Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy 4th birthday, K.!

Today was K.'s birthday and quite a day he had. We started off with a little paper mache. Having finished the Civil War, we are moving onto a unit on geography, using a resource that ties art lessons into the study of the different continents. Yesterday we talked about positive and negative space and did chalk drawings of the earth and today we started making paper mache globes. I've never thought that paper mache was rocket science, but judging from our efforts today, I guess it's trickier than I originally thought. But K. was happy because it was something he could join in on, even if it meant having to change his clothes because of the messiness of the project. I am amused that the ingredients for the paper mache paste are nearly exactly the same as for hard tack.

Following lunch, because it was such a nice day and because most of our usual weekly commitments were cancelled due to Holy Week, we headed out to the zoo. It turns out I was not the only one with this fantastic idea because the zoo was incredibly crowded. One would have thought it was a weekend in the summer based on the crowds. The zoo evidently wasn't exactly prepared for the weather or the crowds either, since the drinking fountains still hadn't been turned on and concession stands were running out of bottled water. After I finally tracked down some water for my thirsty hoards and nursed a couple of babies, we decided to head to the far, far end of the zoo which houses the farm, thinking less people would end up there. It turned out to be a good idea. We saw two 8 month old pigs which were enormous and everyone was very amused that they were younger than G. and L. We also got to see the cows being fed. Now, you have to understand, that Holstein cows are TM's absolutely favorite animal in the world and he was very excited to get to watch them eat. His only disappointment was that he couldn't pet one of them. The keeper mentioned that the cows eat all the time and act as if no one ever feeds them. I almost said that as a lactating mammal myself, I could completely understand the need to eat all the time. If I was producing a gallon of milk a day I would be starving, too. But since the keeper was actually having a conversation with someone else, it seemed as though it would be an odd thing to jump in and say.

Here is the crew watching the cows:

D., TM, A., and P.



This evening we celebrated K.'s birthday. It has been so fun to prepare for his birthday this year because he understood what was happening and could talk about it. All week he has been talking about how his birthday was coming to his house. And being a cake man, I made him a chocolate cake with butter cream frosting, covered in coconut. (It's like a giant Host*ss snowball.) It took a little effort for him to blow out all four candles, but he did it. (Last year, I think J. or I ended up blowing them out for him.)

Then it was time for presents. Here are some of the onlookers:

A. made K. a cape and mask (he loves Superman) with 'SK' sewn on the back to stand for 'Super K---'. Since K. also loves dogs, she chose one of her stuffed animals to give as well and made the stuffed dog a mask and cape to match. I think K. liked them:

But what K. loves most in the world are trucks; especially trucks that can carry other cars. He already owns a transporter truck, but Grammy and Grandpa sent a tow truck and a shiny red race car for the tow truck to pull. With that gift, K. acted as though his life was complete; he needed nothing else. I'm not sure, but he may have taken them to bed with him.
K. has been home almost two years and we are astounded at his progress. When we brought him home, he could fit into some 9 month clothes (the size the babies have just outgrown) he wears a 3T. He is still a small boy, but is continuing to grow, eat better, and build muscle. Pedalling a tricycle, hanging from a chin-up bar, playing Lollipops (it's what he calls Candyland and we all like the name better), and telling us how old he is are some of his more recent accomplishments. And he uses sentences! Real, multiple word sentences about abstract ideas. For a little boy, who less than two years ago didn't even babble, to be able to tell me, "This truck is cool!" after opening his tow trucks is a huge deal. It almost makes me want to cry whenever I think about it. When compared to a newly four year old with a stable background, K. is still obviously catching up, and I sometimes mourn what he has missed. But I also rejoice over all the progress he's made and look forward to seeing what he does in the next year. K. is such a loving and funny little boy; we are so blessed and thankful to be his parents.
And lastly, we have been hearing some grumbling that there have not been enough pictures of the babies recently. So, for those of you feeling a bit in withdrawal, here you go:

L, making one of her silly faces

G., who is looking a little tired after all the festivities

And, because they are now mobile, this is what I get to see all the time. Two cute babies, who like to scooch close to me whenever they see me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day of sewing

I've been doing a lot of sewing today...well, the last three days, actually. The first item I've finished is this skirt for A. A chose the pattern and the fabric. In case you can't tell from the picture, it's a black skirt with an embroidered design all over it. It is a faux suede, so feels very, um, suede-y. I had my doubts about it, but it was incredibly easy to work with. A. loves it and it definitely fits her personality.

