Friday, November 30, 2007

Dress Up Night

While we were at Grandma's house, she brought out a box of stuff she had brought back from Aunt Claire's. A big box of things that used to be Nana's--clothes, shoes, hats, purses, and jewelry.

I don't think I need to tell you how much fun the kids had trying these things on!

Nathan commented again on how thrilled he was to have been born a boy, rather than a girl. "High heels hurt! Why would you ever wear these things?!"

Anna of course loved the shoes best of all. In a few years, when Grace, Anna, and their cousin Emily are all at Grandma's, they are going to have such a ball dressing up! The jewelry alone is every girl's dream!

Home Again!

The kids and I made it back safely Wednesday night. We had a bit of excitement in that shortly after we pulled out of Amy's driveway, I noticed a new orange warning light on the dashboard. This did not give me a good feeling. I pulled over and discovered it was the "low tire pressure" warning light. I called Bob, who told me to check all the tire pressures. They were all between 30 and 32 ppi, so Bob told me it was probably just that we needed to put a little more air in the tires, and since the van had been outside in the cold the night before, the tires were a little low. So I drove cautiously on, with an anxious eye on the light. When we reached Columbus, the light did go out, so Bob was right, but it made me nervous!

The girls did better on the return trip, and we were able to finish our book on CD. We got back home at 7:00, where Bob had pizza waiting for us. It was good to be home and sleeping in our own beds again!

Today Anna had her 18 month well-baby appointment. She is 22 pounds, 12 ounces, and 31 1/2 inches long. In case you are interested, that is a fairly average height, but she is between the 10th and 25th percentile in weight. Huh. And she is our chunky one! She got shots today too. For some reason the shot clinic was extremely slow, and we had to wait 45 minutes. This was a bit of a trial. Everyone was pretty well-behaved, but Grace was so ready for a nap, and Caleb and Jonathan were getting antsy by the time we finally were called back. People in the waiting area kept telling me how well-behaved they all were, but I was just waiting for some little thing to set everyone off into big temper tantrums, LOL. Fortunately that never came, whew!

Now we are trying to clean up the main floor so we can start putting Christmas decorations out. Wow--can it really be that time already?! At least I got all the suitcases unpacked yesterday.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in Ohio

We made it here safely on Monday! Anna had a snack and a nap in the morning, then we stopped for lunch, and she was great. But then we got back in the car again, and well, let's just say she thought we should have been done by then, LOL. She did take another nap, but she was not a great afternoon traveler. The last hour (it took us almost exactly 9 hours) she and Grace tag-teamed crying and wailing. (Caleb: "WHEN will the crying STOP?!") Moving Anna to the very back row was definitely a great move for me, LOL--it's not quite as loud up in the front. We only were able to listen to one CD from our current book on tape, A Wind in the Door, but we did listen to lots of Christmas music. Amazingly, Veggietales Christmas CDs did not soothe the savage beasts, however.

Tuesday Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim arrived here, and we have been having such a wonderful time visiting with them. The boys have enjoyed playing lots of games with them, and also doing Sudoku with Uncle Jim. Anna and Grace have appreciated having extra hands to hold them!

We cooked most of the day Wednesday to prepare for our big feast on Thursday. We had 21 people here, and we had 4 countries represented--USA, Korea, Turkey, and China. This meant we had some delicious international food to go along with the turkey, potaotes, and green beans, etc. It was all yummy, and we have enjoyed eating leftovers and not having to cook again since then!

Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim head back to Utah tomorrow, and we will spend Tuesday with Amy before heading back to Virginia Wednesday. Bob is ready for us to be back, and it will be nice to get back into our regular routine. But this has been a wonderfully relaxing visit with much-loved family!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!

We have already started celebrating Thanksgiving here at our house. Since the kids and I are heading to Ohio tomorrow to visit with my parents and my Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, who are flying in all the way from Utah, we had our big meal together with Bob Friday night. It was good, but the problem with having "Thanksgiving" on a day other than the 4th Thursday of November is that there are other things going on, so you can't just focus on the preparation of food. As a result, I would have to say that it was not by any means my finest work in the kitchen, LOL. I overcooked the sweet potatoes because I turned off the oven and then sort of forgot all about them. They were still good, but the biggest problem I had was the mashed potatoes. I cooked them, drained them, and then set them down on the counter to cool for a minute or 2 before mashing them. Well, an hour or so later I remembered them. Let's just say that I have never really experienced true "gluey" potatoes before Friday, and I will not be forgetting the potatoes again any time soon, LOL. With plenty of gravy they were tolerable, although Luke did not finish his.

