Monday, June 30, 2008

Round 'em up!

We went to the Round Up parade on Saturday morning. I forgot my camera, which made me feel like a fish out of water. Some of the floats were so creative. I loved them. McKay is a marching band junkie. He wanted to follow all of them. He looked after them until they were out of sight. Maybe he'll be in the band one day. Probably. He has a good dose of band geek in him from his mom.

Then we came back later on that afternoon. Hannah and Michael were off for the afternoon, so it was McKay, Garrett and Ella. They rode ponies (led by the high school FFA club), ate cotton candy, ate slushies and watched some kids dance. We didn't stay for a long long time, but it was enough for the kids to think they were pretty lucky! I estimate they both consumed about 1/2 cup of pure sugar each between the cotton candy and slushies. Yeah, I'm all about health food.

I knew that when I sent off my camera to get a tune up and get fixed, photo ops galore would present themselves. Still, my Lumix did a passable job. Of course, I still am sad that they are not even close to what they could have been. But we caught the moment, and that is the most important thing.

Married 11 years

On Saturday, Darwin and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary. We were really low key about it. We took the kids to the Round-Up Days parade, took McKay and Garrett for rides on the pony (Hannah and Michael were off with Rachel's mom for a bit) and some cotton candy and icees. It was quite enjoyable. Even Ella liked just sitting under the cool shade of the HUGE trees in the park.

We did some shopping and cleaning. Then Darwin's mom came and watched the kids while we went to Applebees (yes, I think this is our favorite place to go out to. Good food and we always see people we know there.) It just feels nice to get out for an hour or so. Not long enough to really worry, but long enough to kind of relax.

They we stopped over at Darwin's mom's house and helped her get some emergency preparedness stuff squared away. The kids love going over to her house. They were in heaven.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable day.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In action!

There she goes! Please excuse the untidy family room. Rolling waits for no one! She is getting so big! So, now we wait for front to back rolling...and she'll be off! ;)

After the rolling, she was pretty tired. Poor girlie.

Kid tag

My sister-in-law tagged Hannah and Garrett with these questions. We'll see how Garrett goes. Sometimes he is a great talker. Sometimes he just says, "This!"

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Hannah: "Be nice."
Garrett: "Ummm, no! And That! And toes and rain!"

2. What makes mom happy?
Hannah: "Loving her!"
Garrett: "Moon! Hey! Moon!"

3. What makes mom sad?
Hannah: "Being mean to my brothers."
Garrett: "Ha ha! Woohoo! Balloons!"

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Hannah: "By doing funny things"
Garrett: "Jump in the pool!"

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Hannah: "She liked to play and play Barbies."
Garrett: "Jump in the pool!"

6. How old is your mom?
Hannah: "16, actually, not 19. 16, I mean."
Garrett: "Hats!"

7. How tall is your mom?
Hannah: "Littlish big, but my dad is bigger."
Garrett: "What a hat!"

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Hannah: "Um, what is it again? Tell me! Oh take my picture!" (Eh, that works!)
Garrett: "Walking and a hat!"

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Hannah: "Clean up my room and have fun!"
Garrett: "Hat!"

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Hannah: "That she can take pictures of people."
Garrett: "No hitting!"

11. What is your mom really good at?
Hannah: "Being so great. Actually, having fun with me. Oh, Rollerskating"
Garrett: "Jump on the tree!"

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Hannah: "Um, I don't know."
Garrett: "Dog. A dog."

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Hannah: "Cleans up in her world"
Garrett: "Read"

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Hannah: "Vegetables and 7-UP" (I don't really care for 7-Up...)
Garrett: "Food. A dog." (Uh, no.)

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Hannah: "Working hard and getting me Barbies."
Garrett: "Read me the book!"

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Hannah: "A cartoon girl."
Garrett: "A drum! Oh no! Drum dropped!"

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Hannah: "Have fun together."
Garrett: "Read!"

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Hannah: "We are pretty the same!"
Garrett: "Bath!"

19. How are you and your mom different?
Hannah: "Um, we change..."
Garrett: "In the jungle."

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Hannah: "She tells me."
Garrett: "A baby cow!"

Well, Garrett was looking at a book (an anthology called The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury) and so, that kind of erm, influenced him. Hee hee.

I tag Jonathan, Berkley, Ian, Maija, Sabrina and Tori.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

And in other news...

Ella can totally roll over. I've been expecting it would come any day. She's been doing the little roll-to-the-side thing forever. Still, I can't quite grasp that she is old enough.

