Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas Mom

Chad and I chose to buy ourselves a new sliding door for Christmas. We were sick of losing half our heating bill out of the monstrosity that was there before.

We were sick of letting in flying insects into the house through the holey screen door every time we wanted some fresh air. We wanted a door that could be opened by a person of average strength.

It was installed Saturday, and was quite exciting. It's a beautiful door that matches our windows. It was worth every penny I paid. I love it. Unfortunately it did not last the day intact.

Apparently the screen is hard to see at night. It is now ripped and bent due to a certain 7 year old child slamming into it. Probably an hour earlier Chad had commented to me that it was hard to tell if the screen was open or closed. He kept having to double check before walking outside. If only we had thought this out a little. The thing has a warranty, although I'm sure we'll have to pay some kind of shipping or installation fee. Now I remember why we hate getting new things at our house. They never stay new for long. Although less than 24 hours is a new record I think.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sick Time

This is the hardest time of year. It seems that every December, all of the kids and Luann get sick with the stomach flu, or at least a nasty cold and cough. This year has been no exception, and I have had to take sick leave from work in order to take care of my babies. Luckily for you, we don't have picture to share. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Five ways to entertain you toddler while practically sleeping

I will call this the daddy edition of "Five Ways to Entertain Your Toddler." I've suddenly realized why interaction with dad usually happens on the bed.

1. Read books. They usually don't catch on to the fact that you've read the same sentence five times in a row because you fell asleep and lost your place.

2. "Wrestle" on the bed. Usually involves laying there while child climbs all over you. Although Mr. S has the annoying habit of sitting on one's head and jumping up and down. Nothing quite like diaper on the head. And with three kids, a fresh diaper is not guaranteed.

3. Play hide and seek. Why is it that daddy always hides in his bed under the covers?

4. Have a talent show. All that is required of a parent is to lay on the couch and give occasional words of praise to kids while they flip and twirl to their heart's content.

5. Build a fort. Nothing quite like helping make another suitable napping spot, complete with sun darkening blanket coverings.

Of course there is always the turn on the TV and hope they watch it tactic. That one doesn't work on our toddler yet. Hopefully that kicks in before he stops taking naps.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Fall Garden

The garden plot continues to be quite exciting at our house. It just doesn't look like much. We've suffered major setbacks this time around. There's the Japanese beetle larvae that like to eat the roots of the newly formed plants. We also have a mystery pest nibbling the lettuce leaves faster than they can grow. On top of that there was this crazy gardener who tripped over the fence because she was too lazy to open the "gate" and fell quite spectacularly on multiple young plants.*

The surprise harvest of the year came from our pumpkin plants. They actually became infested by the squash vine borer which basically eats the plant from the inside out. I think they infested our zucchini plants as well which would explain why they died suddenly. Somehow the plants survived and produced a pumpkin and amazingly the bug didn't get it. It wasn't in time for Halloween, but I will roast it up and make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. There is a second pumpkin growing now that will hopefully be ready for Christmas.

This is also the first year we've had oranges on our tree. This orange tree was planted in the Fall of 2007. In 2008 we picked the young fruit off to let the plant grow. This year we should have freshly picked oranges for the Christmas stockings. Mr. S loves to touch them and loudly shout "ball." He has been good about not picking them, mostly because they don't come off easily. The tomato balls haven't been so lucky.

Speaking of tomatoes, did you know you can prune back your spring tomato plants in August and they will produce another round of tomatoes in November? The harvest hasn't been as good as the Spring, but that probably has something to do with the birds and the toddler discovering the fruit.

So far we've been trying hard not to use any pesticides in the garden which has definitely effected the amount we can grow. In the spring we'll be planting in a new spot, and hopefully with a little more research into organic pest control we can have more success.

*Fortunately I didn't knock over the sunflower, as Chad has warned me was going to happen if I kept hopping the fence. This incident goes down as one of the more annoying I told you so moments in our marriage. I really wished I could have gotten away with not telling him what had happened. I just didn't think the large knee and hand prints in the carrot and lettuce beds could be passed off as giant raccoon tracks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Apples. Apples. Everywhere.

