Happy birthday, twins. Now you’re old(er) again.

This is a re-post but it’s my brother’s and sister’s birthday again and I just couldn’t resist.


My brother and sister were born when I was just 17 months old. Not old enough to understand what a toilet was for, but definitely old enough to know that these two monsters were going to destroy the little world of selfish power I had been working so hard to build. And they were cute. Too cute for their own good. It was always the twins this, the twins that.  I would have packed my bags and run away had I been able to reach the door knob but I couldn’t so I was trapped.
But then the two rugrats grew on me (a little) and I realized that having another girl around wasn’t so bad and the boy made for an excellent scape goat. I got really good at saying, That boy did it.

I don’t really remember any of this exactly, but I imagine that it’s probably what went through my head based on evidence found in old(er) pictures.

See:

My brother, Matt, was completely over-dramatic about everything. Really. He would fall down and pretend like you had broken 2/3 of the bones in his body if you even looked like you were maybe thinking about pushing him. Yeah, he was that kid. He was also a big mouth and completely asked for it.  And yellow “frightened” his eyes, whatever that means, so he always got the blue cup. The blue cup that I wanted.

And my sister, sweet Carrie, used her freckles and dimples to fool most everybody but me in to thinking she was an angel sent from heaven to delight each and every person she came into contact with. But she stuck her tongue out at me and told on me for EVERY LITTLE THING, including putting an extra teaspoon of sugar on my cereal in the morning like she didn’t do the exact same thing. I think she had a plan from the start to make herself an only child.

Just look at her sly face. HELLO? How was I the only one that knew? But a picture speaks a thousand words and if you look closely you’ll see that my brother’s and my faces are blurry. Carrie was already trying to erase us.

This is how I wish a happy birthday to people who tormented my childhood. So happy birthday Dramatic and Sly. Glad to see you’ve grown up. And I’m glad your antics didn’t send me to the loony-bin in the process.

Also, I made you each a cake so just go ahead and stop by sometime today to pick yours up.

Seriously though, I love you both tons. I miss that we don’t get to hang out like we used to when we were younger but I still value my relationship with you both more than you know. I hope you both had a great birthday and look forward to seeing you in November.

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Filed under: Friends & Family

A few things this morning.

-I mentioned yesterday that I wasn’t sure if I should include Kait and Joe when I say that I did something or whatnot with 10 kids because neither of them are kids anymore. In fact, Kait doesn’t even live here anymore and will be a Mrs. in 2 months. However, it feels weird to not include her in my kid head count when I’m writing about our day because even though she isn’t a kid anymore, she’s still my kid.

This same thing goes for Joe but he still lives at home and so it isn’t as weird for me yet. Hm.

-I had a weird dream where all my hair fell out and, while I didn’t like that it happened, I wasn’t alarmed by it at all. This alarms me.

– The rest of our sod was delivered last night right as I was finishing up cooking dinner. The guys got to working and I served dinner outside on the patio table. It was a nice, cooler, 78 degree evening and everybody seemed to be much happier laying sod than on Friday. My backyard looks amazing.

– Rabbit has finished sanding and the table has been stained, praise God from whom all blessing flow.

We’re using this dark brown gel stain. I like it so far. The color is rich and reminds me of a chocolate bar but it leaves these paintbrush lines even though Rabbit doesn’t put it on with a paintbrush. It’s weird.  I’ve read that it just needs another coat, or that the wood was sanded too fine, or that it wasn’t wiped off quickly enough, or that gel stains just do that, or that or that or that…  We’ll get it figured out.

– My kids have adjusted to not watching movies or playing video games every day. I know they are over the withdrawal because they have become happy to find other things to do. They have now formed a club and it is very important and intense and there are passwords and disguises and drawings from a hat. It’s quite entertaining to watch.

– I cleaned out the pantry.

It was a crazy mess of expired baking products and empty granola bar boxes. There were three opened jars of peanut butter, 3 open containers of raisins, 3 opened containers of corn starch…  apparently we open things in threes.  Ben and I filled more than two trash bags full of unnecessary junk. I should pay attention to the pantry more often.  Rabbit asked how long I thought it would stay this way. I said about 24 hours.

