Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Day Before Christmas Eve

Well, it's Christmas Eve today, but we still had to find something to do yesterday, the day BEFORE Christmas Eve. Think, Brooke, Think, what can you do to fill a couple of hours with six kids aged 11-1? I've got it! Ride the city's new double decker bus around the city! Yes, everyone will love it!

(sorry for the small picture...I guess that's all the city thinks of it's new extravagance.)

First though, start off the trip with lunch at McDonald's. It's funny when your own family looks a bit like a school field trip, as in these two pictures...

(Sorry about the small pictures didn't actually expect me to lug around my huge camera AND six kids on the city bus did you?) (also, yes, Harry is kind of dressed as a cross between a shawshank prisoner and a biker)

And then, it's fun when your family takes up the entire back row of the top level of the double decker bus!

We had a fun day...the ride began by feeling like something at Disneyland, but as we neared the end of the hour-long loop around the city back to our car, it felt a bit more like what I'm sure a grey-hound bus ride would!

When we got back in the car we realized we'd left the remote to Harry's new light saber lamp in the bus. We almost gave it up to the lost gods, but inspiration stuck with a phone call to dad who quickly walked to the downtown bus transfer station and picked it up. The bus driver obviously remembered the woman alone with six kids and let Dad on the bus to find the lost item. In the end, all was well.

Now, off to do something "Christmas Evey" as John has just requested!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twas Three Nights Before Christmas

And all thru the house....everyone was stirring...but hopefully not a mouse!
Well, here we are three days before Christmas, three days into Christmas break, and I'm sure you're asking yourself, "what in the world could the Brundages be doing to keep themselves busy this week?" Well, let me tell you.

I'm making rolo pretzels by the dozen (many dozen). So easy, just line a tray with pretzels, place a rolo on top, melt in a 200 degree oven for 7 minutes, finish up with some festive colored chocolate, and voila! You've got yourself a yummy and addicting treat. (Every time I eat one I tell myself, "Brooke, that's just like eating a rolo. And a package of rolos has eight in them. You wouldn't sit down and eat a package of rolos right now would you? Then why would you eat eight of these pretzels? ) Oh well, I guess logic doesn't work around the holidays.

Now all that's left to do is slap on the labels and get them the HECK OUT OF MY HOUSE! If you live near me, please do be expecting me knocking on your door soon!

Lets see, what else? We've finally gotten most of the decorations up. We only started in October.

Stockings are hung by the mantle with care:

Homemade snowflakes adorn the sliding glass door. (I did tell my husband he was in the shot...I guess that wasn't enough motivation for him to actually move.)

The tree is adorned with these birdcages:

And these birds:

I went through a whole, "should I put the birds in the cages or just let them be free" kind of discussion in my head. In the end, my laziness won out and the birds just got stuck on the tree.

I took some inspiration from my little sister's wedding this year and made mini pennant garland for my tree. Not a great picture, but I really like the overall result.

Some presents have started to appear under the tree, but since they're so OBVIOUSLY clothes, they are pretty much left alone by the children.

On the piano sits my new subway art that I downloaded from the Internet, and my new ruffle trees, also found on the Internet. I hung some ornaments in this birdcage to finish up the rule of three for my piano top display.

Today, the children had fun putting up the nativity scene on the window. I bought the window cling set at Walmart for $7, and the kids had a pretty good time with it.

In fact, it got their nativity scene juices flowing, so they dug into their huge box of playmobil toys to unearth the playmobil nativity set. Then, I think, distraction set it. This is what I saw when I walked by:

Not quite the scene I had imagined.

Then we got out the tin foil to make our rocks for pelting at Samuel the Laminate...our traditional Christmas Eve activity.

And finally, what's Christmas without a visit from all your local superheros?

Yeah I know, I'm stumped too. I have no idea why these characters have made their way into our home this week. I'm not going to complain general, those superheros tend to get along pretty well! And in a home with six kids home from school the week before Christmas, I'm certainly not going to rock the super-hero boat!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You Are Invited

Don't have plans for New Years Eve? Why not make your way over to San Luis Obispo for Harry's Baptism? I can't promise good weather, but I can promise an amazing experience and lots of strawberry cheesecake!

