Monday, June 29, 2009

In our neigborhood

We looked out our window today and what did we see?

Yes, that is smoke billowing out of the wooded area behind our subdivision! Not just smoke, but huge flames! Apparently, a warehouse caught fire somehow and it spread quickly! I am thankful it did not spread to the trees nearby and then to the homes in our area. The kids were fascinated by it. The boys all hopped on their bikes to get a closer look and everyone thought it was so cool that several news helicopters were hovered over our house! The firemen were there all day putting out the fire and they still had the street closed off as of 9:00 at nite.
Well, in the midst of the whole fire incident, Rachel and Mary decided they wanted to make a cake. Sarah was at her friend's house for the afternoon playing, so they wanted something fun to do too! They measured and mixed up everything by themselves (truly! I was just supervising). They baked it, frosted it, and we had a great dessert for after dinner tonite! It really was good!
Here is a picture of them with their creation (notice the chocolate on Mary's mouth)....

It was such a fun time in the kitchen-they are looking forward to more yummy creations (though maybe minus the whole fire incident)!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boys and their toys....

No, I am not opening up my own little fireworks shop-this is the stash-or part of it, since I couldn't get it all in-that my boys (Dad included) have started collecting for the much anticipated 4th of July fireworks show at the Yondas! If you're wondering where part of that lawnmowing money my boys earned has gone, well here it is! Every year they try hard to outdo the last year's show. It's funny, because my woman brain says, "What a waste of money!" I can think of about a hundred different things I would rather spend that money on. But to them it is worth every penny! Blowing things up..I guess for males, it doesn't get much better than that. I have to admit, they do put on a pretty good show and we do end up with a fair amount of our neighbors sitting out on their lawns watching it, too. So lots of people do get to enjoy it! They first started this tradition when we moved to Oklahoma 8 years ago. Just the mention of fireworks being legal made hubby giddy with excitement! You see, he grew up being able to shoot off fireworks every summer while he was in New York. However, in Arizona, where we lived until we moved, they were not legal anywhere. Of course, I was scared to death at first, thinking he'd set the whole house on fire. I've melllowed out, though, which is what you do when you have boys, right? Dad is very safe when lighting them and is very cautious with the boys. The little ones have no part of it-they are only allowed to watch. I never understood why parents give their little kids those burning hot sparklers-that is just an accident waiting to happen! For my kids, the countdown has begun..only one more week until the big day. I am sure they will visit at least a couple more fireworks stands from now until then, to make sure they've got plenty of stuff to light off. So if you're ever in Texas in our area around July 4th, stop in and enjoy a great fireworks show-but in a few years, we may have to start charging admission!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Look how big I am!

Can you believe Luke is already 7 months old? Wow, he's grown fast! So what fun things is he doing now? Well, here's a few things:
  • Sitting up well, without tipping over and falling on his face!
  • Attempting to crawl, though not that coordinated yet
  • Playing with lots of toys, especially ones that are noisy or he can bang together
  • Waving to people
  • Babbling up a storm!
  • Rolling all over the place as his means of getting places (even accidentally off the bed once)
  • Laughing and smiling all the time! He even is quite ticklish.
  • He has one tooth-front and center on the bottom!
  • Eating all kinds of food, even things that aren't food (like Mommy's shopping list!)

Here is a picture of him after discovering a new love-birthday cake (yes-it was my birthday yesterday). I don't normally feed my babies birthday cake, but he sort of swiped it from his sister's plate while she was standing near him. Before we knew what happened, he had shoved it all in his mouth and looked like this!

I've got to say, he may be messy, but he's darn cute! Almost looks like he'd been fingerpainting or something. Yes, I know he is in need of a haircut, but I just can't bring myself to cut off those sweet baby locks. I guess it's just hard to accept that he soon will be a toddler! I know it will have to be done soon, since I can't tell you how many times people have told me what a cute girl he is. Maybe by the next month's blog post, you'll see a new buzz cut!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Busy morning

Did you ever start off your morning with the best intentions, thinking your day was going to go pretty smoothly, but certain events made it take a much different turn? Well, that was my morning today! We started off with a trip to the doctor this morning at 9:45, with my six littlest ones in tow. Poor Rachel complained of an earache, which she said she'd had for a week, but hadn't mentioned to me until yesterday. I figured we'd be in and out fairly quick with a prescription and be on our way. I'm not quite sure if the doctor was just very busy today or what, but after a 45 minute wait, they took us back to the exam room. Picture an 8X8 exam room, stuffed with a momma and 6 little kids (plus a stroller!) Usually we only wait about 5 minutes in there, but today that wait was more like 35 minutes. The sweet staff made some exam glove balloons and drew faces on them to help entertain the kids-aren't they sweet? Here's Rachel, the patient....

