December 11, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • We snoozed as long as we could this morning until it was time to wake Whitman and ship him off to school. When he left, we had our breakfast and then started on our school work for the morning. The kids were a bit (a lot) distracted today, and I felt like I had to stay on everyone-be quiet, do your work, leave this room and on and on. 
  • I am not sure how it happened though but I did finish my part of school work a bit before lunch time. This allowed us to have our lunch at a decent time. Everyone but Keaton had leftovers which was a win. I am not sure when we will eat all of these leftovers-they just keep accumulating. We even brought some home tonight.
  • Reagan headed to lunch with Robby this afternoon and then he took her to her orthodontist appointment (she had lost another bracket.) Meanwhile, everyone at home did their chores and then did some internet shopping. 
  • The kids have drawn names and I have held them off as long as I can on ordering their presents. I know everyone is different but it so surprises me how different they all are. Anderson quickly decided what he wanted to buy his person and has never thought about it again. Graham and Reagan have stressed and stressed about the perfect gifts. (Reagan is still stressing because she has no idea what to get her person-I don't either so I am no help.) Keaton jumped on the chance to buy her person a nicer gift when Robby had a good coupon. Campbell has spent hours looking for her person but has also spent much of that time looking for more things for her. 
  • After a trip to Michaels and the Dollar Store tomorrow, hopefully they will be finished with their shopping (except for Reagan). My list might finally be getting smaller. Now, I should be sewing tonight but instead I took a pass and will get to that another night-maybe tomorrow. 
  • Whitman came home around 4 with Nonna and Pops. He had a good time at their house but spent most of his time coughing. By supper, the boy was pitiful. A low fever but a constant cough. Under his nose was just as red as it could be and his eyes were constantly watering. He might have eaten 3 crackers since he has been home but didn't touch anything at supper tonight.
  • This afternoon I went out to play football with the boys. Campbell, then Keaton and then Reagan did join us. The boys are so serious and would tell me what play to run-it was like they were speaking Greek to me. I just nodded my head and tried to do what I thought they said. 
  • The neighbors always seem to come out right when we have to leave and tonight was no different. We had to call the kids in after they had only been out for a bit. We ate supper at Coltons tonight.
  • The kids loved the peanuts and the rolls. Keaton would not eat the red tortilla chips but she did enjoy the fish. The steak that Robby bought was large enough that it fed him, Reagan and Graham. We just split 2 and a half meals and still brought home a big box of leftovers. 
  • Once we made it home, everyone had showers and Robby put Whitman right to bed (in the floor of our room) since he didn't really wake up from the ride home. We plan on doping him up before we go to bed so hopefully, he will sleep well tonight and wake up feeling better.

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 14 Days Until Christmas

In 2006, Robby, Reagan and I saw a bit of Texas and this included seeing the Alamo. It was one of the places that looked just like it's pictures to me.

I don't remember a whole lot about the trip except that Reagan's little blanket fell off the stroller and into a muddle puddle. So maybe, I should put going to the Alamo again on our list. I know that the boys would love it.

Here is the brief blog from that trip and unfortunately, the picture links don't work.

December 10, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • We woke up to the sounds of Anderson working in the school room on his legos. Pretty much, other than eating or getting ready, if he has been home today, he has been building on his legos. He only had two things left to build. I do indeed think that child loves legos. I hope that he can find a career that he loves just as much.
  • There was a bit of getting dressed drama. Keaton wanted to wear what she had wore yesterday but her clothes were one of two places-dry in the dryer or dirty in the laundry basket. Just hearing this caused tears with her. Thankfully, they were in the dryer. Whitman told me that he was never going to wear blue jeans again when I put them on him this morning (He didn't mention it when I put them back on his this evening though). Anderson was wearing the same shirt that he wore last week and Graham had on a bright yellow shirt looking like it was the middle of summer. I didn't have the heart to say anything to the boys-they got themselves ready, without being asked and without complaints.
  • Everyone had breakfast and Whitman found his spot that he stayed most of the day. His biggest buddy in the house right now is Anderson, and Whitman spent all day watching Anderson build his legos. When Whitman wasn't watching Anderson, he was looking at all of the books of lego instructions or sitting right beside Anderson watching his ipad.
  • We had breakfast and then it was time to hurry out the door for church. Keaton sat with Grannymom and Grandpa. I do believe that this is her spot now because she loves getting extra attention back there. Whitman sat in between Robby and Anderson, and he did really well. I am not sure if he did better not sitting by me or if it was because he didn't feel that great. Robby helped Whitman catch a ride home with Grannymom so he didn't have to stay at Sunday school and infect all of his friends.
  • On the way to Sunday school, a man asked Robby if he had change for a 5 dollar bill. Of course, we didn't but Keaton was with us. We had her look in her wallet and she only had 3 ones. We just tried to give them her one but they insisted that they would take the 3 dollars and give her the 5. She didn't really understand what had happened so I explained to her that she made 2 dollars. 
  • A bit later, we saw the man in the hallway and Robby encouraged Keaton to ask. And sure enough, she walked right up to the man and said, "do you need any more money?" She can be the cutest little thing.
  • After Sunday school, the rest of us headed to Grannymom's house. She had lunch and afterwards, the kids played for a while. They played enough outside that the needed showers when we made it home. 
  • Everyone showered and as soon as they did, Robby and I fell sound asleep. When we laid down, Keaton and Whitman were climbing on our bed. I knew when we were sleeping that someone was between us. I thought it was Keaton and Robby said that he thought it was Whitman. When we woke up, we discovered that Campbell was the one snoozing with us.
  • Robby had to take Reagan to church early and then we had to get the littles there soon afterwards. Tonight was the Christmas Night of Worship at church. The preschoolers (Keaton and Whitman) sang 4 songs. Of course, Keaton did wonderful but Whitman was bribed with skittles and threatened with a spanking so he thankfully, did great as well. (To me "great" consists of standing still on the stage and moving your mouth occasionally.)
  • Then Reagan was up. Her preteen group led the congregation in worship. They sang two songs and Reagan looked mildly uncomfortable up there. However, she did very good. I probably would have looked very uncomfortable if I was 12 and standing in front of a thousand people singing into a microphone.
  • Once at home, everyone put on their pjs, and we all had leftovers for supper. Then we had some downtime before bed. We did do our Christmas ornament countdown along with our Santa before bedtime. Anderson is sleeping in his new sleeping bag in the floor so Graham decided to join him. I didn't think that the boys would be able to go to sleep up there especially since Whitman slept through most of church, but surprisingly, they are all quiet right now.

