Friday, June 27, 2014


Accomplishments of the Week:

1. Took 4 kids (the younger ones)to Y pool by myself and no one died
2. Took 4 kids (the younger ones) to Y pool and splash deck by myself and no one died
3. Took 5 kids (along with a friend and her 2) to the beach and no one died
4. Grandma found ballet slippers and tap shoes for a quarter a pair at a garage sale
5. have picked almost 50 cups of strawberries from my little patch


Berean finally did the monkey bars ALL BY HERSELF!

She is one proud girl!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Vacation: Zoo and Arch!

 When I last wrote, our vacation was just starting.  We left the ball park around 8:30- handing off cleats, bat, protective equipment and uniform to Grandma in the parking lot.

We had packed that Suburban carefully and there was no extra room.  Every seat was full and the back was crammed.

Our goal was to drive to Iowa- we already had a hotel booked and paid for, which was good incentive to make it as far as we had planned!  There was some initial drama when we realized while enroute that neither one of us had printed our hotel reservation info, neither one of us remembered the name of the hotel and of course neither one of us has a smart phone.  After randomly calling some hotels on our GPS we were still getting nowhere.  Finally, Noah ended up just talking my dad through accessing our email and getting the info. 

4 1/2 hours later, at about 0100 we arrived at our destination.  We hadn't had to make any stops and we had spent the trip listening to "In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson" and some Adventures in Odyssey CDs. 

The girls, a boy or two (and maybe a Mom) napped a little in the car, but even so everyone fell asleep pretty quickly when we got to the hotel.  Our rooms were connected and Karla and the boys took one room and Noah and I and the girls were in the other.

In the morning we got up and ate at the hotel.  Deacon sat at a table far away from the cereal.  An older couple were pleased and amused to watch our family and said that they were well behaved.  And they were.  Score!

We quickly packed everything back up, filled up the tank and headed out. I had packed a "Wed" bag with a new outfit for each of us so we just had to pull that out of the Suburban (and we even put it near the top!) which made it so much quicker to leave in the morning and also left the
 somewhat precarious packing situation intact.

We drove another 4 1/2 hours without stops and arrived at the St. Louis Zoo.  After a somewhat tense few minutes while actually locating the parking lot etc, we finally disembarked. As soon as we got in we gathered maps, visited the concrete seals and ate our lunch.  I had made braided pizza bread and that was really easy to cut up and eat- some of us dipped it in a jar of pizza sauce.  It was nice because it was different than normal traveling food.

The zoo was explored and experienced in a whirlwind fashion.  The boys aren't huge zoo guys, and we only had 3 hours before closing. 

I think that their favorite part of zoos is getting to climb on various benches, sculptures and climbing through logs.  Some lady gave us zoo train passes with one stop left- they were leaving and didn't need them, so that was also fun for the kids.

This zoo was pretty cool though because they actually got to see Hippos swimming (and we could watch them because the display allowed underwater viewing!) and there were elephants, even a cute baby one.  The kids had never seen a real elephant before, so it was a very exciting event. They were especially impressed when one of the elephants pooped.
Family Picture!

Sisters and the Littles!

Best buds for life!


Yeah, he's pretty cute :)

We spent the trip trying to get some pictures of the two of us

Baby Girls in bright dresses

Lincoln being silly.  Rare to capture on camera
Next we left the zoo and drove downtown to get to the arch.  It was another tense couple minutes of navigating as we could see the arch, but due to some construction it was very unclear how to get to the parking lot. After briefly visiting Illinois we successfully parked the Suburban and then obsessed a little over the fact that a warning to check our coolant came on the screen. 

We have found that the Suburban is a little message crazy.  The coolant level was fine, the oil level was fine and although we watched the temp gauge like hawks for the rest of the trip we didn't have any more trouble with annoying screen messages.

Hopefully it stays that way.

Roman was freaking out as we waited for our "Going up into the Arch" time.  We had purchased tickets online, but it wasn't very busy.  We killed some time in the Museum of Westward Expansion which interested some people (Noah, Julie & Karla) more than it interested others (Deacon, Roman, Lincoln, Bre and Ever).  The whole time, though, Roman had this nervous energy just radiating from his little body.  He just wanted to get it over with, he said.

