Friday, September 28, 2012

The Longest Day

Between everything that was on our schedule yesterday, I was out of the house with 7 kiddos for 13 hours.
You read that correctly. 13. Hours.
We have not had an opportunity for grocery shopping in the past  few days and were out of whatever we might need for breakfast.
Give me a break here, we're only into the second week of an entirely new schedule. One we've never had before, and with lots of highly dependent aged children.
We began by getting ready for school in a record low time frame. Offering kids breakfast out is a big motivator, but not cost effective, so I'll find an alternative motivator (fine, bribe).
So we found breakfast at Burger King. One of their breakfast sandwiches is 2 for $1. But their cinnabons are more, and I made the unwise decision that we each needed one. They were definitely yummy!
We packed our lunch and snacks for the day at school. This took up roughly half of the back of the van. It's an 8 passenger club wagon. Do you know how much can be piled in the back of that beast?
Lately, two strollers, a jacket for everyone, 5 full back packs, a diaper bag, Mom's bag of magical organization, Whatever we might need to run errands (dropping off clothes that are still useable, returning something to someone, riding around with things that are supposed to go someplace and never, ever, ever remembering to drop them off even though we see them every single day. Come on, you know you've done it.) AND, lunch and snacks for eight people, plus a gallon pitcher and eight cups.
A few moms have commented on and complimented my dedication to recycling and how 'Martha Stewart' like I am with my canning jar cups. We just used the Crop-adile to punch a hole in the lid and stick a straw through. It wasn't my idea. I saw it on Pintrest. Since I'm too cheap to buy SEVEN plastic or metal cups with lids and straws, this is what we use.        This isn't my photo, I found it on Pintrest without no credit sited. (If you see this photo, and it belongs to you, first of all, thanks for reading my blog!!!! But most importantly, if you would like credit for the photo, or would like for me to take it down, please message me, and I will.)

Pinned Image                                                            After school, which, by the way, we were at from 9 am until 4 pm., We had a make up voice lesson for our oldest. This isn't really a problem. The timing is quite convenient, as we live a fair distance from the location, but it is close to the school building. The make up lesson was at 4. Some how, her class was let out a bit early, so we made her appointment on time. (So many 'asides' in this post, I know. But you should know this. If you live in the Snohomish County area, and you have kids from 6-12 grade interested in music at all or visual arts, check out One A-Chord Academy)
So, I let the six kids waiting play on the grass at the music lesson and relax a bit. That was nice.
Now we need to do something for dinner. Remember my description of the back of the van? No way was I going to bring dinner fixings, too. Besides, I don't have that many containers at home to bring more food in!
After much collaboration, the children thought that Dairy Queen sounded like a great idea. None of us has ever eaten from their brazier before. We just went there for ice cream treats. Usually after soccer. Since no one in our home has played soccer for a few years, we've sort of ignored the Dairy Queen. Also, they heard that if I would spring for the kid's meal, they would get a free ice cream treat. So we did. I'm not sure how free the ice cream treat is when you get an 8 oz soda, a hot dog, and a banana for $4. If I were to feed my family that meal at home, it would cost me approximately .30 cents per person. I don't know, maybe a Dilly Bar really does cost $3.70.
At any rate, our next destination was a county wide 4H meeting. Don't roll your eyes!
This was a meeting to introduce 4H to people that don't know much about it, and various clubs around the county set up to show us what their club does, and to recruit new members.
My goal was to find a photography club for the oldest. We found some great clubs!
It was like a petting zoo there! we went the circuit three times so the kids could pet the Llama, alpacas, miniature horse, cat, dogs, bunnies, chickens, pigeons, goat, cavie, and a two week old calf. I'm still not sure exactly what a cavie is, or how it's pronounced. That's one of our research and journaling assignments for next week.
We did find a photography club, and we found the Mud Slingers and an antique tractor club.  My older boy, the 11 yo, spent nearly the entire hour and half that we were there chatting it up with the fellas at those booths. They talked about engines and motorcycles and quads. He was in his element. I think we found his niche! The 7 yo is desperate to join these clubs, too.
I want to clear out our little shed in the back yard and turn it back into a chicken coop. That's what it was for the owners before us. It would be great to have a kid in the 4H poultry club. And eggs!
We finally made it home, and children were telling me about hungry.
Seriously. Half the day involved eating. No More Food!!!!
No one argued about bedtime, though. Not a one.
This was for sure the longest day of the year for us!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Grow or Not to Grow

