Sunday, November 8, 2009

Big Pile O' Leaves

Another yearly tradition! The first big pile of leaves must be jumped in!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

When all talk of Halloween began in September my first thought was "cha-ching!" All three big kids wanted to be the same as last year. There is nothing better than getting 2 years out of one costume for the same kid, not to mention 3! (Some of you may remember that I may be the only person in history to wear the same bridesmaid dress in 2 weddings!) I was patting myself on the back for buying those black cat leotards a little big last year. Then last week as the girls were chatting up trick-or-treating, Eli said, "Me be pider-man?" I quickly reminded him that he wanted to be Bob the Builder again. But alas, the boy who has never seen a SpiderMan movie and has no SpiderMan toys had to be "pider-man". OK, 2 repeats are better than none. Then, the day before Halloween I went to get the girls' leotards, tights and kitty ears and tails and horror of horrors, the leotards were missing! Probably sold them at Kid's Market for $1. So then I had to talk up going to pick out a new costumes at he store (no time to make anything with less than 24 hours to go) and was not well received on the first pitch. Finally talked them into new costumes and headed to Wally World. Emily picked a pixie costume without much fanfare, but Rachel could not pick any costume that was actually available in her size. There was not even a long sleeved black leotard to replace the missing one in her size. Grudgingly, I agreed to go to the other Wal-Mart to find a leotard since she was not giving up on the black cat. No luck at the other store either!! She was not having anything that was available. Then, finally, she said, "I'll be a cheerleader." Woo-hoo! We have that at home!! She wanted pom-poms and I said SOLD! Two Auburn shakers later and we were on our way! So here they are, our cheerleader, pixie fairy, bumble bee and SpiderMan.

We Trunk-or-Treated at church in the late afternoon and then headed over to Grandma's neighborhood to do a little Trick-or-Treating. We met up with Keely and Erica and go to get a numch more candy since they had just started! We're now off to gather some our loot to send to a soldier in Afganistan to give to the children there!

PS~guess what I found on the way out the door to trunk-or-treat......

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Campfire

Last week we had beautiful fall weather. It has been too wet to actually camp in the back yard though we hope that is coming soon. We were able to have a fire in the fire pit and roast some marshmallows for Family Home Evening though.

The Hiatus is Over!

Well, time totally got away from us this summer! We stayed so busy that I totally forgot all about the blog! Now that I am thinking over it, I am not sure what all the busy-ness was, but believe me, we were running all the time!

Sam turned 1 on July 10th! He loved his cake and could have cared less about anything else. Since he's the 4th kid and I knew that he wouldn't, we just had a little family celebration which turned out to be just right! Can't find those pictures though. Will post if I find them.

A few days after my last post we got a difficult phone call. James's grandmother had passed away suddenly. For the last couple of years she had been battling lung cancer that was spreading. We were beginning to make preparations to visit in her in a couple of weeks anyway, which made it hard to tell the kids as they were already very excited to go see Mauzy. It was not until we were there, I think, that they realized they would not be able to talk and play with her this time even though we were staying in her house.

Emily took it the hardest of the children. They were very close and Emily has many fond memories of Mauzy. She will still say sometimes that she misses Mauzy very much and that it is hard not to be able to talk to her. Rachel is very matter-of-fact about these things. At the viewing she came to me asked why we could not touch Mauzy. I told her that we could if she wanted to, so she and I went and held Mauzy's hand for a minute. It did bother her that the lower portion of the casket was closed and she could not see Mauzy's legs. A friend asked if I had the funeral director open it up. I'm happy to report that it was not necessary, she accepted my explanation that her legs were still there. As I reflected on this little bit of Rachel-ness, I realized that I should not have been surprised. She wanted nothing to do with Sam in the hospital until she could see his body~his head with the hospital cap poking out of the burrito blanket just did not cut it for her! Eli remembers Mauzy and knows that she died. We saw her house listing on the internet the other day and he knew it was her house. I hope he will always be able to remember her at least a little. Sam only saw her once, last fall when we made a last minute trip when we found out that the cancer was back. I am so glad we went then!

We stayed in Maryland a little over a week. It was a tiring trip for this poor(as in bad)traveler, but good to see family even under the circumstances. We had a "picnic". That's what Mauzy called a big get-together with 40-50 folks eating crabs, pizza and hot dogs under the carport and playing in the yard. It was strange without her there giving us all little jobs to get ready, but an appropriate way to celebrate her life. She loved nothing more than family and friends and a friendly card game!

