Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Maggie's Birthday Extraveganza, Some Wiistruction, a Special Guest and a Visit With Santa

Maggie's ninth birthday was December sixth. Tomorrow is Harry's seventh birthday. And Christmas is in ten days. So, if I don't want to spend an eternity updating my blog, I'd better get started. So let the good times roll.

We started the birthday weekend on Friday after school with a trip to CPK with three friends. It was very important that they be allowed to sit at the bar together for this dinner. I don't think they realized until too late that this dining configuration didn't allow for the best conversation flow. I was sitting in a booth nearby with a couple of the boys who were allowed to attend, and I heard a lot of "what did you say's?", and "what are you talking about's?" coming from the pack of girls. I was reminded of a particular Seinfeld episode and had to smile at them as they struggled to maintain a conversation. Nonetheless, they had a great time and were ready for the next event.

Which was...
Yogurt Creations
I know, ridiculous that my children love this so much considering how their parents pay the bills. But, on a birthday, sometimes even loyalty has to step aside for proper celebration. There's just something for kids about being able to pull the lever and release your own frozen treat...and then top it with whichever candy or fruit delight you choose. And then, you get to weigh it to see how much it costs...so thrilling when you're nine.

We took a break on a bench to take a quick picture, and then made our way to the patio of Cold Stone (with Yogurt Creation cups in hand) to take our specially reserved seats and watch the annual Downtown Christmas parade.

After the parade (and an exciting wait for the tow truck to fix the flat tire on my Suburban), we made our way home for Maggie's first sleepover party. We stayed upstairs, the girls ruled the downstairs. Everyone was happy...Ambien was involved (for the parents that is). In the morning, we had the traditional birthday breakfast of "amazing balls of goodness", bacon and chocolate milk. We toasted the beginning of Maggie's tenth year of life.

Finally, before the rain set in, we headed to Cal Poly for some Satsuma Tangerine picking. I know, can you possibly think of a more exciting birthday activity? I couldn't either...that's why we did it. But the girls had fun, and I learned that 22.5 hours is the maximum time four girls can be together without falling apart. We took the girls home and ended the party on a happy note. I was proud of Maggie. We talked about not having presents this year and she was happy to forgo presents and just have fun with her friends. We did have everyone bring a book and had an exchange where everyone got to take home a new book.

Sunday morning was Maggie's actually birthday, and she learned that good things do indeed come in small packages. And John proved that he really is named after Grandpa Steve as he hurriedly cleaned up the wrapping trash as soon as it was opened.

After church we had a birthday dinner and celebration birthday Trifle. We're so glad we live in California when our two December birthday kids almost always request Strawberries on their birthday!

Later in the evening when the dishes were washing and everyone was relaxing, I noticed a certain smell in the air. It smelled like something was burning, so I jumped up to find the problem. I couldn't figure it out...the candles were out, the oven was off, no ironing was being done...I started to become concerned. Finally, I thought, "Oh, maybe I accidentally put something in the dishwasher that wasn't dish-washer safe." I opened it up mid-cycle to check, but couldn't find anything. But then Joe took a look and saw what I didn't:

I guess we can all guess what Jack is going to be opening up on Christmas morning!

Next, we had a special visit from Aunt Chelsea. I had asked Harry last week what he wanted for his birthday. His reply was that he would really like Aunt Chelsea to come for a visit like she did last year. Since this is something I always enjoy as well, I got online that evening and booked Chelsea a ticket with my airline miles. When I told Harry in the morning, he was so excited. I joked with him that now he didn't get any presents because we had bought the airplane ticket. When Chelsea arrived a few days later, he confided in her that he wouldn't be getting any presents, but that it was okay because she was here for a visit. When I realized that he didn't understand that I was joking about that a few days ago, I was so sad! And so happy, that he really was willing to give up presents for a birthday visit from his Aunt. He was really relieved, however, when I told him he would still be getting presents!

Things are always just a little bit more fun when Aunt Chelsea is around!

Finally, some pictures of the kids enjoying/talking to Santa.

Well, on to the next birthday! I'm sure it will be just as fun-filled as the last!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Being A Mom

Anybody else ever feel this way?

By the way, I survived the lesson successfully....Harry said I passed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Vote of Confidence

I'm substitute teaching in Harry's primary class tomorrow. As I was preparing the lesson today, I found him hovering about and asking lots of questions about the lesson. I thought he just wanted to be prepared, so he could act like he knew all the answers to all the questions.

