Friday, April 29, 2011


Easter was a little crazier this year.  But I'm finding that EVERYTHING is a little crazier with five kids.

But we still managed to keep up with the traditions.

Portraits, for me.
An egg hunt, for the kids.

The whole hunting experience wasn't quite the resounding success that last year's was.  We had lots of fallen olives to slosh through.  The grass wasn't greener.  The sun was shinier.  And there were mosquitos. 

Baby B didn't seem to mind any of it.  She loves being outdoors.

And K was a trooper, as usual.  She perked right up as soon as the one last candy-filled egg she was entitled to was located.  Turns out that just dropping eggs in a patch of tall grass was the trickiest place of all.

But in the end, the sounds of munching on jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and peeps drowned out any and all complaints.  And our Saturday adventures still left Easter Sunday for family, religion and just a little more sugar in the form of our traditional Easter sundaes.


Freshly boiled egg meets crayon.

It's always a good Easter season when I discover a new way to decorate eggs.  I think this might be my favorite method to date.  The only tricky part is making sure little ones wear some gloves so the hot eggs don't burn their fingers.

There are no cups of dye that get spilled all over.  And the eggs don't bleed, even when they get taken out and put back in the fridge every hour.  What's the fun of Easter eggs when the kids can't even touch them because they'll make such a royal mess?  Wax is wonderful.

Oh, and did I mention that they turn out completely gorgeous?

But, of course, we still colored some eggs the regular way. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Almost 9 months now, Baby B is growing on us.  Even more.  She's much more fun these days, letting her quirky little personality show.  Shaking her head at us.  Using her hands to say, "Gimme!  Gimme!"  Making us do her bidding with her radiant little smile.  With the gap between her two front teeth.

And she claps.  A lot.  It never fails to make us smile and cheer and clap along with her.  Which probably explains why she does it so much.

She still won't take a pacifier.  And she has also refused to suck on any fingers, although she likes her toes on occasion.  But mostly, she prefers her tongue.  She likes to stick it out.  And roll it.  And curl it.  And grab it with her little pincer grip.

She's a monkey.  It's a challenge to keep her seated in the bath.  And we have to engage in a wrestling match to get her clothes on.  There are just way too many interesting things in life to lay quietly and be groomed, apparently.

She loves to crawl around the house, searching for contraband material.  She pulls herself up and cruises along the coffee table in search of MORE contraband material.  And she eats lots and lots of cheerios.  Maybe that's what makes her so very cheery.  Which I don't really understand, because they sorta taste like cardboard.

Or maybe this stage is just the reward for surviving and enduring the 9 months of pregnancy and then the first 9 months of infancy.  The hardest stuff is behind us.  Hopefully.

This stage it just plain fun.  There are even moments now, when I succomb to the "last baby syndrome."  When I think to myself, "Hey, wait!  Slow down just a little.  I like you like this."

And then she usually barfs on me.  Or has a poop explosion.  Or she keeps me up all night because she's cutting a tooth.  And then I think, "No, it's ok.  Change is good."  And I am content to let time carry us forward.

As long as I take LOTS of pictures.

Thanks to Auntie R for the headband.  It wouldn't have occurred to me to buy one with a flower as big as her face.  But it's adorable. 

But then again, so is the baby.  Even if I do say so myself.

Growing Pains

This was my girl one month ago.  She didn't seem overly concerned about her appearance.  She had no qualms about dressing up in a homemade Nephite (think Native American, but a thousand years ago) costume and performing in a musical.  She didn't even seem to mind the gap that was forming between her two front teeth.  Maybe it helped to know that it was only a temporary thing caused by her expander.  But overall, she seemed fairly content with the way she looked.

Here she is a little more recently.  At a swim meet.  With clipped eyebrows.  Yes, clipped eyebrows.  Not shaved.  Not waxed.  Not plucked.  Clipped.  As in nail clippers. 

She spent a suspiciously long time in the bathroom one morning before church.  Apparently she was busy using the nail clippers to clip off the outer half of her eyebrows.  We're still slightly puzzled as to why.  Mumble mumble . . . trying an experiment . . . mumble, mumble . .  saw a girl . .  . mumble . . . wanted to try it . . . mumble.

Maybe I'm way out of touch with the current eyebrow fashions, maybe girls ARE removing half of their eyebrows.  But maybe she was just trying to emulate a certain look and somehow botched the attmept.  She was using NAIL clippers, after all.  Seems a little funny, but whatever.  It's not the worst.