One thing we had going on Friday besides cooking was Grace's 6 month well-baby appointment. News flash: She is very light. Yes, she weighs all of 13 pounds, 1 ounce, which the doctor was not very pleased with. It didn't help that I totally forgot about making a 4 month well-baby appointment, so all he could see was that since July, she has only gained 1 pound, LOL. Actually, since in the past month she has gotten 2 teeth and started crawling, I would say she lost a little, but the fact is, she is never going to be big. Luke was also very light. At his 6 month appt. he was 14 pounds, but I started him on solid food at 4 1/2 months because he was not a good nurser, and I thought this would help him gain lots of weight. Well, he is almost 9 years old, he is a good eater, and he weighs 52 pounds, which is still below the 5th percentile in weight! I can definitely see Grace following this track, since she looks so much like him. As you can see by the picture, she obviously looks healthy, and she is very active. Her new thing is pulling herself to standing. I'm not concerned about her, which is the nice thing about having 6 kids, LOL. Actually, all our kids are between the 5th and 10th percentile in weight except Nathan, who has plumped up to near the 50th. So I think we can assume that none of our kids are going to be huge! I do think it is somewhat ironic in this age of childhood obesity that when a family is full of skinny but healthy kids, well, that's suspicious too! I guess I could call them all inside in the afternoons so they can play video games in front of the TV while eating doughnuts and chips . . . except we don't actually have any video games and I never buy doughnuts. Hmmm. I guess they'll just have to stay skinny! In the meantime we're really going to ramp up Grace's solid food--turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes it is on Thursday, with pumpkin pie for dessert! LOL!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Week in Review

so, what have we been doing this past week? What has been so important that I neglected to post for an entire week? Let's see . . .

Friday: We did some school, but the main part of our day was going to the commissary. When we went the last time, about 6 weeks ago, I realized that they had totally reorganized all the rows. I hate that!! I make up my lists in order to minimize the risks of me forgetting something, and it was of no use! So this time I took my mom's advice and looked up the Ft. Myer commisssary online, where I found a list of the aisle and what is in all of them. This helped me tremendously as I made out my list, and overall it was a good trip. Although it is tiring to bring everyone, it is also very encouraging, as all sorts of people, especially older retirees, love to stop and chat and say nice things about our caravan of 2 carts and a stroller, as well as 4 boys orbiting and me with a front pack.

Saturday: Bob spent the day up on the 40 foot ladder, finishing replaing the rotten trim, as well as cleaning out the gutters. After he was done, we all rushed around to get ready to go to the church where there was going to be a dinner for people who worked in the children's ministry. When we got there, there were only 2 cars in the parking lot, which was a source of some confusion. Inside were the kids of the pastor and one elder, along with a teenager who was babysitting. They were heating up food, which was very confusing for me, as I was sure that this dinner included food for the kids. Then we realized the adults had gone to someone else's house for the dinner . . . I was very agitated, wondering how I could have gotten so many details about this event wrong. I am totally mortified to say that it took me until we got home and I reread an email of church announcements to realize that (duh) we had the wrong date. So! Moving on . . .

Monday: This was Veterans' Day, so we didn't do formal school, since it was a holiday. But it didn't totally seem like a holiday, since Bob spent the day at work doing his assignments for this class he's taking. He says he just doesn't concentrate well at home, if you can imagine, LOL. Nathan spent the morning leading a cooking demonstration class and making ginger snaps with the other boys. Bob's sister Ann had given the boys these really cute aprons in the summer, and they look so cute when they all wear them to cook. I took a picture and meant to post it, but somehow, it just didn't happen. Since it didn't fell like a holiday, after dinner, the boys and I went to the library with our huge pile of over due books (no fines here in Loudoun County, yay!). When we drove up and saw that the place was dark and deserted, we realized that in fact, it WAS a holiday. Oops!

