Monday, August 29, 2011

A Little Big Family Humor

I was out and about a couple of days ago with my mom and all the girls and was briefly chatting with another mom who had 4 boys.  We were remarking together at all of the most common comments we receive when we are out in public in regards to our children and our family size.  She told me she had received a forward last Christmas about the 12 days of a large family Christmas.  So, of course, I just had to google it and here is what popped up on youtube.  I found it to be quite hilarious and right on as to the comments I have and continue to receive on a regular basis.  Thankfully, as time goes by I take strangers comments less to heart, do plenty of smiling and less talking, and remember to keep a sense of humor about it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Summer Days Still Roll On!

School may have started this past week for the girls, but it is definitely still summer as far as our weather is concerned.  Just a couple of hours ago we got back home from being at the beach all afternoon.  This past week has felt like a heat wave in our neck of the woods, so spending a few hours on the coast getting wet and taking in the ocean breeze was a lovely thing.  I'm always amazed at how children can entertain themselves for hours on end at the ocean without complaints, with very little need for adult imput, and with little to no toys (such as today) available to them.  Our girls love to play in the water, get covered in sand, dig big pits in the sand, collect piles of seaweed, pile up rocks, and look for little sea creatures.  Southern California water isn't all that warm (it's in the low 70's right now and that is as good as it gets), but on a really hot day after getting over the initial shock of jumping it, it feels really great!  As I dive under the waves and swim out and bob in the water, I'm reminded of the many weekends growing up in Panama that we spent at the beach (in the same ocean, the Pacific) enjoying the pure relaxation and bliss of the sun, sand, and smells.  Then, of course, there is the grimy, sticky, gritty ride home and a nice warm shower to clean up after a long, exhausting day.  Once the girls had bathed and had a snack, they could barely muster up the energy to climb up the stairs, brush their teeth, and get into bed.  Now that's what I call entertainment - no electronics, no man-made toys of any kind - just good hard playtime.  I think that the beach can bring out some of the kid in all of us and that is why I find it so relaxing and re-invigorating. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Day of School, Fall 2011

 Eager yet slightly hesitant students

Proud, but sentimental Mommy

New adventures await, hopefully all good

Brand-new kindergartener with boundless energy

Confident 1st grader ready to get back into the swing of things

Earnest 3rd grader unsure of what to expect

New backpacks and lunchboxes

Big smiles

Lump in my throat

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

We Love to Stitch!

At the beginning of the summer, #3 and I were going to get her started on a sewing project, but amidst the trip to Oregon and all the other summer fun, the sewing got put to the side.  So, when Selah (#2) had a sleepover with friends from church and Carla got her started embroidering, it was just the impetus we needed to get going here at home.  The moment she arrived home, the other two sisters (#1 and #3) were avidly interested in the sewing that #2 had done in just 1 day's time and wanted to start immediately on projects of their own.

We had been given a box of embroidery thread, so that was a big help.  I found online cross stich patterns for each of them to start on and we went to JoAnn Fabrics to get fabric, an iron-on transfer pencil (which has turned out to be OK, but not great), and embroidery rings.  Using the iron-on pencil, I transfered their patterns from a piece of paper to the muslin.  Then, to make it easier, I used a regular pencil to trace over the X's all in a particular color.  When they finished one color, I would do the same with the pencil to make it obvious where to stich for the next color.  Surprisingly, Arianna (#3) had the most stick-to-it-iveness and ploughed through her project to great success.  We have already framed it and put it up in the upstairs hallway.  #1, Isabella, is working on a watermelon picture that says "Summer Fun" and #2, Selah, is working on dragonflies with a heart. 