Later, during dinner, he was staring off into space...completely absorbed in his own little world. I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied with conviction, "I'm just so worried about my primary class tomorrow!" I replied to him, "What do you mean, it's not going to be hard" (thinking he was worried about knowing all the answers). To which he countered,

"I'm not worried about me! You've never taught a primary class before...how are you going to know how to do it right?!?"

Geez Harry, thanks for the vote of confidence. I think my life experience has somewhat prepared me to teach 6 six year olds for one hour. Coincidentally, the lesson is on honoring and obeying your parents. On second thought...maybe I'm not as prepared as I thought.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Day of Thanks

Yesterday was truly a day of Thanksgiving. We had a lovely day, with wonderful weather, wonderful food, and wonderful company. It's been twelve years since I've been married, and I have to admit something. Until recently, there has always been a part of me that feels like I'm not quite "at home" on the holidays unless I'm with my parents and siblings. But in the last few years (maybe because of the sheer number of children I have), I finally feel settled into my own family. I still miss my other family, but I no longer feel incomplete when we're not together. I do still miss my mom and sisters on Friday morning though. I tried last year to do the Black Friday thing by myself, got up early, stood in the lines, but it's just not the same without someone to share it with. So this year, I laid in my nice warm bed until nine in the morning and called my mom on her cell phone to partake of some of the Black Friday Frenzy. Denfinately better.

I'm attempting to start a new holiday tradition at our home. I call it the Thankful Tree Placemats

I made a placemat for everyone in my family, plus Grandma & Grandpa. I patterend the tree after the family tree I made last year as a wallhanging. I put everyone's names on them, and bought some fabric markers. On the back side of their placemat, I had everyone write their names and something they were thankful for that year. I'm planning on pulling them out every year and adding to them...I think it will be fun in several years to look back on their writing and words. I don't think I can wash them though...I did Scotchgard them, but still spent the entire meal saying, "be careful, don't spill on your placemat!", which kind of took away from the peacefulness of the meal. I guess I'll just have to relax and we can use the stains as memories as well...as in, "remember that year that Harry spilled his pumpkin pie all over the table?"

Before dinner, we got brave and took advantage of the beautiful weather by attempting a family picure. We set up the tripod and set the timer and hoped for the best. Personally, I preferred it, because I was able to yell all kinds of things at my children like, "you're going to smile and like it, or there'll be no wii for you!" without having the photographer think I was a terrible mother. Actually, it did turn out better than I thought, and we were able to get a couple of good shots... here is one of the less successful ones, where someone had bumped the camera while pushing the timer button and we accidently cropped Maggie out of the pictures for an entire series before we realized it.

It was a good day...and now we can look forward to a good holiday season full of love, joy, and peace. Or arguing, bored children, and a crazy mother. I guess only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Really, Shouldn't a Mother of Six Know Better?

Okay, so this photo might be a bit graphic for some of you...discretion is advised.

With that said...here's a story of a mother who should've known better. Sunday's are tough days here at the Brundage household. We have nine oclock church, so Saturdays are spent preparing ourselves for that....getting out church clothes, laying out shoes and socks (because they really will go missing unless you get them out on Saturday evening), bathing, washing and drying hair, grocery shopping, etc., etc. The primary song has never been more appropriate than it is at this stage in my little family's life. This Saturday, we spent the day at the temple....which was wonderful...and terrible. The wonderful part was the three hours Joe and I got to spend in the temple while Young Women from our ward watched our children...great...amazing. The terrible part was getting both to and from the temple. I won't go into details as I'm sure you can all imagine the mayhem involved in transporting six children 500 miles in the space of twelve hours. You've been there...you know what I'm talking about.

So, we got home around nine p.m., prepped for church and fell into bed.

