Life With Nine Kids

Monday, December 26, 2011

Having a wonderful time

I never stopped to love this view when I lived here. You bet I do now. My first home.

Day 1: Made Christmas candles and rosette cookies with my mom and Grandma Smith. Took mini hike in the desert and had a cactus scavenger hunt.
At 8:30pm we did Polar Bear Club at my dads -a family tradition every 10 years we jump into a 35 degree swimming pool. (omg it was WAY worse than I remember!)

Day 2: Christmas surprises galore changing surprises! I will write more when I can! Amazing!!! Lots of family time, lots of blessings, lots of love.

Day 3 family pictures with 35 people! Tonight off to The Tournament of Kings show at the Excalibur. An amazing live action dinner show with dancing maidens, jousting, fireworks, and eating with your fingers! It's my favorite! I've waited a long time to take our kids! 31 of us are going! Then I want to show the kids the volcano eruption at the Mirage.
Desert hike

Polar Bear Club photo...getting ready to go in, most of us in clothes
Could NOT have planned this photo. I snapped it just the right moment. My dad and my husband lol!
They are getting fired up for Polar Bear Club

Christmas Day My husband and Dad still messing with the COLD pool! Ricky was jumping in the spa (not pictured) between cold pool dips, the kids were enjoying a hot spa dip as well.

Kids X mas morning

Follow up about the life changing surprises Click Here

Sunday, December 18, 2011


This year we planned a surprise Christmas trip to Las Vegas (my hometown) to visit family. We haven't been in a very long time and I never want to go. (Not because I don't want to see my family, my family is awesome, it's just totally exhausting to haul a million kids to Vegas and juggle 15 places to go in 4-5 days! And we have a ton of animals at home, and we are total homebodies!)

Since we wanted it to be a Christmas surprise we had to keep it a secret for a while and only reveal it as close to Christmas as possible! We kept it from tons of people, even friends and some family!

Ricky and I decided last week that last night was our Christmas Eve here.We wrapped the presents the other day and this morning we surprised the kids by having Santa come a week early. The kids didn't know what was going on this morning when they woke up. Penelope was running around excitedly saying there were presents under the tree. First we gave the kids a wrapped suitcase to open. It was a 3 piece suitcase set nested into each other.
Inside the suitcase was an envelope that
said "vacation 1" on it.
This is what they found :

I hate the cold! So this was a bizarre trip to tell the kids we were going on. Plus who wants to sleep in the snow?!!!! Charlotte said, "ARE YOU CRAZY!?" They decided the open the next suitcase.
This is what they found in
vacation envelope #2

This was hilarious. The kids were flabbergasted, wanted to know if it was safe, wanted to know how it would happen. (Would we be in a tank?) One kid asked if we would be in a cage. Hahaha. They decided to trade this vacation in for whatever suitcase # 3 had in it. Sage later said, "I almost picked sharks, would we really have gone?" LOL!
They open the 3rd and last vacation envelope:

They were very surprised and happy we get to go see our family for Christmas. They don't know we have more surprises that await in Las Vegas! They do know it will be a fabulous time though! yayyyyyy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

She's Crafty!

We love making things!

Old Suitcase
Helping put on travel stickers

I used mod podge over the whole surface so they won't peel off
  It is now a decoration and storage for the circle hallway room I've been working on decorating. I want to paint the floor and put in a new light fixture this winter. The light fixture that is hanging on a chain is this gold thing from the 80's with glass and an etched flower on it. BARF.

Charlotte Painting
I plan on framing a bunch of art work made by my kid's and hanging in the upstairs hallway. I love this piece!

Sooooo we decided we were going to do this dryer lint project I saw online. You mix dryer lint with water, flour and a dab of oil to make a modeling compound. I've been saying for at least 10 years dryer lint had to be good for something. Turns out our dryer lint is DISGUSTING.

It's hairy, dirty, crumby...
We have 4 dogs, a ton of cats, and I shed like a dog so we have lots of hair. I sweep the house EVERY DAY (no kidding) and still somehow we have hair go through the wash and apparently dryer. Our lint was more disgusting than we thought. Charlotte and I mixed this stuff up and wanted to barf. It was not working out and so we added more flour. Then we added even more flour so that we couldn't see the yucky dirt and hair as much.

When we had a nice paste that could easily make very realistic owl pellets (we thought about making some lol) we started sculpting on cardboard canvas. (We used the back of a puzzle board that had lost it's pieces.) Charlotte doubted we could make anything out of this gunk, and really so did I, but we had just made a disgusting soup of matted lint and hair we had to do something with it. We had dirtied a pot and wasted 15 minutes of our life. I wanted something to show for our hard work. "It's art!" I shouted. "One can create anything and make it art!" So we began. I made a bird and a nest, we worked on the tree together and Charlotte's faith was restored in ART!
Gross bird we call an Eagle.