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 15 Days Until Christmas

In 2007, Robby, Stephanie and I cruised around New England. It was lots of fun and one of the highlight stops was Martha's Vineyard.

I do remember that it was chilly that day in Martha's Vineyard, but finding a fudge shopped helped with the chill.

Here is the link to the words from half of that trip.

December 9, 2017-Happy 11th Birthday (Party) Anderson

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Can someone tell me how Whitman can go to the doctor one day and get an all clear and the very next night, we put him to bed all sickly. The boy was hoarse, had a runny nose, a bit of a cough and possibly fever. We sucked his nose, made him blow his nose, gave him medicine and even a nasal spray before putting him to bed all while crossing our fingers that he doesn't get another ear infection.
  • Now let's begin with the morning. We had to wake up in plenty of time to get Campbell to the gym at 8:30. It was pretty hard to leave the bed this morning since Campbell, Keaton and Whitman all joined us. 
  • We made it in plenty of time even though the house was a bit wrecked when we left. Campbell's game was good. They lost by a good bit and she didn't score any points today, but she worked hard at guarding the opposing team.
  • After the game, all of the kids went to Dana's house to play. They had a big time playing basketball, working on a club house and eating chili. Whitman even stayed and spent some time playing but also watching a movie.
  • Robby and I ran home to straighten the house. Once that was done, I started on sewing some on the girls' Christmas present. I am a bit ahead of my schedule on preparing that gift-right now at least. Since it is a Christmas present, I had to put up my sewing machine and hide all of the evidence of my project. That of course is a pain since I will have to pull out that big machine a few more times to finish the project.
  • Around 1, I headed to Dana's to pick up the boys. I brought them their jerseys and they changed there. Then it was to the gym for them. This was picture day for the teams so everyone had to arrive early.
  • The boys game was better today. The boys didn't really get to touch the ball much but I think they had fun. The neighbors cousin was on the opposing team so that made things fun for Graham since they were guarding each other. Their coach was a bit calmer today even though they barely squeaked out a win.
  • After the game, Keaton and Campbell went home with Nonna and Pops and everyone else came home with us. On the way home, I ran by Old Navy to pick up a deal. They didn't have what I wanted but I ended up finding a present so that was good. Robby took the kids to Sonic for a treat, and then we met at the gas station to fill up our cars.
  • I am not really sure why this party seemed like I didn't have much to do but it did. Anderson and I worked on the icing for the lemon cake late this afternoon. Even though we didn't have much to day, Robby and I were still scrambling come party time.
  • Anderson could hardly wait for his party to start, and once even commented that next year he wanted his party to start at 5. The guests started arriving-Nonna, Pops, Jason, Grannymom, Grandpa, Andrew, Andrew, Ethan, Brody, Peyton, Grayson, Noah and Owen. Lilly, Cash and Dana had to leave early but Tony, Shannon and Brett arrived late. 
  • The first activity was eating supper-BBQ and the fixings. Then the kids did a lego fire walk. They started before I even knew it and I barely was able to take any pictures. Next up, they guessed how many legos were in a jar. 
  • Then, the races began. The boys made cars and raced them down the ramp. They loved it and could have done it all night long. After the first champion, we stopped for presents and cake. Anderson had requested cheesecake and lemon cake. I bought the cheesecakes so they were for sure good (and I have leftovers!) and the lemon cake was okay (Pioneer woman recipe but not my favorite for sure.) 
  • Anderson was delighted with his presents-all Legos except for a sleeping bag, blanket and glasses. If that boy has lego sets to work, he is a happy child. We did another round of races and the same boy won that round too. Whitman was second place and he screamed, "I don't want to be second, I wanted to be first." 
  • There were legos scattered all over this house when the party was over, but it was a successful party and worth the mess. The kids helped us pick up and everyone was in bed at a decent time. Tomorrow is another busy day around here. 

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 16 Days Until Christmas

We have been to Chicago a few times in our travels. In 2006, we went with Grannymom and Grandpa. In 2014, we were there for a day on a big road trip. I double checked in my book and that is the only times listed that we have been there but I certainly feel as if we have been more than that.

In one of our school books, we have been reading about the Chicago fire and on our last trip, we sat and ate pizza and some site related to the fire. The kids remembered it and when our travels make them excited about learning, it is just so neat.

Click here for the pictures and blog of our last day in Chicago.