Last weekend I took Kiwi to can apples with my mother, father, sister in law Lacy, and brother Paul. Lacy and Paul live in a small town with their son.

It's so funny to see the life of a small town. There's not a lot to do, but you don't have to worry about crime. They don't lock their doors and don't even own keys to their house. The people before them couldn't find the keys because they never locked the doors either. Being a city girl, that's weird to me. Petty crime is just a way of life in the city. You get used to it and expect it to happen at some point.

Back to the apples. We canned 168 pounds of apples. We made applesauce, apple pie filling, apple butter, dried apples and even canned plain unsweetened sliced apples. It was fun. My mother and I did it last year on our own without any help while I was trying to nurse a baby. That was hard work.

It was so nice to have the help of Lacy, my dad and brother (at least on Saturday because Friday they went golfing) and to have two of my three kids back home with dad. Chad was so wonderful to take a few days off so I didn't have to take all the kids. We discovered taking Kiwi out of the equation made for a more tranquil home. Also, Kiwi all on her own is a very pleasant girl. It seems that Kiwi plus either one of her brothers leads to conflict. I don't know if it's a girl thing or a middle child thing. I'm guessing the latter. I'm a middle child and I think I definitely liked to tick off my brothers just for the fun of it when we were younger.

I think we're going to make it an annual tradition. Next year we may try something different like peaches, vegetables (pressure canning, scary!), meat, and beans. I love to fill my pantry and I love to spend the time having some great conversation with my family.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween 2009

With three kids we go for the hand me down Halloween around here: Harry Potter was once worn by G's older cousin. Kiwi's costume was borrowed from a friend.

Mr. S was wearing the costume G wore when he was a year. And he also wore it last year. I paid $20 dollars for that costume. I'm glad we have a second boy to put a little more use into it. As I get more kids it seems crazy to spend $20 on a costume that is only worn once. If regular clothes were of the same quality as Halloween costumes, they would be sold at the dollar store. It drives me nuts that costumes are so expensive. Unfortunately I don't have the drive or sewing skills to make my own. At least that's what I tell myself.

Also this year the kids took a more active role in carving the pumpkin. Maybe by next year they'll be able to do it all on their own.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Primary Problems

Last Sunday at church the kids were in charge. Once a year the primary children (ages 3 to 11) present a program in the main meeting where everyone takes the sacrament. They get to sit in the seats on the stand and speak a little part in the microphone. This year's theme was focused on the family.

This was Kiwi's first year participating. She is a bit shy and had a hard time. A few weeks ago she was assigned a prayer during one of the practices in the chapel, which meant saying the prayer into the big microphone. She got about two sentences in and ended up crying in my arms. G-man had to finish for her. When the time came for the presentation she said her part, although her fear overcame her at the end causing her to mumble the last few words and end up crying in her seat. Thank goodness for her fabulous teacher who came over and cuddled her while she overcame her nerves. It broke my heart to see her upset, but I was so proud that she did it! When assigned a talk in primary a few months ago she would say a word in the microphone. Baby steps.

This was G's 4th program and he's a pro. He was part of a small group of boys who sang a verse of one of the songs. They all wore suits (without even planning it), and it was the coolest thing to see. Personally I love when it gets cold so I can dress my boys in their suits. Burlington Coat factory is a fabulous place.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lucky 7

October is a fun month for our family. The decoration come out and then we have birthdays. First mine and then G-man's. Mine is always trumped by G's birthday, which is fine by me. Kids get much more excited about birthdays than adults anyway. Now that I'm a year away from my 30th birthday I need to start planning. Maybe Disneyland with all the college dorm girls. Maybe New York with Chad. It might depend on whether or not we buy the dining room table we've had our eyes on. Although, who am I kidding. My birthday will be trumped again next year. Big time.

G-man turned 7 on Tuesday. I don't know what's more crazy, me turning 30 next year, or G turning 8. How is it possible that my oldest child is 7? It just blows my mind. He's a full blown kid now. I have to let him deal with the mean kids on his own. I see many of the insecurities I remember having at that age. It makes me think that to a large extent our social makeup is genetic. Sure, there's an influence that nurture plays, but it seems it's in my kid's nature to be shy and terrified of getting in trouble. He's a bit of a perfectionist too. At least when it comes to following the rules. I'm afraid all this rule following as a child will lead to massive rebellion in teenage-hood. Or I can turn off all my mommy fear and be grateful for an awesome kid who seems to be on his way to being quite successful in life.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Good Weather + Pile of Dirt = Fun!

