Monday, January 16, 2017

Holiday stuff part 2

Well, I figured out how to retrieve some of the photos, so this will have to do! I'm giving myself 10 minutes to write this post before I really need to get on with the day, so here goes at lightning speed!

On the last day of school, we told the kids they could sleep under the Christmas tree (knowing full well it would be crazy and probably not actually work). We were right, but they really enjoyed it for the first hour. Then one kid was sent to bed, 2 opted to go sleep on the library couch, and the other 2 slept on the living room couches.

Nathan and his Mattycake. Hard to take a non-blurry photo of these two wigglers!

Dinosaur dig at the Children's Museum--always a favorite! Can you spot Jules, Isaac, and Luke?

Really cool new exhibit on the ISS--we had a lot of fun with this one!


The kids all decided that the time we spent in the China exhibit was their favorite. Kind of ironic because they were all whining about going in, and I decided I was going to MAKE it fun, so I got super enthusiastic and started very dramatically whipping up food in the fake kitchen...and then of course they all got way into it and Neil had about a zillion plates of toy food on his lap. And I was really excited because Luke was reading the "recipes" on his own, so cute! Then I wanted Chinese food for the entire rest of the day, so we stopped for some on the way home, and the place we usually go was no longer doing a Chinese buffet and was now super-expensive with a long wait, which was lame. (We ended up at Wendy's, which also took forever, and most of us were very hangry by the time we ate.)

Watching the play at the Children's Museum, which was the Elves & the Shoemaker in some sort of Seuss-ified alternate reality that hurt my eyes. But the kids loved it!

And I don't know that I've ever put a photo up of the Chihuly sculpture at the CM, so here's one. :-)

Okay, this is so frustrating--I've tried a bunch of different times to rotate these photos, but my hard drive is so full that it's not letting me edit them in the way that actually works best. So sideways it is, and I'm having to delete a bunch that wouldn't post anyway other than upside down.

But here's Nate with his sugar cookie marvel on Christmas Eve...

And Mary Beth FINALLY getting a Christmas cookie!

So happy she came!!!

Another pajama picture just because I love Juliet & Isaac's hug and Luke's bizarre crazed-elf face.

 I didn't take many photos Christmas morning (at least not photos that are rotated properly!) so here's a representative one...

Matthew's favorite present--he is seriously OBSESSED with this octopus toy. It's literally the only toy he is ever interested in. For now. :-)

One day we had 4 friends over, and right in the middle of the slime-making festivities Matthew needed to nurse, so I told Abigail and her friend that they were in charge of making sure that everyone finished their snack (cranberry bread, of course!) and cleaned up their slime. When I finished feeding Matthew I came into the kitchen and it was spotless! Hurray for those awesome older kids!

Sideways photo that I sneakily took of Neil wrangling kids in church. I love that man.

And sleeping babies--he fell asleep one day while I was nursing him and I randomly had a little pocket of ten minutes of free time that I just sat rocking him and looking at his beautiful little face. 

And my kids are obsessed with eating beets right now because of their ability to change the color of your tongue and your urine. We're nothing but classy. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January bits + home projects

We're halfway through January!! Halfway! How did that happen?!

I've been doing the Apartment Therapy January Cure again, which I love so much. I haven't been able to do it as in-depth this year as I'd like *cough* Matthew *cough* but it's still pretty great. My pantry is loving the organized bins, I finally ordered a new duvet cover for my bed, 8 years is a long time for white bedding (and ordered white again, because I love white so much), and we've been plugging away at house projects. Last weekend we painted Juliet & Luke's walls & woodwork, plus all the woodwork in the pantry and linen closets. It's very sad that it's been 3 years since I started that project and I just totally stopped once I got all the visible stuff done--but now I just have to do the baseboards behind my bed, Abigail's closet, and Juliet & Luke's closet doors, and we will be done! With the baseboards, at least. (Still have to repaint my room and probably the striped wall in the boys' room.)

In other getting-the-house-ready-to-sell news, we bought a new stove yesterday (and new faucets for the bathroom. And spent forever looking at lights but didn't find any we liked). We've had one of those ugly coil-top stoves in every place we've ever lived since we were married, and I didn't even think about replacing it with something more current until my mom gently suggested it. Obvious much?! (But this didn't prevent me from being INSANELY grumpy and snappy all day the day we bought it, because I seriously hate putting money into a house that we're selling.)