December 8, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • First order of business today, after sleeping too late, was to call and make an appointment for Whitman to have his ears rechecked. I had tried earlier in the week but the only appointment open then for today was at 9:30 and in the middle of school just wouldn't work. I had not realized that Robby would also be around today so when I called today, I took the only other appointment they had-9:50. It still ended up being at just about the same time as it would have been.
  • Reagan and the boys were all awake this morning but it must have been cold, because Graham found his way to our bed after playing his ipad some and Keaton and Campbell also joined us.
  • I did the dishes and then gathered the crew for breakfast. As they ate, I read and then we did some more together work in the school room. This was our 4th day of school this week and that makes everyone's load a lot lighter (especially mine!)
  • Robby took Whitman to his doctor's appointment, and thankfully, his ears were just fine. After I finished my school, I took a shower and started work around here. The kids finished their school work and we had lunch.
  • After chores and lunch, we loaded up for Grannymom's house. The kids took so much stuff-scooters, ipads, games, they could have stayed for days. Robby had dropped Whitman off there and after I left, I ran to Lowe's, Walmart, JC Pennys and then home. I meant to go to the library but forgot until I was already on Lawson.
  • It is not often that I am home alone without the kids but when I am I never sit down. The other day, the boys were teasing me about taking naps but I sure wouldn't take one in an empty house. I spent most of my time painting the girls' Christmas gift. Then I made baked beans and tried my best to get everything ready for Anderson's party tomorrow. I think that I will try harder to convince him to have a half birthday party this summer.
  • My pre-Christmas list is growing smaller. I have even wrapped almost all of the presents that we have. I still haven't bought a thing for Anderson-I am hoping that after his birthday party, I will know the perfect gift for him. Ha! That is probably doubtful.
  • Robby ran to pick up the kids from Grannymom, and then he took them to chickfila for supper. By this time, I had already text desperate for him to stop and pick up some butter. The cake that I had intended to make called for 3 sticks and we were out. I am not sure what happens to our butter. We seem to buy so much but I am always out of it. I think that the kids secretly eat it!
  • Once they came back home, everyone had some downtime while Anderson helped me make his birthday cake. He is growing up-he wanted lemon cake and cheesecake for his cakes. When it was 9, we did our ornament and Santa countdown. The kids then went to bed and the ice cream came out!

December 7, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • I had to wake up Whitman but he woke up well because he was excited about going to Lunch box today. Robby had overpaid in some of his pre-tax money and had some to use up, so Whitman was able to stay for Lunch box in the afternoon so we don't waste a single penny. Whitman did not want to be late which was kind of funny because he is late every single day to school (well, almost.)
  • Everyone else was awake soon and some how our breakfast and working together took longer today. I didn't mind since I do enjoy all of that reading (seriously), but the kids were anxious to get started on their school work. Tomorrow should be a bit of a lighter day but Whitman being home adds to the excitement. 
  • Speaking of tomorrow, I need to make Whitman an ear re-check appointment since it has been over 2 weeks and Reagan knocked a bracket off of her braces tonight so that calls for an appointment as well. We may not get much school done at all.
  • I had a shower around noon and then worked with Reagan once I was dressed again. Then it was time for lunch. Robby has been busy and I have a fridge full of leftovers from multiple mystery shops around the metro area. It made for lots of choices but unfortunately, we didn't finish anything off and the fridge is still packed to the brim.
  • The kids worked on chores and I worked on getting ready for Anderson's party this afternoon. We are doing some games along with his favorite-lego car racing. But, now I need to come up with a ramp as well. I also made my weight in chocolate Lego men and chocolate Lego bricks. 
  • Graham and I went to pick up Whitman this afternoon. He had a good day at school and came home with his hands full of papers. Today was C show and tell day and we really outdid ourselves. In his Club Cracker box, he had Cucumbers, Cookies, Chocolate Candy, Crackers and Corn. We looked and looked for our play carrots but could never find them.
  • Back at home, there was more party preparation and then it was suddenly time to leave. Maybe I need a watch-Robby did win a new one today at his work Christmas party which the kids already know more about than the two of us. 
  • We met Robby and Dairy Queen and had our weekly blizzards. Then it was off to see the SOMA Christmas tree lighting. It was cold, cold out there but we were prepared. Hats, gloves, long underwear, we were ready, but it was still cold. Thankfully, we weren't there too long-we heard some carolers, saw some people we knew, saw Santa and then the kids helped countdown to light the tree. 
  • The tree lit up and Reagan looked at me like "what? you brought us out here for this?" Anderson had the exact same look on his face. Bless! It was a small little tree but it was good to get out and go someplace new. 
  • Afterwards, Robby ran to pick up some supper and then we headed home. Once we all warmed up, we ate and then the kids showered. I worked more on my chocolate legos while the kids helped Robby with his new watch. 
  • Before addressing our Christmas cards, we played a candy cane game. The kids love a bit of competition (and so did I). Then everyone had some free time before bed.

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 18 Days Until Christmas

Today's ornament is appropriate as we remember today's 76th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

This summer, we read 3 or 4 books about Pearl Harbor so in August when we were there, the kids knew all about it-and I did too. It was hot, hot that day but the theater with the film was cool. I might possibly have fallen asleep during the film-remember, I did read all of those books so I knew it all! (ha)

The kids were pretty impressed with everything on the little boat ride over there and then back. We were able to see the oil bubbling up from the U.S.S. Missouri. It was a pretty memorable day.

Here is the blog post for that day. 

December 6, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • I hung a note last night above the ipads listing what everyone needed to do before they were to set down with their device this morning. It must have worked because I heard one of the boys helping Whitman get his breakfast. 
  • Even though the boys were on top of things, the girls and I were not. I felt like I woke up at the same time as usual on Wednesday but for some reason, I was scrambling. We made it in plenty of time this morning despite our last minute bagel making. 
  • The hallways at Immanuel are incredibly decorated. I would hate to be on the decorating committee but would love to put my dining room table in the middle of the hallway and have a big ole party. The kids were happy to pass out their Christmas gifts to their teachers and enjoyed having their little parties.
  • I wanted to go outside to the park but when I saw the temperature, I quickly changed my mind. The kids did enjoy Rock Creek for a bit and then they were ready to go. Candice took all of the big kids home (that would be 6 plus her Michael) and I took all of the little kids home (6 plus my Whitman.) 
  • Once at home, the girls turned on a Christmas movie and then eventually moved to a craft. I fed them a snack but spent most of my time folding laundry. We weren't really at home very long because I had to run to the library before church. 
  • Campbell and Keaton were asked to be in a video advertising Woven which will happen in February (maybe?). There were quite a few other girls in the video along with all of their siblings. Soon Candice arrived with the big kids who had spent all afternoon playing bored games. 
  • We ate supper at church-that family max is sure a steal. Plus my Campbell noticed the others at her table getting a take home box and she did too. She even brought her beans home. Ha! I then went around gathering everyone else's leftover ham and cheese croissants.
  • Next up was class for everyone. The little two are singing Sunday night and Reagan and the Ignite band are leading in worship as well I think that it will be a pretty full service. I picked everyone up and then headed home.
  • The kids changed into their pjs before a bit of downtime. Then everyone helped countdown to Christmas. The kids love this little tradition but all it kind of does is make me panic each night. I did go upstairs and paint some tonight but gracious, I don't know if I will get everything done. 