She did very well and the doctor told us that yes, she does have an ear infection, and wrote us a prescription for antibiotics. Oh-here's John and Eden with their balloons, having lots of fun!

So off we go, prescription in hand to fill it. By now it is about 11:30. We were right near the grocery store, and since they had a pharmacy and were also having a good sale on meat this week, why not go there? I mean, when you've got six energetic, rambunctious little ones, isn't the first place you want to go the grocery store? :-) Yes, I admit it, sometimes I don't think things through quite as well as I should. Since there was hardly anyone in the store, I'm thinking they'll have that thing filled in 15 minutes. Nope, the pharmacist tells me, 45 minutes. we'll do lots of browsing around the store. We gathered up all the groceries, fed one very hungry baby Luke, and even did a potty break with everyone. While in line, the kids were putting up all the groceries and little Eden, my 2 yo, decided to make a break for it-where she was going, I don't know, but she went pretty fast down that cereal aisle! I'm sure I looked hilarious, telling my 8 yo to watch the baby in the cart while I went flying down the aisle after her. Lesson learned-always buckle the seatbelts in those little carts with the kiddie cars on them-they are way too easy to escape from! Finally, by 12:45, we were done, buckled in the car, and ready to go home and eat and have naps! Whew! I think I need one too!

With the exception of today, I have been able to make some progress on my organizing/cleaning out. I got a large part of our school shelves organized, though we still have many books to add. Aren't they looking pretty good? I have a label maker that I just love, so I've been labeling everything! It's nice to be more organized and know where everything goes.

I also discovered a new love for those over-the-door shoe holders. I have one on the back of several of the doors in our house-they're great for holding anything! Here's one on the back of the laundry room door off our kitchen, to hold our school supplies. It's so handy!

I love progress! Hopefully there will be more to come!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

It's been 8 months since my Dad's been gone..and in a lot of ways, I feel like it is getting harder. Nothing can prepare you for losing someone so special in your life. It truly leaves a deep hole in your heart. I just miss him terribly and wish I could have just one more hour to spend with talk and just let him know how special and important he was to me. I could fill 2 blog pages full of all the ways he was special to me and the things I loved about him-and I don't think many of them he ever knew because I hadn't taken the time to tell him. Life is so unexpected and so short sometimes-if anything, losing him has taught me not to take that lightly, but to cherish the people I love more and enjoy each day I have with them. It has been a tough past 8 months for my whole family-and when my kids tell me how much they loved him and miss him, it makes it that much harder. This Father's Day, let your Dad know just how much you love him and how important he is to you-you won't regret it. Happy Father's Day, Dad.... I miss you so much.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

What's missing?

Do you notice something missing from this picture?

Did you guess it? Look very closely......
Give up?

Could it be this........

Yes! It's Hannah's hair that's missing from her head! So how did those pretty curls end up on the floor? I'll give you one starts with a J and ends with an N. If you guessed John, you're right! John, my very, very busy almost 5 year old, decided to take it upon himself to search out our haircutting scissors from our bathroom (which we keep in a very difficult to reach place) and proceed to play beauty shop on Hannah! When I asked him why he cut his sister's hair, he simply replied, "Because I wanted her to look byooful (beautiful) you, Mommy!" about tugging at my heartstrings! What a naughty thing to do, but what he said was so sweet! Anyway, we talked about never, never using the scissors to cut anyone's hair-the only people who are ever allowed to do that are the hairdresser or mommy. Hopefully this is his last stint as a stylist. It was such a shame because Hannah had just nearly grown out her bangs that her sister had cut completely off about 6 months ago..and now this! Apparently, she's a very good hair model. I'm guessing she doesn't put up a fight. In fact, she really did think she looked quite beautiful. Fortuntately, when you're 3, you can walk around with one side of your hair chopped off, looking slightly goofy and no one really cares. After all, it seems to happen to almost every child at one point or another. I just happen to have 10 children, so it seems to happen more often than I'd like! Well, hopefully by Christmastime, she'll have much more normal looking hair. I am just thankful it was not right before an important event or a family portrait. But even if it was, we'd all be able to laugh about it later!

