Tuesday, January 18, 2011

It's Garbage Day Today

Well here's a point for nurture verses nature. Never had a boy before John who loved trucks, and now I have two? This picture reminds me a bit of an I-Spy picture. How many garbage trucks can you count?

A divine cure for my January Blues came this weekend via lovely weather in the high seventies here on the central coast. We spent the weekend playing in the toy ice cream truck, taking rides on the power wheel jeep, and generally just enjoying the sunny days.

And what have I been busy doing? Trying to find the silver lining in this:

Yeah, if I want to actually feel my fingers, this little baby is part of my life pretty much 24/7. So, the silver (or striped or argyle) lining:

Fun little covers made from socks, old sweaters and baby legwarmers. Now I have an instant accessory for every outfit. Built in, you might say.

And if that doesn't make your day, try this:

Nothing like popcorn and pink m&m's to bring you out of the January Blues.

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some Not So New Year Resolutions

At our home, after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and December birthdays, we have a few days to figure out how to get all the Christmas decorations down and put into some orderly fashion, before we dive head-first into Jack's birthday...which, maybe because he's the youngest, we tend to do each year. Dive in head first, that is. There are always lots of events to post about, and lots of pretty pictures to share, but honestly, not a lot of time to think, or process information, or contemplate about the future.

But then after January 10th and all it's trimmings are put away and organized neatly, I usually get a mild case of the January Blues. Which, really, just means I start feeling a bit sorry for myself, and the weather is usually a little less blue here than we're used to. (I know, absolutely no reason to complain from the Central Coast of California) And it's not as if I'm bored or anything, we certainly have lots of THINGS to do to keep us busy. Four children wanting to be part of the school's variety show, piano lessons and practice, (which I always try to re-commit to after the new year) Scouts, both Boy and Cub now, Activity Days, so many things to do to keep us busy and running. But we sort of put ourselves on auto-pilot and fall into the routine of these very busy lives we live and sometimes forget that there is a purpose to all the things we do.

A couple of nights ago, we were tyring to sit down to dinner. We were having pot roast stroganoff over egg noodles. It may sound odd, but this is a pretty standard meal at our home, probably made once a week, and basically just means that Joe and I and a couple of our more experimental children actually eat the pot roast stroganoff over egg noodles while the rest of our children eat large bowls of egg noddles with butter and Parmesan cheese. We do insist that they use a fork to shovel the noddles in...and even that is sometimes a battle. I know that family dinners are important...you hear about it all the time...it may really be true, or it might just be propaganda given to us by all the Stauffers and Krafts of the world. Anyway, it was one of those nights, and everything was SO loud. People were talking over one another, people were putting one another down, food was being spilled orders were being shouted...it was just one of those nights where it didn't really even feel like it was worth it to try. I was just about ready to take my dinner up to my bedroom, lock the door and let everyone fend for themselves, when suddenly, my brilliant husband had a brilliant idea. He said, "okay everyone...it's 6:04 right now. For the next 10 minutes, or until 6:14, we are going to do nothing but whisper. If you can make it the whole ten minutes, you get out of helping with the dishes."

Ahhh...the silence...it was amazing...even though with seven people whispering and Jack prattling along in his normal voice, it wasn't really silence. But still, the whole level of sound went down, and it was then that I decided I could be bothered to stay at the dinner table with the rest of my family. And for ten minutes, I looked around at my beautiful family, and all their beautiful little faces (even covered with food) and for a moment I really just felt the blessings of my beautiful family and life.

Last year, I made a resolution to decorate my home for each holiday. This was kind of a worldly resolution. It didn't really do anything to grow my testimony or bring my family closer together or to the Lord. But it did serve an important purpose. It got me out of bed most days and helped me to mark the passing of time. The passing of time was the only thing I had going for me last year as far as my health getting better was concerned. All the doctors could say was, "give it time, let the medicine work, each new medicine will take time" But when raising six kids, daily and chronic pain was not something where I wanted the time to pass slowly. And for some reason, the little bits of decorating as the seasons and holidays progressed helped me to remember that maybe my health was progressing too. I had fun too...and the kids enjoyed it as well.