– The reason I cleaned out the pantry was because we have had all these gnat-like bugs flying all over our house and they are making me crazy. I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any spoiled food attracting them. There wasn’t. We’ve cleaned and bleached and sanitized but they still show up in my coffee if I don’t drink it fast enough. I’ve decided that they must be coming in from outside because my kids don’t know how to close exterior doors. They are really good at slamming interior doors though. Go figure.

– I’m getting rid of our microwave. Probably today.  It is very small and we rarely use it and what we do use it for can easily be done on the stove or in the oven, which makes more sense with the number of people in our family anyway. I’m the only one who cleans it and I don’t even like it so it’s going away.

– This post has become much longer than I originally planned so I will go for now. It’s almost 8am and time to run.

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Filed under: Friends & FamilyI tried to do a projectSometimes we do stuffThe Rabbitthis house

Take Me Out to the Ball Game…

Yesterday we took the day off from doing projects and chores and took the kids to see a baseball game.

It may seem like some kind of crazy chaotic thing to take 10 kids to a ball game because it is.  This is not for the faint of heart but with good kids and a couple of adults constantly counting heads it is doable. Also, should I still count Kait and Joe when I say 10 kids because they are both adults? It just feels weird not to include them in our number.

Kait’s fiance, Vince, works for the Blue Wahoos and he sprang for tickets for the whole family because he’s awesome and we all had a great time even though the home team lost when the Wahoo’s game fell completely apart in the 8th inning.

But that’s okay because Kait got pictures!

Lucy and Maggie were glued to Vince.  I have warned Kait before that she needs to keep an eye on these two because they are out to steal him out from under her. I’m pretty sure this is why she was adamant about a short engagement.

I was reminded once again that Lanie is not heat tollerant.  It was warm and humid but it wasn’t unbearable but she was super red and sweating like crazy and all she wanted to do was nurse, which made her sweat even more because I had to cover her to keep from being exposed.

I had thrown a jar of frozen baby food into the bag on our way out of the house and that seemed to help and then the weather cooled as evening approached and she was in a great mood after that.

This little blond haired, blue eyed baby doll turned into a red headed, green eyed girl in the sunlight. I love how her hair and eyes seem to change colors depending on the weather.

Kait got pictures of everybody but I don’t have time to put them all up right now so I’ll just end off this post with this one of 3 of my daughters being completely themselves.

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Filed under: FloridaFriends & FamilySometimes we do stuff

My minimalist senses are tingling

I am a minimalist at heart. I love getting rid of stuff and clear spaces and having nothing on my counters.  That new refrigerator that has a Keurig in the door makes my heart pitter patter because that would mean one less thing I’d have to keep on my countertops.  Though I do wonder how a Keurig works in a refrigerator door because these coffee machines are known for their short life spans. I wonder if there is an easy way to replace it when it inevitably dies the week after its warranty is up or if you’re just stuck with a refrigerator Keurig that no longer works.

Being a minimalist in my family means that I cannot actually practice minimalism the way I’d like. If it were up to me we’d have about a quarter of the stuff we have now. I think the only things I would have a hard time parting with would be little girl clothes and books.  Even still, I had been able to work around my maximalist children and keep the house at a reasonable junk level until I just gave up trying a couple of years ago. I don’t know what it was. Rabbit’s mom’s death and then the miscarriage and then the hard pregnancy that followed…

I just sort of quit.

And when I was ready to get things back in order at the beginning of this year it all seemed so overwhelming and my kids had become comfortable in their growing piles of stuff and I didn’t know where to start.

I’ve decided now, however, that it is high time to take back control over this home. We have a lot going on over the next several months and all this clutter is keeping my brain from being able to focus on becoming a foster parent and my daughter’s wedding and the holidays and all the preparation that goes into life this time of year.

I started with one corner.

I love this artwork Rabbit and the kids made for me a couple years back but it really doesn’t match this area of the house and because of that I feel like this corner has become an easy catch all spot. This is definitely not the corner of a minimalist.

This area is at one end of our long dining table. I knew what I wanted here because I saw it somewhere on a video or Pinterest a while back because I have no imagination of my own and I count on other people’s creativity for these things. Yes, I’m a copy cat.