In the morning, things went smoothly, the children were cooperative and actually put down their wii-motes nicely when it was time to hit the road. (BTW...new Super Mario Brothers game is AWESOME!!!). At the last minute, Charlie asked for some hot chocolate. This is the part where my training as a mother seems to have failed me...maybe I've become too cocky...maybe I think my skills are better than they actually are, but for some reason, I agreed to his request. We love hot chocolate at our house. We keep it out in canisters on the counter, and have a little machine that heats up the water really quickly. We even keep Styrofoam cups with lids on hand so spills are not as likely. Even though it's literally 80 degrees at my house today, my kids will all want a cup when they arrive home from school in a few minutes. So I mixed up Charlie's hot chocolate and told him to get in the car and buckle his seat belt, at which time I would hand it to him. He did as he was asked, and the transfer was successful. Everyone else loaded in and we started to drive to church. Then, we realized that Joe and Maggie were sharing a seat in the middle row of the car. Maggie had already been promised the coveted "middle" seat and was not happy with Joe encroaching on her territory. We told him to get in the back as we were driving and then we heard the "uh-oh".
"What?" Joe and both exclaimed.
Joe said, "Don't worry...I just bumped Charlie and he spilled his hot chocolate a little bit."
"How much is a little bit?" I inquired.
"Not much...if he pulls his sweater down, no one will even notice." Joe replied.

Time was short so we decided to power on and get to church. Joe had to play the piano in Sacrament meeting so we didn't want to turn around and be late. We were reassured by our son that it was "just a little bit...no big deal."

(I am realizing how long this story is becoming, and I promise you, the payoff is not that great...just a warning.)

At any rate, we got to church, started piling out of the car,and I had almost forgotten about the hot chocolate incident. (What with all the arguing about what song we would listen to on the way going on). But as Charlie climbed out of the car, I gasped at what I saw:

Now, in what world is this just a "little bit" of hot chocolate? And in what world could this "little bit" of hot chocolate spread on Charlie's pants in such a perfect imitation of a diarrhea accident? I mean, did Joe think the sweater vest would stretch to cover his knees?!? Joe and I made a quick decision, placed Charlie directly in front of us and walked him into church...sheilding his pants from view. After Sacrament meeting, I considered taping a sign on his back that said, "Don't worry, it's just hot chocolate", but took pity on him and drove him home for a fresh change of clothes. So, crisis somewhat averted and lessons learned, and Charlie was sure a good sport through it all.

Unrelately, later in the day, John took himself to the bathroom and actually did have diarrhea. He didn't call for help and pulled his pants up without even an attempt to clean himself, and returned to playing with his trucks. When I came downstairs a few minutes later, I was greeted with a replica of Charlie's pants from earlier in the day. Unfortunately, this was the real deal. Fortunately, I didn't take a picture.

So now it's on to Thanksgiving and Christmas light hanging and Christmas tree decorating. Happy Thanksgiving to all...I hope your day is as blessed as I'm sure mine will be!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Halloween, Going Green with John and some Star Wars Catch-Up

Halloween weekend kind of hit us like a tornado this year. Friday the 30th was "Teacher Work Day", so the kids were all home. I started the weekend off bravely by taking all six children to the pediatrician's office with me for Jack's 9 month appointment. I could have gotten a babysitter, but I had an ulterior motive in taking them all with me. I was hoping they'd take pity on me and give them all the H1N1 vaccine while I was there. Well, it only took two hours, but we were successful in getting the mist vaccine for the five oldest. I know there is some controversy concerning this vaccine, but with an infant at home, I just couldn't see not getting them for the older children. I tell you what though....it was exhausting taking all six with me to the doctors office. Not to mention all the looks and questions I got while there. We had a big pep talk before we went in, and everyone did pretty well, but it's still weird to see people actually counting you as you walk somewhere. And people are never shy to ask me, "are these ALL yours?" I've gotten some pretty rude comments over the years, but mostly, I try to put a positive spin on it. And my kids try extra hard when we're out in public to make us not look like crazy people. I give them credit for that, and I think it teaches them a lot about teamwork and personal responsibility. Anyway, I'll stop on that tangent.

After we were all properly vaccinated, it was time to let the weekend party begin. We spent the afternoon at the Pumpkin Patch, and the evening finishing up our costumes and making last minute adjustments.

Here are the kids at Trunk or Treat....If you can't tell, I'll translate...
Joe: Peewee Reese (an original Brooklyn Dodger...he's been really into 1930's baseball lately.

Maggie: Dorothy - and yes, she is wearing her baptism dress under her pinafore. (sorry mom). It felt a bit sacrilegious, but I just couldn't seen making another entire white dress when we had a perfectly good one just sitting in the closet. The crux of the costume for her was the wig. She saw it at the Halloween store and decided to be Dorothy just so she could get the wig.

