Saturday, January 30, 2010

State Road 47

Jonny is an actor.
He is not shy on stage.

He is able to perform in front of hundreds of people. Without getting nervous.
He sings, and he can dance.

He can transform into whatever character is asked of him.
Yet not surprisingly, he always seems to get cast into the "good guy" roles.

This time he was the Good Samaritan. He got to drive a golf cart through church. How fun is that?!?

He was also The Advocate. He took the place of a guilty man in court, and went to jail for the man. The guilty man was set free.
Sound familiar?

Last year, he was cast as Jesus in Godspell, Jr.
We are so proud of you, Jonathan!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Fixing My Baby

Quick quick, I'm so behind(written on Feb.23, 2010).
I was thinking about how easy blogging was when I began 2 years ago. Sitting at the computer while I was feeding my sweet little baby Thomas. It was such a good way to get pictures up and show off his super cute babyness, as well as write about all those little things I did not want to forget.

Fast forward two years, add another baby, though this time a difficult and challenging one, plus the seven original kids that are a couple years older, meaning now more active with things, and all of a sudden, my quiet, easy moments at the blogging keyboard are nearly gone. And all those little moments I don't want to forget? Sadly, they do become quickly and much too easily forgotten as well.

Baby Bethany. So crabby has she been. At eight months, her crabbiness has not subsided, and it is so very tiring. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically. She has exhausted me. And for her, I also feel so bad. What in the world is wrong with her anyhow? As Bob and I were pondering this one evening, we were discussing increasing her Zantac dose to even further aid with her reflux. Though her puking was finally under control, her cries and "pyschoticness" just seemed to indicate that she was still in much discomfort. Or something.

As we were talking, Bob suddenly had an idea. Just like in the cartoons where the light bulb appears over the head of some brilliant new thought, Bob stated in a rather "Aha!" like fashion, "....unless she is having a paradoxical reaction to the antihistamine properties like you do(meaning, me) in the Zantac, making her crazy." Oh my goodness.....could it really be that simple? Did WE cause our baby's craziness via chemical induction?

It appears to be true. Upon stopping the Zantac on Sunday night, I had a perfectly normal baby by my side in about 24 hours' time. Smiles. Playing. Contentedness. And most notably, the lack of screaming. It is unbelievable. Looking back, I remember being puzzled on the days I would forget to give her a dose, yet think, "She seems to be doing better!" until the next day would cause so much regurg and pain with her reflux. But it all makes perfect sense now. To think that all this time, our poor little baby was experiencing a medically induced suffering. It makes me sad to think about all that lost time for her. But I am so happy that her loving Daddy figured it out, still in time for her to enjoy those precious little baby days ahead of her.
And to Alex, I owe you an were 100% correct that "Neezie is the best baby in the world....she is just misunderstood." Somehow, you just knew it all along. She sure is lucky to have such a great big brother as you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The January Three---Part 3

It was my birthday, too. On the 19th of January.
I turned 40.

Enough said.

Moving on.......

Without giving any credit to that horrible little 2-digit number attached to my date of birth, there are a few things I enjoy about my birthday every year.

#1. This cake.

Honestly, this is the only reason I put up with having a birthday every year. This is incomparable on the goodness scale. Heaven on earth, right here, disguised in green marzipan. When Woullet's stops making this, or when my mom stops bringing this, consider my birthdays officially over and done with.

#2. My mom bringing me Indian food on my actual birthday. I love food. But not just any food. I love interesting, tasty, delectable food. Perhaps it is a hereditary trait from my dad. And being way out here in the sticks, there just is not much interesting food to choose from. My mom brought me enough to last through four days of lunches. It was delightful! To top it off, she stayed extra long this evening to allow Bob and I to go eat Mexican locally. Yum! Thanks again, Mom!

#3. Going out to eat. The women of my family and my just-like-a-sister friend, Tracey went out to eat at my favorite Thai restaurant, Sawatdee. Michael had a hockey tournament in Maple Grove a few weekends ago, and it was the perfect "excuse" to simply go down the road for lunch. My most perfect comfort food, was heavenly. Getting away with the girls (all of the family kid girls attended this year too, which was very sweet!) was a fabulous way to spend a few hours of the hockey-testosterone-laced weekend!

#4. This year, I got double dinners as Mary was unable to meet us over the weekend. She and I (and Bethany, of course!) had a fabulous meal at the French restaurant, Salut, shortly after my birthday. This had been the original plan for all the women, but due to illnesses and bad driving weather, it had been cancelled down to just the two (er, three) of us. I have been craving this restaurant since we had eaten there one year ago. Talk about stick-to-your-ribs, hearty, European cuisine!