When we got home, there was a lot of planning, organizing and preparations to be made for heading back to school. We got it all done and went back to school without the first picture being made! Another accomplishment to add to my Mother of the Year nomination form.

Sam also began walking during those early August days. Now he can keep up with those big long as a gate doesn't get in his way! Just a couple of weeks ago he went down the stairs by himself. One of those gates didn't get closed. He's always wondered what the sibs were doing downstairs in the he knows! We're pretty sure an unseen hand was helping him out!

So now we're in the school and preschool routine. Emily is in 1st grade and loving it. Rachel and Eli are in preschool 3 days a week and Sam and I go to preschool 2 days a week. We've had pink eye. We've had swine flu. Poor Rachel missed her trip to Old Baker Farm that everyone else is posting pictures about, but maybe she'll be done with illness for the year. We'd like to get on with the fun stuff of fall now. Football, Pumpkins, Crisp Air, Apples, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Autumn is upon us. We're going to enjoy it!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vacation 2009

Two days after the unfortunate finger-door thing, we left to go on our first extended family vacation in Gatlinburg. This one included Grandma and my sister's family. We rented a house (they like to call them chalets, but you know it's Tennessee and I just can't go there) from my friend Donna. Fortunately it was a big house with plenty of room and even a basement rec room, but by Tuesday I was missing my girls. They were always in the basement playing with their cousins and when we went somewhere they rode with them too (necessary car seat move that just didn't get fixed until the night before we left). I would get them dressed in the morning and read to them at night, but really missed our quality time during the day. Poor Eli was suffering from an pretty severe UTI (103 fever and sometimes severe abdominal pain) but kept giving us intermittent details of the symptoms and, just so you know, medical care is spotty at best in the Garlingurg/Pigeon Forge area. I was missing the Birmingham medical community by Sunday morning! By the time we saw the doctor the unrinalysis showed what the doctor thought was the beginning of the UTI, it was actually the end. If you know Eli, you know that he is pretty darn smart and he has a drinking problem. "Mommy, I sirsty" is the first thing I hear every morning and he'd like to have a cup in hand all day. He quite quickly put together that the more he drank, the more he needed to go and that hurt. So he carried his cup around (we really wanted him to drink now) but it was always full and he started going 12 hours between bathroom visits. We had to bribe him with "Special Special Juice" that only he got. We all survived and even had some fun. We hiked, rafted, visited the national park and Cades Cove, miniature golfed and more. I was a little nervous to have the whole family vacation experience, but I'd do it again.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poor Baby Nam

Well, Sam has had his first trip to the ER at the ripe old age of 11 months. Poor little guy's mommy closed his left ring finger tip in the laundry room door and almost amputated it! Sam is such a trooper. After the initial shock of pain, he calmed down very quickly and just went with whatever we needed to do without much fuss. He did get tired of us holding his hand for 4 hours and he was terribly hungry after not eating for 11 hours (and he only got a few syringes of nasty blue gatorade when he did get something), but all in all he was the best patient Children's ER has seen in a long time!

I was throwing something away in the laundry room because that is where we have to keep the garbage since Sam has decided that the garbage can is his toy box (yuck!!). I heard the little thuds of his crawling toward me on the hardwood. My mind said back up and close the door quickly. I did not turn around to see that he had made it to the door and put his hand on the jamb to pull up. Critical mistake!! I felt the resistence too late for that tiny little fingertip~the edge of the door just cut right through it just below the nailbed I think (it is still swollen and stitches everywhere so can't really tell too much). I got a quick look between snatching him up and wrapping a towel around it and it looked really bad to me. I screamed for James and then Mommy adrenaline took over.

Tender mercies from above~I have my ped's cell phone number (this was about 4:40pm), and I have a great friend and neighbor. The doctor said Children's ER is the only place that could handle it. I called my friend and said "can I bring you my 3 oldest children" (panicked, shaky voice). She said "I'll come get them". That's it, she did not mention that she was childless for the evening and had commitments, she just showed up, packed them up and took them with her (then brought them home and put them to bed and hung out until 11pm). What a blessing!

