Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Breakfast Dinner

Tonight dinner was supposed to be easy. It was breakfast dinner night. Can't be hard, right? Well I have to say I have never had such a fiasco in the kitchen as I did tonight.

Now part of the problem is that Rehm likes only pancakes and bacon, Charlotte likes only eggs and sausage (OK she'll eat pancakes and bacon but they aren't her favorite) and Ruby and Eliza Claire will eat it all.

So I'm cooking the bacon and sausage, mixing the pancakes and trying to get the eggs in a bowl to scramble. Eliza Claire is fussy and wants to be held, so I'm doing this all one handed. I get the egg carton open and Eliza Claire decides she must have the carton right this second. Yep she knocks the whole thing in the floor, upside down of course. A full dozen eggs on the floor, smashed! Of course, at that exact moment all of my children get a sudden urge to be in the kitchen, no other place will do. The closer they can get to the raw oozing egg mess the better.

Oh and now what is that I smell? Oops, that would be the bacon. Burned to a crisp. Uh oh, I forgot that pancake was in the pan, yep burned. Oh my, where is that baby, about to crawl through raw eggs. Yikes! What to do!

I turned off all the burners, banned all the children from the kitchen (which is hard to do since it is completely open to the family room). I called Michael to tell him I ruined dinner. He offered to pick up something. I asked him to come home and let me see if I could salvage it.

While still holding Eliza Claire (she was having none of being banished to the family room) I managed to get the eggs off the floor, find more bacon, save the sausage from burning and start more pancakes.

By the time Michael got home I had pancakes, sausage, bacon and 3 scrambled eggs ready. We all managed to find enough to eat, I'm not sure how, but we did.

I have never, ever, ever had a dinner turn out so poorly. I'm a good cook - according to Rehm. How do you mess up breakfast dinner? It is easy. Nothing to it. If I was going to mess up dinner you would expect it to be something like last night's dinner. Last night I made Fettuccine Alfredo, marinated chicken, sauteed mushrooms and onions in a white wine sauce and steamed peas. All without a recipe! All while holding Eliza Claire. It was yummy! Delicious! I felt like super mom making dinner from scratch (OK I didn't make the pasta, just boiled it). And then tonight complete and utter failure and on such an easy meal. The shame, the horror! How?????


PS Sorry for the lack of pictures. I thought about taking some of the disaster zone but alas the safety of the children won out over the desire to record this fiasco.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Grade

Yesterday was Rehm's first day of first grade. He has a great teacher and already knew at least six kids in his class. He seemed to enjoy his day though I could not get much information out of him about it.

He brought the "What's It" Box home with him yesterday with instructions to place one item in it and bring it back to school. He was supposed be able to give the class three clues about what was in the box. He could not bring a toy. His three clues were: it's a collection, it's a special type of rock, You can make them with sugar. Some of the guess were: gemstones and sugar crystals. He actually took his crystal collect (small pieces of quartz he found on the playground last week and carried around in his pocket all that day)


I've spent the last hour trying to upload our traditional first day of school video but keep having technical difficulty. Hopefully I'll be able to add it soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mommy Charlotte

Today Real Mommy was playing "Babies" in the car with Charlotte. It was my turn to be the baby and Charlotte was my Mommy.

Here is a portion of our conversation,

Baby: "What's my Daddy's name?"
Mommy: "I don't know, he didn't tell me."
Baby: "Oh"
Mommy: "I think his name is Tottis, yeah, that's it."
Baby: "How old am I?'
Mommy: "One. Your birthday is tomorrow!"
Baby: "How old will I be then?"
Mommy: "Two"
Baby: "How old are you Mommy?"
Mommy: "Sixteen, you have to be at least that old to be a Mommy."
Baby: "How old is my Daddy?"
Mommy: "One older than sixteen...let me count...13, yeah that's right."

So Mommy Charlotte was 16 with a two year old and she didn't know the daddy's name! I've got a lot of educating to do.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Charlotte's Favorite Activities

Every night at bed time Michael asks each of the kids what their favorite activity was that day. Then when they pray they thank God for doing that activity.