#5. Phone call from friends and family. As hard as it is to actually "talk" on the phone, and how much easier it is to simply email, it is still nice to get the occasional call. Talking to my "soul-sister" Lisa, is one of the many birthday treats I look forward to every year. Living so far away, these calls are cherished! And this year, I had an unexpected and welcomed visit by my partner-in-parenting-large-families friend, Colleen. She brought me an insightful book, "One Month to Live". I am looking forward to the thought process changes to occur because of it (....or maybe she knows something I don't????).

#6. My most awesome camera. Bob gave this to me around Christmas so that I would be able to use it for the holidays. It is a smoking hot Canon first digital SLR. I am loving it! And loving it even more as I continue to learn more about the gazillion controls and settings. So fun, and is bringing picture taking to a whole new level.

#7. Lunch with the Waconia gals. I had to cancel out of this one last week due to an unfortunate bout of RSV illness in our house. The ladies went along without me anyhow, and tried out a Thai restaurant in Chanhassen. They all thought it was terrific, and my neighbor kindly brought me a savory lunch. Yep, they were was terrific! Looking forward to the make up lunch already!

#8. Gift cards! This year I was able to splurge on an alarm clock/radio/cd player/ipod charger with GIGANTIC digital numbers that I can actually see from 12 inches away at night in bed without my glasses on(another trait I inherited from my dad---blindness). Sad when something like this is so very exciting! I guess it proves that I am indeed old now. I have many more to use wisely. And especially exciting is a generous spa card! Good gravy, I've never been to a spa! Or massage. My first (and only) pedicure was last spring with my old MOPS team. Granted, I can see how people get hooked so was nice to be pampered a little bit. And my crafty sister in law, Erin, got me a cool scrap booking sticker maker and 40 pages of super cute specialty paper. (I guess that horrible number was good for something, after all!) She always gets me inspired to pursue my crafty interests.

Well, as much fun as this has been focusing on my advancing age, I need to get going.....I've got 6 more parties to plan! Yeesh!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The January Three--Part 2 much time has already passed, it seems like Crispy's birthday was eons ago. Even so, I can't skip out on my quiet, unobtrusive, middle child #5. (though I can guarantee he would never complain if I had, because that is just the sweet kind of boy that he is!)
Christopher. Dear, sweet, Crispy.
Quiet and gentle from the day he was born.
Calm and collected(well, at least collected).
Always so willing to help.
A perfect companion for everyone in this house.
Constantly gives up his time/things for everyone else.
And on his birthday, HE gets to finally be the star of the show. In fact, this year, he had not one, but THREE parties!
Christopher is such an easy kid that it is actually quite hard to make him feel special....he is simply fine with....well....whatever! Poor kid can't even come up with any ideas about what he'd like because he is just so "go with the flow" and "be content with what you have/get". All FABULOUS qualities, mind you. But for crying out loud.....this kid is just way too nice!!

#1: The combined massive January Birthdays Party. There are now 5 of us in our combined family that celebrate birthdays in January. This year we picked January 10 to be the special date.

It allowed people to come see Jonny perform at Church in the morning with his performing arts ministry group. They did a skit scene from their upcoming play, complete with singing and dancing. These kids have been working long and hard on this every Sunday morning from 8-9:30 am since September. I do not have a WAS during a church service, after all! I can tell you without question, that it was great!

This day also allowed people to come see Michael play a hockey game in our Waconia arena in the afternoon. A great game, like usual....and Michael played well. I have been teasing him so much about being in the penalty box, that to prove me wrong, he did play a little "nicer" today. Is it wrong that we cheer for our kids to "get" the other guys when they are out there on the ice? Or that we clap when someone else's kid from the other team crumples into a pile after being hit hard by one of our team members? What in the world kind of parents have we become, anyhow????

And finally, this was the last day of our light show for 2009. One last look for everyone before they headed home after the game. For our family, we piled all the kids into the truck, dressed in their pajamas and boots, and spent one last viewing as a family huddled together in the cul-de-sac. It is always sad to finally turn the light show off. All the work that goes into it. All the planning. All the upkeep and corrections. All the traffic. All the joy it brings to others. All the excitement it brings to the kids in the city. With a simple push of a button, it is over. *sigh* And the planning for next year has already begun!

