Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Happenings of an Insured Family

Jeff got a new job recently. (Yahoo!) But in the transition, we were left without insurance for 2 months. (Boo!) The second of those months being October...the month that held the 1-year anniversary of Eli's gory evening of 9 stitches. (Gasp!)

I'm thrilled to announce (Drumroll...) we survived both months without so much as a cough to threaten us with a trip to the doctor. (Applause!) To celebrate our first day back to being insured, we went to the park and jumped off all the high things. (Wheeee!)

I got a laugh out of the conflict of interest I found in the bathroom one morning.
Dressing up for Halloween reminded the boys it's fun to dress up anytime! The week after Halloween involved a lot of digging through old costumes, between rounds of digging through their bottomless trick-or-treating loot.
When your name is Jonah and you're wearing this bib, pictures are mandatory.
When your name is Lincoln and you're wearing a tie ... the two are unrelated, but you're cute, so picture.
It is irresistible to take a picture of this group when they all agree to put on their homemade matching ties. 
Don't mind if I do!
The strongest love/hate relationship in the family currently belongs to these two. They adore each other...and then they suddenly and drastically don't. Here's a blessed moment of happiness.
Carson got a lizard as a prize for all the reading he did the first few months of school. Eli was sick one day and as Carson was leaving to head out the door for school, Eli assured, "Don't worry, Carson. Uncle Eli will take care of him."
The stamp that everyone thought was a terrible bruise for the day it decorated Lincoln's forehead.
Here's one of those less happy moments I was talking about. Every moment I try to get ready in the morning is a battle of lap space. Now you're suddenly nodding your head in understanding of why I quit getting ready. You get it.
Savoring the days of sink baths before he doubles in size in the blink of an eye like the rest of them did.
The primary program was just the thing I needed to get me whipping out more sets of matching ties for this bunch. I'm sure it was all due to the confidence they felt in their adorable new ties that caused both primary aged boys to speak loudly, clearly, sweetly, and sing every word of all the songs to perfection (at least that's how I'll choose to remember it).
All the boys were cute, but there's something about this one with an elastic piece of cloth around his neck that had my heart melting. 
With determination and hours of daily bedtime reading, I have raised my boys to be readers -- a passion I never had but always wished for. While lugging their books up to the check-out, Eli exasperatingly said, "I love to read, but I don't love carrying around all these books!"
These two have a love/love relationship always. Carson is such a sweet baby watcher and is still as obsessed with Jonah as he was when I first brought him home.
The end.
(Wild applause. Standing ovation. Encore, encore.)

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Mario Brothers

Would you still love me even if I told you I didn't make-a-one of my kids' Halloween costumes this year? With 4 kids, I found buying costumes suddenly very appealing, especially when said costumes were only $10-$15 a piece and there was no way I could make any of them for that cheap. So I caved. But points for making it another year as a themed family?

In case you can't tell, we are:
A controller.
And Jeff and I were Player 1 and Player 2. As Jeff pointed out, this would have been an awesome costume to announce a pregnancy with "Awaiting Player 3" written on my belly, so you can be certain there's not another baby brewing or you know I woulda jumped on that bandwagon. 

We went to a trunk or treat at the high school Halloween weekend. 
With our Bess buddies.

I was able to go to Eli's school party on Halloween. It's so fun to see him in his element and get to know the kids in his class a little bit better. We made Oreo spiders and Reese's witches brooms.
Here are my favorite highlights from trick-or-treating:

Kids: "Trick or Treat!"
Lady: "Take a couple!"
Eli: "A couple means 2 guys. Everybody take 2."
*Eli is a major rule follower. I had told them ahead of time that on houses that leave bowls on their front porch with a sign that says "Take One," we only take one even though no one is watching. He then specified on every house that was an exception to the rule like when people told them to take a handful or a couple to make sure he and his brothers weren't over-taking their share. 

The older boys ran up to the door while Lincoln attempted to break into his first piece of candy. Lincoln slowly walked to the door and then stood there focused on the candy already in his hand while the lady at the door patiently held her door open for him with a giant bowl of candy thrust in his direction. Lincoln slowly tore away at the candy wrapper, and without looking, robotically handed the lady at the door his scraps of trash, one by one. He then popped his candy in his mouth, and without ever actually taking a candy from the house, he turned around and got back in the stroller. So basically he trick or treated for a trash can. 

After an hour and a half of trick-or-treating, Carson's pumpkin was near the top. At one house, with much amusement, Carson announced to the man at the door, "I'M GOING TO HAVE TO START PUTTING CANDY IN MY HAT!"

Their costumes provided motivation for them as whenever one of them would get tired, it just took one "Let's-a-go!" and they were at it again. They also spent the entire night jumping off rocks and electrical boxes shouting "Yaaahooooo!"