The previous owners of our home are awesome people that we know and love and I asked if they’d let me have their large wooden spoon and fork if we bought the house.  They quickly said yes and they’ve been sitting in a corner of the dining room the last 3 years, sometimes being used as swords. It was ling passed time to give them a spot.

I wanted giant letters to spell the word eat but I didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg for them. Rabbit spotted this cheap wood scrap while we were at Lowe’s yesterday. It had some great grain and he asked if I would like the letters cut out of it. I had a better idea that wouldn’t require any work from him and we grabbed the wood and headed home where I got to work and TADA!

It’s not crooked. I just can’t hold a camera straight.

The kids all helped me. I usually don’t like the distressed look but this seems to work well here.

I really, really like it.

I think I am going to keep this momentum going and actually get some family pictures on the walls and while I’m at it I’ll throw away everything in the living room.  Don’t tell my husband.

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Filed under: I tried to do a projectLook what I madeSometimes we do stuffthis house

I woke up at 6 am yesterday morning. This may not seem super early to most of you but for me this is like a 6am-er waking up at 3. Lanie doesn’t usually fall asleep until after midnight and as hard as I’ve tried to change her bedtime she just keeps reminding me that Lanie does what Lanie wants and the rest of us here are just along for the ride.

Also, since being sick she has gotten into the new habit of waking up to eat at night. Sometimes twice. Normally, my typical children would have never gotten away with this at 17 months old but Lanie is a different story. Anytime she will eat, I will feed her because failure to thrive is one of the scariest things and she still has trouble gaining weight and when she does gain weight it is difficult to keep that weight on her.

Back to my story…

So, I woke up at 6am after having gone to bed at around 12:45 and after being up with Lanie for more than 2 hours in the night and tucking Maggie back in after she had to get up to go potty and I would like to interject here that I love not having to buy pullups anymore.

I think I probably got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep. Normally that is fine and I function alright but it’s been many weeks of bad sleep and yesterday I was mostly sleep walking which was perfect because this was delivered at about 7am.

We needed to put all those squares of grass here:

So I made a bacon and spinach quiche for breakfast and then went on a run and then went out to see this:

And I realized that this was going to take forever.

Good thing the weather was a nice 70 degrees. Perfect for a long day working in the yard.

Until about here.

All of the sudden it was 95 degrees and super humid. All the kids were out working in full force, along with one of the older boy’s friends (Thanks, Danny!).

But these guys just pushed through while I made food and took care of the littles and took pictures of marginal quality.

Maggie really wanted to help so she put on her “work clothes”, which consisted of an oversized pink t-shirt and a long pink skirt.

Laying sod required a lot of wheelbarrowing. Or barreling according to my younger kids.

Some people may have died.

But the transformation was amazing.

We miscalculated and still need two more pallets of but sod even with that section not being completed I am so happy with the yard and I can’t believe we actually have grass!

Next project? Paint the bathrooms. Or maybe edge and put red mulch down in the front garden. Or maybe print some pictures out for the plain white walls throughout my house.

No, finish the table!

Wait, cabinets…

I’m going to have an anxiety attack.

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Filed under: BenJesseLucyMaggieSamSometimes we do stuffThe Rabbitthis house

How we travel with all these kids

We’ve moved across the country numerous times and we’ve always had young children with us.  We’ve found that while it is fairly easy to keep one or two kids occupied enough, it is more difficult to do this with multiple children who are all bored at the same time and asking where we are and why we are driving in circles and did mama leave her wallet somewhere again?

Notice that while it looks like we are in an airplane, we are actually in our 15 passenger van that actually only holds 14 people and really only 12 because we have 2 seats out at the moment.

Anyway, we’ve had to come up with some pretty creative ways to keep the kids content on long car rides and I have found that these 88 cent trays from Walmart are ingenious for child entertainment.

We initially bought them to serve food while we were on the road. Because they are small, light weight, and stackable, they were easy to stow under a car seat when not in use. We quickly discovered that they had many, many other uses, however.

  • They are great for holding paper and crayons for easy drawing and coloring.
  • They are magnetic so these cheap magnet letters work perfectly.
  • Grease markers wipe right off so they can draw, erase, draw, erase to their heart’s content.
  • They make playing card games and other travel games much easier. Rolling dice isn’t quite as frustrating.