Darn that Switzerland!

I was reading an article on the Hadron Supercollider. It is all very interesting. In Switzerland, along the French boarder, they have built a 26km long supercollider for protons. They plan to make them crash into each other at speeds just 1 millionth of a percent slower than the speed of light.

This should theoretically provide lots of interesting data on things like String Theory, etc. But there is also an itty-bitty possibility that they could open up a small black hole. Now, the scientists feel that if this happened, since it would be small, it ought to decay extremely quickly. Of course, if it DOESN'T decay quickly, well, darn it, the whole Earth, and possibly the whole solar system may be sucked into the black hole.

It's scheduled to be tested in the next month or so. (It keeps being pushed back due to accidents.) So, if you find yourself suddenly flying in the direction of Switzerland, you'll now know why.

Such a sweet boy

Each morning, as I start the daily laundry (you don't want to know how many loads a day it takes to keep 5 young kids in clean clothes) and dishes (again, you don't wanna know), I start getting everyone breakfast. Some like cereal. Some like waffles. Some just like Carnation Instant Breakfast.

There is usually one constant though. I don't get breakfast until about an hour later. Sometimes I just move on to lunch since it is kinda late.

This morning, while I was down folding the latest clean batch of laundry from the dryer (quick interjection--in a large family, this is a MUST. Fold straight out of the dryer or die!) and Michael came down and handed me two slices of whole wheat toast.

"Look! I made you breakfast! Eat up!"

Awwwwwwwww! Is he not the sweetest?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sniffle, sniffle

I sent my camera into Canon to get it looked it. Whenever I would line up my shot and use the focal points (even maunally) the focus would be a bit above where I told it to focus. It was getting so hard to try to "guess" about the focus. I thought for awhile it was my user error, but I finally called Canon today and within about 3 minutes the tech said it sounded like a camera issue and I needed to send it in for service. So my 6th baby is packed up in a box and is on a UPS truck for a little summer road trip to Virginia.

I still have my wonderful, trusty Panasonic, which does still have a manual mode and everything...but man, I really love my new camera. I was crying as we were walking into Costco and Garrett was lying asleep in Hannah's lap in the cart. I told Darwin, "Oh just you watch. The next two weeks will be just FULL of adorable photo ops and even if I capture them with my Lumix, I'll always wonder what COULD have been."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Our Look-A-Like Meters

MyHeritage: Family tree - Genealogy - Celebrity - Collage - Morph

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Family albums - Familytree

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Ancestors - Old pictures

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities - Collage - Morph

MyHeritage: Look-alike Meter - Free genealogy - Family search

Kind of interesting. People usually say Michael looks EXACTLY like Darwin. And Garrett is the one people say looks like me. I guess it just depends on the pictures.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Hannah Princess

Darwin and I were just enjoying a nice Sunday afternoon talking in the front room. I was taking a bunch of random pictures at different f/stops, trying to get a good feel for each, when Hannah--still in her church dress--decided to come pose for me. I think the fact her dress is so swooshy makes her kind of camera happy. She is quite the little princess!
But don't let that fool you. Underneath the frou-frou is a tomboy with three brothers!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

So BIG! But so little!

Ella has pretty much passed the newborn stage. She coos, she smiles, she sleeps SO well, she watches all the goings on, she is trying to roll over and generally has a lot more control over her body.

But gosh, she is still so little to me. She still fits in the size 1 diapers just fine. She is sporting a 0-3 month outfit there. She is just a peanut compared to my usual chunky kiddos. Both are cute and both have their pros and cons. But it is kind of nice to get through whole boxes of diapers before the baby is too big. It is nice to wear the 0-3 month clothes long enough to feel like they were worth buying. And it is nice to have the baby small enough that the one arm cradle carry works while chasing other kids. That one has been the best.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I brought it upon myself

So, ya know, I just thought it would be entertaining to bring up what McKay's middle name is. It's a family name. My grandpa, my dad, my brother...they all have this middle name. But still, I am kinda thinking I ought to change it. Because, gosh, McKay has lived up to his middle name.

Oh, you want to know what it IS? Chase. McKay Chase. Yep.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Still laughing

There have been so many kids in and out all summer. It is almost funny. McKay has been a pretty good sport too. I've been impressed with his tolerance for all the disturbance to routine, all the people when he would prefer quiet, and all of the constant noise. I think it's been good for him.

