Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pirates Ahoy!

For Shane's 7th birthday this year we threw a huge pirate party. Everyone dressed up and we handed out eye patches and fake mustaches to those who needed them. We dug for buried treasure, threw plastic balls off the balcony into our living room to hit the "sharks" (balloons) down below, and then launched water balloons off the back deck to hit the toy ships in the yard. We ate a pirate cake covered in sand (brown sugar) with Captain Jack Sparrow on top, too. Everyone declared it a great party!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scrapbooking a HUGE EVENT

After our week long staycation I had an enormous stack of photos to scrapbook... times 7. I make an album for each of my kids and then another for Daniel and I together. If I did separate layouts about each event I'd be doing something like 15 layouts per album. I simply don't have time for that.

So, what I did was design one layout plan, incorporating a significant photo from each event, with a mix of group photos and close ups of the child whose album I'm working on. Then I simply duplicated it for each album. I attempted to add a little bit of uniqueness in the center of each layout with different stickers and accents, but otherwise they are identical. This way I was able to get away with only making seven layouts, each taking about 30 minutes to assemble. Total time to scrap a week long activity packed vacation for 8 people? 3 1/2 hours which is about a weeks worth of scrapbooking time for me if I make it a priority.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Number 5!

Kevin's 5th birthday turned out to be fun despite a few set backs. He wanted a Thomas the Tank Engine party at the splash park. The first problem we had was that it cost too much to rent a pavilion there, so we had to just set up an awning (like a tent with no sides) on the grass. And, of course, it rained that day. Luckily, it was mostly just sprinkling.

The cake was a disaster. We had planned to shape it like a train, but I didn't buy enough cake mix and we ran out of time. Then "Junie B." knocked a can of icing out of the cabinet and it fell right in the middle of the cake! We did our best to cover the huge hole with icing, but it still looked bad. Then we decided to buy a Thomas the Tank Engine toy and place it over the hole. It worked! So we set the cake on a little table under the tent while the kids played.

Then disaster struck AGAIN. Despite the rain, it was a hot day. The cake began to melt. The Thomas train (which was battery operated and made sounds and talked) fell over backwards getting completely dunked in icing! The cake, though it looked horrible, was actually pretty good. In spite of everything, Kevin declared the party to be a success.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Neat Freak?

Some people compliment me on my amazingly clean home considering how many children I have. I smile and thank them, secretly cringing at the thought of anyone ever looking into my closets or my bedroom. If they only knew...

Whenever company is coming, or a case worker, or the kids' attorney, or their CASA, or therapists or our certification worker or or or... okay, we get a LOT of people coming to check on our kids and our home every month.. but anyway, when someone's coming, we clean the house top to toe. We clear off surfaces to make it look like a show home. We scrub doors and walls and counters and floors. We shine the windows and mirrors and sinks until the whole house is magazine shoot ready.

Or, at least, we do that in the public areas. We do the living areas, kitchen, bathrooms, and the kids' bedrooms. But our dirty little secret is the master bedroom. We clean it so that it looks nice if you just open the door and glance in. But if you actually entered, you would see piles of stuff we grabbed out of the main areas of our home and piled haphazardly in corners of our room and hid in our walk-in closet. We throw the kids' toys into buckets and stack it in the game closet. We clear the bathroom counters by tossing hair accessories under the sink. It's all a mad dash to simulate an immaculately clean home. And it works rather well!

But then, every three months or so, I start to get annoyed with the hidden clutter. Then I tackle all those frightening little spots around the house and clean and organize them until I throw out my back from all the unaccustomed manual labor. This photo of our toy/game closet is exhibit A. Will it look like that a few weeks later? Definitely not. Will it look like this again in a few months? Yes it will. You'll know when you see me limping to church that a cleaning demon possessed me that week.

Thanks, Grandma!

Shane and Kevin both have July birthdays. This year they received a double birthday package in the mail from Grandma Nancy. She knows them so well! Shane got a Spiderman shirt and Kevin got Lightning McQueen. I keep thinking the boys will outgrow these favorites, but it's been three years now and they still love them.

Monday, July 04, 2011

4th of July Spectators

This year for Independence Day we didn't get to do our fire works. That was really tough on the kids since they look forward to it each year. (Thanks, Oklahoma, for banning them in one of the last legal states) Instead, we accepted an invitation to watch the Broomfield fireworks show with some homeschooling friends of ours. We met at their house for a cook out and then walked about a mile to the big grassy field. It was fun, and a novel experience, although the show wasn't as good as the Thornton one we could see going on behind it. The kids made instant friends with each other. They even came to Kevin's birthday party a week later!

The funniest part was this lady, a friend of the hosts' that we'd never met before, who took the kids around the block freeing rabbits from cages their HOA had put up everywhere. I guess it was Independence Day for the bunnies, too.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Park Posers

We went to the park for a picnic after church on the final day of our "staycation". Sarah and Shannon, our babysitters, met us there. They have a standing invitation to join us for lunch every Sunday. We used the opportunity to take some group photos of the kids on the playground equipment. They actually came out pretty good!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Staycation Day 3: Panda Express

During our staycation we added a few things to our "to do" list that the kids wanted to do but we normally say no to due to the cost. "Junie B." and Danya had been asking for months if we could eat Chinese food. The only Chinese food I really like is at Panda Express, but it costs about $7 per plate, so most of the time it would be way too expensive to feed a family of 10. This time we were able to say yes!

We divided into pairs and shared plates to keep the cost under $40. The kids loved the fried rice and the fortune cookies. Kevin tried to be bold and try some of the more unusual looking foods, but he didn't like them. Egg roll is apparently not something I should add to our home menu according to Kevin.

Staycation Day 3: Thornton Rec Center

The kids wanted to get wet as much as humanly possible during our staycation, so we went to the Thornton Rec Center pool on Saturday. The main features there are the wave pool, lazy river, big slide and giant crab slide. Shane was so excited to finally be tall enough to climb the crab slide by himself. He would go again and again, even though he got a face full of water every time. Some of the girls got Daniel to swing by a Dollar Tree store so they could use their allowance to buy water goggles. One pair broke right away, but the other girls had fun looking at the bottom of the pool.

The best part for me came at the very end when I got to float in a tube holding Katie while she slept as we went around and around the Lazy River. It was very peaceful floating and holding my sleeping angel baby.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Staycation Day 2: Mall Fountains

After Chuck E. Cheese we took the kids to the fountains at the mall in Westminster. It was early afternoon by then, and it wasn't as warm outside any more. So, the kids thought the water was a bit too cold. Still they were willing to run through and hop over the fountains. Shane managed to launch a plastic cup into the air. We walked over to the nearby ice cream shop and bought hot chocolate for everyone to help them warm up.

Kevin kept doing this funny little routine where he would sip his hot cocoa and then run around waving his arms yelling, "Hot, hot, HOT!" He got such a laugh the first time from everyone that he kept doing it just to make us laugh. He's such a ham!

Staycation Day 2: Chuck E. Cheese!

It had been about 6 months since we'd been to a Chuck E. Cheese. We love using their online coupons in combination with the free token coupons they send our kids for their birthdays. So for about $30 we had somewhere around 250 tokens. Brianna hit a jack pot on one game and won 100 tickets! There's a new feature on the little virtual roller coaster ride that allows everyone else to see the faces of the people on the ride. It was so funny seeing Kevin and Katie's expressions while they laid back in the little vibrating seat.