Another thing we have done is print off Mad Libs and laminate them. We bought ultra fine tip grease markers and they work perfectly on them so we can reuse each Mad Lib indefinitely to create new humorous stories.

We fill those little snack baggies with cereal and crackers and whenever somebody is hungry we just pass those out.

I readily admit that Fruit Loops and Cookie Crisp are not the healthiest snacks we’ve ever fed our kids but it’s a vacation and there are 12 people in the van and can’t everybody just please calm down for a minute? So this is what I do. I think we filled more than 60 of them and they were gone by the time we returned home.

To counter said unhealthy snacks, I have this little gadget that allows me to make those squeeze fruit pouches at home and then I freeze them. On travel day we pull them out and toss them in the cooler.

This allows my kids to eat fruit and veggies and counter all the less-healthy snacks without making an incredible mess.

Another thing we do is always try to stop at rest areas to use the bathroom so that the kids can get out and run around. The younger kids really look forward to this for some reason. They really seem to enjoy running in half dead grass at rest areas while I sit on a blanket and picnic with Lanie.

I still have so much more to write to catch up from the last couple of days. Ben has asthma. Gabe got new shoes. We have a new fire extinguisher.  And there are ten pallets of grass sitting in the backyard. The last few days have been a little bit crazy.

Gotta go.

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Filed under: Friends & FamilySometimes we do stuff

How did that get there. And asthma.

On our run this morning I noticed that Ben was weazing. I asked if he was okay and he said he thought so but his upper back really hurt and his body felt really tired.  He’d complained about this stuff before but he always continued to run so I just thought it was typical kid complaining.

But the loud weazing…

That was a warning sign.  He didn’t want to stop running and we were less than a half mile from home at this point so we slowed down to barely a trot but by the time we got home I was regretting not making him stop earlier. I was thinking about taking him to the ER but he was breathing easier as soon as we walked into the house so I called the pediatrician instead and she had me bring him right in and holy cow the amount of paperwork (tabletwork?) we have to do now at check-in is more than what we have to do at the ER. It’s getting really annoying and I’m actually considering switching pediatricians because of it.

Doctor’s immediate assessment – at the least, he has activity induced asthma.

So we got him a puffer and went home to find a toilet in my front yard.

It’s still sitting there.

When Ben took a dose of his Albuterol his eyes got really big and he said, I can breath! I didn’t realize that I couldn’t breath before!

I am hoping that we don’t end up needing a pulmonary function test or anything because ain’t nobody got time for that. The inhaler seems to be doing its job so for right now I think we’re good.

We’ll see how it goes.

 

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Filed under: Ben

Home again

The trip was really amazing.  My mom and my sister refused to accept any help with the food and they were feeding 26 people all weekend long. The food was seriously amazing and we all got to catch up while the cousins ran around playing together and having the best time ever.

We left for home this morning. The long 9-hour drive ahead of us seemed like it would take 9 days but it really wasn’t all that bad. The kids were good. Maggie was good!?!

I was bad though.

We stopped at an Arby’s for some breakfast and because the little girls gotta go bafroom and, wouldn’t ya know it, I left my wallet and my phone there and didn’t realize it until we were a half hour down the road.  I was so frustrated with myself but it turned out alright. We got home an hour later than we had hoped but I got my phone and wallet back in tact because of the great employees who kept them safe.

We stopped at a rest area so Jesse, Lucy, and Maggie could make a bird’s nest for what reason I don’t know.

And then they ran some energy out while I fed Lanie some fruit.

Really, the trip home was so uneventful that I don’t have much to say about it other than leaving my stuff at the Arby’s.  When we got home we had to run and I was sure it would be slow and tired but I we were wrong. Sitting in the car caused us to store up energy or something because we all felt great during our runs and finished strong.

The visit was wonderful but I would be lying if I said I’m not glad to be home sitting on my bed. I think we’ll all be sleeping well tonight.

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Filed under: Friends & FamilySometimes we do stuff

Chasing the sun. And the moon.