Since the weather has been wonderful the last few weeks, we have been spending lots of time in the backyard doing all sorts of things. The kids found that the dirt we were moving around was nice and soft for running in, and the old dirt pile was nice and hard for digging tunnels in. With a little help from Dad, they got tunnels through the pile, and were having fun breaking up the dirt clumps. Fun for them, helps me move the dirt.

Adventures in Eating

Dinner time is always fun, as we try to have a variety of foods for the culinary experience of our children. So, this last Monday, we had a pan of roasted vegetables. Apparently, when cooked properly, they are a big hit, as even Kiwi, who dislikes zucchini, was eating everything and proclaiming that she loves zucchini. The highlight, of course was this:

In case it is not obvious from the picture, we had roasted garlic, and Mr S was trying to eat the whole head of garlic. He did manage to get some out, and loved it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

She has Skillz!

Picking up on the theme of the last posting, Ms Kiwi decided to take me up on my offer of riding without training wheels. Luann took them off this week, and away she went. This is not unexpected, since she loves climbing, running around, wrestling with Dad, Mom, and all of her brothers, and climbing the dirt mountains in the backyard. And, last month she starting a gymnastics class, and absolutely loves it. It is interesting to see how Kiwi is a more physically-enabled child.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Riding in Style

If I haven't said it before, let me say it again: Craigslist is awesome! We acquired this fabulous trailer about a month ago for $25. It was a steal and totally worth the drive across town to pick it up. I have been looking for one since Seth's birthday in April. There is something to be said for instant gratification of buying it from the store, but it's not like we would have used it in the heat anyway. A 4 month wait to save $45 dollars...I'd say it was worth it.

Once I get my own bike we have grand plans to go on awesome family bike rides. I just try not to think too hard about how little stands between my kids and the crazies on the road.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Training our boys...

A few months ago I blogged about arranging a version of the Star Wars theme for G-man to play. I finally took the time to do it so he could play it in our Primary's talent show. Here's a video at home. Its not perfect, but I didn't want to make him play it again. I also had to shorten it. I didn't want to wait the obscene amount of time it wast taking to upload the one over a minute long. I know some people upload longer videos...any tips?

The second video is Mr. S singing along. A little bit at the very beginning. I could not get a better video of him doing this. Every time he would see me with the camera he would stop singing and attack. Just more proof that we start the geek fest early at this house.

And here's a picture for those of you out there who are scared by clowns. Just trying to spice things up around here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Five ways to entertain your toddler while sitting on your duff.

1. Peek a boo
2. Rough housing on the bed (laying on the bed while toddler crawls all over you. Minimal movement is the key).
3. Pat-a-cake and all other toddler finger play songs (itsy bitsy spider, bingo, popcorn popping, etc.)
4. Blowing raspberries
5. Joining in the high pitched screams while toddler runs down the hallway.

I was contemplating the games Mr. S and I were playing today. All involved me sitting on the floor in one spot trying to move as little as possible. I could excuse my laziness by the insane hour I wake in the morning or Mr. S unusually short nap which meant no nap for mommy. Or I could ponder this thought: these games are quite popular amongst most toddlers. Is it because toddlers like them or because mothers prefer to sit on their duffs?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Welcome Guests!