After a 45 minute drive to downtown Birmingham Sam was triaged before we could even sign in and was immediately taken to a room. The doctor came in within 10 minutes. Niether the triage nurse nor the ER doc were overly concerned about the severity of the laceration. It didn't look so bad after having pressure on it for an hour. We were impressed and got a little too happy too quickly. All of a sudden everything stopped. They got a trauma and apparently the whole city came in right after us. After a while he had an x-ray to confirm that the tiny little bone in his fingertip was broken. Once the trauma was taken care of, they decided to call in a plastic surgeon so as not to tie up 3 docs in one room because Little Man had to be sedated and you have to have the surgeon, the treating doc and the attending for that. Finally at 8:30 we met the surgeon, a plastic surgeon on the hand team no less!!, and they got busy.

I held Sam as they sedated him. Only one word can describe this scene~DISTURBING! The drug they used knocks you out quickly but you don't close your eyes. So the doc pushed the drug and Sam was looking around then suddenly stopped and felt kind of stiff. As I moved him off me to the bed with his eyes open and his arms still raised (the dr was moving his fingers around in front of Sam's face and he was reaching for them) the only thing I could think was that he looked like a taxidermied Baby Sam.

After the procedure, both docs that were still in the room when we cam in admitted that the injury was much more significant than they thought once they cleaned it up. We finally left about 10:00 with a club-handed, hungry, tired but patched up baby. As hungry as he was he fell asleep about a block from the hospital and did not wake up until 3:30. He has done remarkably well with all this. He has given no indication of pain, the badages don't bother him or slow him down, and he has figured out how to eat one-handed. It's all good to Sam! I have never felt so blessed to live in one place ever. I've always thought it was a good idea to live close to a Children's Hospital if you have kids, but it is a requirement for us (Eli has had us there 4 times). If this had happened on our vacation that we left for 2 days later he would surely have lost his fingertip. I'm even glad they got busy and got behind because we got a hand surgeon. I realize he did not have to reattach nerves and all that, but you have mommy guilt, every little thing helps!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Age of Fear

As Emily, our oldest, is pretty fearless and always has been, childhood fear is not something that we have alot of experience with. My sister warned me a few years ago that 4 is the "age of fear". As noted, we made it through a 4-yr-old no problem.

Rachel is now 4 1/2. She has definitely entered the age of fear with at least one phobia-grade fear~toilets over-flowing. Wonder what the shrink term for that one is? Anyway, she has never witnessed an overflowing toilet. She has never experienced the aftermath of a toilet overflowing. She is just suddenly terrified (and that is an understatement) that any toilet in her vicinity is going to overflow. She will not go to the bathroom by herself anywhere but at our house, even at church or anywhere else that she has always been comfortable going by herself.

I think I have finally discovered the root of the problem. At the end of softball season both toilets in the girls restroom had issues. We were forewarned and did not enter the offending restroom, but Rachel had to potty and the men's' room was occupied and, well, she experienced the tickle of the weeds for the first time. I think she is afraid of having to have the nature experience again and she is just preoccupied with the threat of it! She stayed with a friend while I went to the dentist last week and had just started whining for me when I drove up. I talked to the mom for a few minutes and Rachel was becoming more agitated by the second and was finally crying to go home. I realized that she needed to potty so I told her to go before we left. At this point she had a complete come apart. I have never heard her cry in this manner before. The problem was, she had gone into the bathroom but another child had put alot of paper in the toilet and Rachel was afraid that it would overflow if she flushed it so she did not go. Rather than tell the adult about the problem she was suffering in silence. I felt so badly for her.

Fast forward to yesterday, when James replaced the flushy-thingy (a very technical and correct term) in the toilet upstairs because it was running. Well, the chain was too long and when you pushed the handle it didn't actually flush; it just started to flush and made a noise that if you were a 4-yr-old who is deathly afraid of toilets overflowing would scare you silly! Poor Rachel! She was up in the middle of the night to potty and we had issues. So James just fixed it and we encouraged her to watch to maybe help take some of the fear out of it. She thought it was pretty cool that daddy can fix things, but she was still a little unsure even with him in the room with her.

Wonder what the boys will be afraid of...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Thought everyone would want to know: Eli pooped in the potty today!

Admit it, you've been waiting for this post as anxiously as I have been waiting to post it! No pictures though. It's just not done. Really I'm just happy for some progress in a fairly dismal PT week. Maybe I can get this is Celebrations newsletter at church...

"It Make Me Feel Better..."

Eli: Want dat key.
Mommy/Daddy: No Eli, that is not your key. (Like today at the library with keys just hanging in the door knob)
Eli: It make me feel better.