Tonight we were talking after the kids went to sleep. I asked Michael what Charlotte's favorite thing was today. He said it was playing Sea World.

I thought that was interesting because Charlotte asked me to play Sea World in the car today and got side tracked and we never played. Sea World in the car usually consists of someone being the worker and someone being the visitor and going from activity to activity at Sea World - this is always played in the car so it is just an imagination game. Most of the time Rehm is the worker and when we "arrive" at Sea World we are the one millionth customer and get lots of freebies and a dedicated staff member to take us from place to place.

I voiced my surprise to Michael since we never actually played and he said "Yeah you did, you went outside in the back yard and you blew up her dolphin float and Charlotte went swimming with the dolphins..." At this point I interupt to say "Um, we didn't do any of that."

So I asked what her favorite thing was yesterday. It was playing dolls with me - we never played dolls yesterday!

I expressed my concern to Michael that her favorite activities all seem to be made up and that I'm a terrible mother. His response was "well, Charlotte thinks your a great mom." Apparently her Imaginary Mommy is a great mom but her real mother obviously needs to spend a little more time playing with her.

Who knew you could feel so terrible when your daughter is telling huge lies.

Off to be more like Imaginary Mommy,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Charlotte and Big Mo

Here are the promised pictures of Charlotte and the water slide.


During (click on the picture to see it larger to get the full facial expression)


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mo Ranch

This weekend we traveled to Hunt, Texas to attend the "All Family Retreat" our church was hosting at Mo Ranch. This is our second year to go. Yes, we were crazy enough to go last year with two eight week old babies. What were we thinking?

Again this year I was just amazed at how wonderful this trip is. I did not get to attend any of the adult programming as I was helping with the children's programming at those times. I did hear the speaker was really good.

The thing that has struck me both years on this trip is how much my family feels part of the larger community. There were countless times where adults went out of their way to connect with my children. My children are learning that their church cares deeply and personally about them and not just on Sunday mornings but every day.

At every baptism in our church we as a congregation promise to help the child grow in their faith. Mo Ranch is one of those times when I feel like our church really does this, not just in the programming but more in the personal connections.

We arrived on Friday Evening in time for dinner. After unpacking and having a quick dinner it was time to go to the opening programming. Programming wasn't over until 9:30 so it was really late before the kids were all in bed. Rehm and Charlotte were staying in Grandma and Grandpa's room (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa). They had a leaking toilet and had to change rooms at 10:30pm! So it was a really late night for them. After kids went to bed I got the opportunity to visit was good friends for a few hours and catch up.

Saturday everyone was up and ready for breakfast by 8:00am. Then it was off to the morning programming. After the program we all met for lunch. That afternoon we had free time. Grandma and Grandpa were nice and offered to watch Ruby and Eliza Claire so we could take the big kids to the river. Ruby and Eliza Claire were so sleep deprived at this point they didn't want to nap. I'm afraid it wasn't a very pleasant afternoon for Grandma and Grandpa. Thanks again for doing this.

Michael, the big kids and I started off at the pool but with in a half an hour had decided to go check out the Guadalupe River. Charlotte decided she wanted to ride Big Mo, a really tall and fast "water slide." She rode with Michael. Her face coming down said it all (picture to come). When she got back to shore she said it was "pretty fun" but did not want to ride again. Rehm wouldn't ride.

After Big Mo we headed off to the rapids. This is an area in the river where the limestone is very close to the surface. The river has eroded the stone in a way that forms a natural water slide. Due to recent rain the river was probably a foot to foot and a half higher than last year and more swift as well. Last year both kids loved it. This year Charlotte loved it and went down the rapids proabbly 20+ times. Rehm only did it three times and two of those were with a borrowed intertube. Apparently it was too much for him this year. He enjoyed sliding down one big rock into the river instead. We spent a couple of hours enjoying the river and then it was time to head back. On the way back the kids convinced us to take out a canoe for a quick trip up the river. This of course is the first time I've been in a small boat in probably 20 years - since I used to go fishing with my Dad. This was the first time I'd ever had paddling responsibilities and of course I had not clue what to do. Michael was right it was pretty easy. The kids had fun and we paddled up to the rapids and back.

