Thursday, July 29, 2010

Confession of a stay-at-home mom

I have a confession to make.  For those of you who know me well, you know that I have always hated emptying the dishwasher.  I think it stems back to my childhood (as all things do, ha ha!).  As one of our chores growing up, we had "dish week."  We had to do all the dishes when it was our turn and I really, really hated it.  I don't know why, but I'd rather wash them then put them away.  I have the same problem with laundry.  So, for the last 13 months I happily gave up my dishwasher.  I used it 3-4 times the entire year and only after we had a lot of company and the dishes were piled miles high.  One day, Isabella even asked me what the dishwasher was since she hadn't seen me use it for a long time.  It really didn't bother me since our dishwasher is so low-end that you really have to scrub your dishes well before ever putting them in the dishwasher.  I figured if I was already scrubbing them, might as well throw in some soap and get them clean.  

There was one problem.  I was missing this.

Clean counter tops.  We have a large family so it takes two dish racks to dry all of our dishes.  I lost a lot of counter top space and the kitchen always seemed to be cluttered.  I have enough problems managing the piles of stuff I and the kids create, so one more area of clutter was just too much. 

I confess.  We got back from vacation and I started using the dishwasher.  At first it was going to be just until I got everything unpacked and put away -- saving me a little time here and there.  And then something magical happened.  I didn't really mind emptying the dishwasher so much.  It only takes a couple of minutes and my counters get cleaned up WAY faster and much less clutter!   I do feel a little guilty.  I know I was saving water and electricity not using it.  But, for now less clutter wins out!  I can always go back to hand washing when I get tired of this I guess.  Or start making my kids do it more.  Not sure I'm ready for the broken dishes though! 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Science Project

Sophia's been taking a couple of summer enrichment classes through the school district.  What a great program!!  For $100 she takes an hour art class and an hour science class four days a week through the month of July.  Plus, the bus picks her up and brings her home.  Can you beat that? 

Last week Sophia came home with a 2 liter bottle a couple of balloons and some straws.  She said she had to make a car that moved.  By the next morning.  UGGGHH.  They had watched that show -- I cannot remember the name -- where two teams are in a junk yard and have to build a car.  So, she came home and asked if we had extra training wheels and a lawn mower starter.  She was obviously thinking a little bigger than I was. 

I should say that I am from a family of engineers.  Almost exclusively, that's what everybody in my family does.  I did not inherit any of their genes.  My undergrad degree was in political science and my masters was in business.  I like to think, plan, and organize, not design and create.  Science and math were not my favorite classes to say the least.  Chris is a writer.  While he can build things and fix things, by nature he is a writer and more than that a storyteller.  Someday, (after he sits down and takes the time) you will read a novel that he is written and you will be impressed! 

That being said, Sophia didn't have much of a chance!  So, I did what any mom would have done.  I got on facebook and started chatting with my brother, talked to my brother-in-law on the phone, and also got some ideas from a friend.  I am surrounded by engineers.  Luckily, they all had great advice.  After taking in the limited "wind" capacity that a 7 year-old can generate we settled on a strategy of using the balloon stretched out like a sling shot.  In the end, her car moved!  A minor miracle in my opinion.  Not only did it move, but it went clear across the room.  Success!  We had bamboo skewers taped together to form a stick that she would gently push into a balloon which was secured inside the 2 liter.  Then she released the bottle and it actually moved. 
She even drew herself as the driver!

So, thank you Chris, Tony and Tara for helping me impress my child.  Geesh, she's only 7 and I'm already having problems helping her with her homework.  It will only get worse I'm afraid!  Good thing for friends and family!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to my little man!

My baby is two!!  Over the weekend we celebrated his birthday with his favorite, trains and airplanes.  He had a ball!  I made a couple of car cakes (because Chris had his birthday too) and I ordered some train and airplane cookies from Connie's Cookies.  I have never ordered cookies before because I like everything homemade.  I think it tastes better and it is WAY cheaper.  But, this week was an exception as I was too busy with VBS to make and decorate them myself. 
Oh, my hands were so sore after frosting these!