Eli: Want cookie.
Mommy: It's supper time.
Eli: I want it. (sad puppy face)
Mommy: I'm making your plate right now.
Eli: It make me feel better.

Eli: Want dat hose. (swimming pool cleaner hose)
Daddy: No touch.
Eli: But I want it.
Daddy: No Eli!
Eli: It make me feel better!
Daddy: You'll just have to feel bad.

I remember one day recently when Eli was feeling badly or was having a hard time waking up or something and he was curled up next to me and he looked up and said, "want you Mommy". I said something like, "does it make you feel better if mommy holds you?" Now look what we've got! Any time we say no the child he says "It make me feel better." It is cute and I can't wait 'til he uses it on the folks at MDO. Watch out Kim, you're in for it now! Well, at least he is using his words...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Welcoming a new member of the family

Freaked you out a little with the title right?!

As we were trying to appeal to something within Eli to obey us yesterday he rather clearly answered the request (whatever it was...there are so many) with "No Edward want to." No what? "No Edward want to." Emily caught it first. "Edward [is] a frightful boy" from a book that is pretty new to the Cannon Library (The Boy Who Would Not Share). You would think that with as many people as are scurrying around this house no one would need an imaginary friend. This is still in the cute stage right now (the way he says it is priceless) but I'm already trying to ignore Edward since he does not seem to want to do anything, especially the important things like potty, eat, drink milk, go to time out or nap. I'm trying to figure out if this really is an imaginary friend thing or if Eli just knows Edward is a brat and would answer that way so Eli will too. I've asked him where Edward is and he has said that I am Edward or just kind of ignored the question. When asked if he is Edward, Eli says, "No! Me Eli!" Edward has served one purpose, Eli will now say his name.

The girls threw Edward into the woods at lunch today, but he apparently found his way back because he did not want to potty after nap. It may take until Kindergarten to get Eli potty trained, I really hope Edward will get with it soon and help me out! Open to suggestions on dealing with imaginary friends, 'cuz you know I don't really need another kid to take care of....feeling blessed each day to do this well with the ones I've got!

Monday, May 25, 2009


The best thing about having to sit backwards is always seeing the brother that loves you!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pensacola and the Beach

James's grandmother, Mimi, moved into an assisted living living room from her independent living apartment at the same retirement facility last week. There were still some, OK alot, of things to go through and some furniture to be moved as she was moving to a much smaller space. Since the last day of school for Emily was void of all learning and James had to go down on Thursday do take care of some banking items, I checked Emily out early and loaded up the four children and off we went. James had left a few hours earlier to make sure he got there in time to take care of the business stuff. Yes, me and 4 kids on a 5 hour trip. It took us an hour and a half to get to Clanton due to work on the side of the road. It had not even started to rain yet! Potty breaks were interesting as the five of us herded into the restrooms at the rest stops (no way was I taking all of them into a place of business). We did have to stop at a store in the middle of nowhere, where I did leave everyone in the car except the pottier~Rachel, of couse, whose bladder can sense the most inconvenient time/place. We parked next to a sherriff's cruiser so I felt pretty safe as I paced between the bathroom and the front door. At long last we made it. I had the beach as a behavior bargaining chip for part of the way until James called and said the weather was not looking good. At that point I decided I'd better let the subject rest to keep it fom being a bigger deal if we did not get to go.

When we arrived James had completed his "musts" for the day and we decided to take a chance on the beach as Friday's weather looked worse. It poured on us most of the drive over and we considered turning around. I am so glad we didn't. The beach was perfect! A little overcast with sun breaking through and a cool breeze. The water was cold though. Disclaimer: I am not a beach person. It is a pile of dirt with international cess pool washing up in my opinion. You do not have to agree with me, I just don't like the beach. Too bad for me, my children love it! Eli does not remember earlier trips to the beach and of course this was Sam's first. He thought it tasted fine! Here are the pics~see if you can tell when Eli stopped liking the water and never went close to it again.

Friday, May 15, 2009

End of the School Year

Another school year has come and gone. I guess this was our first real school year, like we could be in trouble if someone doesn't show up, but we've been doing the preschool thing for a while so that's close. Anyway, it is always bittersweet. It is good to have a break from the daily grind, especially for mommy~she is so tired of packing lunches at 6 am. It is good that the children have grown and changed and matured through the months. It is hard to accept all that change and growth; escpecially for me since I don't live in the moment well, I blink and the children are a year older and so grown up! Really gotta work on that!

