Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Up, up, and Away! Day at the Balloon Races!


What better way to start blogging again than to share my love for hot air balloons!
Right before we left that morning

We love to go to this yearly event but hadn't been in years. I really just needed a two year break from most the things we usually did because Madeline has WORN ME DOWN! This child is busy. So, so busy. She never stops moving and she just loves destroying things (just wait for the cake below). I was very determined to go to the races this year and we made it! It was slightly different, the location was changed and it was harder to navigate the grounds, but we had fun. It's an all day event. The balloons don't launch until 4:30 or so (wind depending). In order to get parking and enjoy the other festivities we arrive around 11am. So this is quite a long day with kiddos. I wish I had a picture of all the stuff I had packed for the all day event. I left a lot in the car upon realizing we had to walk a mile. I packed our small drink cooler, food, toys, blankets, etc in two ROLLING suit cases. I fancy myself a genius for this.

Only picture of the crew walking a mile and rolling two suitcases and a wagon.

Before we left the house, super fancy Beatrice!
Ricky and I have been working out and eating better lately. We decided we would cut back on drinking alcohol so we packed flavored sparking water.We lasted all of an hour and a half in the heat, with six kids, rolling luggage, parking stress, a literal mile walk from our car with eight of us, crowds, and the added stress of lines with kids. It was me who broke. I grabbed Ricky by the arm pointed to a beer stand and told him to get us Blue Moon because neither one us wants to do this without beer. Hahaaa! He did not argue. The cold beer was so refreshing in the heat. Moderation ya know?

Doesn't look like he just worked a 60 hour work week, but he did!


 The snow cone truck gives you a lei if you order a large snow cone (we ordered all smalls), but they gave us lei's anyway because we ordered so much and they probably felt bad for us in an endearing way. We were literally juggling kids, beer, money, snow cones, a baby... and two kids could not make up their mind to save their lives. Chaos is my life. It's not that I thrive in it (ok maybe I do) it's more that I'm just used to it. It stresses Ricky totally out though. I just roll with it, which is funny because he is actually the more laid back person in general. He's fairly stressed on this day because the poor guy just worked a 60 hour work week and he is dealing with crowds and juggling snow cones, and he worries about the kids a lot when we are out with crowds. But, now we have beer. I think sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!


Snow cones and inflatables = childhood memories
 

Aunt Sharon made me my darling skirt and I'm absolutely in love with it. I got so many compliments and everyplace I walked I could hear a trail of people behind me commenting about my skirt. Dozens of people stopped me and told me how cute it was, how nice I looked, how fun it was. So, that was super fun! At balloon launch time I ran around like a chicken chasing balloons in a secluded area while my patient husband snapped photos. He always helps me chase my wild ideas and dreams! I hope he truly knows how grateful I am.



 Before the launch we played with our parachute I brought, met huge caterpillars, ate lunch and cake, "relaxed", and ran around.


Strawberry cake was a little smashed from a trip in a suitcase, Ha! But it was good!



Penelope found a huge fat caterpillar. I pretended to eat it. It's something I do with bugs more often than is normal to freak  little kids out. LOL. I'm weird. We put him back where he was found.


 Everything is good. We are chilling. Kids are happy. It's a really hot day, but we are okay.




Then all of the sudden we look over and Madeline had stuck her head right down in the half eaten cake. Just for fun.
Not sure if this is the face of regret or pleasure in her mischief.
Bea is laughing her butt off about it.
I mean this is what I do. I don't even flinch. I'm SO NOT SURPRISED. It's Madeline! 

           My photos of the skydivers came out really great this year...




Layla, teenager now, doesn't get in front of the camera very much. But she took a couple cute photos of me and Ricky. Unfortunately people were walking by. Ha! So I have to get them photo-shopped out. For now, they are there. I don't have time for Photoshop right now. I have nine kids.
We picked a super secluded spot, but once in awhile there were suddenly people. And I was doing this. lol.
And This.