This year, I have another new resolution, and once again it's kind a worldly one. I want to get rid of, or organize, or do whatever it takes with all the STUFF my family has accumulated over the past few years, so that I don't feel like the stuff is controlling me. I want to be in control of all the stuff. I want to know where it is and how to get to it, and what shape it is in, and basically just get things organized and compartmentalized. My ulterior motive for this is kind of a sad one. I don't know what the future holds for us. I don't know if living in this home where I brought home each and every one of my six little babies is going to be a reality for our family in the next year. So, I want to be prepared if and when that happens. Coldstone is officially up for sale. We didn't return our Christmas decorations to the storage area there this year. We had to find room for them in the garage that is already filled with bikes and costumes and tools and lawnmowers and other stuff. And as we worked last weekend in the garage I looked at each item to be put away and tried to decide whether I was in control of it, or if it was controlling me.

The other night, during our ten minutes of "silence", I made another resolution. I'm not ready for any of my children to get lost in the noise that a large family can create. I want to find time each day or each week, to really look at each child, to really see where they are. To take their testimony temperature. To listen to them and to hear from them what they need from our family to succeed in this life. And finally, to put other, perhaps less important things aside, (like laundry, a clean home, sleep) to actually DO something about what I learn during those moments of inquiry. To call the teacher of the child who's having a hard time. To sit down and work through those hard measures of music, or to sit and read a book or even just snuggle up with a child instead of turning on a show for them so that I can get one more craft done, or one more nap in, or one more toilet cleaned - obviously that one shouldn't be a hard choice to make!

And just in case any of you are also experiencing those January Blues, go to eighteen25 and print yourself some of these. Then, get some pink and turquoise spray
paint...there's not much better for those January Blues than some pink spray paint!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two Be Or Not Two Be?

Well, it's not really a question, just a statement of fact. When you've lived 730 days on this earth, you have to turn two. No two ways about it. Okay, enough with the twoisms, and ontwo (okay, that was just bad) a Joe and Brooke Plus Six First. It's a big one, so get ready. It's a....


I know...I swore I'd never do a tutorial, but maybe your feelings of shock and awe will change when you see the title of the Tutorial:

"How To Turn Two as the Youngest Child in a Family of Six"

Okay, here goes...I've never done this tutorial stuff before so bear with me.

First, the night before, take a bath with your older brothers....this provides some good bonding time for all of you, plus you can tell them all the stuff you want for your birthday.

Wake up cranky. This is a very important step when turning two. You're not supposed to understand what a birthday is. You're just supposed to be very annoyed that your parents are making you sit on a table full of gifts at seven in the morning and not just letting you watch your shows and drink your chocolate milk (which you've recently switched to in preparation for turning two...no more of that whole milk baby stuff...)

Third, take another look at those gifts on the table. Maybe, like that one day a few weeks ago, those brightly colored packages have fun things in them:

Oh yeah, now it's coming back to you...this gift thing could be fun... especially when this gift was specifically picked out for you by your next older brother at the drug store (who knows you better than that cool guy?):

Next,(I've already forgotten what number we're on), walk the older kids to the bus stop, be a little disappointed when they don't let you get on the bus (they've done everything else you wanted up until this point), but get over it quickly when you go to the grocery store with mom and get to buy the "mouse" balloon you've been mooning over for just weeks. Plus, ask for a candy bar, and try to act cool about it when you actually get it. Maybe if you don't say anything, they'll just keep doing everything you want.

When you get home, convince your mom that you most certainly do not need a nap (do this by kicking and screaming in your crib until she feels so sorry for you on your birthday that she'll come and get you...even if she knows that means you'll be cranky later on when the guests arrive for your party), and convince your older brother (who just learned how to drive that cool green car we unearthed in the garage this weekend during spring cleanup weekend) to take you on a cruise around the block.