The second thing I finished today (short of buttons which I still have to buy) is this dress for L. It's not really clear in the picture, but the skirt is made from 6 individual petal shapes. I have a second one in pink all cut-out for G.; I just need to make it. The dress also has a petal hat that goes with it. They are both cut-out, but I'm not sure I can get the hats made in time for Sunday.

I am also almost done with a new summer baby shoe, but that will have to wait to be finished until I get the babies' Easter dresses under control. Pictures will be forthcoming when they are done...and hopefully I can also share my big news on the sewing front at that point as well.

Back to the sewing machine...

Monday, March 29, 2010

At least I have a clean floor

"Oh no, Mommy! She's leaking!" shrieks TM as we are settling into our school work. My first thought was to wonder how on earth TM knew the baby's diaper was leaky and why it would warrant the dire yelling. It's not as though a leaky diaper is unusual around here. But then I noticed the river of liquid pouring out of the pantry where L. was sitting. My second thought was to panic that somewhere a pipe had burst and it was pouring water into the pantry. But then A. noticed that L. had grabbed the gallon of white vinegar and tipped it over. And because the lid hadn't been properly closed, it was now pouring vinegar onto the baby and all over the floor. We rescued the baby, boys ran to get supplies, and M., B., and I managed to mop up the mess while A. and P. attended to an understandably upset L. My kitchen floor is much cleaner now, though there is the definite scent of vinegar that accosts you when you enter the house. We aren't quite into the mobil-baby routine and closing the pantry doors has been added to the list of things we need to do to keep the babies safe. Some days these two girls make me feel like such a first-time mom.

On a completly unrelated and fairly random note, a friend of mine recently came across an old photo of our children from about six years ago. P. is so little!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Consider this a public service announcement

If you happen to have a room that isn't used very much because the lack of insulation makes it either very, very cold or very, very warm, and you put the leftover Christmas gingerbread cake in said room because there is no space in either refrigerator and the room is just as cold...make a note to yourself to go and retrieve the cake in a timely manner. Otherwise, one of your children will discover the cake (or what used to be a cake) several months later and then you will have the world's worst science experiment sitting on your kitchen table (under a cake cover, thankfully) while you decide how to dispose of it.

Be very glad that my camera's memory card is filled right now.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blathering child or language issue or what?

A few days ago, a fellow adoptive mom blogged about some language issues her son was having with English. (Her son and TM are about the same age, both from Vietnam and came home within months of each other.) After reading her post, I've been thinking a lot about TM's language and wondering if things I thought were either quirkiness or a behavioral issue are more of a language issue instead. Then, today after talking with the P. family mom about something her adopted daughter does, it makes me wonder even more.

The issue is crazy questions. We discovered that both of our children ask us crazy questions...often involving the obvious. Such as, "Are you wearing that sweater today?" as the sweater is being put on, or, "What are you doing, making a sandwich?" as the sandwich is most obviously being made. These are questions that just by observing, the answer should be plain, and none of my other children do this. (Well, sometimes, but not to the same extent and usually because they are not paying attention. It just feels different.) So does anyone else's child do this? Is it merely making conversation? Is it a control issue? (It happens all the time.) Is it just quirkiness? Because it's happening with another child who was adopted and is learning a new language, I am thinking it's not. All I know is, that when you combine constant crazy questions with some other behaviors that don't seem to be abating, it makes for a mom who is teetering on the edge. My reserves of patience of sorely depleted and I'm just not sure what's up.

The instruction manual...I just know when we signed those adoption papers there was supposed to be an instruction manual!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Family dinner tips

I've been asked to share what things we have done to encourage good table manners in our home. This is one area where having older children makes things so much easier. For the last several children, table manners have been learned much more by observation than anything. We still train our younger children, but so much is just picked-up by watching their older brothers and sisters. So, to really answer the question, I have to think back to when I only had small children and try to remember what we did.

