Thursday, July 31, 2008


So my dear friend and neighbor sat with me in my 'zombie' mode after my crazy day and heard the rant of everything that had happened.  The next day, there was a knock at the door and her son was holding this bottle and note in his hand (along with some home-made blueberry muffins - Yummy!!).  Who knew such a small bottle could mean so much!!  Thank you so much, Kathleen - have I mentioned to you that you have single-handedly kept my last shroud of sanity in tact many times over this past week??!  


The older three kids were ever so eager to help with the cake decorating :)

And Joshy was happy to simply enjoy the fruits of the older kids decorating :)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Joshua I love you!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Have you ever had "One of THOSE days??"

  They say re-entry is hard, however short the road trip, but man, this one threw me for a loop!  I really think I left my mind somewhere along I-90.
   Here's how it started:  Morning, kids are still on eastern time, so they are up even EARLIER than their normal beat-the-sun time frame.  Violin practicing turns horribly wrong when Seth and Sarah decide they want to beat each other through the usual harmonious practice time.  Picture screeching eels from Princess Bride.  Yep - that's how the entire lesson went.
     Sarah then stomps to her room for a time out with the usual "mean mom" comments.  
    We get home from the gym and I decide to conquer potty training with Ben once and for all.  I strip him down and put him on the potty training seat and put him in front of a movie.  I am supposed to make cookies for Jerry's home teaching families, and I decide to go for the butterscotch oatmeal cookies.  It isn't until I get 3/4 the way through the mixing that I realize we are out of oatmeal.  Great.  Call to the neighbor (thanks Kathleen!) and mentally rehearse cooking 101:  "always check ALL ingredients before baking!"  I throw in the oatmeal, finish mixing and am spooning up the cookies before I realize, "I didn't even put the eggs in here!"  Mentally rehearse: "I am so flunking cooking 101 - how did I ever become a dietitian?!"
   Scoop all the unbaked cookies back into the bowl, throw in the egg, and hope for the best (it really doesn't matter when you put in the ingredients, just as long as they all get put in, right?!).
   I put a batch in to bake, then go check on potty-in-training child.  Still no potty, but still sitting on the potty.  Run into computer room to finish up a grant proposal that is due in 2 days.  Get a little too caught up in it and then come out to check on Ben only to hear the buzzer buzzing (for who knows how long).  Ben is getting antsy(sp?), so I have him sit back down, run upstairs to try to salvage the 'crispier-than-normal' batch of cookies.
   Put another batch into bake and come downstairs to realize that potty-in-training child is no longer sitting on the potty, but older (wiser??!), already-potty-trained brother is using the small potty as 'target practice' (did I mention that we have white carpet downstairs??!), and let's just say, he is not a very good aim even on the big potty where the distance to travel is way shorter!   Give him an exasperated lecture on how insane that is, and start to clean up, only to realize that next batch of cookies is now overdone.
    Get the next batch of 'crispier-than-normal' cookies out, clean up the mess, give up on the potty training for yet another day, sit everyone down in front of a movie (hey, it was a word movie, do I at least get credit for semi-stimulation??!), and finish up the grant proposal, get call from friend to play (again, THANKS Kathleen!!), and they are out the door before I even hang up the phone.
     Right as I hang up, hubby calls to say he is on his way home (early), and 'when will dinner be ready?'  my sweet reply 'oh, pretty soon' as I quickly scour the kitchen to see what I can throw together in 20 minutes or less.  Spaghetti.  Good.  We haven't had that in a while, the good 'ole stand by.  I put a pot on to boil, get bread buttered and garlic-ed up and stick in oven to toast.  As the noodles are boiling, I reach for the spaghetti sauce, only to realize (yep, you guessed it...) we are OUT of spaghetti sauce.  (SERIOUSLY, how did I pass any of my nutrition classes??!).  I run to the food storage.  Nope.  Nada.  No spaghetti sauce in sight.  I grab the next best thing, pizza sauce.  Hey, it's all Italian, right?!  
       As I come upstairs, I notice a distinct BURNING smell, and realize the bread is still in the oven 'toasting'.  I pull out the cookie sheet to reveal what can best be described as 8 mounds of black bread shaped charcoal pieces.  Since I have gotten grief from hubby about doing this before, I decide to what any Betty Crocker wannabe would do, and get rid of the evidence!  I dump the whole stash out back (okay, so I dumped it right by Bailey, secretly hoping that he would eat it and choke on a piece... but that's a whole different post altogether!!).
     I throw another batch in, get the noodles out, and decide to dump in the sauce so that no one will see the jar and complain that it's not 'real' spaghetti sauce.  When I start mixing the noodles with the sauce, I realize that I probably have 2 x more noodles than sauce, causing the whole mixture to be the slightly red, completely dry, noodle concoction (yet, interestingly enough, there was enough sauce to splash me right in the eye, and get all over my white shirt...).  I think, no problem, we can cover it up with some parmesan cheese, and at least get a little taste out of it.
     The kids come back, Jerry gets home, we dish up dinner.  I pour the parmesan cheese over my spaghetti, and take a bite, only to have my gag reflexes set in with that, "something is NOT right with this taste pallet effect!".  I grab the parmesan cheese bottle and look at the expiration date (are you ready for this??!)  "Best if used before 7/18/2007.  Great, I have probably just poisoned my entire family with YEAR old cheese!!  (But wait, isn't cheese supposed to get better with age??!)
    At this point, I fight the urge to just curl up in fetal position in the corner until this day just goes away!!  We somehow make it through dinner and I have the kids go outside for no other reason just to run themselves ragged so that I don't have to deal with the "101 excuses of why I can't go to sleep" (believe me, Sarah is the MASTER of this list!).    I just sit zombie-like in the chair and watch them run, thinking, "the forcast is for no rain tonight, if I just run them until they drop, I'm sure they wouldn't mind sleeping out here.  Brushing teeth is over-rated, anyway!"
    I do heard them in (have you ever tried hearding 4 kids in from play-time to bed-time?  If you haven't, picture trying to heard a bunch of cats, and you'll get the right idea!), and get them down, only to finally take a look around the house, which looks like a tornado made a touch down at one end and swept through the entire two levels (really, do kids need TWO forts?  'But, mom, we wanted one up here so that we could play here, too!').
    I tackle what I can with what energy reserves I have left, and then just let the rest go, because, after all, it's not going anywhere - I know where to find it in the morning :).  