Whenever people asked the kids if they were having fun, Eli always answered, "Of course!" People seemed to get a kick out of that response. 
The boys were so good trick or treating. The older boys were patient to wait for Lincoln and Lincoln won the endurance race as he lasted just as long as the older boys. We had a really great time working the hills for some free candy!

Monday, October 30, 2017

6 Months of Jonah + More!

We've reached the half year mark with this master builder. We know he has a future of Lego building because he's already begun impersonating them (see right hand's perfect Lego man hand positioning). 
Jonah has been working hard this month to sit up. He has a wet noodle quality about him that caused me to postpone sitting efforts with him, but I decided to give him a try a few days ago. He had more abdominal strength than I expected and surprised me with several seconds-long strings of skillful sitting. He's on his way!
He's mostly perfecting his roll. Just this week he has begun to discover his mobility as he methodically twists himself around on the floor. 
Here's the Jonah 6-month synopsis:
  • Rolling, sitting(ish), smiling (excessively), giggling, general adorableness.
  • He sleeps through the night until 5:00-6:00 AM, nurses, back to bed.
  • Naps at 9:00 and 1:00 for 2-3 hours. 
  • Travels 13 hours in 1 day with ease.
  • Tried baby food for the first time. Loves sweet potatoes, apple based food combinations, and is working towards fostering a positive relationship with green beans. 
  • Is the beneficiary of many a compliment on his quick smiles, pleasant demeanor, and good looks. 
  • Finally, we've got mama's boy #2. This boy has always got one eye on me and is always eager to throw smiles my way no matter how far he has to twist to give them. We love Mr. Jonah Man!

Since the Dodgers made it to the World Series (Jeff's favorite team and his favorite sport), we ran to the store on World Series Opening Game Night One Kickoff Tipoff Shoot Off Batters Up night (fill in whatever language applies to baseball) so that we could grab some hot dogs and Cracker Jacks and chips and soda and all the other things to whip up a baseball-esque meal. 

It was while we were doing this shopping that an innocent bystander passed our bus-sized shopping cart packed with little boys, and simply mumbled with wide eyes, "That's a lot." I thought it was really rude of him to judge how many Cracker Jack boxes I had crammed into our cart. I mean, maybe he's not a Dodgers fan and didn't realize it was the big touchdown goalie turkey shoot that night but sheesh. The nerve of some people. 
 My favorite genre of click bait is the kind that involves kids misinterpreting their homework assignments. My dreams came true when Eli handed me a paper which contained my favorite source of laughs and I didn't even have to click a-once to get the giggle. (See #3.)
The instructions were to "Combine the sentences "I like apples." and "I like grapes." to make one sentence. Eli's answer? "I like fruit." 

Hahahahaha! I loved it so so much. I asked him about it and he said, "Yeah. I still don't know why I missed that." I explained the right answer, but then told him I liked his answer better.

Perhaps Lincoln is worried that as the 3rd child I missed his special moments like his first steps, his first time sucking on a binky, and his first time trying baby food because he keeps trying to recreate these moments for me. So thoughtful of him. 
What is intended to be Eli's lunch always ends up being Lincoln's afternoon snack. I pack Eli a nice, made-with-love lunch every morning. Eli takes it to school. Eats the M & Ms out of it, brings it home, and Lincoln swiftly breaks into it to eat the uneaten portions for his afternoon snack. It's really a brilliant system though Lincoln's going to have a real problem should Eli ever decide that eating lunch isn't such a bad idea. 
Lunch is especially important for a boy with Eli's interest in exercise. He can frequently be found lapping around the house, dropping to the ground for push ups, or snatching my weights while attempting to reassure me with "Don't worry, Mom. I've done this naked."

I'm suddenly more worried than I was before.
Whew! That was a lot.

The Cracker Jacks. I just finished them off and that guy from the store might have been right.

Hafta Askya Bout Nebraska

It wasn't until Jacob's family drove out to Utah this summer that it finally occurred to me driving to see him was in our realm of possibilities. Having a new reliable van helped push us over the edge to commit to spending a weekend up to our ears in corn.

UEA was the perfect weekend seeing as Vala's Great Pumpkin Patch would be open then and from what I understood, it wouldn't be worth a visit to Nebraska without a visit to the pumpkin patch. We began our trek toward the land of Corn Huskers with a stop to see a dinosaur on the way. 
The 13-hour drive seemed a bit daunting with a little baby who we don't know well enough to anticipate his road tripping tendencies. We should have known he is the same in a car or not, an angel either way! Hardly made a peep during our first 6-hour leg.

