Friday, July 31, 2009


We have had our new batch of fish since January of this year. We have one male and 6 females, and have had a few batches of baby fish. Trouble is with the baby fish, they are usually eaten about 30 minutes after they are even big enough for us to notice in the tank. Why do the big fish eat the babies? It just doesn't seem right.Bob's keen eye was able to spot a few this evening. With the help of Crispy and Jonny to keep their eyes on the little guys, he was able to catch two babies and place them safely in a container separate from the mean ol' adult fish variety.Honestly, if you look REALLY closely, there ARE two itty bitty fish in the bowl(at about the 12 and 3 o'clock positions, on the edges)! It is fun to see such tiny versions of the bigger ones swimming in their enormous container which is only cereal bowl sized to us. I hope they live and will grow up to be big enough to put back into the tank someday soon.

Speaking of babies, we enjoyed another visit with the Smiths, just hanging out and playing in the yard. Mary spent the whole time making wonderful things for us to eat, and sending us home with quite a few goodies too. While she was cooking away, the kids were all spending quality time with each other on the trampoline, slides, bikes, and with hide and seek in the giant house. Our littlest babies were getting to know each other as well:

If we play our cards right, these MAY just be the last babies for both of us, leaving us with a total of 15 kids. These girls are about 8 months apart in age, and would be heading off to kindergarten in the same year. Hmmmm.....interesting to think about, but we shall see what GOD has planned for both of our futures! (I am pretty sure that I just heard all of our extended family members and all of Mary's extended family members let out one very large collective groan.......)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


This is Tubby. This is his bowl of "breakfast", otherwise known as macaroni and cheese to the rest of us. To be even more specific, it is Easy Mac. On the good food scale, it is probably down pretty low....all those artificial colors, additional flavors, made in the microwave, etc.
He has been asking for this every morning for the past 8 days---"DEh-DEh-DEee!" Aren't you so impressed with his choice of breakfast? And with his speaking skills???
Being motivated by my little guy and his recent food fetish, I opted to make some homemade baked macaroni and cheese while my mom was here to hold the baby. That gave me the chance to cook it right and make it the way it was meant to be prepared....slowly, from scratch, with multiple steps, and made with painstaking love and care, in all it's cheesy goodness. An hour and a half later (my mom and I filled that time gap with a lovely quick walk on this quite chilly July day), the masterpiece was ready to be consumed by my children and a neighbor friend and I. It was delicious! To die for! Even the pickiest of my eaters thought it was fantastic! But little Tubby? He took one taste and decided it was not fit to his little Mac N Cheese Connoisseur was not impressed. Go figure....
This is Bethany. This is the closest thing I have seen to a smile so far. Don't you just love those adorable little cross-eyed baby-blues? She has been so sad with her reflux lately until starting Zantac exactly one week ago. She is now a much happier little gal, yet has chosen to cry A LOT again these past 3 days. She has been so close to smiling so many times. And each time she has been nearly there with us holding our breath, something has gotten in her way, causing her to start over again. Argh! I hope her tummy aches stop soon so that she can complete this baby milestone and spread her little half smiles to one full adorable little grin. Until then, I will have to assume she is happiest when this:
......because that is the only time she is consistently NOT crying.
This is Laura. I find this picture hilarious because it looks so anti-Laura to me. She looks like she is bowing to her gymnastics teacher. And anyone who knows Laura knows she is greatly too stubborn to EVER do something like that. She is QUEEN at our house (or at least that is what SHE thinks), and she would be perfectly content if WE all bowed like this to HER. Oh Laura, Laura, Laura....little miracle child that she is....when she isn't frustrating the stuffing out of me, she can really make me laugh!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Little Bit of Deductive Reasoning

As I sit here typing away, I am finding it partially funny that my baby has been crying constantly again over the past two days, ever since I published about how well she has been doing. To be fair, there ARE some big changes, it is no longer psychotic-sounding crying, so I AM certain that the Zantac is working. There is just something new going on with her, and I am suspicious that the new thing is BEACAUSE of the Zantac. While at the same time, this new thing that is bothering her is a GOOD thing, because it verifies that the Zantac IS INDEED working.