Tuesday: This is our co-op day, and it was the last day of the pioneers unit. The moms brought in a group called Tin Cup Adventures for the day, and the kids had an absolute ball. They watched an introductory video first, and then they got to explore 6 hands-on stations. There was a gold rush station, where they could pan in big tubs for fool's gold. They could visit the "Ma and Pa" station, where they could "shave" using a shaving brush to get the lather on, and a flat thing to scrape it off. They could also send shirts through a wringer to do laundry. There was also a kitchen station, where they ground corn and coffee, pumped water, and kneaded, rolled out, and played around with dough. I was at a clothing station, with samples of pioneer clothes. The kids carded wool at my station, and after we pulled it into a string, I helped them tie it around their wrists for a bracelet. The kids really enjoyed a toy station, with toys like pioneer kids would have played with. I think Caleb spent most of his time at this station! There was also a Native American station, with lots of things to touch and a tee-pee to go inside, and a hand-craft station, where the kids made beaded necklaces. It was really well-done, and it was so much fun. After that was all done, we had a pioneer meal, with dishes like beef stew, beans, applesauce, cornbread, beef jerky, and ginger snaps. Hmmm, which one did we contribute?!

Wednesday: After doing school, we did a bunch of errands. The weather was really warm yesterday, in the mid 60s. Today it is cooler and rainy, so I am so glad we got it all done yesterday! In the evening I was able to go to the monthly homeschool support group meeting. A lady with 10 kids was the speaker, and she was speaking on the topic of basically having siblings get along with each other. She made some really good points, such as emphasize serving together to improve sibling relationships. Then they can develop and use their spiritual gifts, and it gives a place for another sibling to challenge them outside of a conflict at home with each other. Also, she said that a child's spiritual gift can be their greatest weakness as well, if they are not using the gift properly (such as leadership improperly used is arrogance or lording over others). And of course, selfishness is the root of most problems--I don't think that is news to anyone! It was a good, encouraging evening for me.

Today: A completely regular day of school, with no errands or anything! Yay! I am finding that the more kids I have, the more I would just rather stay at home. We have a lot of fun together, and I'd rather not get everyone all packed up, work out the nursing, etc. Tonight Nathan has evaluations for Upwards basketball. He is the only one playing again this year, which is fine with me. Next year he and Luke will be in the same age group, and I think Luke will play then.

Tomorrow: Grace has her 6-month well-baby appointment. I didn't call early enough, so it is more of a "6 1/2 month well-baby appointment" but oh well. She fell down some stairs last Sunday, and so she still has a bump on her head from that. I was hoping it would go away by tomorrow, but it is still there, so we'll see what the doc says about that. Also, she is just very small. I think she is about 13 pounds. My others have all been small (well, Anna was over 15 pounds), but I think they were all at least 14 pounds. She eats well, but I think she has Luke's high metabolism, which is not a bad thing overall. Hopefully the doctor will not say anything negative about that. We'll see. She is obviously active and healthy, and she doesn't even look too skinny--but when you pick her up, she is as light as a feather!

On the horizon, looming ever closer: Sunday our church small group meets over here for our monthly meeting. This means the house, including the basement really needs to be cleaner than it currently is. Monday, the kids and I leave for a week in Ohio. My Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim are coming from Utah for Thanksgiving, and we are so excited to see them!! Bob will stay here and finish up all the homework, papers, etc. from this class. Much of the work is due Dec. 2, which is right around the corner! In the meantime, I am trying to get organized and set things aside (without making the house messy) for packing. So far, I am not being that successful. Mainly I am wandering around, wringing my hands and making lists, LOL.

So there you have it--all the reasons why I haven't been blogging. But maybe I'll be more consistent now. Yesterday afternoon, the boys and I assembled a new desk chair! It is so much nicer than the old (and I mean really old, antique) chair we have used for the past very many years. Its cushions have long been smooshed into nothingness, and it is just plain uncomfortable now. But this new chair is soft and pooshy, and it has wheels and goes up and down! It is so nice to sit in comfort at the computer! I was literally standing or kneeling on my knees at the computer for the past week or so because the old chair has gotten so intolerable.