Our house is old, and along with old houses come many years of old owners who did crazy things on the property. We must have had a mason who lived here once, or at least someone who knew a mason, because they did a few adobe additions to the house back in the 70s. At least that's what I guess from the wood paneling the the play room. The additions are pretty nice because they actually built them out of the same adobe brick that the rest of the house is built with. None of the cheap framing additions you see attached to nice brick houses. "Here, why don't we make this beautiful brick house look like crap by adding on some ugly framing." I complain but we'll probably do it when we finally close in the carport. Because we're cheap. Like everyone else. Now, on to the reason for my post. In addition to a family room in the back, a guest house was built on the side of the house. Its completely separate form the house. We share a corner and the living room window looks onto our back porch. It was in bad shape when we bought it. Every time we have a new renter move in we spend some time fixing up the place. When Jana moved in 4 years ago we ripped out the nasty carpet and painted. We also put in an A/C unit, new doors and windows while she was living there. When the pool guys started renting 2 years ago we ripped out the kitchen and didn't put it back in. They were only going to be there part time, they didn't need a kitchen right? They moved out in July, so we spent the past four weeks putting the kitchen back in, doing some touch up paint, redoing the shower. Here are some pics...A lease is signed and a renter is moving in tomorrow. After four weeks of spending almost every weekend working, often until midnight, it is nice to have some time to relax.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Day of Preschool, Part II

Two years ago, G-man started preschool. That was soooo exciting! But, now it comes to the second child's turn. Kiwi started preschool at the same place as G-man, and she is really excited to be a schooler.

Does it mean you are finally mature when you have more kids in school than not? I think I am feeling a little like I miss them, even thought they haven't gone anywhere yet.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Obligatory First Day of School Post

The difference between a first grader and a kindergartner:

It took half the year last year to get G-man to let us drop him off at the front of the school. By the second day of school this year G-man told me he knew where to go and I could go back to the car. Well maybe I didn't want to go back to the car. Can't you let me coddle you a little bit longer?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Reptilian Adventures

We have a guest house on our property that has recently been vacated. This small one bedroom add on was in pretty sorry shape when we bought the house and we've been slowly improving it. It seems each time we rent it out to someone new, we do a little more (we've only had two renters so far).

The first night I was in there starting to move things around I found a snake in the bathtub. It was just a little snake. I really thought the kids would get a kick out of seeing a real snake. We got out our old turtle aquarium, picked up the snake with some papers, and moved him into the aquarium. Then we moved the aquarium into the house. Apparently the snake didn't like the aquarium so much because in the morning it was gone. In our house. Ahhhh! We still haven't found it. We think it was a night snake. They are only slightly venomous.
Worst case scenario: One of the kids finds it hiding somewhere and gets bit.
Best case scenario: It finds/found its way outside.
Scenario I can live with: It lives under our cabinets and eats the crickets. And here you were thinking organic pest control was an oxymoron.

Our fun with reptiles doesn't end there, oh no. On Saturday we moved a cabinet from our storage shed into the guest house with the intent of hanging it in the guest house kitchen. We found a gecko hiding in it. Unfortunately it ran behind some boxes before I could get a jar to catch it in. So this week we've managed to release a snake in our house and a lizard in our guesthouse. Fortunately the guy who will be hopefully renting the guesthouse probably wouldn't mind having a gecko in his bedroom.

G-man's quest to get a reptilian pet was almost fulfilled this week. I think I may have to veto his preference for snakes. There is nothing quite like being scared of every pencil and ribbon on the floor of your home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Curious Incident of the Minivan in the Mountains

This past weekend started out great. We were all set for a camping trip in the White mountains with my side of the family, followed by my ten year reunion, then a short visit with my sister who lives in Utah. We drove to the mountains without major incident. We spent two days at the campsite doing all the normal camping things...eating Smores, playing with fire, hiking through meadows, eating rocks (oh wait, that was just Mr. S). I got to know my two little nephews a little better and had fun chatting around the campfire.

Things started to unravel on Saturday. Chad and I packed up our tent and the majority of our stuff and headed to the city for my ten year High School reunion. The kids were staying with the intent of them traveling back with my parents on Sunday. As we headed out of the campsite we found my parents car stranded on the side of the road. The clutch was out and they couldn't start it, but they had a plan. The camp host would replace the clutch and they would be on their way again by Sunday. So with no need to worry (too much), we continued on our way, leaving the kids behind.

Things unraveled quickly in the 5 hours we spent traveling back to the city. The part couldn't be found in the mountains. The only one available was in the city. We had to pick it up and bring it back to the mountains. At this point I'd already missed one party I had hoped to go to...but I made it to the main reunion event. It was fun. I saw and talked to some people I hadn't seen in a while. I was sorry some hadn't come that I hoped would. I don't regret going, although some troubles may have been avoided if we hadn't left the kids.