Friday, June 19, 2009

For the love of candy.....

I was doing some organizing around my house the other day (yes...the story of my life), while my 3 little ones were watching Word World, their favorite show. Remember my previous post about cutting down on the TV watching time at our house? Well that doesn't apply when I have a child who's not feeling well! And this particular day, that was the case. Anyway, back to the story-I suddenly realized it was eerily quiet in the other room where they were at. Just a little too quiet, you know? Anyway, I wak around the corner and John, my 4 year old, has that "deer in the headlights" look. I asked him what he was doing, but he just stood there, holding one of his slippers. I walked over and looked inside and what did I see?
A whole treasure of little candies in his slipper! Apparently, he found one of his siblings' candy in our kitchen pantry and decided to help himself. I don't know which was worse-that he stole the candy-or that he put it in his slipper to eat..Ewwwww!! Isn't it funny how tempting candy is to a kid? I remember when I was a kid, walking down the candy aisle at the convenience store, just salivating over all the choices. If I'd had enough money to buy them all, I would have! Well, fast forward many years later, now I CAN afford to buy one of every candy in the candy aisle, but I just don't want to! The thought of eating all that sugar just makes my stomach turn. Funny how the tables turn, isn't it? I guess for many adults, though, the object of their desire just changes from candy to other things, like cars, houses, electronics, whatever. Whatever it is, for kids and adults, it's easy to fall into the trap of coveting or idolatry and start to sin to get what you want. Sometimes I think it would be easier if we all didn't have so much stuff, but it's a heart issue, not just a stuff issue! So even if all our things were taken away, we could still covet another's marriage, job, education, or make an idol of something seemingly good! Thank you Lord for using my little John as a good reminder of that! Isn't it amazing the lessons God teaches us through them?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Getting old?

Have you ever had times where you feel like you were back doing the something you remember doing when you were younger-say 15 or 20 years ago? Had one of those moments tonite playing "Sorry" with my kids! I loved this game growing up and played it a lot! It's almost kind of a mean game when you think about it, since your only goal is to knock the other person off the board! Yes, I did get slightly evil when I played it back then. I also get that nostalgic feeling when I play skeeball at an amusement place (I was a pro) or when I hear certain music (Do you wear your sunglasses at night?). Goodness, all I need is a Swatch watch and a bad perm and it could actually be me 20 years ago! Except that, oh yeah, I'm much older now..and I don't really like perms. My kids remind me often that I'm no longer really young. I have officially entered the "old" age. They start their questions with comments like, "Mommy, back in your time....." or "In the old days..." Okay, I can't really be THAT old, can I? When is the cutoff point? Well, I may be getting older on the outside-and I remember thinking, when I was 15, that 30 was soooo old-but I'm feeling plenty young on the inside! I am thankful that I am now wiser, more content, and much more grounded than I was 20 years ago! I look forward to the future and what the Lord may have in store for me! And in case you're wondering, yes, it is my birthday next week! And I'll officially year older than the last one! :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vacation Bible School

This week is Vacation Bible School at our church. The theme? The Ten Commandments. Michael, Sarah, Rachel, and Mary are all participating. We even have a few of the neighbor kids coming with us to join in the fun. Matthew and Christopher are working as helpers. Christopher is in the 10-12 year olds and Matthew is doing recreation (games). A perfect fit for him! I was very proud that they volunteered to help. We go to a fairly small church, but there were a lot of kids who signed up, and many who don't even attend church there, so that is great! They have memory verses they will be working on for the week to earn points, contests to participate in, and lots of different crafts to do! Yay for crafts! Unfortunately, they have a mommy who is quite un-crafty, so I am always delighted when they get to do something creative. I was told that Moses even made an appearance today holding those Ten Commandments (our pastor). My 2 oldest boys have said they really appreciate the snack table available for the staff. :-) Obviously, they sampled from it many times. I hope to have some pictures up this week of the fun stuff they've done. I did realize one thing different about all my big kids being gone all is so much harder running an errand with all the little ones and no other helping hands! I've almost forgotten what that is like! Hats off to all you mamas of infants and toddlers, with no bigger helpers-you have a big job!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another birthday!