The most amusing part for me came when Shaggy asked her if she had shaved, or done something to her eyebrows.  With a very innocent expression, if somewhat embarassed, she replied, "No, that's just the way they are."

I raised my intact eyebrows at her and made a mental note to have a future conversation with her about deception.  Funny thing about deception, it just doesn't work so well when the truth is staring you in the face.  So she's a bad liar.  I am totally ok with that.

Several days later, I noticed that she suddenly had some long bangs hanging in front of one side of her face.  Again the funny part when she tried to tell me that she hadn't cut them.  Really?  I know I'm overwhelmed by all my current responsibilities, but I'm not THAT out of touch.

So we fixed them.  And had that talk.

I don't know if she'll pursue self-experimentation in the future.  Probably she will.  But here's to hoping that she talks to us about it BEFORE she jumps in.  At the very least, we can make sure she has the proper tools for the job. 

Nail clippers, indeed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mud Pancakes

If there was ever a week for me to have a pity party, it would have been last week.

I'm still reeling from all the things that hit us in that 7 day period.  The list is so long, actually, that it's comical.  In a not so funny kind of way.

It all started when Shaggy abandoned us.  He left us behind and flew off to the Windy City for a grand adventure.  A nice visit with his folks, some wonderful Chicago cuisine, and a weekend spent with old friends at a gaming convention where he got to spend hours playing with little toy soldiers.  Poor guy.

The challenge of holding down the fort was left to me.

The first day he was gone, half of us got sick.  Baby B came down with a cold . . . again.  Which ruined her sleeping-through-the-night routine.  Which made my feverish, achy, congested self feel twice as bad.  And K got strep . . . with hives.  Weird, right?  Who gets hives with strep?

But besides feeling terrible and totally fatigued, I was somehow managing to hold things together.  Barely.  Probably because I let a whole lot of things slide.

Some days, pants were optional and the little ones ran joyfully around in their undies.  Other days, shirts were optional.  Which also translated into less laundry.  Win/win.

For dinner one night, the kids had cold, leftover pancakes.  With leftover salad.  Which managed to appease my guilt just a little bit.

I called freely on Miss Television to help manage the children.  (She's really good at that.)  I left the toys scattered all over the floor.  But made the older girls work twice as hard cleaning up the kitchen.  (I guess some of my mean mom spirit was still alive and well.)  I complained freely to my husband, giving him a daily rundown of our tribulations.  Bedtimes got earlier and earlier.  And my chocolate stash disappeared unbelievably fast.

One night, I was putting the baby to sleep.  I emerged from her room to find poop all over the bathroom and shattered glass all over the kitchen.  And I had to wonder if I hadn't been suddenly transported into Lord of the Flies.  I squinted in an attempt to get my bleary eyes to see clearly and thought I saw a band of naked, painted children running at me with spears.

But, no.  It was only my very sticky, half-naked, broom-wielding children fighting over who had actually caused the bowl to shatter.

Just before my hubby came home, most of us got hit with a totally gross case of food poisoning.  Which kept us up most of the night.  Of course.

And that got me to thinking about my life in general.  It used to be calm.  And structured.  And not so very overwhelming.  I used to be able to remember things.  And keep track of people and events outside the walls of my own home.

The last year, in particular, has probably been the hardest year of my life.  Thus far.  I am under no delusions that my challenges will suddenly cease in the future just because I think I have had my fill.

But I'm tired of focusing so much on them.  I'm tired of waiting for things to get easier.  Maybe they never will.  It's like I can't see the fields of flowers that surround me because I'm staring at the mud puddle I'm standing in.

Granted, a huge part of the reason I've been staring at the mud is due to chronic sleep deprivation.  It is just so much EASIER to look down when you're so very tired.

But I'm tired of the view.  I choose to be more than my circumstances might allow.  I choose to roll with whatever life might throw my way.  I choose to let my Maker shape me however He sees fit.

I choose to kick off my muddy shoes and wander among the flowers, catching the joyful moments as they blossom.  I choose to gather them in my arms and carry them with me to feed my soul with their beauty.  To sustain me during all my future forays into the mud.

And, I'm going to learn how to make mud pancakes with my kids.  Which I may, or may not, serve them for dinner.