She's having tummy aches more frequently now because she has a bigger volume of poop. She has a bigger volume of poop because she is maintainig a bigger volume of milk when she eats. She is maintaining a bigger volume of milk because she is spitting up less. She is spitting up less because the Zantac is working. Therefore, she is having tummy aches because of the Zantac....and that's a GOOD thing! Yay, Zantac!

The older girls are having a turning point of their own. They are tired. They are tired because their muscles are sore. Their muscles are sore because they have been worked very hard. They have been worked very hard because the girls have been trying their best in an activity that is difficult for them to manage. They are trying their best because they REALLY enjoy this difficult activity, known as gymnastics. Therefore, gymnastics is making the girls tired. And THAT is a good thing too! Yay, gymnastics!

Being the last day of this short gymnastics *trial* session, I was allowed into the gym to watch my girls and see all they have been working on. I was so impressed and proud as I watched them fearlessly attempt every action asked of them. And for my girls, that meant medium to great difficuly in every task. Yet both of them continued on, gave it their best shot, and ended each task with heads held high and smiles spread wide. From floor exercises to balancing those steps on the beam, jumps of all sorts and manipulating the high bars.....wahoo! So proud of my two princesses who I dared to doubt at the session's beginning. No matter that they were not the best in class, or even remotely close.....they were giving it their all and relishing in their OWN accomplishments. And for that bolster in self-esteem, I am thoroughly grateful. So good was this experiment in mainstreamed physical therapy that both girls are jumping up and down to do this for another 4 weeks!
For the rest of this week, I've got some work to do.....I will be signing my older girls up for more activity. And the little one? Well, I picked a REALLY bad week to switch over to the cloth/hybrid little gDiapers....I will be doing laundry EVERY day, to be sure!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Well, after 2 more baseball games this afternoon and evening, Jonny's team, the Mets, have won consolation championship! Hooray!

Jonny's team came up from behind in the first game today, when things had looked hopeless for them. As they trailed behind by seven points, Grandma & Lyle departed for home to make it to a previously scheduled appointment. Who knew that Jonny's team would rally and tie the game up in a mere matter of minutes? They tied, and then won with a few more runs made the next inning. Wow. Talk about some Sunday afternoon excitement!

They won the last game fairly easily, and were able to finish the season on a good note. They received special "golden" baseballs from their kind coaches, and a medal for consolation champs. And a dilly bar to go, too! After 2-1/2 months of baseball for two hours every Tuesday and Thursday evening, it will be nice to have a little bit of extra free time before summer is over.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Top 10 Saturday Surprises

10. Jonny's baseball team played 3 games today in the tournament (2 hours each) when we were only expecting one....they will be playing in semi-finals tomorrow!
9. Melissa went to a birthday party today where they played mini-golf.....and she liked it.
8. I finally got a turn driving the new truck, as Bob and Alex had done all the driving yesterday...I had the sunroof open, and it was great!
7. Crispy went to a birthday party at a new friend's house who we discovered just lives across the park from us.
6. Crispy did not play with the neighbor boys today (that is HUGE).
5. We had Famous Dave's for dinner at Bill and Sharon's house....can we all shout, "YUMMY!!!"
4. My baby was sweet as pie today...praise God for this little medical miracle drug for her.

3. My big boys were hanging out....TOGETHER.

2. We got to chat with cousin Dan who we have not seen in forever, learned he has enlisted in the US Marines, and he hung out to play poker with the guys!

1. Hold on to your hats for this one.....Laura touched a REAL LIVE DOG!!! AND LIVED!!!

My Baby's Back!

