back track 24 hours...

~Laundry is in full swing, and it doesn't matter how full I stuff my washer, kids still seem to be dirtying clothes faster than I can get them clean. I may just have to stuff the kids (in dirty clothes) into the suitcases.

~Groceries (car snacks, breakfast foods to eat in our hotel room, picnic lunch for the drive, and other trip essentials like non-ginormous-size shampoo/conditioner bottles) have been purchased and hidden in the basement so that they might actually still be here when it's time to pack.

~Suitcases have been brought down from the storage closet and aired out (dusted) to get ready for packing (if I can get ahead on laundry.)

My plan is to pack for the twelve of us for a 3 day trip (leaving Fri, returning either Sun or Mon.)

That means 3 sets of clothing each(4 for the younger more accident prone), pajamas, swimsuits, jackets, shoes, and of course food. I usually try to pack games and small toys, but space in the van is at a we'd have to choose only necessities.

~By 11pm, I had the bags packed. We managed to fit all our things into 1 luggage set...the kids clothes in the largest case, John and I had our clothes in the smaller suitcase, jackets in a small duffle, all swimgear in a backpack, and a final bag for bathroom essentials, diapers, and pj's. And good all fit in the 10 inch space in the back of our 15 passenger van. (these vans were definitely designed to haul people...not stuff.) A large cooler fit between the front seats (which meant I would be unable to climb to the back without gymnastics involved.) and a few small bags of snack/groceries fit under the front bench seat. The kids were allowed to pack games or books...only what they could fit into a small tote that remained in their seat. It would be tight.

I had everything packed into the van with the exception of the cooler by 1am. Kids clothes were laid out for morning, coffee pot set-up...planning to eat, load the cooler and head out. We'll see what Friday morning brings...

...more to come in another post.

so, that's where that got to!

I cleaned out the linen closet last evening.

Pause for a moment while I go look again.... yep, she's a thing of beauty.

When I open the door, I hear sweet music, and a choir with lights shining's heavenly.
All items neatly folded, each shelf organized by bed-size...full size, twin size, queen size, toddler bed sheets...lovely. There are even labels on the shelves indicating what belongs where. I placed the labels there years ago, but they've not been seen in many moons. Somehow, 10 year olds helping with laundry, and middle of the night linen emergencies wreak havoc on a linen closet. But things are sorted once more, and all is right with the world again. Oh so nice. Martha Stewart would be pleased. It's a good thing, indeed.
Even more magical are the treasures I found on the floor...items that rolled in under the door from the hardwood hallway that lies beyond. It was like opening a time capsule. There was John's matchbox little red van (a mini version of what his dad drives) that he got for pooping on the potty for the first time (3+ years ago.) Emma had drumsticks once...then things got we know why. They rolled into the silence of the linen closet. Polly Pocket had stored an entire wardrobe in one corner. Oh, and there were bouncy balls. But shhhhh. What the kids don't know, won't hurt them right? I know NOTHING of any bouncy balls...nope nothing. All gone. Bye bye a place much more permanent than the confines of my sheets and blankies. sheets and blankies. Let me go peak again.

Just lovely. I love organization. It's a good thing.


It's been over a week ago now since I had my routine ultrasound to check on little baby to be. I'd wanted to scan a picture to share, but seeing as I'm not getting it done, I thought I'd better update without it. We're past the half-way mark now, and little baby is developing beautifully. I never cease to be amazed at the miracle of life as witnessed on an ultrasound monitor...all that movement, and activity and growth going on inside the womb. And all the time I'm almost completely unaware, except for the occasional flutters and kicks. Amazing. I saw the baby gripping it's ear with tiny little fingers, kicking it's legs and flailing little arms. Just awesome! I've managed to cry through every just doesn't get old. A perfect miracle called life.
The technician at the hospital was very thorough in all aspects of measurement...leg length, head and abdomen circumfrence, even looking at little kidneys, checking the developing spine, listening to and counting the heartbeat (150 beautiful beats per minute), and checking for sufficient amniotic fluid for the little bean to continue to thrive in. Thorough that is, until it came to checking for "private parts," which I asked her for now to keep private. No peeks down there until baby arrives in late October/early November.
So the naming game continues, brothers and sisters keep guessing, and I'm so incredibly excited to meet the little him or her, face-to-face for the first time.
God is good. Thanks for continued prayers.

...oh, and any name suggestions?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Spring Cleaning

~better late than never.