It's ALIVE!!!

Our first harvest - Cucumbers!!
The only issue with having cucumbers coming out our ears...well... we aren't really cucumber lovers here.  Why then, you ask, did we plant so many cucumbers?  Well, I'll tell you... I don't know.  But hey, we have actually grown something out of our own garden - Wahoo!!  We may just turn cucumber lovers yet :).

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our little scout in training...

True to the scouting motto, Seth is learning to be prepared for anything...
Because you never know when a flash flood will hit :)

The magic Chicago bullet

      For anyone who has had the 'pleasure' of being stuck in Chicago traffic during any amount of a road trip, you know the AGONY of literally SITTING on the freeway for miles on end, as the gas tank empties and the kids bladders fill to overflowing... (or as mom also experienced with me, add a blizzard into the mix and things get even more fun! If you ever want to know how to turn a 10 hour trip into an 18 hour trip, you just need one ingredient - lots of SNOW!!... but that is the subject of a whole different post altogether...)
     With our many trips through the "Joy" that is Chicago traffic, we have tried all different times, many to no avail (I'm NOT kidding, it literally takes TWO HOURS to get through that place!).  After the third time of making it in a record breaking 30 minutes, I am happy to report that if you hit it between noon and 1:00 pm, you can, for the most part, make it through relatively unscathed.  I can also tell you this, Chicago looks WAY better at 50-65 mph then it does at 10 mph.  
     So, if you have a trip coming up that takes you through the traffic turtle that is Chicago, do whatever you have to, leave early, take along a portapotty, anything to hit the magic moment, and I guarantee you will have hair left by the end of the road trip (as opposed to pulling it all out during the dreaded drive!)   :).

You know your kids have spent way too much of their life on road trips when...

...You come to the end of a 10 1/2 hour drive and your 6 year old says, "Wow, mom, that was a  fast trip!"
   Of course, it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that I threw my dvd limit out the window and literally let them do a movie marathon almost the whole way...  :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

What Time is Is??