Poor Bethany had been on a worsening slide into crabbiness with every new morning of her little life. She had become so difficult that it was nearly impossible to get anything done. It was unheard of to lie her down successfully. She had two states of being: asleep or screaming. The babyhood we had enjoyed so much with Tubby was completely absent with this little girl. On Thursday, I had a little chit-chat with Bethany's doctor during her two month old well-child exam. We decided to give Zantac in hopes of solving Bethany's reflux problem. We had 3 other kids with problematic reflux. Michael blessed us with projectile spit up. It was extremely gross, and we had to change his clothes and ours at least 3 times per day. But, it never seemed to bother him, so no meds were needed. With Jonny, his very sad cries stopped and he had become a brand new baby within 5 days of beginning Zantac. With Laura, nothing worked. We tried 3 different meds, and the reflux continued to bother her. She cried a lot, and screamed in the car seat. As she got a bit older, she grew accustomed to the reflux, just as her respiratory problems and need for multiple nebs daily began.
I had a good feeling about starting Bethany on Zantac...I just felt it was going to work. What I had not expected was how quickly that would happen. She received her first dose on Thursday night. Already on Friday morning, she was more relaxed, and made it in the car seat driving 3 hours that day without crying even once! She was a pleasure to hold and snuggle with that evening, and was able to fall quietly asleep in her bed later that night.
Since then, she continues to take her doses of Zantac twice a day, and she is doing so well. She is finally acting like a normal baby, crying when appropriate and without all the scary screaming. She can now be awake without all the rigidity her body would hold and is relaxed enough to snuggle. She no longer looks stressed out and no longer sounds psychotic. She is simply a lovable, sweet, little baby doll.....just like when she began her little journey on this earth.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Money Money Money Money....MONEY

So......the economy is tanking, times are tough, our family is growing, and money is tight. So tight that we had a major budget pow-wow on Tuesday evening to help scrimp and save a bit more and climb out of this pit caused by lack of enough monies(opposite a money pit). Being excited by this new challenge, I have started out with a set amount with which to work out groceries, clothes, presents, fees, you name it. For 10 people. But my set amount is perhaps 1/3 of what I am use to. No kidding. This may get rough.

The first two days went well. Opportunities for spending were passed up, and it looked like perhaps we actually had a chance of following this new plan. However, this morning, it all changed: Alex really needed a trombone. And today was the day we drove down to Mankato to get it.

Alex will be playing this instrument in the High School Wind Ensemble (highest level HS band) and also in the select band for the award winning Show Choir. He would also like to play in the Mankato College Orchestra this fall. He needs an instrument that will produce a nice more student level instruments apply. An intermediate to professional range is where we now must look.

The intermediate trombones sounded nice.....much better than a student model. Then out came the professional model. Holy moley, it sounded beautiful! The notes sounded effortless and clear, with such a mellow, pleasant tone. It was mean of the saleperson to tempt us in such a way. We had obviously forgotten to include him in our Tuesday night discussion. Taking our options under consideration, I painfully decided to go with the intermediate trombone. Knowing music fairly well, it was a VERY hard choice for me to make. But, as we had discussed earlier in the week, we were going to have to make some tough decisions in order to make the new money budget work.

While Alex and I were playing around at the music store, Grandma ? was showing off the other grandchildren at her place of employment. They had tried to play at a nearby park, but the kids were just too hot in the sunshine to enjoy it. I guess when you are used to having 70 degree days all summer long, 81 degrees feels like deadly heat. I just hope my kids behaved themselves well enough to keep Grandma's reputation status at work on a positive level!

We drove like crazy people from Mankato to Glencoe in order to get to an appointment for Alex on time. His doctor prescribed the same headache meds for him that I use to help him combat these nasty headaches. Being barometer driven, there is not much we can do to hide from these things or to ward them off. Besides moving to another elevation, we have no way to avoid our migraines. This spring was a pretty calm one for us, but suddenly, as the storms of July have been brewing, we find ourselves in misery much as we normally do in the spring. Poor kid....hopefully these new meds will finally give him some relief.