After a lot of waiting we were told to go stand by door 3.
We amused ourselves (Karla, Lincoln, Deacon and I) and distracted others (Noah and Roman) by taking selfies in the little pod on our way up to the top of the arch!  It was a challenge to get us all in one frame!  Poor Roman, only his eye is showing!
It really wasn't too scary and Roman had calmed down a lot by the time we reached the top.
I didn't include any pictures from the top.  It was weird lighting in there, and it was evening so the pictures didn't turn out the greatest.  It was fun though and the kids did seem to like it, especially when they weren't dwelling on the fact that they were looking out of the teeny-tiny windows way up there that they had seen from the outside.  It is kind of a scary thought (for all of us who don't like heights!)

We didn't hang around too long after our tour.  We checked in to our rather odd hotel and fed the kids picnic lunch #2 in the hotel room.  This time it was PB & J or Ham/Roast Beef with of course chips, fruit and Pepsi.

I also remembered the "Thursday" bag, and once again our Suburban packing job remained mostly intact.

Everyone crashed and we were done with the first full day of vacation!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


We just got home from a vacation.  Yes, it was a real live vacation- in that we were away from home for 6 days and put a lot of miles on the old Suburban. 

I don't know if I have ever shared this before, but I don't really love trips.  I don't like living out of a suitcase, I like my own bed and I don't like all my stuff crammed into a car.

Especially intolerable are vacations with kids.  Someone is bound to pee in their carseat, vomit in the vehicle, lose something or have a meltdown on the end of Navy Pier.  Not that that has ever happened to us or anything.

It is easier to control chaos at home.

Noah and I took some cool road trips before kids.  Nothing exotic or anything- we are not really the traveling type.  We have always had jobs or responsibilities to tie us down.  We had our kids young, so maybe we will have a chance to go more places when we get older :)  Anyway, we went to Atlanta, St. Louis, Gulf Shores and Niagara Falls. After kids we have left them at home to go to Seattle and Boston and Noah went solo to California and Wyoming. 

When we just had the 3 boys we took a road trip to Mt. Rushmore, because Deacon wanted to see "the faces".  We took the Granny Nanny with and the trip went pretty well.  We had a 1:1 ratio, so how bad could it be?  Roman did miss home and I think that was our first realization about what a homebody he is.  We spent a lot of time on that trip helping 3 year old Roman make lists about the things that he liked to make himself feel better.

After that we mostly stuck with camping or short weekends close to home until the fateful day in 2011 when we decided that we should go on another vacation.  We decided to group my cousins wedding reception in Illinois with an exciting trip to Chicago.

All the pictures from that trip were lost in a massive harddrive debacle.  I don't know that we care.  We have sort of tried to erase that trip from our memory.  There were happy moments: like being  at Lego Land and the Children's Museum.  There were also scary moments like riding the city busses and trying to get on the L with 4 kids and a stroller.  There were traumatizing moments like Berean laying in a pile of Tulle and sobbing, Roman having a complete and total meltdown in the fetal position on Navy Pier and running for blocks from the bus to the museum through a massive downpour combined with wind.

That trip took the wind out of our sails and we were back to mini vacations and a policy against going anywhere further than 3 hours away.

Until last week.  A few months ago my mom's brothers and sister decided to set up a family weekend getaway.  Our family with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins were going to meet at a resort in Missouri for a long weekend.  Noah and I decided to attach a trip to St. Louis at the front end of the weekend.

This addition led to the 6 day long real live vacation.

I became more concerned about how this would go the closer that it got, but we had things lined up so we had to persist.  We spent days planning our food, our clothes, researching museums and booking hotels.  In between that I also worked my shifts all smushed together and prepared our house, yard and commitments for being away for so long.    Noah was busy at work so we had a stressful few days leading up to our departure which made me even more anxious.

Deacon played a baseball game last Tuesday night and when it was over at 8:30pm Noah, my sister, all the kids and I piled into the Suburban and headed south! 

More to come...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

5 Individuals, or a Team?

The other night Noah and I were discussing life, future plans and priorities.