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 19 Days Until Christmas

In 2007, we did a New England cruise and one of our stops before the cruise was Hyde Park, the home of Franklin Roosevelt. Since this was 10 years ago and 4 kids ago, I have lost quite a few brain cells since then. It looks like a place that we should return though!

Here are the words (only) to that blog post.

December 5, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Whitman came into our room this morning and after laying quietly beside me for a long while, he finally asked me to get up. He wanted some milk. I helped him put his clothes on while bribing him with his cup of milk.
  • Whitman was a bit excited about school today because he had a bag full of ornaments to take. Everyone had to bring 6 of something in a bag and Whitman picked ornaments. Surprisingly, he said that his friends guessed what was in his bag.
  • The rest of us started on our school work. Campbell and Keaton were anxious to work on their reports for next week's homeschool day. They are just like Reagan wanting to have the best report and trying to earn that status by passing out something. Keaton will have candy canes for everyone as a part of her report. Campbell will have monkey bread samples for hers.
  • I had my shower at noon, and then it was lunch time. We read some and then the kids worked on their chores for a bit. Soon, it was time for me to leave for my doctor's appointment. I ran by the doctor's office first then on to my yearly blood pressure check (still good.)
  • Afterwards, I ran to Michaels, the Dollar Store, Hobby Lobby, Sams and Walmart and that took all afternoon. The kids hung out inside some but also coated up to play ball outside. 
  • I picked up Whitman, and then switched cars and kids with Robby. Keaton and Reagan wanted to go to basketball practice tonight, and Reagan said that she did not want to go back. I think she was a bit bored. Campbell enjoyed her practice and well, the boys might just need ice cream after their practice. I would have made that happen tonight but had already heard that they had ice cream for snack this afternoon.
  • Once at home, Robby had chocolate chip pancakes, bacon and sausage waiting on all of us for supper. We scarfed it all down and then the kids headed to the showers. They had a bit of down time before bed.
  • The kids have been in bed for almost an hour now and Whitman is coming down the stairs with a very important question, "how many stars are there?" According to google there are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way so in all of the galaxies there are approximately 1 with 24 zeros after it.

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 20 Days Until Christmas

Even though we had driven by the U.S.S. Alabama a few times, in 2011 we finally stopped to tour the big ship. The 4 kids that we had were tiny but oh, they were so cute. The boys enjoyed seeing the boat and climbing all around it. Reagan even had some money to spend at the gift shop and bought a sea shelled covered jewelry box.

Here is the blog post from that adventure.

December 4, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)
  • None of the girls were up this morning and I as I went to wake them up, Whitman walked out of his room and said, "you forgot to wake me up?" I hadn't forgotten to wake him up but was saving him for last. The boy is a bit distractible in the morning. For example, this morning I carefully told him to go and brush his teeth and later found him in the school room closet coloring a picture coloring a picture of 3 trees which he called his "rule book."
  • Once Whitman left for school, the rest of us had breakfast and then started on school. I am on the countdown to Christmas break even though I haven't yet decided when exactly we will take our break. We need some structure around here, and hopefully by Christmas I will have most of our Christmas things accomplished. (We already started wrapping today!)
  • School lasted until 12:30 today but everyone was fine with finishing before lunch. Anderson still had a few things to finish after lunch but he finally did finish up. We worked on finishing up some of our party leftovers for lunch, and then it was chore time (I think that is possibly my favorite time of the day-a clean house makes me happy, happy.)
  • The girls helped me wrap some presents today so that is good. I still have many a things left on my Christmas to-do list but it is growing shorter...I hope! We did a few other things around here and soon Nonna and Pops brought Whitman home.
  • Whitman and Campbell made a marble track while Reagan and Keaton made a "how to" craft video. I read a few book to Whitman and Keaton. I was so tired that I was struggling to stay awake and even caught myself reading them crazy words as I was finishing their books.
  • For supper, we had leftover chili. I had not eaten any last night and it was delicious. The kids thought so too-well, some of them. I did make Whitman eat the 1/8th teaspoon that was in his bowl. I do think everyone loves the crackers, fritoes and cheese. Graham was super excited to eat some of the spinach dip which he tried this afternoon. We will see if he eats any tomorrow. He will say that he likes food and even really act like he does and then never really eat it again almost like he is trying really hard to please me or in this case, to gross out his brothers and sisters.
  • The girls had showers tonight as well as Whitman. We all watched a Shark Tank mostly together-well, we were all in the same room. Campbell was crafting, Keaton and Reagan were watching their ipads on the couch, Whitman was watching his ipad in the floor and the boys came and went while watching football in our bedroom.
  • Afterwards, we did our December countdown and then everyone headed to bed. Whitman has been downstairs twice now. Once to use the bathroom and once again to use the bathroom. He asked me "when I am 18 and I a poopoo in my pants, will you sell me to another country?"

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 21 Days Until Christmas

We have only been to Savannah twice; once in 2007 and then again in 2011. The first trip was when we did quite a bit of touristy things including riding the trolley like the ornament. Here is the link of the blog from the first trip.

It doesn't have any pictures, but is much more interesting than just our Disney pics.

In 2011, we zoomed through Savannah stopping to eat pizza around 11 p.m. on our way back home from Disney World.