Back to we drive home, and unload the brand new trombone Alex had to have for school. A few hours later, Daddy comes home with another thing that Alex will need this fall in order to make it back and forth to college each day:

.....sigh. Even the best laid plans......oh well. I think we may need to do some rebudgetting again. Either that, or we can all look forward to our next meal sometime in 2013.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Therapy Thursday

9 am: Last day of swimming lessons! Hooray! They have all come so far in just a few short weeks. Laura can now put her face in the water and dunk her head while doing bobs. Melissa can do a beautiful back float, and has nice form while doing scooping strokes using a floatation device. And Crispy? Well, he needs to gain some wight before testing next time so that he doesn't keep sinking to the bottom of the pool like a rock. Skinny boy.
11 am: Melissa has riding lessons that I get to attend for the first time in 3 months! My mom has been taking her since just before Bethany was born, and has continued to do so every Thursday since. It was nice to see for myself how Melissa is improving and how she is handling yet another new horse. I was pleasantly delighted to find that she is on a new, but even MORE challenging horse than she had previously been on. This one requires stronger action from Melissa in order to obey, yet at the same time, Joker (the horse), is smart enough to only follow Melissa's instruction, and not that of the lead walker. So Melissa has no option than to work hard. I love it! This horse also has a bumpier ride, so it is working her balance like she has not been worked before. After swimming and riding, my poor girl was wiped out, and fell asleep on the way home. I love those kind of therapy sessions....I know for certain that she was worked hard.

1 pm: The girls are busy painting pictures again at the table. After a busy morning focusing on large muscle skills, it was nice to take a break with some fine motor work.
Ha, ha....if you ask the girls about their day, they will just explain to you all the fun they had today....they have NO IDEA all the WORK involved!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Splash Pad!

We have been doing swimming lessons. A lot. We are in our fourth---and final---week of lessons. The kids love it.

Bethany loves is the only place where she is happy and is not screaming.
But we rarely ever go to the pool "to swim". You know?

I took the kids two weeks ago to Safari Island to play at the indoor park followed by swimming in the pool and playing on the water slide. I had 8 children with me, and we managed a record of 2-1/2 hours at the Community Center. More than half of that was in the pool. They loved it! But Tubby thought he was the next Michael Phelps. Problem is, he doesn't know how to hold his breath under water yet. Kind of a BIG problem. And it stresses me out. Just a bit. Especially when I am also limited by the baby I am slinging on my front.

So today, I was THRILLED to go meet a friend at the Chaska splash pad. It was fabulous! The indoor pool was fun....beautifully painted walls, a fun caterpillar slide for the little kids, a gigantic water slide for the big kids, a river, a raining mushroom, and dumping buckets were just a few of the fun things they enjoyed indoors.

When evening swimming lessons began, my friend left, and we were shooed out of the pool, where we discovered even more fun in the outdoor splash pad! We were all surprised with how much was found to occupy my 6 kids plus a friend, all of various ages.
The water was never more than 10 inches deep.

There were plenty of water guns and other water manipulatuves for the older kids to experiment with and figure out.
There was a really mini slide that Tubby could even manage on his own.

The evening was perfect, with lots of sun to warm up the cooler air temps...back at home, storm clouds were lurking over our neighborhood!

There were plenty of chairs for lounging and relaxing.
The kids played outside for 90 minutes!!!! We would have stayed longer, but it was getting late by that point(after another 2-1/2hours) and we all were pretty much starving. Afterall, we had had A LOT of active fun at the pools!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Parks and Play

The coolness of this summer has been perfect for a gal like me. Yes, I could survive these summer days at 65-74 degrees for the rest of all time. Not too hot, not too cold. As Goldilocks would say, "Just right!" And for many of my other children, they feel the same way.

We have been trying to take advantage of some of these wonderful days by heading outside to play. Our great backyard has been held captive by our great dog, who while a gentle and peaceful, lovable soul, has too much loving energy for some of the smaller kids. And in this lovely cool weather, she wants nothing to do with being inside....she loves the out of doors, and prefers to spend her days chumming it up with the rest of the neighborhood who walks by her on the path by the lake's wetlands through our property. With all the attention she gets back there, we joke that she is the community dog.