Cross stitching is an activity I loved to do as a kid, so it is fun to see my children enjoying it as well.  I think we will keep this up for a long time to come. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Highlights of Our Past Week . . . The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

- Last Monday, after planning for quite some time, we finally bought four hens for our newly built chicken tractor (a movable coop and chicken yard).  The next day, my hubby went back and got one more hen- four just seemed incomplete, considering we have five daughters.  The girls have all named their hens, except for the baby:  #1's hen - Clucky, #2's hen - Sharky, #3's hen - Chicken Little, #4's hen - Kit, and suggested for #5's hen (by #2) - Coco (I like it, maybe it can be short for Coco Chanel as a sort joke since hens are so opposite of all things high fashion).  They have laid 24 eggs so far, not counting the ones I will find when I go out and get the eggs this morning.  We are endlessly fascinated with these creaturs who have a brain the size of a pea, and yet are so fun to watch at their daily habits.  The eggs actually do taste better than the ones bought in a store, and as #1 pointed out, it is nice to go and get eggs that are fresh and haven't been sitting in a carton in a store for who-knows-how-long.

- This past week, we dog sat my parents 11-year-old standard poodle with the hope that possibly he would mate with our female standard poodle who just happened to be in heat at the same time, thereby making it relatively easy to have our first litter of puppies.  Apparently, this was not to be.  Peluche, my parents' dog, is first of all old, which is not in his favor for fathering puppies, and secondly, is completely inexperienced in this area of realm.  Needless to say, despite the many valiant attempts on Peluche's part,  it would seem that Delilah is not pregnant (unless of course something happened without our knowledge).  The more hilarious side note to all of this and getting the hens during the same week is that our children are now being exposed to farm life (on a small scale) and observing first hand elements of the "facts of life".  I  had already been receiving many questions in regards to the dogs' behavior, so, amid much laughter and mortification on my part, I gave a brief, yet adequate explanation of the "birds and the bees" to my oldest 3 children (ages 8, 6, & 5).  

-Watching #5, who recently turned 16 months, finally take off and begin to walk (she is very proud of this new accomplishment) has been a joy for the whole family.  All the sisters are thrilled with her and keep exclaiming at "how cute" she is.  Of course, we are all completely biased and she is the baby of the family, so this is just the way it is and we love it. 
- Listening to #4's speech improve (just turned 3) and hearing her truly expressing herself through sentences and words is so much fun!  She says sweet things to me like, "You the best Mom ever"; and, also makes observations on things I don't even think she'll notice (for example, my hubby was painting the back of the house and #4 comes around the corner and says, "That looks better!"). Even the extremely dramatic is funny such as when she doesn't get her way and exclaims, "Mommy/Papi you broke my heart!".  

- Being a parent is challenging and rewarding.  Thankfully, there were some very rewarding moments this week.  My hubby has been going back to work for the last few days in preparation for the start of another year of teaching (1st day is today for his school).  On the first day that he was gone, I came into my livingroom mid-morning to find that my daughters were folding 2 large baskets of laundry for me without being asked.  Even the 3-year-old was pitching in!  When I exclaimed at how wonderful it was, they just said, "We knew it would make you happy if we helped with the laundry, so that is why we did it".  The next morning, I woke up, realized my hubby was already out the door and gone to work, and then heard mysterious sounds coming from downstairs.  About a minute later, the girls appeared with a bowl of oatmeal, toast with peanut butter, and cherries for me so that I could have breakfast in bed.  Then, my oldest who is 8 and has just learned to make espresso, made espresso for me and fixed it up with sugar cubes and half n'half just the way I like it.  Then, we all proceeded to the bathroom, "The Salon", and I was given a pedicure and manicure, as well.  Wow, talk about a great start to the morning!

- And lastly, going out to the garden yesterday and coming in with a bag full of yellow crookneck squash, tomatoes, a beet, and an abundance of Swiss Chard made me really happy.  We have battled the squirrels, gophers, and rabbits for our produce and lost many a battle, but despite that we are still left with enough to enjoy (not an over-abundance like I had anticipated, but definitely enough to supplement our grocery store purchases).  And, a huge side benefit from this is that the girls are much more interested in eating and trying new veggies when they help with the gardening and are able to go out and pick them fresh.  #5's favorite veggie at present is sauteed Swiss chard. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fresh, Bright, and Beautiful . . . Just Like Summer

Kicking back in the garden wearing Mommy's floppy sunhat.