 And that's our super fun day at the balloon races. I have actually been in a hot air balloon before! When I was 20 years old. It was super fun and not scary at all. I've become more afraid of heights over the years though, but I do hope to fly the open aired sky in a basket again some day. The basket I was in was huge! Huge! like it could fit 15 or more people. These baskets are so tiny: 


Imagine traveling in the sky 30 miles like that! 



There is a hot air balloon fiesta in New Mexico that looks so stunning the photos and videos online gives me goosebumps. More balloons take off there at once than anywhere in the world. In 2011, 345 hot air balloons took to the air within one hour, setting the world record for the most hot air balloons launched in one hour. I get insanely excited about 40 balloons, I cannot even contain my excitement for this! I have to start preparing Ricky for the crowds! LOL! (And I can rock that skirt!!!)

Photo: 2011 ALBUQUERQUE, NM, USA -- Officials with the 40th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

One more super huge detail of the day: Charlotte (21) was at home for the day and after we left in a  rush there were dishes, toys, and messes everywhere. You know what that is like, no matter how hard you try there is just so much that gets undone when you prepare for a huge outing, especially if kids are involved! She cleaned the house up while we were gone. That is the best gift anyone can give their mom. The gift of relaxation when you get home! Ah. My kid is so great. I seriously can't explain how appreciative I was --and I really didn't get to relax when I got home, but I was able to easily attend to 20 other things without added stress or worry, because the next day we went to the zoo and I was unpacking and then packing for that... and that's just crazy! Coming soon, the Decade Dame's Pin Up Day at the zoo post! BUSY WEEKEND!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Manhattan Toy Company: MiO Doll House Review

For Christmas I searched high and low for dolls and furniture to compliment our empty old wooden dollhouse. The original dolls and pieces had been long gone for years. I really didn't care much for the same old doll house stuff that had been circulating around for years. I really couldn't find anything else though. I was about to give up when I saw this on a Google image search I did for dolls and doll houses:
Hello cute people. Why are you so round and cute!?
And then...

HOW CUTE!

I learned they are called MiO, I visited The Manhattan Toy Company's website link and found a new little world waiting for me. The soft little bean bag bodies looked perfect for younger kids to grip and play with, and especially to set down and stand upright It's very frustrating for a young child when the toy they are playing with won't stand up. I noted right away there were various open ended ways the houses and other materials could be manipulated. If these toys sparked creativity and imagination in me, imagine what a child would think! I was finally excited! At first I thought I'd just get the little soft people, but it didn't take long for me to convince myself that I needed to keep our regular wooden dollhouse in storage a bit longer and embark on a brand new play adventure for our family.


Plus, I saw this:
Tree house with a tire swing! Just take my money now.

If you subscribe to their emails they give you a 20% off coupon. Cool deal! As soon as my order arrived I wanted to see those little people! They were indeed cute! Later the evening, when the kids were sleeping, I played with the new toys. I was very pleased with everything. I sat on my bedroom floor testing them all out while telling my husband repeatedly to keep coming in to look at what I had made. It was hilarious! On Christmas morning the kids loved them!

I noticed right away that this wonderfully fresh toy is about play as much as it's about set up. With so many other doll houses my kids only seemed to enjoy setting up. However, the tree house, the homes that change from one to two story (or more!), the car and trailer, the roofs that can double as tents for camping, the various people and animals, and even the trees and blocks, they all provide so many ways to create, play, and story tell. I notice that with these we are telling a story as we build.


One thing we added to the set, which was not from The Manhattan Toy Company,  is a stacking rainbow. See the curved wooden pieces? It's a wonderful add on.
(Watch the price though and look for deals. They are usually $19.99, but are $34.95 right now.) 










Tuesday, January 9, 2018

December 2017: The Decade Dames and Christmas Eve!