But I love my new stove, and I'll enjoy it for the time being (along with my new floors).

This dude is reading so well! And he's getting more cooperative about reading, which is always the tricky part at this stage...yeesh. 

And Mattycakes is growing growing growing--with cheeks of chubbly deliciousness, and hair that has me wondering if we'll have another blond? He looks SO much like Abigail as a baby that it totally throws me all the time. ;-)

Holiday catch-up part 1

It was so nice this year to be more active--I kept remembering how bummed I was last year when I was sidelined with a stress fracture during the holidays! Every time I got stressed out by how much stuff was going on, I just reminded myself that this time I was up and active!!!

We kicked off December with a visit to the candy cane factory, then hung around downtown for most of the day.

We decided to check out Dickens of a Christmas--roving bands of people in Victorian clothing acting out scenes from A Christmas Carol. We've always meant to go and never have, so this year it was! And it was cool to see but I'm happy that we never made a special effort in years past. ;-)

We also found the window hung with ornaments made by Juliet and Isaac's classes (their classes do a lot together because of the high-ability program, which is really fun for them. Funny story--Juliet's teacher is a super sweet tiny little lady--just this bouncy sweet little pixie, and Isaac's teacher is a little more of a hippie...super mellow and laid-back and really awesome. I love them both but they are so different! Anyway, at PT conferences Juliet's teacher--smiling nonstop--told me that she loved how Jules and Isaac always gravitate to each other whenever they get the chance, and it just warms her heart to see their sibling bond. Isaac's teacher told me that they like to chase each other and mock fight and she occasionally has to separate them! Sibling bonds, I guess!)

We walked a mile or so to the downtown library to warm up and burn some time...I always love this sign and finally got a picture in front of it since nobody else was around block it! (Normally it's totally obscured by tents for the farmer's market, but we waited until they packed up.)

And then we caught the holiday parade, which was HUGE! We left after an hour with more than half of the entrants still to go. I love a good brass band--it always gets me a little teary-eyed!

Speaking of teary-eyed, I LOVED listening to all the carols that the kids were playing pretty much nonstop all through December. And the duets! The duets!! I seriously had to start rationing piano time because it was such a hot commodity.

Matthew was totally blissed out by the fire a lot of days--he loved watching the flames and the twinkling lights on the tree. Very soothing to his little baby soul.

We went to our ward party one night and Nathan was so darn thrilled to meet this guy. So. Darn. Thrilled. Look at that grin!

 Lots of angelic sleeping babies in photos, which does not necessarily represent reality. He's getting better at sleeping in his crib,'s still a long road. Mostly because I have neither the time, the mental reserves, the patience, or the ability to survive on 2 hours of sleep that I had when I was really working to sleep-train some of the other kids.

He's so darn cute though! This is the day he turned 2 months old. So delicious.

Isaac started--and finished--the last Harry Potter book!

This is mostly what Matthew looks like...wide awake. :-)

 This was a busy month for performances--we attended Abigail's first band concert!

And Isaac's class play! He played a legislative branch and designed his costume himself. :-)

And Juliet's class play! She played Alice in Alice in Winterland. One neat thing is that the role of Alice was shared among a few girls, and one girl was sick the morning of the performance--Jules filled in for her with less than 15 minutes' notice and was totally off cue cards (for the 30 lines she covered for the other girl) by the time we saw her perform!

And a piano recital for all three of them--Isaac's first recital!

This was also a reeaaaallly busy month for parties--one night all 5 of the older kids had parties at overlapping times from 4 pm until 10 pm. That was a little wild.

And one day Abigail walked Luke to his friend's birthday party in our neighborhood and they were both SO excited by the novelty. :-) (Guys--having older kids is AMAZING. My own babysitter in-house?!)

Barely any snow in December, but we made do with what we had...

And some days we just stayed inside and snuggled.

One night we were planning to go to Indianapolis for the zoo lights, but the weather was terrible and we opted for a huge blanket snuggle pile while we watched Elf  and ordered the really good kind of pizza from Papa John's (a kind friend gave us a gift card when Matthew was born, so we splurged on the good stuff!).