My middle child, #3, and I went outside this morning to capture a few moments of her on camera.  In her white sundress and glowing, blond hair, she just looked like breath of fresh air to me.  At that moment, she seemed to embody the meaning of summer. 

Striking a pose.

That's my Arianna!

Deep in thought.

One last smile for Mom.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Product that Really Works in a Pinch

For any of you out there that are still changing diapers (many of you remember this quite well, too, I'm sure) out there, as I am, here is a little tip that I picked up from a friend of mine many years ago and saves me in a pinch.  On occasion, one of my girls has gotten/still gets a really bad poopie in their diaper that either seems really sour or just plain burns their poor, little bottom due to whatever combination of food they had recently.  And as is apt to happen, I from time to time and caught without my favorite diaper rash cream, ointment, or baby powder.  In this bad diaper situation, I give a loud yell to whomever is within earshot to run for the box of cornstarch.  After a good clean-up, I liberally dump cornstarch into the diaper and close it up quickly.  The cornstarch really seems to quickly absorb whatever "bad stuff" is hurting the poor, little tushy.  Not that it will completely clear up a problem area every time, but it definitely helps and is a life-saver in a pinch. 
Thanks, Rachel Antrim, for this great tip so many years ago when we both had our first babies around the same time; I've learned a lot from you and you are an inspiration as a mother and woman!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

OSF: A Yearly Tradition

My hubby, out on the town with me in Ashland.
Every year when we visit Oregon, my hubby and I make and effort to go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  It is located in Ashland, Oregon, about 30 miles from my husband's childhood home - and easy drive for us and a nice date that we can count on each summer, as the grandparents so willingly volunteer to watch the kids for us.  OSF is the oldest, or close to the oldest, outdoor Shakespearean theatre in the United States.  Not only are there Shakespeare plays done in traditional costuming, but also Shakespeare done in different time periods and creative costuming while remaining true to the original dialogue.  Many other plays are performed, as well, each summer and we have seen a couple of these, also.  Every production we have attended has been a high-quality production and an extremely enjoyable way to spend an evening out.

Summer '08 & Me, 8 months pregnant with #4, at OSF.
Two summers ago, we were able to get away for the night and stay in a lovely inn just 2 blocks away from OSF.  This summer, we had the opportunity of staying at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel in downtown Ashland, also right next to OSF.  Ashland is a college town (home of Southern Oregon University) and has a funky vibe, attracting a whole range of individuals which keeps the town perpetually interesting and fascinating to visit year after year.  I would highly recommend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and an overnight stay in Ashland to anyone traveling through Southern Oregon.  This is one summer tradition that we truly enjoy and hope to keep going for many years to come. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My "Baby" Is Blogging

At the beginning of this summer, #1, our oldest, was asked by my hubby to write down her thoughts and feelings during a conflict with us, her parents.  She is a naturally verbose child and loves to reason with us when given the opportunity (a good quality for the future, I believe, but a challenge at the moment while parenting her).  So, my hubby suggested that Isabella start her own blog for the fun of it.  Yesterday, we finally sat down together and set it up.  This may seem an odd choice for a use of technology for a child, but I would rather have her blog and thereby advance her writing and thinking skills rather than play computer games, of which personally I am not a huge fan.  Isabella's blog is going to be entirely her own (under supervision, of course).  Already I have been gently reminded that I can't be the one to make choices about how her blog looks or what goes on it, stylistically speaking.  And if she is going to be truly creative and expressive, then I really will have to keep my nose out of it.  I don't think this will be all that difficult considering the fact that pretty much anything my children create using their own imaginations is usually 10 times better than any project I could have thought up for them on my own.  Here is the link to my oldest "baby's" blog if you want to check it out.  It'll be fun to see what she does with!

Isabella's blog -