Emily had a fun-filled last 10 days of school. She had field day, her musical performance and party, splash day and pajama day. The non-themed days were filled with movie watching. I am sure there was nothing left to learn! She has had a great year with a super teacher and a really good class. My baby is a first grader and I am sure she will not like that as well. Something about all the work 1st graders have to do. We'll deal with that in August.

Rachel also had a great class with most of the children having been in her class for the last 2 years. Next year, as they move into 4-K they will be spread out among more classrooms and it will be a little sad. But this year she has learned so much from her wonderful teachers Mrs. Joy and Mrs. Lanette. They were perfect for this little girl who is so full of life that she would exhaust just one teacher. Though they say that she was the calmest, most quiet child in the class.

Eli went from being "the sweetest little boy" to being a little handful. He really started to own being a 2-yr-old mid-year and threw everyone for a loop. He too has come a long way, especially with speech. It was so hard to teach the class next door and have outside play and chapel with his class. He is such a "mommy boy" (his words) that I actually had to stop going to chapel with my class because he could not behave with me in the room. On the playground, he would call to me and give me sideways glances as he would go to do something wrong. Totally frustrating and totally Eli all at the same time. It is hard not to spoil him~he is just the cutest thing and knows how to work it. A little easier for me than some of the staff though, he so has them wrapped. They just hand over their phones and keys when he walks in the room. One is even at his beck and call for snacks when the school day is over. Ridiculous I say!

Well, Sam still sleeps most of the time he is in his classroom. The other time is mostly spent eating. If you've met Sam, you are not surprised. He did learn to sit up, crawl, pull up and say mama (that's right, not dada) during the last 8 months, but you know, he's a baby and would have done that anyway. Sorry Amanda, you get no credit other that keeping all your digits in tact while feeding him bananas!

The last day in my class was much harder than I thought it would be. I am exhausted and have been eagerly awaiting the end of the year. I started out the year on "maternity leave" and came into the classroom a month into the year. There were challenges, but for the most part everything went as expected and really was good. I just really need a little break from all the busyness. So the last day, the director had us watch the video that was shown to the parents at the recognition program two days earlier before the children came in. I had already been a little sad, but I just got so emotional watching the pictures from early in the year and realizing how much they had grown (my kids' pictures were in there too). At the party later that morning I wanted to say nice things about the children, but got choked up on that too. I am an admitted crier, but this was a bit much even for me! Anyway, I will miss my sweet little class, but move on they must.

Strawberry Picking & Carnival

We took the kids to pick strawberries a few weeks ago and had a great time. They liked chasing the farmer's dog as much as anything else, but it was a great chance for them to realize in an interactive way that food does not just come from the store. The farm is in Clanton and we arrived just before I thought my head would explode from the "when will we be there"s. (A thousand apologies Mom and Dad for each such utterance in my youth.) Everyone grabbed a basket and was off! The girls did a great job choosing berries while Eli and Sam kicked back in the stroller. We let Eli out for a bit (you know, the photo op) but out of concern for the entire patch we had to keep him reined in.

On the way back we remembered that a local school was having it's fundraiser which is a carnival. We have taken the girls the past couple of years and thought it was time for Eli to join in the fun. So we drove straight there without mentioning it to the kids. As we drove through the parking lot Emily said, "What are we doing here? This place makes me think of the carnival." Then she looked up and saw it all and got super excited! It is a small thing, but it has become a tradition. Emily and Rachel ask throughout the year when the carnival is and Eli talked about driving the motorcycles (one of the rides) for several days. I love that they look forward to these times together. I love even more being their mom.

Softball: I Survived, I Deserve a Prize!

Well, I totally intended to post something about softball before the season was over, but alas the season is over and somehow we survived. First of all, I was expecting one practice and one game per week like all the other sports we've done or inquired about. Not so! 6 & under softball requires at least two practices per week before games start and up to 4 games per week once the season get underway. Already grumpy from this schedule, when someone mentioned that we had to travel I was ready to scream. I mean, I love my children and I want them to have fun and experience things, but a traveling 6 year-old softball team is a little hard to take. Lucky for whoever is in charge they did not make the 6U girls travel this season. We did however have some 7:30 games on school nights. Can you say "Happy Mommy"?