Anyway, the other day, a neighbor boy came in with the kids when they got a drink. (It has been so hot all of the sudden.) While we poured drinks, he went off to find McKay. I heard this exhange.

Neighbor boy: Hi McKay!

McKay (in a scandalized voice): Don't call me McKay! I'm a lady!

I think I have discovered it was from the Backyardigans Super Secret Super Spy video. Ha ha ha.

So proper!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The beauty of the name Ella

With all the cooing going on, we often get the combo, "Ehhhhhhhh Ahhhhhhhh!" The kids are all THRILLED that Ella "knows" her own name. Awwww.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Where's a roving band of gypsies when you need 'em?

I have a very cute, only slightly used little boy for sale. *sigh*

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Oooh, another fun quiz

In the spirit of Kim's quiz from a couple of days ago, here is another one. I had forgotten Pocahontas was even among the Princess set.

You Are Pocahantas!
Image hosted by

Free-spirited and wise. You have a strong passionate spirit that touches and changes all who know you. The wisdom and common sense that you have is really what guides you through life. Even so, you also have a very playful side that loves adventure and excitement.

Which Disney Princess Are You?

And finally, Hannah!

Hannah was strangely hard to find a song for. But, whew, now I am done for awhile, since everyone has their song. The kids do enjoy watching their pictures and listening to "their songs."

Darwin did ask tonight, "What's my song?" Hmmm, must ponder.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I found McKay's perfect song!

It was tricky finding clear pictures of McKay, since he is on the go a lot or has his eyes closed. But I did it! And this song is totally him!

Oooh! And idea!

Ok, so I am thinking we can pull the slack from the telephone cord so it is tight against the house and then we can get some outdoor caulk and fill in around it, pushing it up along the ridge of the siding. I THINK that might take care of the wire issue!

Woohoo! Summer's back on!

Social butterfly

This is Hannah's THIRD friend over for the day. Yes, it is only 2 pm. She is pretty much the most social kid I have ever met.

I was counting up yesterday and she has about 7 very very regular visitors. A few that are less common, but still stop by.

She usually sleeps like a rock each night. She is just so busy!

By the way, look at that poor grass! We had turned on the sprinklers earlier in the year, and then we ended up turning them back off for over a month. It is only getting to where we have to return them back on. Tonight. I promise to stop neglecting my grass tonight. Good thing Hannah and her little friend wanted to run in the sprinkler.

Ha ha, Barbie, the engineer

This is probably only funny if you are an engineer or know an engineer or tech who works in a wafer fab. Since Darwin is one of those engineers in a wafer fab, this is way funny. It is on the back of Hannah's special Barbie cereal.

Darwin and I wonder what Barbie's fab tips are? Perhaps she reccomends contrasting the color of your snood with the rest of your bunny suit, rather than simply matching them? Intriquing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birds of a feather....with the 3:30am update!

Hannah, Garrett, Ella and I are sitting downstairs at 11:30 eating pierogis (well, not Ella) and I think we are all wondering what we are doing up so late.

Mmm, pierogis.

Hmm, I am updating this at 3:30 am. Ugh. Don't eat pierogies that late. You'll be up all night. Word to the wise, eh?

On the other hand, the others are all sleeping soundly. I, however, am seriously mulling over how to keep McKay from further escapes. Maybe that is what is keeping me up all night. There has to be a way to keep him safe and for him to be more appropriate. He spent yesterday going into at least 3, possibly 4 houses. One ended fairly badly. One was pretty embarassing to me. (He locked himself in the master bedroom! Oh, that is embarassing.) One, he might have awakened a night-working father. (I don't think he did, but if this continues, it could easily, and might have already.) And he has about 7 houses, with a very occational 8th, that he goes into. His boundries are rapidly expanding. It used to just be 2.

On the plus side, I did figure out how he is getting over the fence. So, riddle with me how to stop it. I thought he was just muscling over the fence once we got rid of all the climbing aids. Nope. There is a telephone wire that is stapled around the bottom of the house. He is stepping on THAT to help hoist himself high enough to get over the fence. So I tried discussing with him yesterday evening the potential ramifications of using the wire to step over ("your computer will break, the phone will break") and he didn't quite get it. So, somehow I will have to block access to the wire...but how?