We started out with just a few rules: 1. We eat sitting down. 2. We keep our food on our plates. 3. We do not complain about our food. If a child didn't follow one of these rules, we decided they must be done with dinner and cleared their plate. When I asked my olders if they remember anything specific about learning table manners, M. specifically mentioned having her plate removed. (Though with M., I'm pretty sure we only had to do it once.) The key is to do it without drama. When I have to remove a plate (and I'm sure I've done it to each child at least once), I calmly say, "Since you got up from the table (or threw your food or must not like it), you must be done with dinner." and whisk their plate away. Most often this is met with stunned silence, sometimes followed by wailing, especially if they weren't really done. But we have found, with consistency, children learn pretty quickly what is and isn't expected.

Of course, over the years, we have had to add other, fairly specific rules, such as, don't touch your feet at the table, no singing at the table (yes, our children will just break out, loudly, in song, which can be fun at first, but difficult to talk over), and don't use the tablecloth as a napkin. If table manners have really descended to the depths, I will break out our framed list of rules good table etiquette (which is displayed along with 'home etiquette' and 'daily life etiquette') and do a dramatic reading for the assembled family.

But, I think, one of the best ways to make family dinners enjoyable is to make them a positive experience. A family dinner is not the place for arguments or disagreeableness on the part of parents or children. It is a place for interesting discussion and fellowship with one another. If your family is not experienced with dinner table discussion, it is best to have a game plan. We have done many different things throughout the years to facilitate discussions. One idea that even the littlest can participate in is to ask each person the best and worst part of their day. Even K., before he could really speak in sentences, could share that his favorite part of the day was playing with cars and his least favorite was napping. We make sure that everyone listens to each other when they are sharing. The littles particularly like this because they are often drowned out in the other hubbub. Other things we have done is to use discussion cards with different questions for each person to answer; asking everyone's opinion about a news story; or asking what new thing each person learned that day (adults, too). These days, we don't often have difficulty finding things to talk about...the blessing of having older children.

What time we have dinner is also something people wondered about. We tend to eat late, often ~7pm. My ideal time would be 6:30, but the babies both want to nurse right about the time I should be fixing dinner, so it throws the whole meal preparation-thing off. For much of our parenting life, J. needed to work until 6:30, so we would eat a later dinner when he arrived home. Due to demands at work, he still often arrives home after 6:30, so the later dinner hour works. The children are all used to eating later, but many will still choose to have a piece of fruit in the late afternoon to tide them over until dinner. Because we homeschool, we don't have to be up as early as many people, so our entire schedule can be a bit later. J. also teaches night classes at least once a week, and in some seasons he has taught more. I still eat dinner with the children even when J. is not home, though I admit to easier dinners on those nights. (Scrambled eggs and toast make a very acceptable dinner, in my book.) This, too, has become easier to manage with older children. It's difficult to carry the entire conversational burden when one is the only adult with a table of children 5 and younger.

Oh, and to everyone wondering about how we filled out the census...I just went in chronological order. I figure they'll call me if they want more information on the youngest five. At least there were enough spaces for everyone in our family. It would be weird to leave someone off.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We have movement!

And our lives will never be the same. At least just one baby (L.) is moving at the moment, but G. is not far behind. G. does scooch around on her bottom a bit, though, so she still needs to be watched. Here is a short video of L. doing her version of crawling. I suggest you turn the sound down because it's really loud. A. was trying to attract L.'s attention to get her to move across the floor; I'm not sure why L. didn't move quickly the other way.

In other news, K. had his appointment with the plastic surgeon of his cleft team today. We had some very good news. She confirmed that there is nothing wrong with K.'s palate and is not affecting his speech in any way, plus he has all of his teeth. Because of these things and because the cleft in his tooth ridge is small, at this moment, he is a good candidate for the growth hormone injection for repairing the tooth ridge and perhaps we will avoid having to harvest bone from his hip to do the repair. We go back in a year, at which point I think we will be discussing bone graft surgery. The surgeon says we are probably looking at age 5 or 6. But for right now, we have another year before we have to face that hurdle.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'll say it again

While I feel like a broken record on some topics, I'm realizing that this particular one is one I've somehow missed blogging about. So, unless you know me in real life, you may wonder at the title. And the topic? Eating dinner together as a family. To our family, it is such a commonplace occurrence that we often don't give it a second thought. Both J. and I grew up with family dinners being a 7 days a week event and that is how we're raising our family. But every so often, I am reminded of how unusual we are for eating dinner together even once a week, much less all seven. After church yesterday, B. was recounting how, when his class was polled, only he and one other young man ate dinner together as a family with any regularity. I have to admit I am baffled. I don't understand how or what people eat if they don't sit down to dinner. When do they catch-up with each other and share the events of the day? How can a family even begin to try to have family devotions if they can't even eat together. I just don't get how not having a family dinner works.