Two of the four teams at Chelsea were coached by Softball Board members and so were pretty advanced if you catch my drift. We had evaluations before the draft (yes, I am using these words for 6U) but they were certainly not used to make things fair. Truly, this is not just sour grapes! I am not all about winning, but I do think that all the teams should have some chance to win sometimes. Our record was some big number-2 (one win was a forfeit, the other by the skin of their teeth) so Emily and Rachel did have to learn to be good losers and it was not a wasted experience. Our girls, the Chelsea Heat, played with alot of heart and by the end of the season were making some good plays. I am proud of all of them and grateful to our 3 coaches for being positive with the girls in a tough situation, especially since other coaches were teaching their teams to be extra rough (push the runner off the base, shove the runner to the ground when tagging them out in the baseline, etc) even though they outweighed our players by a good 15-20 pounds. Seriously, in the last game if Rachel had had a white flag she would have waved it. She just stopped running and threw up her little hands to try to keep them from doing bodily harm. It was cute, but hard to see her give up. I can't blame her though, these girls had knocked her down hard too many times to risk it again.

Rachel at bat; I know this is her because she is so tiny that the socks go right into the shorts that you can't really see because the shirt is so long.

A great level swing from Emily at a poorly thrown pitch (sorry Coach Jim); that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

That said, it wasn't all bad. We loved going to the fields and the sense of community you get there. Eli loved that he got a little freedom running between neighbors in the bleachers and later on just running. Even Sam thought it was pretty cool just to be chillin' outside in the stroller. Will we play again next year? If the girls want to. They had alot of fun with their teammates and cheering (did not know there were softball cheers) in the dugout. I'm told things will be a little different next year and I did my part with my ballot. So, we'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I love Easter. Christmas is my favorite because the season lasts longer and people are happier usually for a little while, and come on, it's a baby (I'm just in that season of life right now). But I know that if there were no Easter there would be no Christmas. The end of His mortality created the celebration of the beginning of it.

We try to separate the secular bunny rabbit and egg stuff from the power and beauty of Easter. The bunny is quite accomodating, visiting our house on Saturday so we can concentrate on more meaningful things Sunday. This year he came right in the house while we were all down in the play room. We decided to all come upstairs and Emily was first. She made the announcement that the Easter Bunny had come and Rachel froze on the stairs. She would not walk through the kitchen to the livingroom because she did not want to see him. Emily quickly explained that he was already gone and we proceeded with the baskets. After a few minutes they looked out the back windows and realized that there were eggs all over the back yard. Shoes have never been donned so fast in house before! We had a fun family egg hunt then turned our minds to the real Easter. Unfortunately, Mommy did not get to attend church Sunday though due a reaction to all the meds the doc gave me for a double ear infection and sinus infection on Saturday. I was up all night with strange compression sensations throughout my body. But, the children were beautiful in their new duds and we all celebrated the life-giving Atonement and Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, just not in the pew together.

Since we had purchased a new DSLR camera but it had not yet arrived, we decided to use grandma's old SLR to practice up. I will post pictures if I ever remember to take the roll of film to get a CD made.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Break

Well, potty training was not completed during spring break. It was wishful thinking anyway. But, we did get our day trip in. We went to Atlanta to the zoo and had our first in person IKEA encounter. There will be future encounters. Eli had no wetting accidents the entire 36-hours. Within an hour of returning home he wet his pants. Go figure!

Zoo Atlanta was great! A much happier zoo experience than the Birmingham Zoo. I still think the Montgomery Zoo is the best zoo in all the adjacent states. And way cheap too (especially if you have reciprocal zoo membership)~Well worth the trip. Anyway, you get to see lots of gorillas in Atlanta which is cool because the bachelors will fight a little and its entertaining. There are polar bears and panda bears. The pandas are coming up on their 10 year loan term from China. I would think that the offspring born here get to stay (you know that makes then American citizens) but I am not sure. The babies sure are cute! The mir cats and warthogs are right next to each other so it's a pretty neat Lion King moment. The reptile house is huge and right outside it is the naked mole rat exhibit. If you have never seen them up close, they are way nasty looking creatures! You need to see these critters in person before you die. Just to say you have. And there is a naked mole rat playground for the kiddies too. The Children's Zoo playground is much fun too. A tip for all you moms: they allow outside food unlike B'ham and have scads of tables and benches for snack stops. This is a great day trip!