Thanks Connie!

He was concentrating very hard getting ready to blow out the candles!

He is ALWAYS surrounded by lots of girls!

And, because someday I'll probably forgot how easy you were as a baby...

Sam at two years old you are my Handsome Sam.  You fill my day with complete joy and lots of laughter.  You really know how to make me laugh and love to give me hugs and kisses!!  You LOVE your sleep sack which you call your "la lack" since you haven't quite figured out your "S's" yet.  You wake happily during the summer between 9:00 and 10:00 am after 13-14 hours of peaceful sleep.  You are already smiling and ready for your day.  Your first word every day is "eat."  You have a lazy breakfast and then are eager to play with all your favorite toys. 

You are a real trooper running lots of errands with me even though you'd rather be home with your toys.  After lunch, I put you down for your nap.  And boy do you love naps!  You sleep 3-4 hours every afternoon.  Then you wake up happy and ready to "eat" again.   You almost always have a dry diaper which I still don't understand.  But I'm thankful as I'm sure that will help us when we decide to potty train you.  No rush!  You love your sisters and they love you.  Sometimes you have your hands full with three extra little mamas, but I don' t think you'd have it any other way.  You can play for hours with all your cars, trucks, trains, and planes. 

Your favorite is still your big Cozy Coupe which you insist is an inside and outside toy.  And you get what you want most all of the time.  It must be since you are our baby, and you are a little bit spoiled by all of us.  We just love you so much!  Thanks for being such a sweetie pie.  We love you Sam!

Monday, July 19, 2010


If you know me at all, you know that for the past 6 months I've been a bit consumed by all things VBS.  Not that I mind.  I LOVED VBS when I was a kid and still remember doing some of the crafts (lots of shrink art and punching designs into foil as I remember).  So, as my kids have gotten older I really want them to have some of those same fun memories I do.  

We attend a small church.  Small is relative.  It's larger than the church I grew up in as a child, but significantly smaller than the churches we've attended as adults.  But I believe our kids deserve a really amazing week, no matter the size of the church.  I'm a visual person and think kids are too.  So decorations are key to setting the mood.  Crafts are next because that's what the kids take home as a reminder of their week.  Then the Bible lessons and skits bring home the true message for the week and the reason we're there to begin with. Most important is the FUN FACTOR!   Kids have to want to come to church and have fun while they're there in order for them to want to come back.

Church's everywhere used the same kit for the High Seas Expedition, so my philosophy was to call up a bunch of them and see if we could use any of their decorations after they were done with them.  (I never would have done that before PTO....but, now I'm a pro at asking people for things!)  Three churches gave us decorations and supplies!!!  It was amazing!   Our church really stepped up and we got everything donated that we needed and had plenty of volunteers.  Total answers to months of prayers. 

I have to say that Chris and his friend Steve made VBS what it was.  They were the hosts and entertainers each night doing the skits and emceeing everything.  They were so much fun and were completely willing to embarrass themselves in order for the skit to really be a hit.  Thanks guys -- the kids are not going to forget you Captain Chris and Sailor Jack! 

The week was exhausting!  I took the kiddos up during the mornings to work on scene changes for the Bible stories and to get everything lined up for the night's activities.  Then we were back there in the evening ready for the kids.  Chris took off early each day from work and swung by and picked up his Big Brother/Big Sister little brother and his cousin so they could come each night.  Have I mentioned what an amazing guy he is?  Four kids of his own and he still takes time for another! By the time we all got home each night we just crashed! 

I may be biased, but I think this is the best VBS we'd had in years.  We had 27% more kids than last year, probably 50% more volunteers, and SO MUCH FUN!   We had tons of kids there each night that didn't have a church home.  Such an honor to get to teach these kids about God's love for them.  I'm already starting to brainstorm about next year.  I'm thinking bigger....much bigger!  