Baby girl has finally grown a bit!
Well, obviously she has grown some over the two years of her life. She just does it rather slowly.
We have seven children. The first three are tall, fast growing kiddos. Our 16 yo girl has been taller than me for two years, and has recently grown another 1/2 inch. We have three slow growers, and one that seems to match up to the Dr.'s charts right on schedule.
One of the boys grows so slowly, that even his hair and toenails grow slow. No kidding. I gave all of the boys buzz cuts last summer, then we let them grown them out. Three of the boys needed another good haircut at holiday time, and again in the spring. The 7 yo, however, didn't get another haircut until just before school began THIS year. His hair was just beginning to hang in his eyes.
So, the two year old girl is, per our pediatrician, petite. She wore her 12 month size clothes until she was 18 months. The only reason we switched to the 18 months size was because it was summer, and those were the clothes we had stored for her. She finally fit into them in the the fall, and was wearing the 18 month size summer clothes again after she turned 2.
Now it's fall again. This child's 18 month sized clothing is showing some wear. A few of the shirts are just too short on her arms, the dresses still all work, but her sweater tights are worn through on the heels.
So, I pulled out the box of size 2t/24 mos clothes. She is successfully wearing  pair of jeans and a top from this box. Really, she should be wearing a pair of bulky sneakers, or a pair of boots with the jeans to keep from walking on the back hems.
Still, at 28 mos, we were already transitioning other kids out of 2's and into 3's.
Oh, and did you know that OshKosh has a size 1t?
They do. I found them for another daughter that needed them for a short time when she potty trained at 2 yrs, and didn't have the diaper bulk to fill up a size 2t pants.
We may be making another trip to OshKosh. I am so looking forward to their giant 75% off sale this fall!
Hoping your kids' closet transition goes smoothly this year. And if you have any boys' size 4 and 5 jeans in good condition, I have some boys' size 3 and some girls' size 18 mos to trade...


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Day

It's the last day of the first week of school.
We are going to celebrate this weekend.
The big kids get to rent movies and make snacks and relax.
Their teachers have given very little homework, and I have given minimal instruction on home classes this week, so that could have a short time to rest and recuperate. The first two weeks of school are exhausting!
New schedules, new teachers, new subjects, new kids.
It's a lot to take in.
So far, everyone's attitudes have been above par, with very few slip ups. I can not express how impressed I am by this. Even with the two littlest ones missing out on naps.
I'm guessing their melt down will come soon. That will be fun.
We've been wearing shorts and shirt sleeves to school this week. Summer has held out to the very end for us. It's been great!
One of the boys (11 yo) gets to take Intro to CSI, and Scratch Programming. He is excited about these classes. He ran from class with a wide smile plastered to his face and couldn't wait to have me read the syllabus and tell me step by step what they did and the project that he wanted to start at home for Scratch Programming.  This boy doesn't get excited about school. He is happy to get his core work done so he can work on these two classes. Hooray!!!!
We have kids taking Hip Hop dance, gymnastics, rock climbing, art exploration, cupcake decorating, Lego robotics, and piano. These classes are besides their core curriculum.
Who wouldn't WANT to get out of bed and go to school with choices like that?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Here's the Crew!

 This is our Kindergartner! He's growing up fast.
 2nd grade
 5th grade
 3rd grade
 Highschool Junior

She isn't in school, we just thought her outfit was fun and bright. 3 yo isn't in here because his face was filthy. I guess if I never take photos of him because of a dirty face, we may miss his 3rd year entirely!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First Day

Today is the official first day of school here at TheZoo.
I've mentioned before that we employ an alternative learning experience.
We get to start a little later, but we usually go a bit longer, too.
Generally, most families begin their schooling earlier in the month with whatever instruction they do at home. We didn't this year. I opted to wait until the first day of classes. Everyone was happy about that except the kindergartner.
I've already found a glitch in my plan for the week, even though the kids are still in bed, and I sit here with my coffee and quiet time.
I did dishes from a late baking session already, and have packed up lunch for kids and myself.
The glitch is, I was so careful about making sure we have good breakfasts made ahead, and everyone is prepared with school supplies and shoes and outfits picked out, batteries in the camera, alarm clocks set, but no snacks.
Really, I have one banana, a bunch of frozen bell peppers (which I will eat, but my children will go hungry instead!), and some wilty ice burg lettuce leftovers.
I don't know how I overlooked that.
I even made certain that we would have an easy, kid fun lunch today. Hot Pockets. Not something I generally purchase, but it's easy for me and it's a treat for the kids. And the cookies that Kid #1 made last night.
I can see that tonight I'll be making muffins and banana bread and chopping carrots.
I'll definitely be visiting at 100 Days of Real Food for ideas and inspiration for lunches and snacks this year.
Seven kids and one mom at school all day long. Someone's going to be asking for a snack.
It's probably going to be me!
Kids are so quiet when they are chewing.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

To Sleep or Not To Sleep

We invited one of the children to sleep in our bed one night.
We've done that from time to time, it generally turns out all right. Now.
Waaaaay back when we had one and two kiddos, we used to let them sleep with us quite often.
But then we had three. And four. It seemed like the more kiddos we had, the less restful each one was. This resulted in our bed not being shared so much.