Drive around long enough on the cool green car that you see the even cooler big yellow school bus pull up. Yell and scream and be excited for your older brothers and sister to get off the bus. Try and figure out a way to tell them that mom has gone CRAZY. She is letting you do whatever you want ALL day. See if you can figure out a way to tell them they should tell her to take you all back to Disneyland. That was sure a fun place. But, if you can't figure out how to do that, accept fun swingy 1,2,3, rides from Joe and Maggie all the way home...hey, it's almost as good as Disneyland.

Do not even show a care when the cool green car gets repossessed by it's original owners, Harry and Charlie. It's been such a fun day, nothing can get you down.

But wait, something does get you down. You suddenly find yourself very tired. It's almost four o'clock and your guests are due to arrive in only a couple of hours. What can possibly be done? I guess you just have to crash. Your mother is so excited to have a few moments with you asleep that she doesn't even sneak in to take your picture.

Sleep just long enough to wake up cranky (again - hey it worked the first time) and be forced, yet again, into another photograph at the kitchen table. What is the deal with pictures at the kitchen table? Is there no other place we can take them? Don't feel bad that you're frowning when everyone else is smiling...or that you're the only one not wearing a party hat....remember, it's your birthday. You don't have to impress anyone.

Finally, hear the doorbell and run to see that your most favorite person in all of the world has arrived to save you from this whole mess...Grandpa. Nothing like that lap of his. Sit in that lap for a few minutes and everything looks a little better...even when your mother shoves a burning cupcake in your face while singing. What the?

Open a few more presents, enjoy time with your friends, and then still act a little disappointed when the day is over. You're a kid, right? You're entitled.

Finally, and this step is important, watch your parents as they put all your brothers and your sister to bed, but let you stay up. That's what you get when you sleep from four to six in the afternoon. Run happily around the house playing with your new things, occasionally hop on your mom's lap as she types on that computer that she seems ALWAYS to be on, but then hop off and go watch a show or something. John says there are new Team Umizoomi's on all week. What could be better?

Wait long enough, and your mom will stop typing...then she'll come and snuggle up on her bed with you. Just her and you. Just like when you born. Seven Hundred and Thirty Days ago.

That's it...this is the end. What do you think of my first tutorial? Not bad for a first-timer I'd say. Now, it's off to get that snuggling in, and to try and not think about how I'll be doing this all again in a few weeks, but this time for a twelve year old. I have a feeling a tutorial on turning twelve would have a lot fewer steps!

Disclaimer: My husband hates this kind of stuff...you know, like when parents write the Christmas letter from the perspective of a different child each year? It's just one of his pet peeves. So, if you're like him, please, apologies all around.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Monday New Year

I accidentally pulled my pre-prednisone size 27 COH's jeans out of my closet this morning and pulled them about a third of the way up my post-prednisone size hips before I realized my mistake. Not a great way to start a new year Monday morning. I celebrated by walking my kids to the bus stop and then returning home and eating an entire maple bar.

Happy Monday New Year to all!

PS: I really am totally happy wearing my post-prednisone size 29 COH's. I just need to put the 27's back further in the closet!

PPS: I didn't eat all FOUR of those maple bars....it's just the best picture I could find quickly on google images. Although, had all four of THOSE maple bars been in my house this morning, I might have eaten them all. :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Year, But An Old Post

So before we get too far into the new year of 2011 and all the adventures I'm sure it will have to offer, lets round out the year of 2010 with our Christmas adventures and Harry's amazing baptism.

First I guess, would be Christmas Eve. This was spent in our traditional style with a few new twists.

In the early afternoon, we packed a lunch and Joe took his two younger brothers hiking up Bishop's Peak. Do you remember hearing in the news about how much it rained in California over the past few weeks? About how six counties in the state declared a state of emergency? Yeah, that was us. Well Christmas eve dawned clear but cold (for us anyway), and the boys were excited to get out and go hiking. I don't have any pictures of this...I was already sending a cell phone with them, I didn't feel like losing two pieces of technical equipment that day. I think they made it almost to the top...which was a great achievement. But the better achievement? Three brothers working together and having fun together for over five hours! Seriously, priceless!