This month has lasted forever but in a good way! I feel like I've really gotten to be present with my kids and we have done a lot together! I'm so grateful were able to fit in almost everything we wanted to do before Christmas. We had fun hibernating at home for most of the month. We had friends over a few times. We did lots of crafts. We also made and painted salt dough ornaments, baked several batches of cookies, decorated candy graham cracker houses, and re-decorated the entire Christmas tree not once but twice! (Madeline pulled it over once and then we decided to buy a new one that was on clearance at Target) Beatrice (4) had a Christmas performance on December 16th at pre-school. Ricky's parents were able to drive out for it. Lastly, we took a leap of faith by calling a contractor to give us a quote on finishing our basement and adding a massive two story sun room and patio to our house. We still want to move rather desperately but we cannot find anything that fits. The quote came back and it's in the works as a maybe. One huge change we have had lately is that we got rid of all our chickens and ducks. We don't have time for them. We are working on re-homing our goats but have not been successful yet. We are downsizing because we have too much to do and just can't keep up.
Waiting for the hard butter soften. She was so cute waiting.
What ever shall a bored girl do when the butter
is not already pre softened?



December was a great month! I can't possibly find the time to write everything I'd like, but I need to highlight some things that important to me while I can though.


Snicker-doodles for daddy! His very favorite. 




                 
Thanks for the tree knock down, Madeline.
I have (and love) a small white kitschy Christmas tree, but I was becoming nostalgic for a green tree this year. When I mentioned it the kids were all excited! We have had a vintage white one for years. I had it on a rotating tree stand and it wasn't a good fit. To be honest, the whole thing was getting annoying because it kept leaning in the poorly fitted stand, and we just wanted a change. We decided we would buy a new tree at the end of the year when they went on sale. While doing last minute shopping though, I noticed Target had them 50% off the week of Christmas! I knew instantly Ricky would LOVE this tree. It was love at first sight for me. It is so classic and beautiful looking. It has white lights which he likes. Its tall, slender and classy. Its branches are thick and the color is rich, it is slightly varied at the tips in both color and texture. I bought it and had it all decorated when he came home that evening and he LOVED it.  His reaction was great!! He loved it! Of course pictures don't do it justice, but oh well. Sharing anyway.
Oh, I'm not giving up on my vintage white tree. I'll just love it in another room. It's loud and bright, like I like my decor. lol Madeline kept stripping it of ornaments, too. You can see the bottom is missing lots --and there she is happy to plunk more off as I take a picture.
Up close pic: I'm excited because our new tree just sparkles!

In addition to festive December things, I de-cluttered the basement, halfway cleaned out the garage, and gave away a ton of clothes. I really have been so busy this past year juggling kids (Madeline especially since she's a handful), so it felt really good to have so much momentum in such a busy holiday month. I guess in a way I felt back to my normal self. I know I've been accomplishing a lot just by raising and caring for my baby, but there were (and are) also lots of things left undone that I wanted to get back to! Everything just fell into place his month -but I also worked really, really hard at it! The younger kids are doing Reading Eggs and Teaching Textbooks on the computer to fill in school gaps with me being so busy.

The Decade Dames
Part of this belongs in its own post for fall, but we all know I'll never get around to that!
In October I joined a group of women who dress in pin-up style fashion and other period or vintage wear. One day I saw a local group share a photo on social media that caught my eye. They were called The Decade Dames. They were posing with a local police officer and with his police car as a "support your local police" photo shoot. The Dames were all in 50's dresses and hair. I was like WOAH, WAIT! WHAT? Where and who are these gals? They are my people! I dress like this! Well, I tracked them down. They were in fact taking applications for more vintage loving Dames to join them in having fun, dressing up, supporting each other, and also being a positive influence within the community, including anything from charity/service projects to going to car shows, nursing homes, and any other local events. The sky is the limit!

I know, Right!?
Hair style practice before even finding out about the Decade Dames!
 So I just nervously showed up at the meeting and they welcomed me. It was super fun! Just founded in June 2017, they have a very fun and full calendar of events, service projects, and community presence in the county we live in.


 Picture of me on my way to the first Dames meeting in October!




The Dames were featured in a county wide community paper in October.

Is this fun or what??

                                  
           Wreaths Across America: My First Decade Dames Event

Every December Wreaths Across America takes place in over 1200 cemeteries across our nation. Volunteers place Christmas wreaths at the resting place of veterans. This is a family event, which was perfect for my first event! My younger kids were especially excited to meet "Mommy's new fancy friends." That's what Bea calls them, my fancy friends. I don't go very many places alone, so it's been a big deal that I have a once a month meeting I go to. (Mom is going someplace: WHAT?! WHY?! LOL!)