Off to make dinner!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Virginia is For Girls

It turns out there is something in the water. You know that we never had girls until we moved here, when we had 2 girls in quick succession. Now my friend Johanna has found out that she is expecting her first girl after having 3 boys. She and her family moved up here last summer. Hmmmmm.

With that in mind, I would just like to say that for anyone wishing for a girl (Jenna? Amy?), we are offering a very good deal on our basement "second honeymoon guest suite". We serve lots of water. LOL!!!

Shoe Crime and Punishment

I bought a new pair of shoes last week. While we were at White Sulphur Springs, my faithful pair of New Balance running shoes that I wear all the time (and bought about 3 years ago) sprung a hole in the side. I was a little embarrassed at how ratty that looked, so last Monday I went back to Kohls to find a replacement pair. I went in the evening without kids, but I always feel like I am "on the clock", especially with Grace, so I was in and out of there in a flash. I saw a likely candidate, found it in my size, verified that it did indeed fit and that my feet have not expanded anymore from these last 2 pregnancies, paid, and went home. I thought the shoes felt a little stiff in the store, but to be honest, I didn't pay much attention.

Over the course of the next few days, I discovered that the shoes really were stiff. And uncomfortable. And hard. And I hated putting them on. The difference, which I did note briefly in the store, was that they were cross-trainers, as opposed to running shoes. Who knew cross-trainers were so darn uncomfortable?! I began to dread having to put them. I had conversations with myself about how the next time I bought shoes (in another 2-3 years, presumably), I would be VERY careful in the store. I would learn my lesson, that's for sure. And in the meantime, I would just have to grin and bear it. For just another 2-3 years.

But wait! Finally it dawned on me that we live in AMERICA! Buying the wrong pair of shoes is not a life sentence around here! I looked at the bottom of the shoes, which I had worn around for a week, and praise the Lord, I had avoided all dog poop, gum, etc. I wiped them down with a paper towel (I have potential rejection issues when returning items so I am very careful, LOL), put them back in their box, and took them back to Kohls. The lady was surprised that they were not comfortable. "But I have New Balance shoes as well, and I like them a lot--they are very comfortable!" she said. "Yes, me too. These are not the same. Don't buy cross-trainers!" I answered. And then we all trooped over to the shoes departmen and found a pair of running shoes in my size (and in good old Dayton Christian colors as well, purple and white, LOL). I walked around the department just long enough to make Anna and Grace very crabby, and then we bought them and went home. My feet are happy once again. I'm sure these next 2-3 years will just fly by, now that I am not counting down the days until I can justify buying more comfortable shoes!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Caleb!!

Today Caleb is 6 years old! We brought a cake to Bible study Friday to celebrate. Although this cake may resemble the lego clone trooper cake I made for Nathan in June, it is actually quite different, for this is a PILOT clone trooper, of course. I'm sure you noted that. Caleb was so funny while I decorated the cake Friday afternoon. He is such a little encourager, and he kept saying, "Thank you for making my cake, Mommy, so that I didn't have to", as if when I am tired of making cakes, the kids are on their own, LOL!

Today is his actual birthday, so he got to pick lunch (hot dogs, corn, baked beans, and pears), as well as dinner. For dinner he chose tuna pockets, pierogies, and a crunchy tossed salad with chow mein noodles. I thought that was kind of a funny meal, since tuna pockets are something I usually make when it's 4:30, I'm tired, and I realize we have to eat in 45 minutes, LOL. Nothing fancy or special there! I must say I was glad he didn't pick an elaborate meal, so I should just count my blessings. Still, I hope he doesn't come home from college wishing for my tuna pockets over all my other meals!

This has been a big year for Caleb. He started riding his bike without training wheels, he became a big brother once again, he learned to read (he's doing really well now, yay!), he lost his first tooth. He's definitely not a little boy anymore! He has really taken an interest in cooking, so Nathan has been giving him "lessons" whenever he makes something. Caleb loves to carry Grace around when she gets fussy, so he is a huge help there. He is also her designated "car steward", and he has responsibility for putting in her pacifier, giving her toys, and otherwise keeping her occupied in the car. He really is doing a great job at this!