December 3, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • We had told the kids last night that when they wake up they need to make sure that they make their bed, brush their teeth and put on their pre-approved Sunday clothes. For the most part, that did work well. I only had to make 5 of the 6 beds. I do think that my big boys at least tried to make their beds but need much, much more practice.
  • The kids had their breakfast and right before we headed to church, we did a quick clean of the house. First was church this morning where we had the Lord's Supper. Keaton has been sitting with Grannymom and Grandpa lately, and I think that she has the whole section looking at how cute she is. I have had 3 different people talk about cute she is during big church. 
  • Graham and Campbell had to leave big church early since their choir was caroling between services. We watched them and when they were done, everyone headed to Sunday school.
  • As soon as we were done, we beelined to Nonna's house and quickly ate a bite of lunch. Then we all loaded up with Nonna, Pops and Jason and headed to the governor's mansion. They had their Christmas open house this afternoon and after we met, Grannymom and Grandpa outside, we headed in.
  • We browsed around the rooms quickly (we had been there last year), and then headed downstairs for a picture with the governor and with Santa. The kids remembered where the cookies were and found them and punch. We were able to watch a bit of a Nutcracker ballet snippet before heading outside.
  • Outside, they had a train that the kids delighted in riding in-well, most of them. My big 3 are possibly a bit too big for the train ride but they appeased me and hopped on. From there, we headed inside and somehow my crew managed to sneak another cookie and peppermint or two.
  • We then all drove to the Historic Arkansas Museum for their open house. The kids enjoyed playing with the stilts. No one was really able to do it at all. We looked in the houses there which I was happy to do since on our field trip day to the museum, it was rainy and we had to stay in the museum building. 
  • We made ornament tags with a potato stamp, reindeer food, drank apple cider, ate gingerbread, tried dutch oven biscuits with butter and even had our picture with Santa again. The girls also made scented sachets. I had been wanting to go to this open house for a few years and was super glad that we went today.
  • When we left there, we dropped Nonna and Pops off before heading home. Robby blowed the sidewalk while I may or may not have sat in the chair with Keaton. She is so incredibly cuddly and snuggly. I did doze for about 15 minutes and then got right to work.
  • Robby made chili and the sausage balls while the girls and I helped get everything else ready. I did spend a good amount of time trying to wake Whitman up. He had gone to sleep on the way home and slept soundly on the floor of my room despite my vacuuming and everyone running through the room.
  • The Phillips, Atwoods and Wilsons all came over for our annual Christmas party. Our kids played while the adults ate and ate and talked and talked. We all had so much fun that we really should get together more often. 
  • Everyone stayed fairly late. Once they left, the kids went to work helping clean up. Then it was their bedtime as Robby and I did lots of dishes. Tomorrow is another busy day around here-Anderson's party is Saturday and Christmas is getting closer by the day and I still have a lot to do!   

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 22 Days Until Christmas

We have been to New York City a few times-2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and then again in 2016. However, we have only been to the Statue of Liberty twice. In 2009, we had tickets to go to the pedestal of the statue. We were thrilled until we found out that the elevator was out of order. So with our three tiny kids and 6 month pregnant self, we hiked up 156 stairs. That was a memorable experience for sure. 

Here are the pictures and blog from that day.

December 2, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • It was an early morning around here and surprisingly, we did wake up at a decent time. Robby made cinnamon rolls while the girls were waking up. The boys were already ready-Anderson excited about his day and Graham worried about remembering plays (seriously.)
  • We dropped Camryn, Reagan and Anderson off at church. They were soon on the buses headed to Monticello. Before they arrived, they did stop for lunch at about 10:45. I am not too sure how hungry they were but I am sure that they gobbled up the buffet.
  • I am not exactly sure what all was done at the children's home but I do know they played a few games, sang a few songs (Reagan is part of the group that stands at the front and leads), ate cookies, passed out presents and stockings.
  • Anderson was very excited to see the boy who we bought a present for (a comforter and pillows) open up his present. Anderson's Wednesday night group had also gone shopping for the stockings and packed them, so I am sure that he enjoyed seeing them be passed out.
  • After dropping them off, we headed to Walmart. I knew that Campbell needed a new pair of shoes but when I saw her shoes that were on her feet as we were on the way to her first basketball game, we had to get some. We quickly found a pair that she liked and were off to her game.
  • Campbell's little team did not win (even though they don't keep score) but they did really, really well. Now, she also kept points and her tally concluded that they won. Campbell has never played basketball before and I think that most of these other little girls have not either. Campbell is almost a foot taller than everyone else so she was able to touch the ball quite a bit. We are pretty sure that she scored 8 points. My goal for her was to just score one time.
  • Then we ran to Target to return something followed by a quick stop at Altitude. The radio station that we listen to was having a drawing for Stars Wars tickets. We heard them talking about this as we drove by so we had to stop since the drawing was in just a few minutes. Unfortunately, we didn't win.
  • Back at home, Robby worked in the yard while I made some brownies, added ornaments to our tree and then helped him. When it was time to leave, I had to scramble to get Graham ready since I had lost track of time.
  • I drove in one car with Graham while Robby and the others followed. Robby was doing some shopping after the game along with picking up Anderson and Reagan. I asked Graham if he was excited and he told me that he was just worried about trying to remember all of the plays. (He shouldn't have been because basically all of the plays consists of the coaches kids getting the ball and the rest of you stay out of the way.)
  • Campbell's coach is encouraging yet tries really hard to teach them. He makes the game fun and Campbell seemed to be having a ball playing today. Anderson (who was missing the game due to the mission trip) and Graham's head coach leans the other way with his fair share of yelling plays and his frustration of when the boys are not running the plays correctly. I do try to keep my mouth closed near the boys but listening to their coach yell and holler at the boys took some of the fun out of the game. 
  • Graham did get to touch the ball a few times and had one or two good chances to score but did miss. He was a bit quiet at the end of the game despite their win. However, we still couldn't have been prouder of him - listening to his coaches and playing hard the entire time even when it isn't much fun.
  • Robby picked up Reagan and Anderson and heard all about their day. Robby told Anderson about all of the plays his basketball coaches called today and Anderson's response was, "they just take all of the fun out of it." Just 5 more basketball games left.
  • Robby picked up Chinese on the way home and unfortunately, it was a bust. Now, I still enjoyed it because we didn't have to cook it. Robby ordered the wrong thing for him and couldn't even eat it. I tried but I am not even sure if the chicken I was eating was real chicken. Our standby, sweet and sour chicken, wasn't even that great tonight. We do, however, have a whole order left that we didn't even touch. Maybe it will be better tomorrow even though Chinese food is never better the next day.
  • After we ate, the kids had showers while Robby and I worked in the kitchen. He cleaned the oven, stove and microwave. I worked on getting out my dishes for tomorrow and decorating our gingerbread brownies. 
  • When we had finished, we did our nightly December Santa countdown. We also let one kid each night take an ornament from the tree and the other guess as Robby describes the trip that it is from. We had two days to do tonight and the kids so enjoy our little tradition.
  • The kids then had a few minutes to veg out before bedtime.Tomorrow will be another busy day so they need their beauty rest!