I am not so clueless as to the reasons why families don't eat dinner together. It's too hard to get everyone to sit down; there are too many sports practices/music or dance rehearsals/classes that conflict with the dinner hour; no one wants to cook and it's easier just to heat-up some premade, convenience food. But these are self-fulfilling excuses. Of course a young child won't sit at the table if they never have a chance to learn how. If enough people put their foot down about events during the dinner hour, they would cease to be profitable and the offering body would stop. But, someone has to be the first to say, "We don't do activities over dinner." How difficult is it to heat a pot of water and cook enough pasta for everyone. Just because you're eating dinner together doesn't mean you have to make everything from scratch or that it has to be gourmet level cooking. Perhaps a family member would find they love cooking if they ever had a chance to experience it.

Does this sound a bit harsh? That's not how I mean it to sound, but I believe it is such an important part of family life that I get tired of excuses. When I was researching my presentation on meal planning, I came across some interesting statistics. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse did a study on family meals and the effects on adolescents. They compared adolescents who ate dinner on a regular basis with their families with adolescents who rarely ate at family dinners. Those who participated in family dinners:
• Had half the risk for substance abuse
• Were less likely to have friends who abuse drugs
• Experienced lower levels of stress and tension at home
• Were more likely to say their parents are proud of them
• Were more likely to say they could confide in parents
• Had better grades
• Were more likely to be emotionally content
• Had better eating habits
• Were at lower risk for thoughts of suicide
• Were less likely to try marijuana

The Nutrition Education Network conducted a similar study and their results were similar. Adolescents who ate dinner with their families were more likely to:
• Do better in school
• Have fewer behavior problems
• Not try drugs
• Be happy to have adults in their lives
• Have traditions created around food and meals
• Have more nutritious meals
• Better utilize time
• Be involved in family meal preparation

In both these studies, the only thing controlled for was eating meals together. Obviously, the simple act of sitting down to dinner together has a huge impact on the lives of our children.

If family dinners can have this much impact on the lives of our children, why don't more parents make an effort to have them? There are so many other things that parents make an effort to provide their children, often at great personal sacrifice (and miles and hours spent in the car), why can't they make the same type of effort for something that has proven, positive results in the lives of children?

As I was mulling over what I would write on this topic, the writer of another blog I read just posted on the same topic, with a link to a great article. Here is just a snippet from it:

"It is at home (domus) that human beings are — literally — "domesticated." It is during meals that they increase, not only "in stature," but also "in wisdom" (Luke 2:52). Here they acquire those patterns of affability, restraint, courtesy, and cultivated joy that prepare them for a wise life in a larger world.

In acquiring table discipline — which pertains to language and posture as well as eating — young human beings are instructed in the simple pleasures of what is called "conviviality." This literally means "living in common."

Indeed, it is arguable that the lessons learned at the family table are more fundamental to the pursuit of Wisdom than those learned in the classroom. It is at meals that souls are nourished, as well as bodies. It is largely from eating with the family that helpful information is conveyed and the foundational lines of character are formed.

In this setting, one gradually learns the art of the "inner check," as Irving Babbitt calls it. Restraint is in order. There are things that may not be done at table — and certain subjects never spoken of — and certain other things must be said or done at table.

Without this inner check of discipline, there is no chance of conviviality. The eater "conforms" to a standard, adopting as his own a "form" common to those who share the blessings of the meal. "

Please, if you don't have a habit of family dinners, make a resolution to start today. It doesn't have to be fancy. Also realize that it is a skill to be learned...for everyone. It may not feel comfortable at first; things may not go smoothly. But unless a skill is practiced, how is it to be learned? If your child told you they couldn't play a sport because they either didn't know how or because they were not as good as they wanted to be, would you allow them to stop for those reasons alone? Don't allow this same type of reasoning to stop from eating together as a family. Believe me, it's worth the effort, you'll be glad you did.