Then we had dinner and entertainment for the whole family (singing songs and face painting). After getting all the kids to bed we sat outside with our friends Clark and Meredith, Grandma and Grandpa, and Clark's parents. It was so nice to get to visit with everyone and connect across generations. Again that sense of community. Church is not just a place we go on Sunday morning. It is a group of people that truly care about each other and come together through their mutual love of God.

Sunday we had breakfast and packed up the room. I got locked out of the room and it took 3 trips to the office to finally get a key that worked. Then it was time for worship. Rehm had a complete and total meltdown on the way to worship (thanks to too little sleep and too many activities). It was not pretty. Luckily he eventually got over it and was able to join us for worship.

Worship is held at an outdoor chapel overlooking the river. It is always a moving experience for me. During the service we Passed the Peace (Meaning we would tell each other "the peace of Christ be with you" and the other person would respond "and also with you") What was especially moving for me was to bend down and pass the peace to all of the precious children around me. To do my part in helping them know that God loves them and that they are important to Him and our church. I'm sure they don't understand at this point but hope when they are older they will look back on these experiences and see that there were several adults besides their parents and grandparents that loved them and wanted them to know Christ.

After the service we finished packing the car. Had lunch with our dear friends the Weatherbys and the Kildays and headed home.

It was a blessed weekend. It is a tradition I hope we as a church and we as a family continue for many years to come. I think it is so important and part of what makes it special is that it is a multi generational experience. It isn't just something for families with small kids, or families with youth. Having friends, parents, and grandparents all there and involved is just an awesome experience. It is what the Church is supposed to be.

I'm reminded of a song my kids have learned in Sunday school:

The church is not a building,
The church is not a steeple,
The church is not a resting place,
The church is the people.

Here are pictures from this year and last. It seems that I forgot to take my camera to many of the things we did this year.

Blessings to all,

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Traveling Halfway Across the Country with Four Kids

Many people have asked me how we did it? So I'll take a few minutes to explain.

The most important thing is planning. This starts a few weeks ahead of time and includes everything from planning the route and hotel stops to planning what to pack to planning what toys and snacks to have in the car. Now granted Michael's answer would probably be different but I'm a planner by nature so for me this is a must. A trip that takes 3 days to get to the destination definitely adds complexity to the plan. You have to figure out what you need while you are there versus what you need while traveling and have enough room for both. I go as far as making a packing list for each person and for the car. Then I make a list of all the things I have to do before I leave. Then I make a list for the pet sitter. By this point Micheal is rolling his eyes. Then I pack the packing list so I know what I should come home with. Then he really rolls his eyes.

Once everything is packed and in the car it is all about attitude. The trip is an "Adventure" not "the longest time we have ever spent cooped up in the car trying not to kill each other." This means going with the flow. If someone has to go the bathroom 30 minutes after the last stop you laugh about it and take away their water bottle. If someone gets a speeding ticket you ask them to at least not get another one until we reach the next state, instead of reminding them of the hassle and cost. If you realize neither of you printed the directions to the hotel, well then you get a little snippy. If you get to the hotel at 11 pm instead of 8pm and everyone is cranky you give them a bath and read them a story and cross your fingers they all go to sleep. If you get to the hotel at 7:00 and everyone is cranky, you give them a bath, read them a story and turn the lights off at 8:00 even though you aren't tired - a good book light comes in handy.

We make frequent stops, about every three hours. We eat breakfast at the hotel. Our first stop is for lunch. We usually end up at a McDonald's with a indoor playscape. Our next stop is mid-afternoon, again at a fast food place with a playscape. These two stops really help as the kids get to run around and play for a bit. When they get tired of playing I use my stop watch to time them going through the maze. This makes it fun again and gets about 10 more minutes of activity out of them. Most days we have an unexpected "I gotta go potty bad, Bad, BAD" stop that is at the closest gas station or "forest" we can find. Dinner is usually a sit down restaurant so we can have something have way healthy to eat.