Another one? Didn't we just have one, you're thinking? Yes, we did, and yes, there was another birthday today! With 10 kiddos, there's always bound to be a birthday celebration not too far around the corner. Figuring out how to handle birthday celebrations in a larger family isn't always easy. Some people group them together and have one celebration every 3 months or so-others only have parties every few years, and one large family we saw on TV has one large birthday celebration for everyone just once a year. It was an event, that's for sure! But a lot of fun. In our family, we celebrate each child's birthday individually. We feel like it's important for them to have their own special day-something they don't get a lot with so many siblings. We allow them a certain budget for the birthday and they can do what they'd like with it. Some have chosen to go out to dinner, some have a party at home, and others combine it with another who has their birthday close by so they can do something that costs more money. It's up to them.
Today was Rachel's 8th birthday. I can hardly believe she's 8! She had a fun party and invited several friends to join her. We started off with some games like pin the tail on the donkey....
Do you think he's peeking out of that blindfold? :-) We also played some musical chairs. Very simple, but fun-that's the theme at our parties!
On to the fun part....the pinata! No Yonda party is complete without lots and lots of sugar! This pinata was packed-and I mean every inch- with candy. They sure had a great time scooping it all up.
After the pinata, we were unsure whether everyone was sugared up enough, so we served the cake and ice cream. Here's the cake I decorated for her. Very girly, huh?
Last, it was on to opening the gifts. Everyone got her the sweetest things. This one is from Grandma. Aunt Michelle also got her some Hello Kitty things, too. I think Rachel did a lot of talking about it when they were out here to visit!
I think this was the cutest gift of all, though...what do you think?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keeping 'em busy

At my house, I have started making more of a conscious effort to cut down on the kiddie entertainment that seeks to invade my house! (I'm referring to TV and computer here). First, there is so much inappropriate material out there-the boundaries of what is acceptable has been stretched to the limit. I am amazed at the type of language they have in so called "kids' movies". Even if it is not a swear word, it's potty humor, and I truly despise hearing my kids talk that way. Also, I've noticed my kids seem to get less and less creative, the more they are entertained. As I say to them-"Your brain is getting mushy." So if I cut back on all this entertainment they so desire, I need to fill it in with something else. Things that will help them to occupy themselves, learn something, and have fun at the same time! Here are a few we have tried, and the list is growing!

1. Reading-better yet, sign up for reading programs so they get rewarded while doing it!

2. Board games-kids love these. My kids new favorite is Hungry Hippos. It can get quite loud, though, so be sure you have something else to take out when you've had enough!

3. Swimming/Sprinkler/Water balloons-anything that involves water! It gets them active and has the added benefit of getting that layer of dirt off them! :-)

4. Bake something-This was our choice today. Cookies, a cake, bread, whatever-have fun and try not to worry about the mess.

5. Play dough-you can even make your own. Get some great tools to use with them and you'll be surprised at their creations.

6. Puzzles-I found some of these at the dollar tree. My kids loved them and it got those brains moving!

7. Taking pictures-if your child has a camera, or if you don't mind them using yours, let them take some shots of what they enjoy. As long as they're over 6 years old, I'll usually let them use mine for a short time.

8. Latch hooking-This is a great activity for the 6 and up crowd. It does take time to do, but the results are great and they make a good gift for grandparents when made into a pillow.

9. Painting-If you are adventurous, let them use regular paints on an easel. I'm more conservative-we use watercolors, but they still have a great time.

10. Clean, clean, clean! My kids favorite thing (not really.) But you can make it more fun. Give them a reward when you're done. while you're working, put on some great inspirational music and sing!