(Do you need encourage or practical help to make this happen? Please email me [ thecurryseven at sbcglobal dot net ], I'm happy to offer what assistance I can.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Feeling a good way

Before I was married I worked with Jr. High age students in our church's youth ministry program. In fact, I was pretty sure that was where I was called to work and have a master's degree in religious education with an emphasis in youth ministry. But then I met J., who was working with the Sr. High youth group, and my plans changed significantly. All that to say, I had a chance to visit with one of my former Jr. High students today. She has just had her second baby, and was in need of a sitter for the morning. B., being the baby-whisperer that he is, offered to step in. (That boy likes nothing more than holding a baby.) I went to pick him up so I could stop in and say hi and to admire the baby (who is very, very cute). Seeing a former Jr. High student's child (and this has happened more than just today) always makes me feel a bit can someone I knew when they were 12 and 13 be old enough to have children? But it is also so wonderful to see what great adults and parents they have become. I don't kid myself that the two hours a week that I saw them had much to do with the adults they are now, but I did care for them and am pleased to see how well they are doing...both spiritually and otherwise. It is wonderful to reconnect with these former students as contemporaries and brothers and sisters in Christ, but I can't help but notice that they don't sport quite the amount of grey hair that seems to be sprouting out of the top of my head.

(Hi to A [the new mom] and to E [her sister, who I also had in Jr. High and is now a mother to four beautiful children]...they are regular readers of this blog.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Our trip: Heading home, plus travel tips

As you can see in the above picture, K. loved my parent's bulldog, Vicky very, very much and was sad to leave her. He wasn't sure about her at first, since she stands as tall as he does, but over the five days he discovered she was a sweetheart and fell in love. K. always loved pictures of dogs before, but having spent five days with two dogs, he loves them even more. For the record, J. and I are continuing to enjoy being dog-free, but the pressure from the dependents is mounting.

We drove home the southern route (AZ, NM, TX, OK, MO, IL) over the course of three days. Three loooong days. There really isn't anything extraordinary to report as we didn't stop to see anything. We just drove. And drove. And drove. I do want to send a thank you note to whichever hotel started the free breakfast-thing. It has since become standard and I think it's the best hotel perk ever. As I mentioned before a friend from church paid for our hotel rooms with her hotel points. (Thank you! Thank you!) It was a double blessing since not only did we not have to pay for rooms, we didn't have to buy food for breakfast. And it was a generous breakfast; far more choices than we have at home. It is one of those little things that makes travelling with children so much easier.

I was asked about what travel tips I had for long car trips with many children, so here they are:

1. I know (once again) that I am in the minority, but we do not use any video devices while travelling. Instead we use recorded books. (I keep referring to them as books on tape, and my children roll their eyes and point out that they are not on tape anymore.) I find that watching too many movies/things on the screen causes great amounts of whining when they end. This is no different in the car than it is at home. In fact, I would rather deal with it at home than in the car because at home there are more options to redirect after the movie than in the car. In the car when the movie is over, you're still in the car...except you are now in the car with whiny children. Few things are worse in my opinion.

Listening to a story does not seem to have the same effect. I personally think that because listening requires more use of the brain than watching something does, consequently, it is not so difficult to begin using the brain again after it's over. I have absolutely no proof, but it sounds good, huh? Plus, everyone is listening to the same story. We have had some great family discussions about the books we've listened to. We didn't pick a huge amount of really great books this trip, but most were decent. The best one (IMO) was The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs.

2. Everyone has assigned seats. This is true for nearly all rides in the car. I hate hearing bickering about where someone is going to sit, so avoid it at all opportunities. By keeping the same seats on long trips, it's just one less decision that has to be made every time people get in the car. This is especially nice when you're trying to shorten the length of your stops. I also know we have all the children in the car before we drive away. Someone will notice if their seat mate is missing if they always sit by the same person, but if people are switching, it is more likely someone will be missed. We didn't forget anyone, but we did all leave a building before P. had come out of the restroom once. She was completely unconcerned when she arrived at the van saying, "I knew you'd be at the car."