We stopped at a hotel that had the word "Budget" in its name. Against all odds, we didn't get murdered or bed bugs, and against even worse odds, the kids all completely behaved themselves, settled into their beds without any fuss, and slept in the next morning. Success!
I don't know why squishing my family into a budget hotel room brought these feelings out in me, but as everyone was falling asleep, I looked around at all my boys and just felt so grateful they're my adventure team. That's what I've decided. When you have this many boys, your life requires adventure and they're a fun bunch to adventure with. 
We stopped at a buffet style Pizza Hut on our second leg which was happiness for all. 
My kids are road tripping champs. We only did 1 movie the whole way out and then they were enthralled with listening to Harry Potter the rest of the time. They all did awesome! And in no time at all, we made it!
We had just missed seeing Natalie cheer at a volleyball game, but we got to see her in full uniform when she got home. 
Then we went to a fall carnival at the kids' school. 

Friday was our big Vala's day. I've heard about Vala's for years and years but never had I had the great pleasure of experiencing it for myself. 
One of the first things we found were the trikes which resulted in an instant obsession by my whole group. 

With the kids occupied, Natalie, Emma and I had some time to snap a few selfies. 
We could have been happy just at the trike station for basically the entire day, but Laurie encouraged us to move on as there was a lot more to see. What else could there be?!? We wondered. The trikes alone were already way cuter and more fun than we expected the whole patch to be. But onward we went. 

We found some more bikes that everyone could ride.
And then the dirt path we were traveling became increasingly golden and we knew we were on the verge of approaching the corn land jackpot. 
This was everything we wanted Vala's to be. I have seen years of pictures of Luke's body covered in corn with only his cheeks poking out of the golden sea. 
And then it happened to us. Bliss. 
You don't know happiness until you've shoved kids out of the way in a corn pit so you can make a corn angel and that's when all your fall dreams have come true. 
Laurie supervised my baby so I could indulge in corn in a way I had never before indulged. 
Lincoln jumped in on the fun.
Luke appears to have indulged in the way I usually indulge in the crop. 
This may sound corny, but from then on out, Vala's had us grinning from ear to ear. 
Because right after that we found this giant air pillow thing and...well...see for yourself. 

And if that wasn't enough, there were the pig races with jokes so funny we were snorting with laughter.
Then it was back to the trikes because as I said before, my kids were instantly obsessed. 
And don't go thinking Jonah wasn't having a great time with the rest of us. The magic of the crops reaches even the smallest of visitors. 
 Logan and Eli were our trusty tour guides.

Everywhere you turned there was some new kind of farm vehicle which kept the boys excitedly jumping from tractor to tractor. 
Jacob and Laurie let us slip away for a mini date on "The Big Slide Ride."
Vala's is so magical it basically watches your kids for you, so looks like Jacob and Laurie even caught a mini date while they were supervising. 

Tractor ride to go pick apples? Mandatory!
And then back to the trike station so the kids could ride between bites of dinner. 

Vala's was SO FUN! The best way I can explain it is they have a pumpkin cannon. Yes. A cannon that shoots pumpkins. Now, when we saw that pumpkin launching was a Vala's event, we expected a little slingshot with an unimpressive plunk of a pumpkin. But what we got was a full blown cannon that slung the pumpkin all the way over a distant grove of trees until it was completely out of sight. It was incredible. Now imagine that pumpkin is my expectations. I would have been happy with the plunk of the pumpkin. But Vala's took my pumpkin patch dreams and slung them beyond my comprehension. It was just such a fun place!

My other description if it is it's like Fall Disneyland. Anything you could ever imagine about fall is perfectly wrapped up in this gigantic pumpkin park. Schedule your next family vacation to Nebraska.

Along with an abundance of corn, Nebraska also has an abundance of girls! Holla atcha impromptu Dairy Queen girls' night!
And when we're in town, there's also an abundance of boys in Nebraska. This is the boys club lunch table on Saturday when we stopped on our way to an indoor playground. 
As we hit the state line on the way out, we saw the Nebraska sign which right underneath proudly read, "The Good Life." Jeff and I found that amusing and frequently referenced it throughout the trip. My favorite was when we were laying in the indoor playground's ball pit and we agreed that this is indeed "The Good Life." 
Jacob was our host and Lincoln was...a parasite? :) 

We had such a fun time visiting and now we feel like road tripping experts and will have to make a habit of trekking eastward to see more of the Nebraska folk. 
Especially because we have some friends who live a mere 6 minutes away from Jacob and Laurie and we were able to drop in and say a quick hello to them!

Then it was back on the road for a full 13-hour-in-one-day drive home. 
Everyone did great again and we actually preferred tackling the drive in one day. It was a super fun UEA and one definitely worth repeating!