While the boys hiked a {mountain} (located conveniently behind Grandma and Grandpa's house), Maggie spent the afternoon at their house helping Grandma to prepare the Brundage Family traditional Christmas Eve dinner of SOUP. Yeah, I'm not sure EXACTLY when our how that tradition started, but I LOVE it. Easy, fast, and if rolls are included, yummy for everyone in the family.

Here's the boys preparing to eat- they were hungry after all that hiking!

Jack kind of stole the show that evening for his astonishing cuteness:

And yet more cuteness...all six of my children have worn this Santa shirt from Target circa 1999. It's survived pretty well. When you asked Jack who was on his shirt, he would answer with a simple, "Ho Ho Ho" in a deep voice, followed by a giggle. Too cute. It's really good he's cute. He's really a stinker. Just saying.

After dinner, traditional Christmas Eve Jammies were opened. This picture shows how ridiculously hard it is to get a shot of six children on Christmas Eve after opening just ONE present.

And again, Jack with the cuteness:

Next up in the program, our Samuel the Lamanite Re-enactment.

We upgraded this year by making a drop-cloth/PVC pipe rock wall for Samuel to stand on (well, actually to stand behind).Also, new cookie sheets made great shields. Tin foil balls were thrown, everyone got a turn, and then we moved onto the next activity, which was obviously, breaking sand dollars with a hammer. Again, obviously.

Finally, the evening was over, and it was time to head home and wait for Santa....who made a pretty good showing at our house.

Mom and Dad made a pretty good showing at our house too:

Charlie's stocking was so heavy the hook couldn't handle the weight

But before any presents could be opened, or even seen, the obligatory Christmas morning on the stairs picture was taken. It was easy with five children:

Not so easy with six:

Some random pictures of present opening:

Jack really was more excited about this gift than the picture portrays:

This picture represents the curse of Christmas 2010. Nine days later and we've FINALLY gotten this set put together. And when I say we, I mean Joe.

Some new blankets made for growing boys by mom. One made without my new walking foot, one with. Verdict...walking foot equals awesomeness.

See this Lord of the Rings replica ring that Harry got? If you do, could you return it to us? We haven't seen it since the 2:30 Christmas Day showing of Gulliver's Travels in the Fremont Theatre. Well, you win some, you lose some.

Oh...I'm getting tired of typing..not even my very stylish new wrist braces I received a few days after Christmas following a very unpleasant EMG procedure can keep away the tingling fingers on a post this long. So, let's hurry a bit through the next part.

Harry's baptism:

A big thank you to Barbara for the beautiful rendering of Harry with Jesus. Something I'm sure he will always treasure:

Some children posing pre-baptism. Funny story...I think Harry is the only child that has his own Baptismal clothes as part of his regular wardrobe. He took one look at the jumpsuit that the boys usually wear and said, "can't I wear something else?" So, we accommodated. Only the tie had to be borrowed.

Obligatory pictures with Grandmas, Grandpas, and baptizing fathers:

A quick practice session in the hallway:

And the thing was done and it was on to refreshments...certainly not the highlight of the afternoon, but a definite perk. Harry requested cheesecake and sparkling apple cider.(He really wanted to serve the cider in plastic champagne glasses, but I convinced him that maybe that was not the most appropriate thing to do at his baptism, even if it was on New Years Eve) Other than that, I was happy to accommodate...with a few additions. ALL food courtesy of Costco and my am-ex card:

The "after" shot with the entire family..don't you just love my new RA haircut and sock brace cover? I'm sure it will soon be all the rage in the RA community.:

Well,that was pretty much it...I can't think of a much better way to start a new year than by having a baptism.

And finally, this post was brought to you by my most favorite Christmas gift to myself.

Keeps soda cold and most importantly, virtually unspill-able. It has been well-used these last two weeks of Christmas break. Maybe it will get a break tomorrow when the children all go BACK TO SCHOOL!