Our kids play mostly in the front yard, on the porch, and in the cul-de-sac street. That is where the other kids play too, so it works out well for them. I am the only mom I know who tells her children daily to "go play in the street"! We have a fun little park just down the hill from our house that the kids love to go play at. Nestled between both lakes, it is a beautiful place to hang out, slow down, and just enjoy the day. With the park so close by, the kids do not miss our large back yard at all. And we do not need to upgrade our playset! We have tried to visit our park often this summer, as well as other parks along the way. One of our constantly running summer goals has been to make it to every park we can find in our city and play in it at least once during the summer. Perhaps this year will be our year to accomplish that fun little challenge!

Day Out with Friends


Getting out and about is still a tricky thing to do these days. Not so much because of organization....I have a fairly good idea of what I need in already pre-packed has just been so hard getting all my ducks in a row with also trying to comfort (always unsuccessfully) my increasingly crabby little baby. She just cries and cries, no matter what....and it only gets louder and horrific sounding when we put her down for any amount of time. Seriously, only a minute out of our arms and she is screaming at the top of her little hoarse lungs. It is quite sad and pathetic, really...and also a bit psychotic.

Anyhow, today, we took a deep breath and charged through our morning as quickly as we could, all screaming aside. We had to make the weekly, 35 minute drive to the lab in Edina (to check up on Coumadin levels), where we were met by my mom, who was kind enough to sit in the truck with all my kids so that I did not have to drag them all in with me. (Thank you, Grandma, from all of us!) Now more than an hour behind our planned schedule, we called our friends to give them the heads up that we had finally made it into the cities. From there, our day went beautifully well.
We met at the Children's Museum, which has always been a favorite for the kids. Before heading into a day of fun, we stopped at the Subway for lunch, just outside the hall. It was a busy time, smack in the middle of lunch break for the local businesses, and the guy in line behind me was not at all pleased with the number of meals I was ordering for my 5 children and myself, with my baby quietly sleeping(thank heavens!) in the sling. He kept huffing and making annoying comments to the person behind him and under his breath alluding to the ridiculousness of it all and how much crazy time this was taking off of his lunch hour. I finally turned to him and said, "You are lucky today....this could have taken a lot longer. I only have half my kids with me." Funny, he didn't say another thing after that.

After a healthy and satisfying meal complete with apple slices, yogurt, and milk, we renewed our museum membership and met our friends for one SUPER FUN day. Between the two of us, we had 12 children along, all in the same age range, and must have looked like a small summer school group as we moved from room to room. The kids had a blast playing with their buddies and exploring the new and beloved old exhibits within the museum. The Clifford room was still set up, and Melissa showed us her spot where she had spent the night just a few months before. The kids were thrilled to spend a huge chunk of time in World Works, playing in the water, making giant bubbles, building with blocks, and experimenting with light and colors. This is the room we usually leave last on our list, thus typically only spending a few rushed minutes on our way out. We must have spent 45 minutes playing here!

It was a cool 64 degrees at the Rooftop Art Park, but a blast all the same. We must come to the museum most during the winter months, because we had not been out on the rooftop since it had first opened several years ago. A soft, sandy beach, gigantic tree branch house, and more water play entertained the kids longer than the rain and cold breeze allowed us to stay.

The circle room surprised us the most. It is a temporary exhibit, which usually equates with less fun for the kids. They found so much to do, we could have stayed in there for an hour without complaints! Unfortunately, our day was winding down, and we still had to make it to their favorite room of all.....

Our World is an imagination paradise where the kids get to pretend to be nearly anything their heart desires. From bus driver to rock star, mail person to restaurant chef, crossing guard to doctor, the kids never run out of ideas in this room. This room also sports many benches in various places...perfect resting spots for a couple of tired moms and hungry babies to hang out and chat about the important things while the kids are endlessly occupying themselves without boredom.We spent more than 5 hours at the museum, not including lunch. That is longer than we ever have spent....and I think we could have easily been there another 5. Ahhh....what a great day out!