3. Special car trip toys. I keep a box of special car trip toys stashed away that we use just for long car trips (over 6 hours). These are things specially made for trips...those bingo games with the little red windows you close, magnetic travel puzzles and games, etc. But we also have things that work well in the car...magnadoodles, wikkisticks, clipboards with pens and paper, etc. When the majority of the children were smaller I would also purchase a bunch of carnival-style prizes to have on hand. I would dole them out over the course of the trip whenever I felt meltdowns were approaching. It's amazing how much play time can be generated by some small, new thing when one is stuck in the car. Oh, one important note: I am in charge of the car activities. I can then decide when and what to pass out to make them last through the trip. They lose their effectiveness if all the toys have been examined and played with before you've even left your home state.

4. Food. We always travel with a stash of food, both for lunches and snacks. We try whenever possible to picnic for lunch. It is significantly cheaper, plus, it's nicer to be able to let the children move around while they eat after having been cooped up in the car. It's misery for everyone to keep them still at a table after they've been still in the car. We bring sandwich stuff and/or bagels and cream cheese, crackers, fruit, water, and some sort of dessert. The snacks are things that are easy and relatively neat to eat in the car. We also add to the snacks attractiveness by making it something that we don't normally buy.

5. Music. We can't listen to books all the time. (Well, D. can, but the rest of us can't.) We have found having CD's that everyone enjoys and can sing along with is a great distraction. On various trips we've brought the complete Flanders and Swann, Sondheim's Into the Woods, Oliver!, and various praise and worship recordings (we really like Seeds of Faith and Seeds of Courage). One of our favorite CD's is called Poles Apart. We picked it up at a tall ships festival a while back. It's traditional sea chanties sung by a polish guy with a group of backup singers who sing in Polish (most of it is in English). It sounds odd, but it works and has some great songs to sing along with. Besides, I don't think families sing together enough anymore (at least judging by the number of small children I've come across who can't find their head voice) so start now while you have a captive audience.

6. Breaks. We try to take slightly longer, but less frequent stops. It's difficult for everyone to find their riding groove if there's a lot of starting and stopping. We try to find a place where everyone can run around when we do stop and we'll often throw balls and Frisbees in the car to play with.

As we discovered coming home, three straight days in the car is too much. Everyone would have been happier if we could have taken the time to stop and see something along the way. J. and I briefly considered making an impromptu stop at Merrimec Caverns, but we were already going to be getting in late and it would have made us even later. It would have worked if we could have added another day of driving.

7. Make it memorable (in a good way). One of my favorite authors is Edith Schaefer. She wrote in one of her books (I can't remember if it was The Hidden Art of Homemaking or What is a Family) that we, as mothers are memory makers. That sometimes it is worth the expense to help create wonderful family memories. Being the miser that I am, this is good for me to remember. Though not all good memories have to involve money (and many surely don't), sometimes money is needed. It can be an entrance fee to an attraction or something as simple as Dairy Queen cones to help soothe frayed nerves and disquiet spirits. I can't say I always succeed (depending on the day, this is quite an understatement), but I do try to think in terms of how my children will remember any given situation. It's a humbling exercise, I tell you.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy 17th birthday, M!

M.'s birthday was last Thursday, the day we left to head home. Since we were spending her birthday in the car, we celebrated the day before. She had requested Vietnamese food for her birthday dinner, so my parents treated us to a great meal at a Vietnamese restaurant they found in south Tempe. Everyone enjoyed themselves and ate either huge amounts of noodles or huge bowls of pho. We then had cake back at home, though many people opted not to eat any being so full of noodles and soup.

My first baby is nearly grown up. I remember her babyhood so vividly it seems unreal that it was 17 years ago. She has turned into a charming young lady whom I love spending time with. She is smart, funny, and interesting. And quite patient with her mother when trying to explain all things technological. (She loves that kind of stuff and I only like it when it does exactly what I want it to.) I will miss her greatly this summer while she is in Samoa. Sometimes I am filled with panic that we are quickly reaching a point where all my children will not routinely by living with me. Can't I keep them all little for just a bit longer? But I am also thrilled she is turning into a responsible adult who wants to accomplish things with her life. I am so excited to see what she is going to do.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our trip: In Arizona

Here's a few of the highlights from our time in Arizona. First, we went and visited Casa Grande ruins. It was part of a larger complex built by the Hohokam Indians in the 1300's.