#2: I took him out on his birthday. Christopher was lucky enough to have his birthday off of school this year (was Martin Luther King, Jr Day). To celebrate, we spent the day with Grandma C at the Minnesota Zoo. We spent our day wandering around the inside exhibits which we usually never have time for in the warm weather months. We even walked through a part of the zoo I had NEVER seen before...the Minnesota Trail. Filled with wild animals habitating in our own state, this was a lovely walk-through exhibit. We watched the wolves up close as they played together, feasted our eyes on a glorious bald eagle, and admired the grace and elegance of the massive wildcats of all kinds.

We finished our day with a super special treat----dinner at Chuck E Cheese! Good gravy, that place is crazy, even when it is not necessarilly crazy. The kids had no problem spending more than three hours eating pizza, pretending to be pop-stars, controlling the store cameras, and playing video games. Bonus: everyone got to meet the one and only Chuck E as well! After pooling their winning tickets together and haggling over prizes, Grandma and I were quite ready to go. Like, really VERY ready to go. But the kids had a great time! Even Bethany was happy and well entertained throughout the evening with so many things to look at and noises to explore!

#3: I threw him a birthday party. Like literally, threw it together in 3 days time. Seriously, it is so completely crazy around here that to find even a small two hour chunk of time on a weekend is a near impossible feat. So I called all of his little friends, giving them only two days notice. Nice, eh? Luckily for Crispy, his friends all come from normal and sane families, so that all but one little friend was able to make the impromptu party.
We were planning on sledding at the giant hill. But because of the nasty freezing rain all weekend, we were subjected to the confines of our still overrun-with-Christmas-decor living room. But to my utter shock and complete amazement, each of Christopher's 9 little friends were just as sweet and kind as he (though one may have arguably had much too much energy). Who would have thought that so many 8 year old little boys would be so content for 25 minutes with one box of legos??? They were all so engrossed in their lego creations that I felt bad moving them on to games!
Crispy wanted a Pokemon party.

Being that Pokemon is a thing from the past (this was our 6th Pokemon party to date), I had to improvise on decor. I made Pokeball plates using red and white paper plates, cut and pasted back together. We made some games out of existing Pokemon figures.
We played some Bingo. Yes, even Bingo was fun to these sweet little boys!
Jonny and Crispy hand-picked Poke figure decor for the table.
I threw together a cake. Again, literally. A beautiful half dome chocolate cake flopped out of it's bowl the night before. What to do? I decided to give a cake recipe I had seen on a friend's blog a try. I whipped up a batch of mint frosting, mixed it into my bowl of cake crumbles, rolled them into 2-inch balls and jabbed a popsicle stick into each one, then chilled a few hours in the freezer. The final step was to dip into white candy coating, chill again, then dip half of the cake ball into red candy coating. Presto!
Some pretty cute Pokeball cake pops!

All and all, I think Christopher had a pretty good birthday this least, that's what he told me. But really, would he ever say otherwise??

Happy 8th Birthday, Christopher!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The January Three--Part 1

Out of all 10 of us, our birthdays only span a six month period, with all of the major holidays in between (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, St.Patrick's Day, Easter, then Mother's Day). And coincidentally, it also happens to be hockey season during that same exact time span. It is a crazy six months, and quickly drains our energy and pocketbook dry. If we are not too frazzled, Bob and I sometimes are able to remember our anniversary which occurs one week after the last birthday on our list. By the time mid-May comes around, we are partied out. Big time. It takes us the next six months just to recover.

The most hectic month for us is January. Hockey season is in full swing, tournaments are around every corner, kids are getting back into the school groove, it is bitterly freezing cold outside, our insurance deductibles start up all over again (my blood thinning injections last year while I was pregnant set us back $10,000 by May...), the stores are clearing out toys for annual inventory gathering, the girls start selling their Girl Scout Cookies(and my duties as Troop Cookie Mom goes into full swing), and three of us have birthdays to celebrate.

Michael's is first. On the 12th day of Christmas, we celebrate the day he entered this world and into our lives. Such a small, quiet baby long ago. He is now a rather tall, strong, tough, independent, 15 year old hockey star. In fact, he has been playing hockey (against medical advisement) with a broken hand for the last 3 weeks. A Broken Hand. Broken. Hand. (it is a bit difficult to see above....the fingers are NOT in this picture--those are hand bones you see)

He got to celebrate his birthday by having an intensive hockey practice at dinner time. I made chocolate cupcakes with mint frosting to share with his team. Though normal cupcake sized, they seemed to be miniature treats as all those big, stinky, and very hungry, hockey players grabbed them from the tray.