We spent the night however and spent the next morning at IKEA. It was an amazing wonderland of organization, furnishing and storage ideas with affordable prices. If you have never been there and you like any of the above you should go. There is childcare that my kids loved, a restaurant with surprising variety, a separate bakery/cafe and the whole store is like a triple Home Depot on 2 floors. Allow lots of time. There is a path marked on the floor for you to follow, if that tells you anything. This side trip was a mommy bonus and I loved it! Obviously!

Emily's kindergarten teacher came out to have lunch with us earlier in the week. She was so sweet to come out here and she made all my kids so happy with her visit. Eli was so excited he gave her a new name while trying to say her real name. Emily chose the menu: turkey and baby spinach wraps, strawberries & grapes, carrots & celery with ranch, chips and homemade ice cream sandwiches~I will post the recipe later (you will never want to buy those mass-produced things again, though you probably will since these take a little time~but again, worth it!). What a healthy girl! Even the van got it's annual bath. The kids needed an extra bath that day! Yes, the van was filthy enough to dirty up the washers. I'm not proud, just honest.

All in all we had a pretty great spring break. Not as relaxing for me as they used to be when I was the one in school, but very good. Still, when the day came to head back to school we were ready. Too much togetherness,though there should be no such thing, can happen in a split second (7 people {grandma you know},1 house, 24/7 you do the math). At least it did not happen until the latter part of the week for us. Now we are looking forward to summer with 3 parts anticipation and 1 part trepidation. At least I won't be a grumpy pregnant lady this year!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sam was 8 months old this week! I can't beleive it. He has his six chompers in search of a fresh finger (not his own!) to gnaw on at all times and he is full-fledged crawling. Now I really have to get better about the subject of that last post. On the up side he has finally settled into a bit of a schedule and is rather quickly shunning baby food. He would much rather have a few bites of whatever else is going on at the table. Can't say I blame him, I fancy myself a pretty decent cook and besides, what are those teeth for anyway?

The misery of potty training Eli continues. Anyone would think he'd be done by now and he could and should be. He just hasn't decided that the potty thing is really for him every day. M&Ms and marshmallows are great, but what if you really do forget what you were doing with that cord or vacuum cleaner while you take a potty break? Just can't take that risk too often, you know! Meanwhile, mom has drawn the line in the sand and refuses to buy another box of diapers for him. So...spin on washing machine, spin on!!

This week is spring break and it will be dedicated to potty training and re-learning how to pick up after one's self. This is a skill that has been completely forgotten by my older shildren in the last two months. They were never great at it, but the messy build up has reached a critical point! Though I am hoping for a family day trip later in the week if Eli can make friends with the potty. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why I Don't Mop (Often)

I finally had to mop the kitchen on Monday. I hate to mop! I would rather scrub hundreds of toilet bowls than mop my relatively small kitchen. I sweep daily (usually, 'cause if I don't a third world country could eat off it for a week by the end of one day), but that would not take care of the dried up Apple Juice River-bed created by Rachel Sunday afternoon. So I aired out the rugs, moved the chairs, table and high chair to the living room and got to it. I even did a really good job too, fresh cleaner smell and all! I replaced all the furniture and even wiped down the wall behind Eli's seat (apparently his art canvas that is usually hidden by his chair).

After two meals and a snack, guess what?! Sticky again. I am into instant and lasting gratification when it comes to house work. I need to see improvement right away and it is nice if it can stay improved for a little while, is 24 hours really too much to ask? My brain knows that it is when the residents are Kindergartners and younger, but really daily mopping just ain't gonna happen here.

Ironically, my toilets are dirty too...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Our Big Boys!

In 24 hours both boys have grown up so much.

Sam is mobile! Oh the horror! He started to army crawl yesterday. He wiggles and rolls around the living room trying to find something else to put in his mouth. Maybe he is trying to get away from Rachel who is always trying to hold him and pick him up. It is always a bittersweet moment when you can no longer leave them in one spot and come back and there they are. Even more so with the last one, that first real strike at independence with so many more to follow.

Today, Eli decided it was time to potty. He pulled his little potty out into the hall, looked at me and said, "pee pee" and I said, "go for it." He took his diaper off, sat down and peed. Then he put on big boy underpants and had only one accident all afternoon. He knew when he needed to go and did it! Hallelujah!! I just hope it lasts into tomorrow...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gems from Rachel

On the way home from church two weeks ago, Emily asked where Garfield's body was. Well, I told her that the vet took care of it for us and was perfectly willing to tell her the whole truth. She thought for a moment and said she did not think we could ever find it. I agreed quickly and was pretty happy to change the subject. Rachel was not satisfied though, so she said, "But where is the body that was on him?" At least she understands the difference between bodies and spirits.