True to High School Musical 2 (So we were a wee bit behind on the whole hsm mania and only got into it this spring, so we are still singing the songs around the house!), we had a SUMMERTIME party (yes, the sound track was blaring from the computer!).  Here's how it went down:

Emma (8) declares a Beach Party afternoon.  We aren't by a beach, you say?  Well, Emma took care of that...


+ Sand...


More Evidence of life in Michigan :)

The Walking (sitting, and bike-riding) Crew!

Emma the beach party-girl!
The whole beach party bunch
Just what aunts are for... sugar highs!

Life Lessons #825...

... if you are watching 7 children, and think to yourself, "hey, we are home all day, I can conquer potty training on my potty-training-challenged little one, it will be great!" ... do yourself a favor, DON'T LISTEN TO YOURSELF!!  ... just take my word for it on that...

When it's NOT what it is...

What it was supposed to do...
What it actually did...
How we made it work...
... and a fun time was had by all :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Evidence for Brian and Michelle

Brian and Michelle - this one is for you to see that your children are still alive and well :)

Avery trying to 'be' the ring toss game :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All's Quiet on the Midwestern Front

    Well, day number one half comes to a close of watching our fun 3 nieces while Brian and Michelle are flying out west for an interview to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives (but no pressure, there!!).      
     It's now 11:00 and the last of the little ones finally drifted off to sleep.  Overall, they
 have been wonderful.  It's been so fun to see the cousins play together have so much fun. (Bri and Chelle - your kids are so much fun - you have done a great job raising them!  - I had to say that now because who knows how it will be 4 days from now :) ).  
       This is a first for me to have care over 7 kids at one time, and it provides some 
valuable lessons... here are a few I have learned today:
 ... if you are going to be watching 7 kids, don't stay up until 2:00 in the morning the night before and then not take a nap before the other adults leave :).  (But, Chelle, the talk was worth it - it's always so much fun talking to you!)
... jumping on the tramp with the kids as the first act of the 'party weekend' sets a high precedence for what they 

expect of your participation of jumping on the tramp at all sessions in the future.
...  if you choose to jump on the tramp and do flips, please remember that your center of gravity changes a great deal between the ages of 8 and 30-something :)
... a great benefit of walking with 2 pre-schoolers:  when one gets too tired to ride the tricycle anymore, instead of having to drag it all the way back home, the one from the stroller is fresh and ready to trade places
     And the quote of the
day goes to Emma (8) in teaching Sarah (6) how to do a flip on the tramp, "Well, you have to jump really high, and move your body really fast, and you have to think really fast!"  
The amazing thing is that it worked - Sarah was doing flips within the hour :).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Highway to the Dangerzone!!

    Yes, this lovely Sabbath morning brought with it blue skies (which after tornado warnings and torrential rains, was a welcome change!), chirping birds... and the good 'ole Top Gun soundtrack blaring from the front room. 
     Let me explain - the kids in this family have daily races with the sun to greet the morning, which usually means I am literally getting my eyelids pried open (I am NOT exaggerating that point!) with a request for breakfast.  In an effort to save my eyeballs from complete blindness, I have since trained the kids to find things to keep them busy until the remaining 98% of humans decide that morning has indeed come.  They usually go downstairs and play, or turn on pbs, or occasionally dig out some cds and do their interpretation of daddy playing guitar 
    Okay, so this morning as I am trying desperately to get my last few minutes of s
leep before I greet day #10 flying solo in parenting duty while Jerry is out of town, I am suddenly jolted awake by the song "Highway to the Dangerzone, bom bom bom bom bom bom bom (you get the point!)"  This was followed by "Playing with the boys"  
    Being raised in the era of Top Gun, and a self declared HUGE fan of the movie when I was younger (I can still belt a WAY off tune version of "You never close your eyes anymore..."  but I digress....), in my fog of trying desperately to fight off the brutality of morning, I was instantly teleported back to the days of fast flying jets and shirtless volleyball playing...  
     So, how lovely was your Morning??!

Friday, July 18, 2008

I'm All Thought Out On Food For Thought!