We left for the mountains Sunday morning with my sister from Utah in tow. The part was delivered. It rained and hailed. The truck didn't get fixed. We finally left the mountains at 5pm with 8 people and a dog in our 7 passenger minivan. We traveled to my brother's house that was only 3 and 1/2 hours away. I laughed as we sang "Found a peanut" and my sister and I entertained with our two favorite camp songs: "Honey you can't love one" and "the Austrian yodeling song". These songs are very amusing when a car full of grown adults is singing (with some harmony too). We were trying really hard to make the best of a frustrating situation.

We left my sister and parents at this point. They travelled back to the city with my brother while our family headed to our home that was, if all went well, only 2 and 1/2 hours away. All did not go well. In 90 minutes we were stopped dead on the highway. Mr. S started to cry. He doesn't like to be stopped in the car when he's trying to sleep. Kiwi and G-man slept through it all. An hour later we began to crawl forward, slowly passing the mangled cars that caused our delay. Its hard to be angry when you know someone surely lost their life in the wreck. We crawled into bed at 2am, grateful to be home after traveling over 1000 miles and spending more than 25 hours in a car since leaving. It's too bad our A/C hadn't quit while we were gone. It would have been the icing on the cake.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The nostalgia continues

Not to be outdone by his wife....

We spent the last weekend playing with Legos from Chad's childhood.

He collected the castle series and had quite a variety of sets. He has a few castles, two Forestmen sets, and also some wolf pack sets.

The figures were the most fun for the kids. Kiwi loved making unique guys she could claim as her own. There was even a Forest lady for her to play with.

Here we are setting up for the final battle at the end. Mr. S spent most of the time trying to eat Legos. Luckily nothing went down.

G-man cried as we put things away. Poor kids gets a bit obsessed sometimes.

To top off the event, Monday night was spent putting away the sets. This included a lot of cursing from Chad as he tried to locate the pieces that had been stranded around the house during the three days of play (honestly I don't know what he expected). I think this may not happen again for a LONG time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

feeling a bit nostalgic

Perhaps its because I'm getting close to 30, or maybe because I've reconnected with friends from my childhood era. Maybe its simply because my 10 year reunion is set to occur next month. Whatever the reason, I've been reminiscing about my childhood. Now I can't keep this to myself, so I had to get my kids involved. Which we have been doing by making toys out of trash.
When I was in elementary school, probably around 8 or so, I made my own doll house out of cardboard boxes with furniture made out of tissue paper. I even cut up an old shirt for blankets and dyed them different colors.
It wasn't entirely because we were poor. I had two Sylvanian families and only one house. It felt selfish to ask for another house, so I improvised. Does anyone remember these things? I had the Slydale family and the Evergreen family. I even had some teenagers and grandparents for the bears, plus two kids and two babies. I would run a whole lifecycle with these my bears. It would start with the two adult bears and they'd get married and have kids and I'd keep running the story until they were old. I want to say I even had funerals for them, but I really can't remember. Anywho, the Slydales needed a house so I built one with cardboard and packaging tape. I spray painted the outside blue and the inside white. I remember getting into trouble for using too many cotton balls and tissues for the beds and spilling some dye on the carpet.
This is what I'm doing with my kids. We have beds, a table, a couch, a TV and pictures for the walls. As soon as I finish up the eggs, we'll make a toilet. I think I'm having way more fun than the kids.
Just as a side note, don't look at the Sylvanian family website too long. Before you know it you'll be buying a house and furniture and a family to go with it. I think the Moose family is adorable. Or maybe its just me who really really really wants to buy this for me ... I mean ... my daughter.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Now Open for Business

We finally got the walls all textured and painted. The kids have been asking to get the rug back into the room so they can play in it better. They were so excited, in fact, that they built a fort on the rug (with a little help from me). The new wall coloring makes the room look like the rest of the house, and without the faux wood paneling, the project has an anti-climactic feel to it.