The kids watch a bunch of DVD's and eat a bunch of snacks. The little ones take a couple of naps. Charlotte usually gets bored with the TV and asks us to play games with her. She usually picks some kind of pretend game, most often Baby. She's the baby, I'm the Mommy, Michael is the Daddy. Hmmm. Why does that sound so familiar?

When we get to the hotel the big kids help carry in the "hotel" bags and pack-n-plays while Ruby and Eliza Claire enjoy crawling around and being free. Then it is bath time and bedtime. I would love to say that everyone goes right to sleep. In actuality trying to get 6 people to sleep peacefully in the same room is impossible. We quickly found that Rehm and Charlotte can not share a bed. And that at least one baby will end up not sleeping in the pack-n-play. And everyone wakes up early.

I hope all of us will look back on these trips as fun family adventures. And they will turn into stories our children tell their children about "the great vacations we took when we were kids."

So that is how we travel halfway across the country with four kids...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

So Big

When did my babies get so big? Today Eliza Claire woke up from her nap not feeling well and fussy. Ruby went with me to get her up. While I was sitting in the rocker comforting Eliza Claire, Ruby crawled over to Eliza Claire's crib and got her lovie and brought it to Eliza Claire. Then she crawled back to Eliza Claire's crib and got her paci and brought it to her. Then she crawled back over and got her blankie and brought it to her!

When did they get big enough to understand this much and do this much? What an empathetic little girl Ruby is. Hopefully Eliza Claire will feel better soon.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Adding a Fifth

Yes, we are crazy. No, we don't know what we were thinking. But it is true, this week we have a fifth child at our house. Our sweet niece Brooke is spending the week with us.

Hee, hee that was fun. Admit it you thought we were expecting again and you thought we were CRAZY! Well we aren't quite that crazy. So you can rest easy.

Brooke will be here until Saturday. She is such a sweet child and such a blessing to have. She comes most summers for a visit. Charlotte is so happy to have a big sister to play with this week. I think Brook is enjoying having babies to play with too. This morning she even helped me get the twins dressed. She did a great job but was surprised at how hard it was.

Off to pack dinners, we have to go back to church so I can work.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


We are finally home from a 3.5 week vacation to NC. We arrived home Saturday evening and I'm just now getting a minute to post. Now I shouldn't be posting, I should be emptying the dishwasher, folding clothes, putting away the last few items from the trip that have no home and most of all working. But, here I am.

We drove from Texas to Pine Knoll Shores, NC in three days - 2 long days and 1 short day. It was amazing to drive through Texas and see all the creeks and rivers above their banks and for everything to be green. Usually by July everything is pretty brown in these parts. Everyone traveled well.

Our first week in NC was spent at the beach with Papa, Cici, Aunt Sherri and Zander. It was wonderful. The kids loved the ocean. Charlotte didn't remember it from her last trip two year ago but decided the ocean was awesome and in typical Charlotte style had no fear. She kept asking her Daddy to take her our further and further and loved riding the waves. Rehm enjoyed looking for sand fleas, fishing with Papa (they caught a small shark) and riding waves. He was definitely more cautious than Charlotte. Ruby and Eliza thought they should eat sand and shells. The loved the edge of the ocean and crawled around exploring.

While at the beach we went to play miniature golf, to the aquarium, to Fort Macon (for a civil war reenactment, no less - Rehm even got to train to be in the army), and to the town of Beaufort where Michael and I were married.

We happened to be at the beach for my birthday. Michael kept asking what I wanted to do to celebrate. I had no ideas but knew I needed to come up with something or he would just keep bugging me. I found a flyer for parasailing and decided that is what I wanted to do for my birthday. It was a lot of fun. It was not as thrilling as I expected it to be it was much more peaceful. I would definitely do it again sometime.

We dropped Michael at the airport on our way to my parents house. The kids and I stayed with them for almost two weeks. We had fun going to the children's museum, going to breakfast at Mickey's , visiting with Granny and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins, going to the park, sewing with Cici, making potholders and making picture frames with shells we collected at the beach.

More details to come later,

PS If you can't see the slide show all the pictures can be seen here