This is just a short list-I'm always open to new ideas and thinking of new ones all the time. Now I realized that when you take away the passive entertainment and the kids interact more, you have many more opportunities to teach good communication skills (ie. breaking up fights). It is a process and it doesn't happen overnite! It is worth it, though, as I see my 8 yo sitting by me reading through the encyclopedia about dinosaurs! Yay learning! Well, it's time for us to head out to our dentist appointment. You know what great things they do there while waiting for brother to get his braces tightened? Yep, TV and video games! At least we're only there about 45 minutes!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Catching up!

It's been almost a week since I last blogged-did you wonder what happened to us? Nothing really, except being so very busy with things! I attended the homeschool convention in Houston here this past weekend-what a whirlwind that was! My day started at 7 a.m and went until 5 p.m. Nonstop workshops and shopping for next year's homeschool things. Actually, I attend more for the workshops as I really need that encouragement and refreshment. I did pick up a few books, though, too! :-) Luke was my sidekick both days-and let's just say, he doesn't enjoy napping in the stroller! By the end of Saturday, I was just exhausted and ready to sleep myself! I am so thankful I am more of a seasoned homeschooler at this point. Walking into the giant vendor hall at the convention can just be overwhelming if you're not already sure which direction you're going with your schooling. It seems as if everyone has just the perfect product to teach your child. It just about makes your head spin. I don't feel as easily swayed anymore by the newest or latest homeschool products. I've come to realize that no product is perfect and just because it works for another does not mean it will necessarily be the right fit for us.

In other news, this past week was elections and awards for the 4-H club my kids attend. They each received several awards for projects they did this year, such as communication, food and nutrition, and visual arts. I was very proud that both Matthew and Christopher decided to run for positions. Matthew was elected to 2nd vice president and Christopher is 3rd vice president. I think they will do well with their new leadership positions.
Finally, we've signed everyone up for the summer reading program at the library. I always encourage my kids to read a lot, to keep that brain active! My little ones just love books! Here's John at our library today.
And sister, Eden, trying to imitate! ( A little short, yet!)
The older ones are a little more particular about what kinds of books they enjoy, and it is always a balancing act trying to reconcile what they would like to read with making sure it is what mom deems appropriate! (It's amazing what kind of language they can have in teen/adult books these days!) If anyone has good suggestions on books, I'm all ears!
This week, I'm continuing with my cleaning/organizing, though I feel like progress is so slow. However, I am persevering, and with time, progress will be made. It is like anything in life. We always want to see the fruit of our labor-"NOW"! But the Lord doesn't normally work that way, as he knows we need to develop patience and perseverance and trust Him with the results! Yes, I'm still learning all of this as you can tell.
I hope you all are enjoying the start of the summer season. Stay cool and enjoy those times with your family!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

When it's hot outside...

It's been pretty hot here in Houston lately. So when the temperature rises, we look for fun stuff to do indoors. Today we decided to hit Chuck E. Cheese. This is NOT one of my favorite places to go to normally, as it always seems so chaotic. A friend tipped me off (thanks Janie!) that they open early at 9 a.m. (note-uncrowded) and it's a great-and pretty cheap-place to go and just let your kiddos play games. At only 25 cents a game, I'd agree! We headed down about 9:30 took our coupons with us and were able to get 200 tokens for $25. I know that's a lot, but split up amongst 9 of my 10 kids, it's really not all that many! The little ones had a ball on the carousel and other rides.

Eden even tried out the skeeball! With a little help from big brother!
There were even a few games for the big guys, so they didn't get left out..

They collected tons of tickets from their games and pooled them all together to get some great, dollar-store-quality prizes! :-) We made sure everyone got to pick out some candy, too. After we got home, of course they were all hyped up and super-entertained and wanted to have more entertainment! (ie. TV, computer get the point!) Nope, mean mama made them do something that uses their brains-we pulled out the playdough and watercolors and let everyone be creative.

They had a lot of fun....especially Eden, my 2yo. She's not in this picture, but she loves any kind of drawing or painting, so she spent a lot of time with the watercolors. It's much better than her usual pictures that end up drawn on my wall! She's a sweetie, but sometimes a handfull!