Harry: A Lego Brick - I think he looked great...we saw it on Family Fun and thought it was appropriate for Harry. We worked hard to make it (jig saw involved). He thought it was great and was really happy until a little girl (who wasn't trying to be unkind - she's one of Harry's good friends) asked him if he was a muffin tin. Then he got self-conscious and wanted to take it off. It made me sad to see him so affected by what one other person thought. Lots of people told him how cool he looked, but he just couldn't get past the muffin tin comment. Who has red muffin tins anyway?

Charlie: Luigi - This is the second year for him as Luigi, and I was SO grateful he wanted to be him again...one less costume to make, and I think he makes a very debonair Mario Brother.

John: A garbage can - this one was obviously the most original. He at first wanted to be Oscar the Grouch, but I knew enough about little boys to know that he wouldn't tolerate being painted green, so we compromised with this costume. First I painted the trash can silver, but he looked much to much like a robot. Then we did it black, and Charlie still thought he looked like a bullet from the Mario Brothers games, but we decided it was the best option. He had so much fun and looked so cute with his little legs toddling around.

Jack: Baby Mario - there was much debate over this costume. Since he couldn't pick, everyone else wanted to choose for him. We considered him being an apple (get it, Apple Jack?), and Maggie wanted him to be the Tin Man as an accessory to her costume, but I've done costumes enough for crawling babies to know that it had to be functional too. So, we settled on Mario. It's very fitting actually, since he looks so much like Charlie.

The rest of the pictures are ones we took on Halloween night when we trick or treated at our friend's, the Robers house. We had a great time...thanks for inviting us!

With Halloween over, we had to turn immediately around and gear up for John's third birthday. We decided to Go Green for this big day. He was super excited for the big day and really enjoyed his new garbage truck and car wash toy (his two favorite things). We made a garbage truck cake and had our friends over for dinner.

Sometime late Friday afternoon, I got the idea that it would be fun to make a replica car wash for John to play with on his birthday. (Because you know, I just didn't really have enough to do). So, after a quick trip to Home Depot for some PVC pipe, the kids and I fashioned this crude car wash. We used plastic table cloths and swimming noodles for the brushes and rollers, set up a bubble machine for the soap, and turned on the "Car Wash" song for added ambiance. John had a great time all afternoon driving his ride-on Tow-Mater and Lightening McQueen cars through his car wash.

It was a long day, and a nap was required late in the day - sitting up at the counter in his garbage man costume.

Finally, some Star Wars Catch Up... last month Joe took JoeIV and Harry down to LA for a Star Wars Concert. I don't know exactly what it entailed, but there was a live orchestra playing music from the movies, set to scenes from the movies up on giant screen. A laser show was also part of the extravaganza. Before the show, there was an exhibit set up in the lobby where the boys could look at real costumes from the movies. Harry even got to try on the X-Wing Pilot's helmet. They had a great time, and it was fun for they boys to spend some time together.

Well, that's the longest post ever...but that's the way it goes sometimes...nothing happens around here for days, and then BAM, everything hits at once. I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to keep up and enjoy these children. People PROMISE me that this is the best time of my life, and before I know it, they'll all be gone and living their own lives. Some days, that promise is the only thing getting me through the day - knowing that they'll all be gone someday! Most days though, I just try to relax and breathe deep and count my blessings.

Happy November!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

That Special Time Of Year

Well it's that special time of year again....my house is littered with all sorts of costume paraphenelia. I won't give away what all their costumes are, but let me just give you a list of all the tools I've used to create this year's Halloween Creations:

Sewing Machine (obviously)
Power Drill
Jig Saw
Spray Paint (several cans)
Glue Gun
And last, but not least, hours and hours of time.

Don't misunderstand me...I'm not complaining. I LOVE the process of watching the kids decide what to be and then figuring out how we'll make it happen. Some efforts are more successful than others, but I think this year everyone will be pretty happy. (not like last year when Joe's mummy costume literally fell apart as he trick or treated). I still vividly remember a halloween when my mom made my brother Darin a REALLY cool Ghostbuster costume. It was an awesome grey jumpsuit that zipped up the front and had a badge and everything. She must have worked really hard on that creation. And, I still remember Darin coming home from a party at Reed Barker's house (not sure why I remember that name), so upset because no one knew what he was. I guess he was a boy ahead of his time. So, I think about that when making costumes....how will it translate to the general public? I mean, not everyone knows that John is obsessed with garbage trucks and garbage cans and might not understand why he's dressed as a trash can. But that one I couldn't resist...he makes a darn cute trash can...even if no one knows what he is!