He asked me if I ever thought that I would have 5 kids.  I laughed.  When I was in Jr. High I was convinced I would have 13 children.  When we got married we thought 4 would be a good number.  I certainly never thought we would have 5 because HE has been so adamantly opposed to an odd number of children.  But life (and children!) can change plans.

I certainly never thought that I would be putting in 20+ hours at a job outside the home, but that is our reality.  I also never took into account the long hours that Noah would be gone everyday.  I had a mom that didn't work outside the home and a dad that was home by 5:00 every day.

Our biggest question is this:  Do we raise our kids in the chaotic environment of a semi-big family while also providing for them as many individual opportunities as a child in a smaller family may have?  Or do we sacrifice some of their individual opportunities in order to maintain some sort of sanity in our busy situation?  I know big families that let their kids pursue their dreams regardless of the strain on the family schedule.  I also know big families that strictly limit their kids' activities.

Somehow, we must strike a balance.

I am with the kids all day long.  We spend a lot of time together, just me and the kids, due to homeschooling.  Because of that, letting them be in activities not only gives them an outlet, but in a sense, it gives me a break.  On the flip side it also gives me more running around to do, which is hard for the other kids (and me!)  And I feel like since Noah is home so little, the kids being gone in the evening really limits their time with him.

Maybe the baseball 4+ nights a week is just getting to me :)  But I know that this discussion will continue this summer as we start to look at our fall homeschooling/activities schedule!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Goliath Challenge!

Getting ready to watch Mom race!
 The Goliath Challenge is an obstacle race to raise money for Feed My Starving Children.  The adult race is a 5k and the kid course is 2.5k.  This year both Deacon and Roman were old enough to participate so they ran one of the kid waves together, and  Noah and I did the adult course (but in different waves, due to the kids needing supervision :)

It was a beautiful day, and we had some fun family time together!  Certain people who do not like to run even seemed to enjoy themselves :)

It was a fun race to do, especially since it supported a worthy cause.  The times are frustrating a little, because you didn't have to do the obstacles, you could walk around them.  Of course not doing the obstacles would give you a faster time, but that is not taken into account in the race times.  Also, for example, a lady ahead of me fell off an obstacle, climbed back on and preceded to sit there tying her shoe- no one else could get on until she was off of it!  It was irritating at the time, but in the grand scheme of the world I guess it wasn't that big of a deal!

Not ready enough to run up the big hill...

Inflatables are always a hit!

Mud at the end of the race!

The crew watching for Daddy!

Deke thought this was such a nice picturesque view of a "village"

Love it!

Exploring while watching for Daddy

My baby

Water Obstacle!

Eating snacks!

Child racers!

The initial hill is brutal

Lincoln can't wait until next year when he can race!

Sword fights!

Deacon on the monkey bars

Almost to the end of the race!

Roman hates running, but he enjoyed himself despite...running...

He loved the water obstacles very much...

and seemed to like the mud a fair amount too.

They were good little spectators!

Hosing off

It took a lot of oxyclean to get that shirt clean!

Post race smiles!

Monday, June 2, 2014

June Goals!


*be able to do the splits by end of the month!
*20 miles bike
*70 miles run/walk
*34 mile walk for my birthday!
*lose last 5 pounds


*keep the weeds down
*plant flowers
*clean up lot
*talk to landscaper about erosion on north side of house


*clean out dining room cabinets
*clean out front closet and cubbies
*clean out kitchen cabinets and drawers
*help Noah clean out garage
*call contractor/architect
*take care of car oil drama


*4 adventures with the kids
*read four books to kids
*read 2 books myself
*finish reading Acts to kids
*keep up with kids daily lists
*set up our slack line
*basketball hoop in yard
*make pitching target for Deacon


*pictures, scanning, book making and blogging?

For sure:

*Lots of game playing since my sister will be home!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Queen

I almost have my June goals planned out and ready to post...tomorrow...

For now, I will leave you with Berean AKA Queen Elsa!  She planned her Elsa costume herself- good thing we have blue surgical towels and blue nitrile gloves just waiting for all her costuming needs!
Everyn is very impressed by the costume

The gloves really make the outfit