One very interesting thing to note. If McKay thinks about what he is saying (because sometimes he is zoned out and just agrees to anything), he cannot lie. When I was grilling him, even under the threat of no cookies, if he was going to break the rule and run away again, he would NOT promise he would not run away again. He was totally evasive! Like, I was thinking, this kid could be a lawyer! So, in 20 years, if he is some big successful lawyer, we can all look back on this post and get a good chuckle. But, but for the moment, I think he means he can't promise he won't escape again. Oddly, I am getting the feeling he is driven--internally-compelled to escape if he has the chance. Even against what he wants to do. I don't know how to explain it, but almost like he can't stop himself.

And finally, a hats off to the cat, who I have realized in the last few days is sitting outside of whatever house McKay is in. What a good kitty. He deserves kitty sainthood.

What a summer! I think this will be one I'm going to remember for a long time.

Which Jane Austen Heroine are you?

Thanks Kim! That was a fun quiz!

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Haute Cuisine, ala McKay

So, McKay likes eating "Peas, carrots, and fish fingers." But suddenly there is a new love in town. Yes, mustard. Everything is covered in mustard. If I am not looking everything is covered in mustard. And aparantly a cherry will also be added to the top of the mustard pile.

In fact, I now have to hide the mustard. Last night McKay found it and started filling a pie tin. When I questioned him, he told me he was cooking a pie. Mmmm. Mustard pie! He smelled like a hot dog too, since he'd gotten some in his hair. The best part of it all was when he happily exclaimed, "I'm a hot dog man!"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Global Warming?


It is June and it is 54 degrees. Supposed to be colder tomorrow.

I just dunno.

A learning adventure

I used to get a lot of pictures like this one. I used my flash a lot. See McKay's eyes? A few pictures with the half closed eyes wouldn't be a big deal, but I had so many pictures of him squinting it is a little sad. His eyes are so incredibly sensitive to light, that as soon as the flash fired, bam...eyes were closing. I do have some with his eyes opened, but usually he is looking off into the distance or looking down. Michael's eyes are pretty sensitive too, but he would try and keep them open, but he would always say, "That hurts, don't do that."

Besides, their faces lost all the interesting shadows, another reason that flash was not working for us.

After despairing over the state of McKay's pictorial memories, I started looking into how to take natural light pictures. Yeah, I totally admit I am an obsessive personality ;) I started looking into ISO and then into aperture (a slower shutter obviously would NEVER work for photographing McKay! Ha!) I even eventually got an SLR mainly to get a portrait lens that could open to f/1.8 for more versatility for indoor photography in low light. Yeah, remember that obsessive comment? Apply it here too. It is all still a work in progress, but I am so happy to have some pictures that show McKay in his natural element, rather than with his face all distorted from flinching away from the light.

It has opened up a really interesting area to study. Photography is full of things to learn. Darwin can even get into studying it. Lots of things he can use his math and science brain on. It is enjoyable to have something we can both learn about together. (Darwin is less about taking the actual pictures, but understanding WHY it works like it does.) I am just about trying to make sure the pictures that record our family memories accurately reflect what happened and look decent.

Hey, if anyone reading this (ya know, all my 3 readers...) has any tips for low-light photography that work for them, let me know! I am finding I would rather take a slightly underexposed non-flash picture and alter the levels in photoshop than taking a flash picture anymore. Eventually, I might get an accessory flash and try bouncing flash off of the walls or ceiling and see how McKay does with that. I mean, Christmas morning is generally too dark to do without flash. So, I don't think I can go through life without flash entirely. But at this point, I am probably down to using it maybe 4% of the time. I think McKay likes getting his picture taken better.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

No need to fear

The world is safe with Michael on duty. ;)

The BEST $15 I ever spent

I love my handheld showerhead. I can toss kid after kid into the shower, squirt them down, have them wash up and then hose them off. Showers are suddenly way way less wet for me and much much faster. Plus it was on sale at Home Depot. You totally can't beat a cheap, easy shower or clean kids. Well, come to think of it, you shouldn't beat dirty kids either. ;)

Only a few notches below the amazing showerhead of awesomeness is the automatic shower cleaner. Ahhh. It never complains when I tell it to clean. I do have to touch up and do a nice through cleaning every couple months, but otherwise, it keeps my shower just gleaming. It also really reduces the hardwater spots and soap scum, so the deep cleaning sessions are super duper easy.

So, let's review. Clean kids. Clean shower. All easy. Happy mommy.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Big Party!

So, we did Michael's party! (Actually two. I messed up on invitations and some came on Friday and some on Sat.)
It was a treasure hunt, ala National Treasure. They found clues (which lead to more clues and more clues...) which lead to a pinata. Then there were cupcakes with a "treasure chest" on top, and ice cream.