We walked at least two miles at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery placing our assigned six wreaths at the headstones of veterans, thanking them each aloud by name so they are not forgotten. We were offered four wreaths to place but I said we could do six! The day turned out great. It was a beautiful, peaceful, and sunny 60 degree December day. I was blessed to share it with my family, as well as with my Decade Dame sisters who lead the group in this fundraising effort for the wreaths. The kids were excellent. It was very sweet that they were a part of this as well. I cannot believe they did so well because we walked so much! Seeing all those wreaths laid is really a beautiful sight. 
 Thank goodness I had Ricky to navigate the large map for us. (He's really good at figuring things out in general...he's an analyst, so...) Prior to the event I suggested that I could go with some kids and leave him home with others if it seemed too crazy to take everyone. He just kinda looked at me like: Nope. He affectionately said, "I'm not having you go alone." This is mostly because I have a simply terrible time finding my way around things like this and he would never see me again! Haha! I was so thankful he wanted to do this as a family and that he is always eager to navigate for me no matter what we are doing! We had to walk really far across nearly the entire cemetery. (The whole grounds are 296 acres, so we didn't actually walk all that, but boy oh boy we did walk A LOT!) We also had to walk up a big hill, down a big hill, across a huge uphill gravel/dirt wash, then down and up a hill AGAIN. Once we got to our furthermost wreath assignment laid we could hit all of our other wreath assignments as we walked back towards our van. We didn't have to cross the wash again. Ricky mapped it out perfectly for us. It was so adventurous and fun for the kids! At one point Everett was up the wash and accompanying hill while I was down below far away, but I could see him a bit. He saw me and started howling towards me, "Awooooooo!" I howled back at him loudly for fun. Sebastian, who was near Everett, joined in and howled as well. Suddenly four deer came flying out of the woods like crazy. I could see Everett turn around as he ran towards his dad high tailing it out of there. It scared him good. It was very surprising for all of us and we all had a good long laugh over it! 
 
 
My family!

Christmas Eve Eve
I always want us to get our wrapping done before Christmas Eve. We never do! EVER! We are always up until 2 or 3am wrapping tons of gifts. Its utterly exhausting! Well this year I was determined! This will happen! And it did! Yay yay yay, I mean seriously! YAY!!!
On Christmas Eve's Eve I was wrapping presents and having a cold adult beverage in the union suit PJ's I wear only a couple times every year. My kids always laugh at me when I get these out. I usually put them on and run through the house dancing and singing because I'm a goofball. Last night I suddenly realized I've had these for 25 years! 25 years in a row I've worn these pajamas at least once each December. In the past I've worn them to grocery stores and school just for fun, to family parties, under snow suits, and to bedtime. Who could have known these pre-internet smiley face pajamas from the 90's would now be called Emojis! Lol! ️Traditions are so fun, and they are the heart of holidays. I have also stayed true to myself by expanding my wardrobe over the years to include Santa suit pajamas, elf pajamas, an elf dress, and finally a baking themed gingerbread house dress.
Rockin' 25 year old pajamas!
We were blessed with snow just in time for Christmas. It's the biggest snow fall we've had in nearly two years at only two inches! We missed snow and it was a beautiful and welcome surprise! 
I wanted a picture outside today wearing my gingerbread dress in the snowscape! Bea darted out with me for a picture with me as well!


Christmas Eve
On Christmas Eve we made an appetizer tree that turned out to be super cute and fun. The base is a Styrofoam cone wrapped in plastic wrap to keep it clean and reusable. The toothpick sticks I got have stars at the end of them, but any would do. We used cheese, salami, grapes, two kinds of olives, apples, tiny pickles, and cheese. It was a big hit! We will do it again!


A tradition I started long ago, and the kids beg for every year, are Santa pancakes (or waffles, we did frozen waffles this year). Strawberry hat, chocolate chip eyes, whipped cream beard. They just love assembling these!





A yellow pepper for reindeer and cookies for Santa

Merry Christmas!