I wasn’t all that interested in the eclipse, to be honest. I was born with a defective awe gene and most things that make others stand beside themselves in wonder won’t even get me on my feet.  I felt this way all these months leading up to our planned eclipse trip to Moncks Corner, SC.  I was excited to see my family but it was my children and husband who were all about the eclipse.

But that all changed in the span of about 3 minutes this afternoon.

My mom came over to my sister’s house. She had bought cookies and called them different names like moon cookies and sun cakes. She had done an eclipse project last night with all the kids to prepare them for what to expect and then today before the eclipse she did a viewing tutorial with them teaching them how to use their glasses and keep their eyes safe. She handed out the spectacles and the kids ran around with them like it was the apocalypse and then we collected them back up because that wasn’t the greatest idea we have ever had.

We still had more than an hour before the eclipse so my brother said I should have his car.

The people in the background, Aunt Naomi, Mom, and my sister, all thought I should have his car too and, as you can see, they are very happy about it but alas, we were all mistaken because Matt said I should drive his car, not have it so there was a little disappointment.

Anyway, no matter how hard Rabbit tried to keep it from happening, I got to drive this gorgeous blue Tesla and it was a most remarkable experience and, people, I really, really feel like there could be an X in my future. Just look how good this S and I look together.

When we got back it had become so cloudy and stormy and Matt and Joe were freaking out like Chicken Little because the eclipse was coming, THE ECLIPSE WAS COMING, and we wouldn’t be able to see it while it was pouring rain. I felt a twinge of disappointment for Joe because he was so excited but what can you do?

Well, apparently you can drive all over Moncks Corner looking for blue sky like storm chasers (or what’s the opposite of storm chasers?) and it was one of the most entertaining experiences.  All 24 of us jumped in our vehicles and set off in a caravan chasing the sun. My brother and Joe were leading the way in the Tesla and they were hilariously intense about the whole thing, calling everybody in the group with updates and suggestions about where to turn and what direction to go and we only have 11 minutes will we even make it in time and I think I see blue sky over that way!

And we did make it, thanks to the efforts of my brother and my son, who both really, really, really, really, really wanted to see the moon blot out the sun for 3 minutes.

So we got out of our cars on the side of the road and put on our glasses and I hovered over my younger children so much, certain that everybody was going to go blind, that I accidentally looked at the eclipse without my glasses. It was brief and apparently not long enough to cause me to lose my vision but I spent the rest of today waiting for my sight to suddenly vanish.

My mom passed out eclipse gum because she knows how to make things extra fun for the kids and we all watched as the moon swallowed up the sun until the only evidence that it was daytime was the orange ring of fire that poured out from around the moon.

I got my eclipse selfie, even though it really did not do the event any justice because I am no good at these things but I was there and I saw totality.

And, guess what guys. It was amazing. Seriously amazing. What I thought would be a cool, but somewhat boring event turned out to be one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen.

The entire day was perfect. Driving the Tesla, chasing the sun, seeing the total eclipse with my family – minus Kait and Vince and Nina who all had to work 🙁 …

And then Matt had Joe jump into the driver seat and let him drive the Tesla for a bit before he took off for home.

It was a very good day.

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Filed under: Friends & FamilyGod is.Sometimes we do stuff

My brother has a Tesla. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this but I have wanted an X for as long as they have been out. I watched Elon Musk’s unveiling of the X years ago. The $120,000 price tag, however, has kept that want as just a wish because who has that kind of money to spend?

So Matt has an S and he drove it down from Virginia to Moncks Corner, SC yesterday to enjoy our total solar eclipse family reunion and this thing is pretty awesome except when it needs a charge that takes hours so you shop at the outlet stores and buy amazing kitchen gadgets and then leave to find out that the charging wasn’t really happening because the stations were generic and required a special account and I really feel like swiping a Visa and plugging in a car shouldn’t require a stamp of approval from President Trump.

We never did figure it out but it still has plenty of charge so there is some time to get this done. And he said I could drive it so hopefully that will happen sometime before he leaves after the eclipse tomorrow.

There are better pictures but, of course, they are on Kait’s camera so I’ll get them later but until then, here is one of it being all blurry and stuff.

Also, we got tons of Family pictures that Kait is holding hostage too so that post will have to wait a little longer I guess.

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Filed under: Friends & FamilySometimes we do stuff

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