It was a beautiful day and the only one where the babies could wear short sleeves. This is L.

TM enjoying the chance to run around in the sun.

G. in her short sleeves and sun hat.

The whole crew, minus A. who was playing photographer. I have no idea what we are all so studiously looking at.

We also had a picnic in Papago Park. As you can tell, the weather wasn't quite as nice, but was still warm enough to be outside.

M., with a terrific view of the park behind her.


In the park is a small butte called 'Hole in the Rock'...I'm sure you can guess why. All the children had a grand time climbing up and around it. Here are the older seven in a small cave on the way up.

And here they all are again inside the hole.

A trip to the Phoenix Zoo was our last activity. We actually went twice. The first try we were completely rained out and had to make a dash for the van. The next day was much nicer...sunny and warmer.

TM (pushing L.) and D.


L. - As you can see, while it was sunny, it still wasn't quite warm enough for the babies to be out without coats.



P., D., B., K., and M.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our trip, part 1: Heading West

We took the northern route to Arizona on our way west, through Iowa, Nebraska and into Colorado. Iowa has very nice rest areas, so we were able to stop and eat lunch in one of them on the first day. It was good we could since there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground.

The next day we made it to Colorado by lunch time. The welcome center near the border was staffed by many very welcoming ladies who descended on us en masse when we entered. The best question of the day was, "I'm wondering what type of group you are. You're not a family, are you?" The welcome center was not so welcoming that we were allowed to eat inside, but the sun was warm enough that we could picnic comfortably outside.



D. and B.


The second day was a bit shorter, as we were stopping in Denver to spend the rest of the day and night with my brother. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon so the adults got to relax and visit and the cousins got to play.

On my brother's deck. It was very sunny and the warmth felt wonderful after a chilly Chicago winter.

One of their dogs was quite taken with the babies and wanted to rest along with L.

The next day saw us on the road again, this time with a brief stop in Colorado Springs. All of our children love the Adventures in Odyssey radio series produced by Focus on the Family, so we stopped to pay a visit. In the Focus on the Family Welcome Center, there are kids' play areas and activities based on the the show. It was a hit with the younger, more rabid fans, in our family. There was a three story tall slide, climbing areas, a radio studio, stage and puppets, and a soda shop called Whit's End.


A. with L., waiting for lunch
After a night spent in New Mexico, we headed into Arizona. Lunch was eaten in a park in Holbrook which is also the home of the funny video store window.

TM, P. and B.

E. with G. and M. with L.

Tomorrow, our doings in Arizona. And to the Coys... I will post about our travelling tips later in the week.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

After 4000 miles, 60 hours in the car, 7 states,

4 1/2 books on CD, 2 rounds of 'Found a Peanut', and far more coffee than is good for a person, we have arrived back home from our trip to Arizona. We had a great time, even if the Phoenix weather wasn't entirely cooperative. Everyone, including the babies, travelled well. Though L.'s limit to riding in the car ended at about 6:30 every evening when she felt the need to exercise her lungs for about an hour.

We are spending the day unpacking and enjoying not having to travel anywhere before we begin with our Monday routine tomorrow. And, since all of yesterday was spent driving through the rain, we are also enjoying some sunshine. Once things feel under control here, I'll have pictures to post and another birthday to write about.

It's good to be home.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A picture's worth a thousand words, or at least a blog post

Sometimes when one is going about life, something jumps out at you that requires a picture. Such as this:

What more is there to add?

Happy Birthday, A!

A. turned 12 today. I know I say it's a surprise every time each of my children turns a year older, but it is. Really, each and every one of them was just a baby. And then one of them does something such as turning 12, and I can't imagine how it happened so quickly. A. is turning into a wonderful young lady. She is smart and funny and has really become one of the older, helpful children. (She has been struggling to be one of the older ones for years...since she was, oh, say, two years old.) A. is my best organizer and has a better grasp of what family members have what clothes than I do. She could probably earn money offering to do seasonal/outgrown clothes switches for mothers who detest the job. There are so many things I like and appreciate about this girl that it's difficult to mention them all. So I will leave it at happy birthday to my sunny and giggly A.
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