The kids REALLY got into the hunting. They were rushing from one end of the yard to the next, thinking about each clue and really looking. It was lots of fun to watch and it looked like fun to particpate. They all had their compasses and Indiana Jones hats (hey, ya gotta work with what's avaliable...there were no Ben Gates hats!) and they took each clue so seriously. It was great.
Afterwards, everyone stayed around and played on the trampoline and played a little baseball. It was great.
The hard thing about birthday parties and lots of siblings, is there ends up being a really big range of ages participating in the parties. That can be a real challenge to meet everyone's levels of participation and needs. But, I was impressed with all of the kids. Some of the boys were a little exuberant--as befits a birthday party--but in general they were well-behaved and aware of all of the little kids (our kids and the siblings of other party attendees) and were very careful. It made it a fun day for all. It felt great that even after the main festivities were over they chose to stick around for about an hour.
Birthday parties are so fun, but I feel stressed beforehand (especially as the kids are getting older and you can feel older kids expectations for a "cool" party), and afterwards there is the letdown from all the planning and preparing. But gosh, it is so worth it to have the kids say, months later, "Remember when we did that for my birthday?" I hope Michael remembers this as a good day. I really think he will. He has some really good friends. I felt so happy to see so many kids interacting so positively with him. He's an awesome boy and I am glad to see other kids see that too.
Hmmm, please pardon the formatting. I DID have paragraphs going on here. I've tried to fix it twice, but I find if I write AFTER pictures, then I no longer have the luxury of writing paragraphs. Must remember this tidbit.


Garrett, watching Toy Story 2:

"Oh, Buzz break. Bad Zurg!"

He knows his Toy Story characters!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Talking up a storm...and she found it.

Ella is a TALKER! She just coos up a storm. All day. I don't remember the other kids having quite so much to say. She also has everyone encouraging her and cooing back. That might be part of it.

And, oh my goodness, she found her thumb. Oh my. Really, none of the others ever cared about thumbs as infants, but Ella is in love. I need to keep those fingernails trim, because she has scratched herself a couple times.

Thumbs, a willing audience to pontificate to...what more can a girl want?

Happy Birthday Michael!

Michael is 9 today. He has been looking forward to today pretty much all year long. He popped up at about 8 am and came running down the stairs asking, "Do you know what day it is?"

Of course, he'll have his party this weekend, but still today is THE day! He wants a National Treasure birthday party. So I need to finish making the clues today! Yikes. I also need to get the bathrooms "guest clean."

Michael is such a sweet kid. While he does like to indulge in a little sibling teasing at times, he is really such a good brother. He still plays with all his little sisters and brothers. His teacher loved him so much, because he was such a hard worker and he included everyone. He's a great example.

Please excuse the fact it is an old picture, but my laptop is in the shop today and the kids are upstairs on the desktop with more of my pictures on it, so I had to use the downstairs computer which only has a couple pictures. But darn it, he is a cute kid! (Yeah yeah, I am biased, but STILL! He is cute. Come on, admit it!)

Happy Birthday Michael!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Random cool discovery at Costco

The sliced cheeses (not the Kraft cheese, the real sliced cheeses) are all pretty much the same price per pound, irregardless of type. We have been enjoying trying different flavors with the daily sandwiches or the crackers and cheese or apples and cheese snacks. Muenster seems to be a particular favorite, although Provolone is pretty high too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It Came From Beyond!

So this picture is cracking me up. The expression really just fit the circumstance. I was taking his picture and I was squatting down and sort of slid to the side, so it affected the focus and kind of gave things a weird, surreal look. It looks like an ad for a 1950s sci-fi movie!

Build a little birdhouse in your soul

Really, Garrett has my heart wrapped right around his little finger. I know that is awfully cliche, but he is impossibly wonderful. He is the sweetest, most even-tempered kid ever. He's even two! He is definately not terrible. He loves to just snuggle, read, and sing. He has the best smile ever, with two adorably deep dimples.

While he will say NO!, he also just as often says, "Ok Mom." In fact, often I ask one of the older kids to pick up a mess they made and while they hem and haw about why it is not their fault there is a mess, Garrett is in the background, quietly cleaning it up.

I wanted to post about him, because he is so quiet and calm and good he sadly sometimes seems to be the "invisible kid."

His little smile and cheerful and loving attitude just make my mommy heart smile.