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 23 Days Until Christmas

There just isn't a whole lot in West Virginia but one place that we have been at least twice is to Harper's Ferry. When we were there in 2015, it was very crowded. We walked around and explored more that day than we had before, and it truly is a neat place. Overall, this is probably one of my more traditional ornaments. Click here for the blog and pictures for our last stop at Harper's Ferry National Park.

December 1, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas around here. This first day of December was a no school day because we had other things planned. Most of the kids were awake this morning, and despite planning on making muffins this morning for breakfast, we still didn't get around to it.
  • We left around 8:30 and after driving to the wrong address, we finally found the place in Benton that we were going to. Each time you buy a meal at Taco's for Life, they donate a meal to someone in need. Today was one of their meal packing days.
  • We put on our hairnets and waited for everything to start. We were the only non school group there this morning. There was probably 150-200 kiddos there. We watched a short video about what they do and then one about how to pack the food. Afterwards, it was time to start packing.
  • We found our station (mad dash to an empty station) and got to work. The kids were great and worked hard the entire time. The boys enjoyed packing the boxes full of already made bags of the rice mixture. Keaton worked with me sealing the bags mostly. Reagan and Campbell spent a lot of time scooping the food. However, everyone was able to rotate to all of the jobs and they all had a chance to hold the bags in the funnel and measure each bag. The bag sealer had to be over 18 so that was my job the entire time.
  • When the 2 hours was over, my back was a bit sore and I was tired. I think I am getting old! I was disappointed that we couldn't buy a bag of the rice mixture. I wanted to cook it up and serve it to my kiddos for a week-that would make them very grateful for what we eat around here.
  • From there, we headed to Nonna's house to pick up Whitman. He was living it up at her house and was still in his pajamas. Nonna had even offered for him to go to the store and look at toys but he declined. We all ate lunch there and the kids had a minute to play.
  • Then we headed home. Robby was working hard on getting his office in order which lead to cleaning an attic, which was on my list. While we worked, I had the kids do a few chore before they could play.
  • Campbell, Keaton, Reagan, Whitman and I worked on our brownie gingerbread men for tonight. We also made cheese dip which I messed up. I told Campbell exactly how much spice to put in the dip but unfortunately, I was not half-ing the recipe and might have even been doubling it. 
  • I did have a bit of time to recover from our hard work this morning (i.e. nap!) but then I did get to work on pulling out school for Keaton. I pull out her school work and Campbell's school work for a month at a time. It is a chore to do each time even though I am becoming more efficient since this is my 5th time to do kindergarten.
  • At 6, it was time to leave to head to the McGuires. It was our annual Thursday Night Crew Christmas party. We have been having these parties for decades now (truly, it has been over 20 years of Thursday Night Christmas parties.)
  • There was quite a spread of food tonight and we went to town. Of course, there was the obligatory Christmas pictures before we could eat. We ate and ate. The kids all happily played and then watched a Christmas movie upstairs while the grownups talked. It was a pretty perfect Christmas party.
  • We brought Camryn home since she has to be at church early in the morning with Anderson and Reagan. Campbell has to be at basketball minutes after we drop those 3 off so it will be a very early morning for us. Someone please give us a wake up call in the morning!

Christmas Ornament Countdown 2017: 24 Days Until Christmas

This is my 7th year to do Christmas Ornament Countdowns on the blog. I must truly have way too much time on my hands. Most people probably do not have their Christmas ornaments photographed and blogged about along with a spreadsheet of each of the ornaments. We have 238 travel ornaments that we have collected in our 17 years.

Our first true ornament came when we were in Disney World for our honeymoon. It became a tradition when bought our next ornament on our 1 year anniversary trip in Philadelphia. The original plan was for us to travel to a new state each year on our anniversary. Somehow, we got ahead of ourselves and finished early and somehow, we ended up with many more than one ornament per state.

After this years ornament posts, I will just have 11 ornaments that I have not blogged about. I guess that means that we need to travel to a lot of places this next year so I can buy at least 13 new ornaments to complete the countdown next year. That seems doable since I did buy exactly 11 ornaments this year.

Washington D.C. is one of Robby's absolute favorite places. So much so that we have been there on 6 different trips. Of the many landmarks in D.C., the one that I always enjoy seeing is the U.S. Capitol building and today's showcase ornament. I think that on at least one of our trips there, the Capitol has been under construction with dome covered in scaffolding. We have toured the Capitol building twice-once before the massive security and once afterwards. Even with tons of security, it is still an awe-inspiring place and I feel very fortunate that our Capitol is a mini replica of it.