The most recent decision to allow the child in our bed happened in a cruelly deceptive way. She was being cute. Totally, completely, irresistibly cute.  She was throwing her arms around our necks for big squeezy hugs. She was kissing our cheeks. She was asking us to read her a book, and then interacting rather sweetly.
She made darling faces with smiles and a crinkled up nose. She giggled. She rubbed my cheek with her hand. She told Daddy "I love you". She was calm, quiet, and sweet.
Then, when I laid down and was waiting for Mr. TheZoo to be ready for bed, and to be ready to cart the child to her own bed, she snuggled down next to me. She covered herself up and announced "I sleep Mommy."
She lay still and quiet. She closed her eyes and snuggled close.
The little liar!
So Mr. TheZoo said, "Awww, how sweet! She can stay here tonight. We don't do this often, and we're
at the end of the little kids. We'll miss these opportunities when they're gone."

He'd forgotten! But I was fooled, too. I didn't insist. I let it go.
We fell asleep, the cozy little trio, all warm and snuggly.

And then.

I woke up being pummeled in my stomach by two tiny, stone like objects. It was awful. I opened my eyes ready to swing at whatever it was.
Of course, it was the little bundle of freakin' cute laying her darling head over her daddy's belly and repeatedly kicking mine!
I did what any sane Mom would do in the middle of the night. I moved her legs, brought her head to the pillow and scooted a couple of inches over.
That lasted about half an hour.
Every half hour that night, I had to remove kicking feet from my person.
I was soon on the edge of my bed, fighting my two year old for a piece of my blanket.

I spent the entire next day groggy, grouchy and generally not feeling well. I'm blaming all of this on that cute kid.
All of it!
She's never going to sleep in our bed again!
Unless, of course, she brings me a book and kisses my cheek...


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Does the Church Remember?

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
and to the republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

We remember.
We've heeded the warning, and have changed, at least a little.
What about the rest of America.
We have seen fists shaken and promises to rebuild. We've seen a stand to reclaim what we lost and press on to further self destruction.
The crying out to God appears to have been a temporary loss of sanity for most citizens.
A warning to change.
Church, are we changing?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

School Has Started?

The kids in our neighborhood are headed off to their third day of school. Their first day pics have all been posted on facebook. Their new shoes area already scuffed, and they've already done homework.
How has it been for the kids at TheZoo? Well, it's about 8 am...and their still in bed.
We don't start for two more weeks.
We use the county start date as our 'start getting ready' date. Of course, I've been getting ready for weeks now, but there are other things we do. We get the laundry caught up, we make freezer meals, we stock up on lunch and snack foods, we inventory socks and underwear and shoes, we put away the shorts and bring out the sweaters, we wash coats and shake out the heavy blankets.
And we try for 'one last hurrah'. Sometimes we have three or four 'one last hurrah's.
Usually we have a late family movie night, a game night, we have a fire in the back yard and make s'mores, and if we can, we do go out right smack in the middle of the day, and do something that will no longer be a crowded, noisy experience, like the park, or a museum.
We'll have a schedule to stick to soon enough.
Yes, I like to be organized. Things run more smoothly that way. But you know what? I get tired of a schedule. I need breaks, and I'm guessing the kids do, too. At least, they cheer and jump and get loud and smiley when we offer them a break. That means they like them, right?
So, we begin today to tie up all of those loose ends.  Hrm. I wonder who's going to get to pull that one nasy bowl out of the back of the fridge? Gosh! It looks like it's break time!


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Values, Success, and Friendship

Just Do It. Bible study, I mean. With other people.
When people allow God to, He transforms lives.
We choose whether we want transformation. We choose whether to live a transformed life. We choose whether to endure further transformation.
Endure? Transformation is uncomfortable. It doesn't mean that suddenly your mind is clear and you understand everything, always making the right choices.
It means that we are intentional in our choices, beyond our own comfort. It means that there's a shift in value. Sometimes in what we value, sometimes in how we value.
When we have the support of others with similar goals, we are more anchored. We aren't floating around on our own grasping at whatever we thing might tow us in to the safe places, or the prosperous places. In fact, prosperity begins to look different. Success becomes redefined.
And we have people to share the changes with. People to cheer us on. People to call out our crap.
And people for whom we are willing to do the same.
Bible study. Anchoring friendships with truth. Do it.


Saturday, September 1, 2012


It's September today!  I am terribly excited about that. I have no idea why.
Well, I sort of have an idea, but I have been contradicting myself all morning as to why I am most excited.
I am thrilled about Christmas decor. I know, it's a first world thing.
Christmas decor comes out right after the fall decor is put up. So, fall decor puts us that much closer to the day after Thanksgiving. See?
Fall brings the first days of a new school year. binders full of clean, crisp paper. Brand new, fresh smelling pencils, sharp crayons. Binders that haven't been doodles all over, and who's rings still clip together all the way. Hooded sweatshirts, and jackets. Layers and sweaters.
Fall is when we begin to see the haze of fog over the rancher's fields where the animals graze.
It is when the trees turn blazing riots of color, and the house smells like apple pie.
Fall is cozy.

BUT! I am excited because we still have a little over two weeks before school begins. The weather is still bright sunshine and warm days. There is still time to get things ready to flow smoothly (hey, it's *my* fantasy) for the start of another school year.
There is still time for one more backyard campfire with s'mores and songs.

Happy September!