     So, I have my monthly radio show coming up this Monday - the only problem is, I am completely VOID of any ideas for this month!!  I have been trying to think about different areas to cover, but after almost a year of doing the show, all of my 'stand by' ideas have already been used... HELP!!  What is a food or nutrition question/topic/discussion you would like to hear about?  
     So far we have discussed:  all things squash (that was the radio show hosts pick - being someone who isn't a big fan of squash, that one was a struggle for me to get through... how can you pretend to like something that in reality makes your gag reflexes kick in??!), how to pick out fruits and vegetables, healthy eating in a hurry, healthy for the holidays, body basics (the 6 body ingredients you must have every day), food chemistry, cooking on a budget, healthy summer recipes...  that's all I can remember right now. 
     I know you have all been stewing over all things food and nutrition ;), so let me know what your burning questions are, and what you would like to hear discussed on the radio...  Pretty Please... with cream and sugar on top.... (okay, make that fat-free non-dairy whipped topping, and splenda on top :)   ).   

Friday, July 11, 2008

How does our garden grow?

So, I finally took the plunge and started a garden :).  Since my thumb is pretty much a deep shade of black, I was a bit ummmm... terrified to actually spring into the gardening mode.  Last year, while my dad was here, he made some boxes for 'square foot' gardening - after an inspiring visit to Patti's gardening heaven :). (Thanks for all of the information and inspiration, Patti!)
    As I stared at the boxes all winter long, I made a pact with myself that if spring actually melted the arctic tundra that was my backyard, I would indeed plant the gardens.  I do have to say, I seriously doubted that spring would ever make it's way to the sub zero terrain, so I kinda thought I was safe... but alas, it did come and with it green was once again established in the land of gray :).
     So, out we went (we being me and my four little 'helpers') to gather all of the supplies.  (Have you ever tried to gather gardening components with 8 little pairs of hands reaching out to touch EVERY plant variety in the store?  It was quite a fun trip!)  With only a few mishaps... (picture this:  we drive up to a mammoth pile of compost at the city recycling plant to shovel compost into a container that we had in the van.  The kids think that me bending over, grunting, hauling shovel full after shovel full of compost into the container looks rather inviting, so they each beg to take a turn.  I give in, giving myself a pat on the back for being an 'involving, hands-on' mother.  The first shovel is lifted toward the container, with about 1/16 of the shovel load actually making it into the container.  The rest was 'joyfully' scattered around the interior of the van.  The second child tried, with even less of the shovel load making it into the container and the rest 'fertilizing' the van.  Okay, hands on mothering moment over!)
      Fast forward (complete with the funny fast forward music as the frames move at super speed!) the three more trips to the recycling plant, 2 more trips to stores, a lot of grunting, hauling, sod busting, shoveling, mixing, pounding, yada yada yada, and WHALLA, we officially have entered the 'gardening guru' club!
     I do have to say, after all is said and done - it is pretty fun to look out back and see things actually coming to life!  I'm still a bit skeptical that we will actually get real fruits and vegetables from the garden, but it does look a wee bit promising :).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is there in Heaven, anyway??

Yes, after the age old debate of life after death, and the ins and outs of Heaven, we have come upon the answer:  No time outs and free scooters. 
   We were driving home from the gym and I hear this conversation from the back seat:

Sarah: "Seth, you shouldn't do that, if you do that in Heaven, Jesus will send you to time out!"

Seth: (After thinking on this for a few seconds...), "Naw, they don't have time outs in Heaven."

Sarah: "Yea, you're right, but they do have scooters!"

Seth: "Yes, FREE scooters!"  (they are currently saving money to buy some scooters...) "And I am going to get three of them!!"

Sarah:  "Me, too!"

So there you have it folks.  You can all sleep better tonight knowing what is waiting for us on the other side :).

Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Golden Sunday

       So I decided to have a 'golden' Sunday yesterday.  You know, the days when all hair is combed, all Sunday clothes are neatly pressed, all kids are angels who sit quietly in church and come home to peacefully read scriptures, write to the missionaries, etc for the rest of the day... okay, so not quite THAT golden... but I did want to have a day that I would actually plan a Sunday activity so I wasn't having to constantly say, "no, we don't do that on Sunday... no, we don't do that on Sunday... no, we don't... " you get the general idea.  
      We made a special trip to the store on Saturday, while happily singing, "Saturday is a special day..." (okay, so it wasn't quite that picturesque - in fact the minute we entered the store I vividly recalled why I love Hobby Lobby when I'm ALONE, and why I hate it when I have a cart load of kids.  Who knew you could fit so many very breakable glass pieces into one store??!), and bought some flannel to make a flannel board - oh yes, we did the time warp back to the good 'ole primary days of flannel board stories.
       As I drifted off to sleep on Saturday, here is what I envisioned would be our golden Sunday:  all four kids (yes, even the 11 month old would be ultra intrigued by this 
enough to sit and listen!) sitting in a perfect semi circle around our cutsie hand-made flannel board while we told stories with our flannel pictures, complete with all of the kids adding in their own vast knowledge of each and every scripture story, all while having heavenly angels sing in the background.
       Here is what actually unfolded on our "Golden" Sunday:
Benjamin, overtired from our big party weekend of fireworks, thought the big flannel piece looked very cozy and insisted that he use it to snuggle in while being held by me and doing kung fu moves on 11 month old Joshua, who decided that this was the perfect time for an afternoon nursing snack.  
       We finally got Ben talked into a different blanket, found some holders to pin up the piece of flannel (not nearly as cutsie as I had pictured, but they got the job done!), and got out the flannel pieces.  I sat with Ben and Josh while Seth and Sarah sorted out the flannel pieces... and then I drifted off a little bit.  I woke up to Seth's 'mean guy' voice as he was role playing with some of the characters:
 "Hey, Jesus, where are all the women?"  "I don't know, why don't you ask the mean guy with the knife?"  "Hey, mean guy with the knife, where are all of the women"  "I don't know, I'm looking for them so I can kill them..."
     As I'm thinking, "now, in what book is this bible story found??!" and intending to get up and help 'direct' the play a wee bit, I drift off to sleep again (okay, so Benjamin wasn't the only one who was overtired and a wee bit grouchy :), and wake up to find
 that the twins have made a little variation on the flannel board activity: 
   (They had turned it in to the  'fishing game' with one person hooking up flannel pieces as the 'prize' for the fisher).  
    Okay, so it wasn't the 'ensign' story of "how I made our Sunday Celestial"  But I do have to hand it to them, that was pretty creative, and I got a nap in (with no broken cameras... see "no new pictures post...) - which, in the end my friends, is in fact a Golden Sunday!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy 4th of July

        Now that all is said and done with our fireworks, I can actually say it was fun.  While it's happening, I am pretty much a basket case.  Why, you ask?  Because we have the 'privilege' of driving through the vast openness of Wyoming every time we drive home to visit family.  (If you haven't had the honor of such a drive, believe me, you aren't missing much... except for the constant barrage of 'not-so-legal' fireworks.  Why are they legal in Wyoming?  It's simple, there really isn't anything there to start on fire!).
      So, this past spring as we drove home and Jerry carried the mother load of all mother loads of fireworks out to the car, I began my anticipated panic for the actual event.  
      On the morning after, I can happily report that all limbs and digits are still attached and except for one miss-fired  bomb-thingy that literally hit the house across the street, there were no big fires (that where caused by us, anyway!).  I have to say, my favorite thing of the whole night was to watch Mike (Sue's husband, and Jerry's pyromania cohort in the annual 4th of July fright night) right after a big one just went off. Every time, without fail and with the pure and unfeigned excitement of a kid on Christmas morning, he turns and says, "That was cool!" (Sorry, Sue, I don't mean to encourage it, it is just so fun to watch!) I tried to get a picture of those moments, but none of the pictures do it justice, so you'll just have to take my word for it.  
     Of course while of this excitement on the male end is happening and the kids are cheering, the wives are sitting, huddled together with a collective gasp at each new ignition and the silent prayer that all limbs be spared (or at least the ones needed to perform the surgeries that produce our livelyhood!) for just one more round.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Who is THEY, and Why do I keep missing their meetings?