Here is the link to our visit to D.C. in 2016

November 30, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Graham was the only one awake this morning. Everyone else but him and Whitman were still in their beds at 7:30. Whitman was sleeping soundly in our bed. He didn't join us until 4:30. When he did he told me that his tent had fallen off of his bed. That sounded legit and all but I was a bit worried that he had gotten sick again (I had given him his antibiotic after his large supper.) I sniffed him a few times and he didn't smell sickly. I tried to form to the words to ask but wasn't able to do that before falling back asleep.
  • When we did finally stir, I worked and worked trying to get Whitman to wake up. That boy was tired this morning. I unloaded clothes from the dryer, emptied the dishwasher, made my bed with the sleeping boy in it all while working hard at waking him up. Finally, I was able to stir him enough for him to put on his clothes and go to the bathroom. It did help that I offered him a juice box to drink for breakfast. Today was "J" day at school and we needed a J something to take and his juice box fit the bill.
  • After Whitman left for school, we started our school here. We did our work together first. I know that i have said it before but it is my favorite part of the day and I do think that the kids secretly love this bit of downtime during school. 
  • We don't have school tomorrow so we had lots of loose ends to tie up. Reagan was working hard to finish two deadlines today-a 6 stanza poem about a family member along with a brochure about a book she just read. Meanwhile, her brother spent time laying around the school room or just wandering around instead of getting right to his work. 
  • Robby brought Whitman home from school and when they arrived, we ate lunch and read a few books. The girls had made a tent fort in the living room and Whitman went right to watching a movie in there while the others went to work on their chores. (I know, last year Keaton was doing chores and Whitman should be doing them now. He just always isn't the easiest to work with.)
  • Whitman has been waiting to spend the night at Nonna and Pops' house for a long while. Chuck E Cheese was calling his name, and he could not wait to get there. Pops and Nonna picked him up and they were off. He had fun playing there, but he also enjoyed his tiny pancakes for supper.
  • The rest of us spent our afternoon around the house. Campbell, Keaton and I made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, fudge and chocolate crinkle cookies. After that, I went up to the treadmill but before I did that, I kicked everyone else who was in the house (except for Robby) outside. 
  • There the kids stayed until 9! Yes, 9:00. I guess 5 hours outside is a very long time-I did the treadmill, worked on my ornament blog, made supper (Chicken Ranch Pasta-delicious), planned Anderson's birthday party, and read all of the internet.
  • When the kids did come in (we called them in), they ate supper and then were sent to the showers before being quickly herded to bed. The boys were excited about Whitman not being there-they said that he does a lot of talking to his bear before he falls asleep. I assured them that if they were scared tonight without Whitman, they could come down to our room.

November 29, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • After missing last week at Bible study because of Thanksgiving and staying up a bit later than usual lately, I was surprised that the kids woke up well and for the most part got themselves ready. After yelling up the stairs many times to the bonus room, I assumed that all of my people had brushed, put on their clothes and packed their lunch. I was wrong; when we made it to the park, Graham quickly discovered that he did not have a lunch. I did have plenty of spare lunch items but hopefully, next time he will remember to listen when I tell him to do something.
  • CBS was good this morning and they are decorating the halls for Christmas. They go all out up there and it is just pretty amazing. Afterwards, we all headed to the park to play for a bit. The kids quickly noticed that the tornado sirens went off twice for their Wednesday practice. For some reason, the sirens went off earlier than they were supposed to and then again at noon.
  • After we had played a good long while, we headed to Dairy Queen for our weekly Blizzards. I had three kids this time order a M&M Blizzards with the M&Ms on the side. Everyone ate their snacks and then we were off to church.
  • Robby was at a funeral this afternoon and snuck our early to take Reagan to the orthodontist to get her braces tightened. I am sure that it must hurt because she tried to eat pretzels for a snack but said that it hurt too much. Whitman went with them and I took the rest of the crew home. 
  • I was there for a bit and about the time that Robby headed home, I left for a focus group at Tacos for Life. The experience was fun but the taco was not my favorite at all. When I made it home, I brushed my teeth twice and even looked for a Tums!
  • I let Campbell and her helpers make brownies for Friday night and then it was time for me to throw hot dogs on the grill for our supper. We scarfed down our food, and then we loaded the car. I ran to the library and since it is food for fines time, my almost 10 dollar fine went down to zero since I brought 10 cans of food! Sweet!
  • Next was church time and the kids were going to the indoor playground tonight instead of playing games. That was fine with me so I headed down to the preteens and went to their service. I was able to see Reagan leading in worship which was pretty neat. Anderson was in that area too and I did watch him like a hawk since the boy section was pretty noisy and full of movement.
  • Once we made it home, the kids changed and had a few minutes of downtime before bed. Then it was time to head upstairs for teeth brushing and bed. We have moved their toothbrushes to upstairs and this week the boys won the contest of who could keep the cleanest sink.

November 28, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Whitman climbed into our bed last night which isn't very unusual. We woke on up this morning and I headed upstairs to turn off the fans and to wake the girls up. When I walked into the boys room, I immediately saw vomit in the floor right near Graham's bed. 
  • I headed back down and asked Graham if he had gotten sick last night. He went upstairs to see the evidence. Meanwhile, I figured that vomit that was hours old could wait a bit so I started helping Whitman get dressed for the day.
  • I asked him if he had spit last night and he immediately said, "I opened my mouth and it just came out. Three times." He went on to tell me all about it. He even apologized. I tried to explain that it was okay and to always just tell Mommy whenever it happened. 
  • Graham then came into the room and said that maybe he did get sick last night. He told me that his stomach did hurt last night so it was probably him. That sweet boy had convinced himself that it was him!
  • I went on back upstairs with all of my supplies and discovered for sure that it was indeed Whitman since there was more evidence in his bed. I went to work washing sheets and scrubbing carpets. At least I giggled the entire time about Graham being convinced that it was him!
  • Whitman seemed to feel just fine so off he went to school. I would bet that his upset stomach was just due to his antibiotic that he is taking. I did give it to him before supper and not after. He didn't get any today but we still have to continue to make sure that ear is better.
  • Once he left, the rest of us started on school. Keaton has 11 lessons left on her reading book which is huge. My goal is to finish that before Christmas. All of the kids are halfway in their spelling books already and Campbell and Graham have a book that we are going to try to at least get to lesson 50 (of 100) before Christmas.
  • We ate our lunch around 12:30 and then the afternoon kicked into high gear. Chores were finished, school was completed, treadmill time was served. The kids were in and out but spent quite a bit of time playing with blocks and driving remote control cars.
  • We left around 4 and ran to April's house and then met Robby at Chick Fil A. Then I scooted off to Bunko while Robby chauffeured the three basketball kiddos to practice. The first games are Saturday.
  • Robby then brought everyone home and after everyone had showered, they helped Brett do a science experiment. The kids went to bed later than usual so I know they will be tired tomorrow.