At home, we dined on butternut squash ravioli, garlic cheese bread, and applesauce before Michael opened his presents. The kids have really been getting into the giving spirit this year, and just about everyone had either spent their own money, or made Michael something to open. Laura's was the most elaborate gift: she made a calendar complete with numbers and illustrations, in hanging-on-the-wall-flip style.

Jonny's gift may have been the most creative, as he made his card into a puzzle. (We have been on a puzzle kick around here lately!)
But the birthday presents that seemed to cause the most excitement were a plastic carrot and a bottle of water. Seriously. I guess you never can understand teenagers.
A quick round of "Happy Birthday to You!", and a few bites of cake later, Michael was off to do his homework for the night. High School has been going fabulously for him.....coming over from 3 home schooled years, he is easily maintaining straight A's! He is also participating in both high school jazz bands, and has made the award winning marching band. Hooray!

Though looking forward to life with Michael on the other side of these challenging teen years, we are proud of everything he has and is accomplishing in his world. He is a kind, caring, moral, and enthusiastic leader in his sphere of influence. And even if we don't always get to reap those benefits at home, we are glad to witness the positive effects he has on others. And when he is not looking, we get to enjoy the interesting dynamic he brings to our family.

Happy 15th Birthday, Michael!

Monday, January 4, 2010

....and a Happy New Year!

What a whirlwind does the time between Christmas and New Year's seems to have been! With the extended celebrations of Christmas due to uncooperative weather, and a surprise news story that all took place in a matter of days, plus cleaning, laundering, and packing for a family getaway over the New Year's holiday....yikes! Oh yeah, and I have 8 kids here 24/7 who all need 3 meals a day, and lots of other little things throughout the waking hours of a day. It has been BUSY!

We spent the last day of 2009 and the first few days of 2010 up at Breezy Point Resort, near Pequot Lakes. During this frigidly cold snap, we happened to be in the coldest bubble of Minnesota at the time. In fact, Saturday morning's temperature of -43 degrees was as cold as I ever remember in my lifetime to have experienced. It was COLD.
To make a regular hockey tournament into a fun family getaway, we chose to opt out of the smaller suite rooms located in the building 2 blocks away from the main rooms, and instead, booked a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo that was connected to all the main attractions via indoor walkways. Though separated from the rest of the team, it certainly beat bundling up all these little people 6 times a day, and trudging through snow and extremely bitter cold just to have some decent food or fun. We tried that last year....and it was anything but FUN.

Going up a day early provided us a relaxing New Year's Eve. I took the kids to the pool for several hours, which is always the highlight of any hotel experience!

Back in our condo, we played the dice game(rolling with pigs, as we had forgotten dice), played some Wii, and some online Webkinz.
Bethany is an expert at sitting up now. And she was rather pleased that she could see all of us at most every minute from her solid perch in the middle of the living room floor.
Every kid stayed awake until midnight, with narry a tear or grumpy complaint. Tubby was very eager to try his "champagne".
As the microwave timer "beeped" in the magical moment, together our voices resounded with "Happy New Year!", followed by the clinking of our glasses. For every minute after that, each time the microwave sounded it's timer reminder beep, it was followed by another round of "Happy New Year!-clink!" This went on for some time. Like for about 10 minutes before I finally cancelled the timer button.

We spent the rest of that weekend thoroughly enjoying just being together (besides Alex who stayed at home and was taking care of the dog). We started each morning off right with the most bountiful breakfast buffets anywhere to be found. French Toast, deluxe egg bakes, country fried potatoes, and all the bacon you can eat, rounded off with homemade doughnut balls, were just a few of the edible delights.
Sitting in the restaurant, looking over the frosty bay of enormous Pelican Lake......beautiful.

Playing the kids' new favorite game, "Snorta!", from Grandma and Grandpa C.
Playing in the arcade.
And of course, swimming........
...........and more swimming.
Bethany actually enjoyed the water as well. She would spend at least 30 minutes a time cruising around in her little baby float boat in the kiddie pool. She continues to surprise me. She always likes/dislikes the exact OPPOSITE of what I expect her to.

Oh, and yes, there was a hockey tournament going on as well. We cheered.....
....and cheered.....

....and cheered. And rang some cowbells.

Michael's team played well, and earned a trophy for Consolation Champions again.
They played hard, skated fast, gave it their all, but most importantly, had fun. It was really a great weekend. A relaxing end to the bustling of the holidays. A getting away from all the work in the outside world and at home. And because of the extreme cold forcing us to remain indoors, just a wonderful opportunity for us to all hang out together and enjoy our lovely FAMILY.