If you do plan on coming, please leave me a comment or shoot me an email at
Gotta have enough Cheesecake, ya know!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Brundage Birthday Bonanza X 2

Well, before Christmas hits us, I'll take today to reflect on the two December birthdays we celebrate in our family.

First, Maggie turned 10 on Monday December 6. Her celebration started early with a Friday night sleepover. It seems to be quickly becoming a tradition that Maggie celebrate her birthday by going to the Downtown Christmas parade with friends. This year was no different.

After the parade, we enjoyed chocolate fondue and the obligatory facials and cucumber eyes that must be included in any ten year old girl sleepover.

Saturday morning, we enjoyed traditional {Amazing Balls of Goodness}, bacon and juice.

At this point, we paused our celebrating until Monday morning, Maggie's actual tenth birthday. Those first double digit birthdays are a pretty big deal! At least to the person who it's happening to.

We had early morning present opening, and then it was off to school. At lunch time, Dad pulled Maggie out of school for a lunch-date at CPK (can you tell how sick of these CPK Birthday Dinners I am? I'm doing anything to avoid them). Dad and Daughter both enjoyed the time together though, so I'm thinking the traditional CPK family dinner may transform into a more intimate lunch for two from now on.

In the evening, we decided to go Chinese. We had orange chicken, rice, fortune cookies and other yummies...eaten right out of our take out boxes. Easy? Yes. Fun? Yes!

Finally, it was time for Strawberry Trifle and presents. Grandpa Joe and Grandma Carole really stole the show with this American Girl Doll Nightgown for Maggie and her doll. Thank You Thank You!

And thus ended the ten year old's birthday bash. But don't worry, in just ten more days, we had another birthday to celebrate. Yesterday, on December 16, Harry turned 8. We started the day with presents. Harry has come full circle back to a love of all things Star Wars, in particular, Darth Maul. His haul yesterday included a new Darth Maul Cloak (made by me to Harry's particular specifications), new black pants, black boots, and a double-sided lightsaber. I pulled out my old cake decorating skills and whipped up the double sided lightsaber confection. Have you ever tried the spray-on color for cake decorating? It made making red icing actually happen without the terrible taste of all the food coloring necessary to make the icing red and not pink.

Then it was off to school, only to be picked up by dad (and grandma and grandpa) for Harry's CPK Birthday lunch.

At this point, things got fun. While they kept Harry out to lunch and then running errands, I picked up the rest of the kids from school, as well as three of his friends. We all went home, and hid...waiting for Harry to come home. That's right, it was our family's first official surprise birthday party! He walked in and everything went to perfection. His friends jumped out and yelled "surprise", they blew their horns and then gave him hugs. It was kids have ALL always said they'd like a surprise party, but I was a little nervous about how they would actually react to people jumping out at them and yelling surprise. Harry's reaction was classic...even a few tears (of happiness he kept telling me), but mostly just so excited that his "friends threw him a surprise party". Apparently that's an ultimate compliment in Harry's book. After the surprise wore off, everyone suited up in Star Wars costumes with matching lightsabers, and had a great time on the trampoline, re-enacting scenes.

After a pizza dinner and lightsaber cake, we headed downtown for Farmers and free night at the Children's museum. We ended the evening at Cold Stone (for yes, even more ice cream), and a silly string fight in the back alley. Doesn't get much better than that. And even though the night ended with tears from Harry ("I'm just so sad it's over") was his only complaint, I think I can say that his 8th Birthday Party was one of the best we've ever celebrated.

So now, we have nine more days before Christmas. The kids are enjoying their last day of school today before break. I also am enjoying the last day of the kids being in school before break :). We have lots to look forward to though, including Harry's New Year's Eve Baptism. Talk about starting out the new year right!

2010 Christmas Card

Well my Christmas Cards went out a week ago, so if I didn't have your address, I apologize. Here it is... Photography by Melissa White, Design by {ME}.



Merry Christmas!

PS - Brundage Birthday Bash X 2 is coming up!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Evening Out

This year has been an odd one for us. In more ways than one. Literally, we all had odd ages for the bulk of the year. After Maggie's birthday last week, we've evened things up a bit: Five, even numbered, and Three, still odd numbered. But I'm starting to feel the shift as we move out of this odd year.There have been other odd things happening this year. My health has been odd. Joe's job has been odd. Ice cream sales have been odd. All this oddness has added up to a pretty good serving of stress for me and my little family.