November 27, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • It is sure hard in the mornings when I have to walk up the stairs to wake up everyone. It does rarely happen but gracious me, if Whitman didn't have to go to preschool, we might have all just slept in this morning.
  • After Whitman left, the kids found their cereal and I read and read and read. We were a bit behind, from last week, on all of our read aloud work so we used this quiet morning to catch ourselves up. 
  • Then everyone started on their school work. The little girls were pretty needy today getting back in the swing of things, and I do believe that Anderson plays a game to just see how slowly he can finish his school work. I think that this bothers me so because I was the complete opposite-do it fast and turn it in even if there is mistakes. Anderson, however, is do it slow with no mistakes at all. The boy only missed 2 or 3 math problems today-he is the epitome of slow and steady wins the race.
  • It was 12:30 when we finally ate our lunch. The kids are still in to making their sandwiches into paninis. Keaton still loves the toaster oven so when we finish lunch, we have lots of appliances to put back in the cabinets.
  • Next up was chores and there seemed to be lots of them to do today. Now, from about 1 until 3, I have no idea where the time went. I did manage to mark a lot of things off of my list today but I was shocked when I looked up noticed that it was already 3.
  • Pops and Nonna brought home Whitman and he was so excited to show them his Christmas tree. By this time, the boys were outside with their remote control cars. Everyone soon went outside and the neighbors eventually came out. I walked on the treadmill for a bit and then helped Robby some afterwards. He put lights on the wooden Christmas trees that Tony had made for us last year.
  • It was cold outside so I didn't last too long but the kids were outside until almost 8. They had supper and showers when they came in. Then there was a bit of downtime before bed. No one turned on their Christmas trees tonight since those bright lights just seem to cause a commotion.

November 26, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Anderson and Graham were up this morning before everyone else. Anderson didn't put on his church clothes this morning just in case it wasn't Sunday. I am not sure if I blogged about it or not but on Black Friday, Anderson woke up thinking that it was Sunday and put on his church clothes before coming downstairs. Ha! He soon realized it and put his pjs back on. Today he was taking no chances and was one of the last ones dressed.
  • Campbell had already picked our her clothes last night and gracious if there wasn't a hold in her shirt this morning. (Grannymom, it will be coming your way.) Keaton had also picked out her clothes but she opted to change and just tried to wear a jacket and no shirt to church. Thankfully, I did catch that but didn't catch her no socked feet. Reagan is now my easiest girl when it comes to getting dressed on a Sunday morning.
  • We ate and then were out the door for church. We taught Campbell's Sunday school class today. It was interesting-first and second grade. Last year we taught 3rd graders and since they can read and have a general knowledge of how to look something up in the Bible things were much different today. After listening to some of the other kiddos read today, I did leave feeling pretty confident in my Campbell's reading ability.
  • After church, we celebrated Dana's birthday at Grannymom's house. Grannymom had Mexican and we even left with party favors. Dana had painted a nativity and it now looks perfect by my circle chairs. 
  • While the kids played, Robby and I ran to the grocery store. We came home with a haul of Pop Tarts that were on sale today. It was a big sale and my pantry is beginning to look like a warehouse since we have been doing more couponing lately. If something were to happen, you can come here and we can survive on pop tarts, muffing mix, cereal and chocolate chips.
  • Next stop was back to church for Ms. Lynda's 80th birthday party. The kids had all made her cards. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food that was at the party-they had the most wonder caramel brownies that I had ever had. They were actually so good, that Robby walked out with one and Reagan grabbed one on the way out for me (I think we might just be training her up right.)
  • Back at home this afternoon, the kids played some while Robby, Campbell and Keaton ran to pick up supper and buy some more Pops Tarts. The evening was pretty calm around here-calm and noisy. The boys did dig out some old remote control cars and spent quite a bit of time playing with them. 
  • I played a game with the girls and Graham and as soon as it was over, I looked up and it was bedtime. Each night the tree causes the boys room to be pretty crazy-it is too bright in there for them to go to sleep. Poor Campbell said that she really wants to keep her lights on longer but Keaton and Reagan say that they are too bright. We had a good long conversation about trying to get along with other people! 

November 25, 2017

(click here for today's pictures)

  • Surprisingly, I woke up at 7 and since Pennys was giving out 10 off of 10 dollar coupons this morning, I hopped in the car and headed there. When I told the boys bye, they were the only ones awake, they wanted to make sure that I was not going anywhere with lots of toys. I assured them that they didn't want to go with me because there would be no toys.
  • I arrived at Pennys early enough to watch people line up. I knew there would be enough coupons (they were still handing them out when I left) but I still got out of my car and stood in the line. I didn't want to miss out on the fun.
  • It took me longer than I wanted to find what I needed but still did check out in time to walk around Walmart for a bit looking for a few little presents. I was able to mark 2 people off of my Christmas list today so that made me pretty happy. 
  • Then it was on down the road to Nike to spend a coupon before heading home. I hadn't been home too long when Robby took the girls and Whitman to Grannymom's house for the day. We had a funeral to go to in Prescot so one group headed to Grannymom's house and the big boys went to Pops' house.
  • The kids all had big days. The girls and Whitman baked, decorated Grannymom's house, played outside, took a walk and played with Lilly and Cash. The big boys played with the toys, watched football and even went to see a movie. They all had busy days and were tired when they made it home.
  • We worked on putting the ornaments on their trees. Bless em! Reagan is a perfectionist and had a hard time letting Campbell and Keaton do anything. I know, it's tough being a perfectionist. 
  • By the time the trees were over, it was bedtime. They were all pretty wired even though they were tired. We could hear them upstairs for a good long time before it was finally quiet up there.