Blogger is offering new designs, so I've decided to spruce up around here and redecorate a bit. It goes right along with what we've been up to here on the homefront too. Aside from just returning from a weekender in Niagara Falls. (That packing, planning, vacation adventure will have to wait for another post.)
The bigger news is that we're looking to put our house on the market, so we've been busy sprucing up, cleaning out, tossing, sorting, scrubbing crayon-marked walls, and all sorts of little tidy-up jobs that will hopefully help make for a smooth (i.e. "quick") sale. We've been looking at another home...our "forever" home, if you will. No details to spill about that just yet though, until things are more final on that front.
John and I knew when we moved in here that it would likely only be for a few years. We were expecting our 7th child then, and figured 5-10 years here would be our max. The location has been ideal for us close to school, pool, parks, everything in walking/biking distance for the kids. But we've outgrown it several times over, and with baby #11 coming, God seemed to place this next (and final) home right there within our reach. It's so perfect for our big family...can't wait to finalize a contract so I can spill more about that.
For now...keep us in your prayers, that if it's meant to be, it will. So many things happened so perfectly up until this point, I can't help but think it's His hand making it happen. And if it's not, well...He's certainly given me hope that the right place is out there for us...and for that I'm grateful too. Good night, and God bless.

(oh, and if you know someone who's looking to move to this area...)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let me take you down...

...cause I'm going to, strawberry fields. ~the Beatles.

(okay, so I'm too young to know what that song is really about...but that was our adventure for the week. Strawberry pickin'!!)
It's funny, I haven't picked strawberries at a fruit farm since I was a wee little kid. My older neighbor lady asked mom if she could borrow us kids for the day to help her pick berries. (, slave labor.) And my memories of that day are not kind. It seems to me we picked berries in the sweltering sun and heat ALL DAY LONG, and ended with nothing to show for it. Uggh. Bet she made some nice pies though. (curses.)

So, I got to thinking. Why should I have all the fond memories. Our kids are old enough to enjoy a day in the fields, picking, and swiping a few fresh berries along the way. They'll LOVE it. Right??

Actually. They did. It was a cooler morning on Tuesday, and we spent only an hour bent over gathering the sweetest, ripest berries we could muster. It was easy work...apparently a bumper-crop year for strawberries here. And the kids didn't complain at all. Huh. How 'bout that! All the kids (minus Alice and Emma who were at camp this week) went with us, and picked till their ice cream bucket's were full. Oh, except Lucy too. She spent the hour traipsing aimlessly between the rows, giggling with delight as the sweet berry juice covered her face and dripped down her elbows. She was tickled pink. Literally. Turns out they all want to do it again next year. As for me...well, my knees and thighs are feeling the pain from all that scrunching. And my fingers seem permanently stained red from all the strawberries I've been putting up this week...several pies, lots of frozen berries, and 24 pints of jam later...I think it will take me the whole year to muster up the energy to go back again.

We picked 8 buckets of the juicy red berries. Delicious!!

Enough to keep Lucy smiling and sweet as ever. (Note the pink drips going down the front of her shirt. I didn't think to bring the camera along...the pink seed-smeared face, hands, elbows, and knees was priceless!)
Ahhh...and the rewards of our labors...fresh strawberry pie (and jam, and sauce, and plain berries. Yumm!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Abram would be so disappointed...

I found it funny, ironic, silly, a little God-smiling moment that this Sunday's first reading was of Abram giving one tenth of all that he had to God. These words came on the heels of a conversation I had earlier this week with the kids about saving money. (They are going to eat their way through their savings on ice cream from the local Tasty Treat by mid-July if they don't buckle down a bit.) I reminded them that they have to consider "wants" vs. "needs" and the importance of good spending/saving habits...the usual mom-spiel that typically falls on deaf ears. Five-year-old John was certain he understood when he smacked down his fist on the table, and announced "That's it! No more money in my church envelope! It's wasting!"


That's not what I meant. So how do I explain my way out of this one. Sure enough, as the kids picked through their change jars for their Sunday offering envelope, he minimized for sure. He's serious about his cutting back.

The little miser.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

the Litany of my little Saints

"How do you keep them all straight?"
I'm asked the question so often, I don't think much of it anymore. And in fact, even parents (and grandparents) of just a couple seem to have the same trouble. You surely know how it goes...looking directly into the eyes of one of your little saints, you scramble through the entire list of names before you get to the right one, often settling on a "oh, you know who you are!" type finish before the verbal reprimand ensues. (It is usually when one of the saints is in trouble, that we typically fluster through the names, right?)

Anyhow, a dear friend and I were talking at the pool last night about this same subject, and she jokingly called this name-fumbling her "Litany" of her little Saints. She suggested that if she considers each misnomer an offering of prayer for the names mentioned, then by the time she gets to the right name, she'll have prayed for her kiddos, as well as hopefully gained a little more patience for the "saint" she's intending to deal with at that time.

LOVE that idea!!! Thanks April. You've changed the way I feel about calling the wrong it's a good thing, and will hopefully put my heart in the right place by the time I get to name #10.