When our masterpiece dries, I estimate in 2 years because of how thick it is, we'll paint it and see how it really turned out. For now we wait. We do look forward to painting you, you gross art project!

Boxes Rule

Cardboard boxes are a blank canvas. No toy can compare to a nice sturdy brown box to crawl into. Since I order almost every Christmas gift for the kids from Amazon we accumulate loads of boxes. Today we put all those boxes to great use!

Airplane ready for take off!

                                                                 I love this airplane! I love their faces!

 We glued lids from various things as controls. I made a strip of buttons from construction paper that say on, off, eject and uh-oh.

 This box was a tunnel for cars and trucks, but Everett and Layla found a second use for it

  Everett popped out and said, "Raaaaw!" He is cute when he tries to hide and then scare or surprise you. I say, "Ahh!" and he laughs and laughs.

Toy kitchen made from cardboard boxes

Penelope LOVES toy food, tea sets and toy kitchens. Doesn't matter how many tea sets or pretend food she owns, she LOVES all of it. She adores this toy kitchen. She has a "real" toy kitchen in her room but she loves this one more. She asked me if she could keep it for "eighty-four-fourty-days." I told her of course she could.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Fun and Tradition... and some crafts for the day

We had a late start to the Christmas season. Our tree went up the day after Thanksgiving, but little else happened around our house. Smith-wick just now finally appeared yesterday. You never know when he will arrive.

Smith-wick is our elf. Our elf on a shelf. We received him five years ago from my Grandma Smith. If you are lucky enough to receive your own personal elf from the North Pole then you read the story he comes with and give your own personal elf a name. Your elf reports on good and bad behaviors (naughty or nice!) to Santa every night and returns the next day at your house in a new spot. (We don't do 'good or bad' children thing, but it goes along with the Santa Christmas lore.) Children can also talk to him and tell him their Christmas wishes, which is how we use him. This part is reallly super cute: they do go up to him and talk. It's adorable.

The children delight in looking for Smith-wick each morning. Sometimes he forgets to leave and in that case the children come running to me exasperated about Smith-wick not leaving for the North Pole. I tell them the reasons he might not have left yet... North Pole is on a different time zone, there is a snow storm, he's tired, his alarm clock didn't go off...

My favorite is when I say, "Are you sure he's not there? Wait a second kids, there's dog barf in the living room...hang on...just a..."

I go clean up the "dog barf" and by the time I'm done Smith-wick has moved into a new spot. Then it's show time; "Ok it's cleaned up now! Hey what do you mean Smith-wick hasn't moved? Hey where is he, I don't see him."

Heheh. It actually works.They all find him in a new spot marveling over the fact that he just forgot to move to a different spot...or whatever. I'm not sure what they think. But they are happy and not bummed anymore.

Believing is believing. It doesn't have to make sense. It's part of the fun.

When our elf arrived I wanted the kids to name him something very special that honored my Grandma Smith since she sent it to them. I have lots of very creative, fun, fulfilling, Christmas-magic memories of my Grandma Smith. Sage came up with Smith-wick's name, which to me sounded like a REAL elf name for sure. Everyone loved it and so it was, Smith-wick joined our family. He disappears just like he arrives, unexpected and all at once.

Advent Calendars are another beloved Christmas tradition My cousin Michelle sends the children all their own chocolate Advent calendars. When a new baby is one year old she starts sending them a calendar, too. I always really appreciated this. It's really awesome because the babies really do watch and want to do what their siblings do. They totally get in on the action! As can be told by this picture.
Baby Everett gets a real treat having his first Advent chocolate with the other kids

The first snowfall of the season we have snowman pancakes and hot cocoa. I was low on milk so I talked the kids out of hot cocoa yesterday. Actually they forgot about it after I said, 'We'll do it later on.' Their idea of the first snow is often different than mine. Snow flurries stuck to the car and real snow on the ground are two different things. However, they'll start flailing about the house shouting, "hot cocoa!" at the sight of sawdust on a cold day. Regardless, another nice tradition we typically do is hot cocoa on the first snow, and snowman pancakes around the same time. And just LOOK at these faces, they just love 'em.

whipped cream for snowflakes falling

As I write this my littlest children are complaining, fighting, and need some help from their mother. One day they'll read back at this blog of our life with joy. For now I'm met with a lot of crying over me being at the computer on a cold, boring December morning. 

Lucky for them I have some crafts planned for today. Homemade snow globes,  paper doll elves, paper chains, and stringing cranberries just like I did when I was a kid. I am also making a Christmas wreath. Wait until I tell you where I got the base for the wreath. You'll never guess... 

(I got the wreath in the cemetery across the street. It was in the trash. I dug it out. Free wreath, I say.)