         Seriously - I really have missed out on the "they" meetings in life.  You know, when people say, "Well, they say that you should..."  or, "Yes, they say it's only a matter of time..."  
       Here are just a couple of examples of what I'm talking about (warning, this will let you know that sometimes I am just flat out lost in this great big grown up world!)...
        We are big homemade ice cream lovers.  I got an ice cream maker back in collage, and got all of my roommates addicted to it (fresh raspberry homemade ice cream, yummmmmm - my mouth is watering just thinking about it!!)  Why do you need to know this detail?  Well, I'll tell you - one of  the basic needs for homemade ice cream is rock salt.  You layer that with the ice to help it get colder to harden the ice cream, yada yada yada.    So, we move to Detroit where apparently they have some unwritten ban on homemade ice cream in the summer because I searched high and low for rock salt and all I got were weird looks from the grocery store people as they told me, "um, yea, rock salt, well, you see that's a seasonal item... used for icy driveways in the winter... and it's 90 degrees outside... so, no, we don't stalk that right now"...
         Okay stay with me, I am getting to my point of the post :).   Fast forward 5 years (please fast forward, because the slow motion play of those five years is very scary, and not one I would like to relive again in this lifetime!) and we pull into Rochester Minnesota (in the heart of the summer, mind you!), and the first thing I notice is that EVERY gas station, grocery store, and drug store has HUGE stockpiles of rock salt outside.  Not only that, but they have about 5 different varieties to boot!  So where does my thought process take me?  "Man, they really like homemade ice cream around here - we really have hit the jack pot!!"  I get so excited to make ice cream that I pull it out and rev it up after it's much mourned hiatus.  
       Fast forward again (this post is long enough already, so I'll spare you the interim details!) and I start to notice hard water spots on all of our dishes.   I knew the previous owners had told us that there was a great water softener system in the house, so I'm a bit perplexed by this.  I casually mention this dilemma to a friend, and she replies, "Oh, did your rock salt run out?"  What? Rock salt? what other use could there be besides making ice cream? 
       I go to the basement and find the big bin that is our water softener, lift the lid and sure enough, it's a big bin of nothing.  I grab the manual to see what's supposed to go in their.  Yep, Rock salt.  Not only that, but come to find out "they" say you should NEVER let your rock salt run out, or apparently it can do great damage to your whole water softening system.  Great.  It would have been nice if "they" would have come to my front door and hand delivered me a telegram with the fact on it a few months earlier - that's about what I need sometimes!  
      Example number two:  So, I've learned my rock salt lesson and now have become rock salt obsessed, checking the 'bin' at least twice a week just to make sure we don't run out again!  Life is good, we start going about our business.  Being the happy homemaker that I pretend to be, I have some plants that I religiously water.  Since I have no semblance of a green thumb whatsoever, only the hardiest of plants have made it through and stuck with me through all of our moves.  But I notice that even these diehard ones are getting a bit, well, not so diehard.  I don't think much of it as I go about life, until I am sitting in church one Sunday and the teacher in Relief Society brings in two plants as an object lesson.  One, the pretty and perky one, she says has been watered with fresh, pure water, while the other (the wilty, puny plant) has been watered with house water, and she says, "you know they say you shouldn't water your plants with soft water because salt isn't good for them..."  and she goes on with the lesson.
       I can honestly say that I don't remember what she said next, because I had one of those 'boings' go off in my head and thought, "oh, yea, salt (the rock salt that I so religiously put into the bin)+plants = not such a good combination, duh!"  
     Again, where was I when "THEY" had that seminar?  I obviously missed the 'rock salt does and don'ts' section entirely!!
     So, if any of you made it to that meeting, could I get the notes from you, please?  And if there are any 'they' meetings that you become aware of, please let me know - I need all the help I can get!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

      Yes, we are in the valley of potty training.  Of all of the *fine print* items they don't tell you about until you have your own children, potty training has to be right near the top of the list. (topped only by the horrifyingly painful electric shock of getting used to nursing... but that's a whole different post in and of itself!)  Man, I think I may have the first child who really will make it to kindergarten REFUSING (not simply not wanting to, but REFUSING) to go in the 'big' potty.  We have tried all sorts of methods.  Lately we have just tried going cold turkey.  So far the tally is:  Misses: 14  Hits: 0.   Please, help me out here - what are your magic solutions to this toddler right of passage??