When I was expecting Caleb and we went in for the 20 week ultrasound, I was a bit disappointed that it appeared to be another boy. I mean, I already had 2 of them--why did we need another one?! Also, we knew several families with 2 boys and then 2 girls, so somehow I had just assumed that we would follow that path as well. I am so glad we had Caleb instead of a girl! He's such a special part of our family, and I can't imagine not having his dimpled smile to look at each day!

(For the record, let me state that was the only time I was disappointed at an ultrasound, and it didn't last long. When I got pregnant with Jonathan, I wanted it to be another boy, since they would be pretty close in age. Plus, I just figured God wanted me to be a mom to boys, and I was fine with that! Of course, once I was all settled and content with having all boys, I started having girls . . . LOL!)

Saturday, November 03, 2007


People are always asking me if I have noticed a difference between boys and girls. Now that Anna is 18 months old, I can say that yes, I have noticed some differences.

1. Attention to details. So this morning as I was feeding Grace, Anna was piddling around in the kitchen. Everyone else was at soccer, so it was pretty quiet. Finally I got up and noticed that she was under the table. She had gotten into the left-over birthday cake (we took a cake for Caleb's birthday to Bible study last night) that was on the counter, found a bowl, put a piece of cake into the bowl, and hunkered under the table to eat it. The boys would never have bothered with a bowl. Also, Anna always picks the pink princess bowl if given the opportunity.

2. Drama queen. When Anna has a temper tantrum, she is such a drama queen. She wails loud, noisy tears, and then, as if an invisible hand is pulling her, she heads off into the bathroom to sulk and cry in lonely solitude. Ahh, the pathos.

3. Shoes. Anna has always been deeply attracted to shoes. When we were in Colorado last February for Nana's funeral, we stopped by the play area at the Chapel Hills Mall. Anna was crawling around, and I was trying to keep an eye on the 4 boys, when I noticed that Anna was deeply fascinated by another lady's suede boots. So she crawled closer and started LICKING them. Bleh!! Now she just puts on whatever shoes she can find. In fact, if you come over to visit us and take your shoes off, I can pretty much guarantee that she will end up trying them on. She has taken a particular fancy to a strappy pair of black sandals that I bought to go with a formal I had to wear a few times for balls and dining outs when we were stationed at the Air Force Academy. I now see those crazy sandals all over the house because Anna has worn them around. I'm not sure where she gets this love of shoes, since I am no Imelda Marcos or anything remotely close. I pretty much wear about 3 pairs of shoes regularly.

There you have it so far. I'm sure more points will be forthcoming.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Chuck E. Cheese

As is our tradition, we spent Halloween evening at Chuck E. Cheese with the other 3 families in our Bible study. We started doing this back in Colorado with the L's, and the boys totally look forward to this night each year. I mean it is a real highlight of the year, LOL.

This year we had a really nice time. Last year the place was so crowded, and there were a lot more people wearing costumes, especially ones that were more on the gory side. This year was back to how it normally has been--some kids in costumes, but of the cute variety, and not that crowded.

There were a lot of Muslim women there with all their kids, probably looking for a place to get away from it all like us. Fortunately Anna exhibited none of her hysteria at women who cover, so there were no diplomatic incidences, LOL. Now the giant Chuck E. Cheese who walks around greeting people was a whole different matter. Anna was abjectly terrified of him as soon as she could tell he was walking over to our table. She leaped out of the high chair and into Bob's arms. Before that time, she had been tolerant of the mechanized Chuck E. there on the stage who "sings", but after the real one came walking around, she kept a wary eye on the one on-stage, and if he moved his paw too suddenly, she burst into loud noisy tears.

Anna was also not a fan of the rides that bounce around (such as the car we are all standing on and around). We finally did find a ride she enjoyed however--the little merry-go-round--and that is where she spent all the tokens allotted to her.

Grace was marvelously cooperative, riding around in the frontpack that Bob carried. She napped a little and otherwise just looked around in interest. I didn't have to nurse the whole time we were there!

The boys played all the games they could, maximizing token use for maximum ticket gain. But we didn't trade the tickets in for any of the lovely junk offered. I guess we're saving up for something big, LOL. They really had fun though. I am looking forward to the day when all the kids will be old enough to run around playing games by themselves so that I can just sit at the table and visit. Just another 4 years or so, at minimum!