In other news...I'm finally getting some relief from my joint pain. Ever since Jack was born, I've had pretty bad pain in all my joints: wrists, hands, elbows, knees, even the tops of my feet. I started some medication for Rheumetoid Arthritis about a month ago, and it's finally started to work. I'm still not admitting that I have RA (although my response to the medicine seems a bit telling), but I am feeling very grateful that I can once again sew without pain, or mix up a batch of cookies, or even pick up my baby without wincing. Pain is an amazing thing...and this last year has given me so much empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain. It can truly be debilitating.

Well...our Trunk or Treat is tomorrow (or Trick or Trunk as our friend Briggs called it...much to the delight of all the children in my car at the time), so if all goes well, we'll have six happy children and one happy mother - because of course, I get first dibs on all their candy.

Happy Treating!

Friday, October 2, 2009

No More Ruffles????

I was devastated last night on Project Runway when Heidi Klum asked the designer, "What woman of today wears ruffles?"
(And this show was taped MONTHS ago!)

Am I the only one who didn't know that ruffles are out?

Tell me the truth...I can take it.

PS - my "ruffle dress" of an earlier post was a total disaster. Maybe the fashion gods were trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spoiler Alert

If you've been telling your kids that you're not going to get them a pet and using me as an example of someone who doesn't let their kids have a pet, stop reading now.

Also, if you're like my sister Chelsea who hates it when people post pictures of their pets, stop reading now.

Okay, anybody left?

So, yeah, I broke down and let the kids get a pet.

Meet Kit Kat...

I'm not now, nor have I ever been a "cat person". But with six kids and a tiny yard, we decided this was a better option than a puppy.

The oddest thing we've discovered in this venture is how much my husband enjoys this animal. I didn't know that about him. I find him playing with her even when all the kids are in bed. Last night I was nodding off in bed and he came into the room with the cat in hand and said, "she's crying...what should I do?" I rolled my eyes and said, "put her in her bed...she's a cat...or rock her to sleep if you want...I've had enough babies, I'm going to sleep".

And that's exactly what I did.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jack Man

Jack, at 8 months old. Couldn't you just look at him forever? Maybe I'm a bit biased.

From September 2009

Some Privacy Please?

I caught John getting pretty the other day....

He was NOT pleased with the intrusion....

Can't a two year old get some privacy around here please?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've Had A Birthday, Shout Hooray! (and some other stuff too)

So I turned 33 last Sunday. Now I'm one year old and wiser too! (as the song goes)
We had a nice day (as nice a day as a mother of six can have on a Sunday...really the longest day of them all)
Thanks to Grandma Carole for organizing a dinner, and letting FIVE kids help her make it. They were pretty happy, and so was I.

We've gone through a bit of a dry spell in the costume area. Harry has somewhat grown out of the game. He'll still put them on, but not every day like he used to. Luckily for all of us, there seems to be a never-ending supply of 2 year old boys at my house who have fallen in love with the costume collection. Here are a few shots of John as a garbage man one day, and a car washing fireman the next. This kid's got a smile like none other.

And, I've been trying to get back into some sewing. Today I spent THREE hours putting these ruffles on the bodice of this dress. IT TOOK FOREVER. I had to give up and put it away for awhile. I've made several versions of this dress and thought some ruffles would be fun. Fun is not the exact word I'd use to describe it now, but hopefully I'll like the end result. Don't mind the weird duct tape dress form. That's a story for another day, but basically, it involves being wrapped up in saran wrap and duct tape. It's a useful tool for sewing for one's self, but VERY humbling to see a cast of your body in duct tape. I should be hitting the gym and not the sewing machine!

So, Happy Tuesday, here's to birthdays, costumes and sewing!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Charlie is Five!

Can you believe this little boy is five?

From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

Can you belive he's started kindergarten? Can you believe he taught himself multiplication and how to tell time over the summer?
From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

He got to have a real birthday party and everything! His first ever!
From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

We had presents and cupcakes and just general fun.
From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

From Charlie's Birthday/First Day of Schoo

I sure miss him when he's at school.
But that's okay, I have version 2.0 of him to keep me company while he's gone!

Happy Birthday Charlie Buckets! We love you!