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Colorado - 3

Last post (I think) about Colorado.  There are just so many things to say and pictures I'd like to share... So I will keep it to two things.  First, there is a stream outside the family cabin that is ice cold.  I have have done the traditional "dip your feet in and squeal at how cold it is!"  Chris grew up playing in the stream, floating down in tubes.  Have I mentioned how cold it is?  This year we had a really warm afternoon where we let the kids get in their swimsuits.  We weren't sure any of them would do more than stand in it. 

But Sophia and Anna surprised us at how much they were willing to freeze.  They had so much fun!

Sam and Isabella had a different reaction. 

They both cried as Sam kept saying he was "done."  Sam slowly warmed up (ha ha) to the idea and enjoyed splashing Chris' legs for a while.  Isabella, on the other hand, was DONE and got out and went inside crying all the way.  
Look at those legs!

On our last day in Colorado we hiked Agnes Falls Trail.  It's fabulous for small kids and ends at a beautiful waterfall.  Chris' parents came along as we needed a few extra hands to get the kids up to the top of the hike. 

Beautiful isn't it?

Colorado - 2

Chris and I take a lot of pictures of our kiddos.  Spending a week in Colorado meant we took 800 pictures.  Yikes!  We've taken basically the same trip the last 3 years.  But it's such an honor to get to see the kids' expressions while we do things and as they get older their experiences are different each year -- even if they seem mostly the same to Chris and I. 

So trying to narrow that 800 pictures down into just a few is difficult.  We went horseback riding, rode a tram up on the top of Monarch Pass, Went on long (for the kids at least) hikes, fed "wild" chipmunks at an old ghost town, camped out near Cottonwood Pass, watched the rafts and kayaks in the river, and just enjoyed the beauty that is Colorado. Chris woke up early every morning to stare at Mt. Princeton, drinking coffee, and dreaming of the day (next summer) when he can hike to it's peak.  He's spent his entire life coming to the same cabin, visiting the same places and still hasn't worn tired of them.  Though Chris and I spent a semester in England backpacking to just about every country in Europe, Buena Vista, Colorado is still his favorite place to be.  It's fun to see him enjoy it as much as the kiddos!

So, here's an attempt to share some of our trip with you in no particular order. 

Camping out.  Sam needed to eat marshmallows to stay out of trouble.  Luckily Papa didn't mind.
Anna was great at feeding the chipmunks.  She had the patience to sit and wait for them to come to her.

I love strangers willing to take our picture!
My 3 hikers.  Isabella preferred to ride in the backpack!
Sophia is my rock-climber.  She wanted to be on top of any rock she could find.

Getting ready to ride.  This was Anna's first solo ride and she was sooooo serious about it -- following the directions and concentrating so hard! 

I promise to only do one more post about Colorado.  But there are a few more pictures I want to post.  Then I will be done boring you! 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Remote Picnic

We just got back from our annual trip to Colorado.  Chris' family has a cabin there, so free lodging is awesome!  There's so much to say, so I'll start by describing our favorite meal - a picnic.  With four kids, we have to travel as cheaply as possible.  So every lunch we have is usually a picnic. 

On this particular day we were down the road from Monarch Pass and we stopped near a campground looking for a place to have a picnic.  We weren't going to the campground itself because technically you're supposed to pay $5 to stay there for the day.  Chris found a place that had a nice pond with a little trail.  In the far off distance he thought he saw a picnic table that was pretty secluded in the trees.  He thought it would be fun to hike to the picnic table.  As we followed the trail we had to cross a log over where the pond ran off into a stream.  No problem.  Chris just had to carry each child across on his back.  Quite a site!  Luckily, he didn't have to carry me, and much to my surprise, I didn't even fall in. 

When we finally got up to our secluded picnic table we got a nice surprise. 

We had just hiked all the way to backside of campsite # 22  Terrific!  Our fun nature adventure really led us right back to the campground we were trying to avoid.  We ate our quick lunch and hiked back to the car.  The view alone was worth it!