Take this little boy as an example.

He turned an odd one on the tenth day of January this year. And for the past six months or so, he seems to be hurtling himself full-speed ahead with all the energy his little boy body can muster towards becoming a two year old. People always lament about the terrible twos, but I say, give me a two year old any day over an odd one year old. But we'll just have to wait and see on that one. He's interesting, this child. I believe he was the child sent last to our family because we needed to be prepared for all the ways in which he chooses to express his joy (or sometimes sorrow) in the new and exciting things he encounters in the everyday life of a one year old. He came at a time when, I can say with some confidence, I've seen pretty much all of it. I've learned a few tricks these last 12 years about raising toddlers...I wasn't expecting to be so challenged by the last little guy who made his way into our family. But, for whatever reason, I am constantly at a loss as to how to handle the stuff he dishes out to me each day. While I say I was the most prepared for this child, I also have to admit that I am, at this point, at the least capable point of my life for handling him. So many things that used to be easy are hard now. Getting him into his car seat can be a minute long battle that leaves me tired, hurting, and even a little sweaty. A trip to the grocery store with one child would have seemed like a dream two years ago. Now, I go only when absolutely necessary, even with just the one. I don't know if it's my age, my arthritis, or him that makes it so hard...probably a combination of all three.

The other night I was putting him to bed. Somehow in all our family's recent travels and my even more recent traveling, putting Jack to bed became at least an hour long ordeal of laying on the bed in his room with him in his crib, or sometimes laying in the bed in his room with him in the bed with me, or me lying on the floor in front of his crib, talking to him until he went to sleep, and then sneaking out as soon as I could. I hate living that way. It's like a one year old is holding me hostage...and really, he is. But the other night, I was lying on the bed in his room with him next to me and I was softly rubbing his arm, in a way that he seems to sooth him. And as long as I'm rubbing his arm, he's staying quiet, and hopefully heading toward sleep. But when I take my hand away, sure that he is asleep, I hear is little voice say, "Wait,please".

Wait, Please

These are two words in his very limited little boy vocabulary. A few others are NO, Spongebob (yes, I was mortified to hear my one year old say it), Help, and Truck.
But that night, as I was lying there, trying to get him to go to sleep, thinking of all the things I had to do if I could just get myself away from this little one year old terrorist who was holding me hostage, the words that came out in his tiny little baby voice, "wait, please", took on a lot more meaning than I think he was intending. To him, his words just meant, "stay here a little while longer Mama, I'm not quite ready to let you go". But for me, I felt like the words were coming from someone else, and were really telling me to "Wait,Please Brooke". Don't hurry through this task...there is something to be learned here.

And so, during this odd year, there have been a lot of things that I'd just like to hurry up and get done with. I'd like to find some medicine that makes me stop hurting. I'd like to know one way or another where my husband will work after the first of the year. I'd like to know why people seemed to have stopped buying ice cream. But, like most things in life, I don't get the answers right away. I have to WAIT for them. But, like my one year old said, I'm tyring to "Wait, Please", meaning, slow down, take your time, look around and see what can be learned from this situation. Rely on the Lord. Let your children see you rely on the Lord. Just wait, please, and see what happens. And, just as I was lying there with that little boy who kept asking me to wait, I tried to remember to wait, please, and ENJOY the waiting. Enjoy snuggling up with a little boy who all too soon will be to cool for that. Or enjoy making a mess in my house with my children as we play a game or make a craft. Or even enjoy the uncertainty of what our lives might have in store for us. Seems a whole lot better than feeling sorry for ourselves.

So, we're starting into this busy holiday season. In fact, we're fully ensconced in this busy holiday season. In my family, we have Christmas and TWO birthdays. We have four class parties and piano and band recitals. We have church parties and work parties....our lives are pretty full. So, as I hurriedly head out for my next event, I'm going to try and "wait, please". To enjoy the season around me and to give thanks for the reason we celebrate it.

And thus ends the longest blog post with the smallest word to picture ratio.