And another night we braved the Annual Mess to End All Messes, otherwise known as making gingerbread houses...this year we used exclusively leftover Halloween candy which was awesome (I took it all away about five days after Halloween for this purpose).

  A random selfie before church one morning as we were scrambling into the car...I think the kids were already all out in the car and we were enjoying the 15 seconds of quiet!

She doesn't look too happy in this picture--and neither does he--but Abigail jumps at any chance she gets to cuddle Matthew. He's getting pretty big now and just about dwarfed her in church today when she was trying to balance him on her lap--hah! His motor skills needs to catch up to his weight. ;-)

Everyone always wants "Matty snuggles" at bedtime (except he might throw up on your pillow, so, you know, element of risk...).

Lots of Matty snuggles!

He's such a smiley little guy and then he goes totally stoic whenever you try to take a photo.

Okay, so here's the frustrating thing--I have another 25 pictures that I wanted to include in this post, but I cannot FOR THE LIFE OF ME get them pulled off my iPad, and I've tried emailing them, uploading them directly, nada. I have no idea why. So I'm hoping this is Part 1 and Part 2 will come later, but...I don't know.

So--we went to the Children's Museum one day. And had an awesome time. Took lots of photos, none of which I can post, thanks to technology (I'm just pulling this one off of Instagram).

The kids worked super hard at extra chores to earn money for their sibling secret Santa gifts. I loved, loved, loved this so much for so many reasons.

We made a gazillion loaves of cranberry-orange bread. (Actually more like 80 mini loaves). One of the things I was really distressed about last year (broken leg) is that we didn't do any caroling. So one night when it was -12 below and Neil was gone I baked 48 mini loaves, packed up all 6 kids, and we drove around town for several hours caroling and dropping off little breads. Then two days later we did it again as soon as the kids got home from school so we could finish up before the crazy ice storm started. Neil didn't ever get to join in on the fun, but we got to do our caroling and looking at lights and bread-bringing!

And each of the kids ate at least one of those mini loaves by themselves. Nathan probably ate about 5 over the course of all the baking days.

We had a delightful Christmas--my sister Mary Beth drove down on Christmas Eve and we made sugar cookies and fudge and a big elaborate Christmas Eve dinner (PICTURES WHERE ARE YOU?!), and then it was time for the Taking of the Pajama Pictures...

That second one embodies Christmas Eve energy like none other.

After we came home from church on Christmas Day it was time for the traditional eat-whatever-you-want-do-whatever-you-want all day thing. It's seriously my favorite. Lots of chocolate and puzzles and Legos. :-) Mary Beth was a good sport even if she doesn't want to see a puzzle again for a year! ;-)

And the next day was our anniversary!! 14 years!!! Seems both like yesterday and forever.

 Mary Beth took us all to see Rogue One that day--we went back and forth for a long time about taking all the kids but ultimately decided to take everyone. Nathan was a little bored in the first half, but loved the galactic shootouts in the second. I guess that's what happens when pretty much the only movies you ever see are Star Wars and you spent most of your second year of life thinking your name was Darth Nater--you're just thrilled to see Darth Vader lightsabering it up and not at all scared. Hmm.

Speaking of Star Wars, for the first few days of break the kids were building these huge paper airplanes that were actually Star Destroyers. At one point there was an entire fleet of them! Creative little kiddos.

We had quite a few sessions with the pipe chimes but this is the only photo I got:

And a miraculously sleeping baby--I think this was the first time we used his mobile and I was so excited about it that I kept texting Neil pictures because it magically made Matthew go to sleep (it's AWESOME and it's here--it's really amazing bc the clamp system lets you move it from crib to pack-and-play to play gym to carseat. I seriously wish that this was invented a decade ago when I was first having babies!!)

My parents came to visit for New Year's. I think this may have been the only photo I took--I was pretty tired out by that point in the holidays! But I loved seeing the kids draped all over my dad--it's obvious how much they adore him! My mom also read stories to the kids that morning so I could sleep in (Neil left for work around 5 am), but obviously I didn't get a photo of that! So just imagine a photo of my mom reading all the kids stories and letting me get a blessed extra hour of sleep. :-) ( was so quiet that when I woke up I thought they had gone somewhere with the kids! Matthew had a few really bad nights in a row so I was soooo grateful for that sleep!!)

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