Now if we can just get the trim work done...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July 4th Weekend Update

What can be better than having a day off? A day off of home projects! We were hard at work on the playroom this weekend, and made a significant amount of progress. We even got the older two kids helping to prime the walls, and Mr. S helped by keeping the floor clean.

As of now, we actually have paint on one wall, and it is starting to look like a normal room. So much work just to get it blend into the overall house.

And just to make it fun, we still have a whole week worth's of work to do. We were talking about how much work we got done, and we came to the conclusion that since only one of us was working at a time, we didn't do much more than we can in the evenings when the kids are asleep.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Too Smart For Me

Today at dinner we were teasing the kids (as usual). Chad asked for a vote as to who wanted to keep the desert I made. He and the kids raised their hands. Then he asked who wanted to throw it away. I raised my hand. I told the kids I win because my vote is worth five points. G-man shot back that his vote and Kiwi's vote are worth ten, so they win. That kid is so smart. Gone are the days of blind faith and obedience. I've taught him well.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Our Dad

In honor of Father's Day we made up a song. Chad, we're glad you don't smell too bad. Love you!

Who can guess where the tune comes from? I'll give you a hint: he's bald and talks like a girl.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adventures in California

We spent the past week in Anaheim celebrating Chad's birthday and graduation. Thankfully his 30th birthday coincided with his graduation so we could justify spending way too much money. We went with Laurel, Bill, and their three girls who are about the same ages as our kids. It was nice to have another couple to help watch kids so we could take turns going on the fun rides. We got a few crazy looks when it was our turn to watch the six kids (all under the age of 7). One lady told us we could do our own reality show if they were all ours. Here are a few of the highlights of the trip.

1. Saving money on the ticket by going on Chad's birthday. The added bonus was everytime a Disney employee noticed his button they wished him a happy birthday. Same rule applied to any teenagers standing in line with us. Great fun to watch my husband be embarrassed. Unfortunately that was about the only benefit. The birthday button did not come with a free pass to skip to the front of the line.

2. Lunch with the Princesses. If you have a girl and go to Disneyland be sure to have lunch at Ariel's Grotto in California adventure. The Princesses come to your table and take pictures. We saw Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine. They also teach a little dance to the room. G-man even got into it, even though he tried really hard not to enjoy the girly stuff.

3. Teaching Kiwi to pee in the Ocean. What is it with little girls and deciding they have to go pee 5 minutes after arriving at your destination.

4. Pooping adventures with Scooch. First poo fell out of his diaper in the lobby. We had left the wipes in the car and ended up wiping it up with an empty Goldfish cracker package. Then in a brief moment of diaperlessness he managed to lay one on the floor of our room. I blame Chad. This day also included a Kiwi pee accident in Laurel and bill's room and the Beach incident. It was just one of those bodily function full days.

5. Watching what a one year old finds fascinating: balloons and fish.

6. Playing the little kid Shuffle at Legoland. They have so many stinking height restrictions at that place. It was a pain to find a ride in that park that everyone could enjoy. It seemed we were always trying to find more adults to go on the rides with the kids. Definitely something to try again when the kids are older (and taller).

7. Finding opportunities to take black mail pictures of G-man and "Sugar Plum" (she came up with her name herself). Sugar Plum is 9 months younger than G and about 4 inches taller. Her parents are quite tall and his parents are not. They had a lot of fun together, holding hands, whispering in each other's ears. Laurel got some good shots of the two of them with their arms around each other. G-man was looking forward to spending time with boys at the end of this trip.

8. Listening to G-man scream on Space Mountain. We had taken him on Splash Mountain and Matterhorn before this. After Space Mountain he refused to go on anymore Rollercoasters.

9. Watching these tow friends together. Two four year old girls walking hand in hand through the Haunted Mansion line was too cute. So was their reaction to the Haunter Mansion ride.

10. This picture. Classic. I wonder how many other people took pictures of my backside.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What Chad is doing now that he has graduated.

Finally getting rid of the wood paneling. Who would take the time to drywall a room and then cover it with fake wood paneling? This stuff is so ugly. I think after this room is finished we can say the inside remodeling is done. Now we'll have to move on to the outside. I missed our home improvement stuff while Chad was in school. Its kind of fun.