I'll be back soon...we had some pretty good fun at my house when a little girl who lives here had a birthday and celebrated double digits. And I know we're going to have some pretty good fun in a few days when a certain boy at my house turns eight and celebrates all that comes with that. So much to look forward to...not to hurry up and get through, but to wait, please, and enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Welcome Baby

I was so lucky and got to spend four days last week with my little sister as she had her second child. Maggie and I drove down to San Juan Capistrano early Wednesday morning, and got to be there as Stephen Craig Lark made his way happily into the world and into his beautiful little family.

I love this picture. This was taken right before Alyssa began pushing. Doesn't she look so serene, and natural, and focused? She looks to me like she really understands the power she has a woman to help the Lord in bringing a child into the world. Maybe I'm over-thinking it, in fact, I'm SURE I'm way over-thinking it. I'm sure what she was really thinking at that moment was something along the lines of "Just get this baby out of me!" But the former is what I prefer to believe she was thinking. I just love those moments right before and right after a new child is born...I've never been to a birth before, other than when my own children were born. What a wonderful experience...thank you, Alyssa, for letting me be a part of it.

So here's the little guy...all 7 pounds 12 ounces of him.

By the time we got him home on Friday, Maggie and I had done a little shopping, including a trip to the Build-A-Bear workshop. We picked out these little Darth Vader and Mace Windu outfits to bring home to Harry and Charlie. But first, we thought Stephen would look awfully cute in them. Darth Vader didn't fit, but the Jedi uniform did....the force is strong is this youngling.

Before we left on Saturday, we had some time to take a few family photos...
Here's Maggie with Ada. Ada loved her big cousin Maggie. It made us to sad to drive away and see her crying becuase we were leaving. Maggie seems to have made quite an impression on this little one year old:

And finally, a picture of me with a baby that I didn't have to deliver. I think that's a first!

Taylor and Alyssa, well done.
Thank you again for letting me and Mags witness such a special event.
We will truly never forget it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I've been thinking for two days how to write this blog post in a cute and clever way. But I'm stuck. It's just not happening today. So, how about a photo tour of our weekend instead? Sound good? Good..

These two lovely people got married.
It was a beautiful ceremony, and I got to spend an hour in the temple wiht my parents and ALL of my six siblings. That was a first for our family, and it was pretty cool.

All of my children(plus their numerous cousins) survived being left outside of the temple and left to their own devices during the wedding. I just liked this picture of Charlie.

I also just liked this picture of John.

The wedding reception was perfectly fun...bounce house, dancing, balloon animals, cotton candy, you name it, we had it. Including a fractured elbow for Harry at the end of the night. You know, a vacation for our family is really never complete without a trip to the ER.
(Isn't my brother so handsome? I loved this picture of him with his youngest daughter)

Just when my kids thought they'd never had a better weekend, it got better. We went to Disneyland. We'd been planning this for a couple of weeks, but wanted to keep it a surprise. They were surprised. They kept saying things like, "I can't believe we're actually here". We hadn't been to Disneyland in a while - something like three years. We'd never been without grandma and grandpa or friends to help us out. But we had so much fun with just our own "little" family. We only had one breakdown when Charlie found himself one inch too short for the Indiana Jones ride. Otherwise, he was proabaly our best rider...he did them all...Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, all the other mountains, he even fought Darth Vader! They only thing sad about the day was that we didn't really have any extra time or hands to take many pictures. But here's a small sampling...

I love this picture. I have another version of it from an earlier trip to Disneyland. Except now there are two more children in the photo.

It's pretty fun when your own family takes up almost the entire ride!

A year ago, this picture would have been impossible. It's amazing what turning four can do for a boy afraid of people dressed up in animal costumes.

We had some Jedi training in the afternoon...

And then I took Maggie and the two little boys over to Toontown and Fantasyland while the bigger boys and dad hit up the "scary" rides.

Did you know I had twins? Just born a few years apart.

We closed the park down and headed for home. My husband was a super-trooper and got us all home safely,(but a little cranky) by 1:00 a.m.

And now, two days and thirteen loads of laundry later, we are officially unpacked.
Yes, really, thirteen. I think we'll be staying home for Thanksgiving.