Last Thursday, all the kids were running through the house from the basement up to the second story and back again. After several trips and requests for them to stop running Rachel slowed down in the kitchen and put her hand on her chest and said "My heart is really pumping! Jesus is talking to me!" OK, I get that our explanations about how Jesus talks to our hearts broke down somewhere in that little mind, but I do know now she was listening!

It's so entertaining and heartwarming to hear the gospel according to a 3- or 4-year-old. It can be reassuring to hear their quirky insights when you try so hard to teach them because the example you set seems to be lacking on so many levels.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Excessive Chaos, Even For Us

We said good-bye to a beloved family member last Friday. After 14 and 2/3 years Garfield, probably the best cat that has or will ever live, has gone the way of all the world. We will miss him. The children are doing amazingly well with it. Since Precious died last year we have been dreading this. Rachel and Emily were terribly sad about Precious and talked about her for weeks. This time they have been remarkably unaffected. Of course, we have been trying to prepare them since last year. In fact, last Wednesday, two days before his passing, Rachel had a play date who said, "I really like your cat" to which Rachel replied, "Yeah, they say he's gonna die soon." On Friday morning, she knew we were taking him to the vet and when I picked her up from her friend's house she asked when Garfield would come home and then said, "I think he's already dead!" I guess we prepared her well especially since she claimed Garfield as her cat since she started talking.

Now that we are pet-free (and I intend to stay that way for a very long time) we have turned the house completely upside down. We are moving James upstairs and the playroom to the basement. The kids are so excited but that may just be because virtually all their toys have been in the attic for almost a week awaiting carpet cleaning, etc. I have to say I don't really miss the toys everywhere all the time. I am most excited because I am having a professional organizer come in to help make that large area in the basement function in all the ways we need it to. It's a splurge, but if you've been to my house in the last few years you understand. Poor James had to move his truck out of the garage indefinitely so that we could put all the giveaways somewhere. If you are thinking of going to a thrift store or yard sale for anything, stop by here first--we are in extreme clean-out mode.

Here's to finally keeping a resolution that we did not even make this year!

On the kid front, Emily got her hair chopped off, Rachel is still living every moment to its fullest, Eli is finally talking up a storm (though we still struggle to understand some words)and Sam is off the charts tall, super chunky and at long last is starting to sleep through the night!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Year in Review

Well, it's been a fun and incredibly short year! We've had alot of firsts and a few "hope that never happens agains". In chronological order:

-Tonya begins the new year pregnant again

-Rachel became a Sunbeam in Primary, leaving just one Cannon in the church nursery

-Tonya falls while holding Eli, whose head hits a concrete floor and his skull is fractured (our first paramedic experience, our first overnight stay at Children's, and an extremely stressful but faith-promoting event)

-Precious succumbs to kitty old age-she was a great, if psychotic, cat for 14 years

-We decided to find out the sex of the baby for once and came right home and started giving away the girl stuff

-Mauzy came for her annual visit and Emily lost two teeth in the same week (our first Tooth Fairy experience)

-Eli turned 2--Mauzy and Mary Lou were here for the party

-We had our first family vacation since 2003 at Disney World and Sea World. All-in-all it went well, the kids had a great time and we all have some great memories. In the same trip we visited Pa and Granny in Englewood, FL and the kids had their first boat ride and got to see dolphins in the ocean; and James did some flooring work at MeMa and PaPa's in preparation for the family reunion.

-Emily graduated from Preschool and performed her first solo at the ceremony

-MeMa finally got her family reunion. I don't know how many, but alot of siblings and cousins were there!

-We began the "Summer of Togetherness"--It was hot, Mommy was uncomfortable and June seemed to last forever!!!

-Samuel Pierce Cannon arrived in dramatic fashion--5 weeks early--but healthy and happy!

-Emily started Kindergarten--Big School already!!!--Honestly, Sam was a great distraction, otherwise Mommy may have been committed!! It was never about how Emily would do, she was sooooo ready and is doing great!!

-Mother's Day Out began for Rachel and Eli. Tonya returned to her 2-year-old class two days a week at the end of September.

-Halloween was fun. The girls were black cats and Eli was Bob the Builder. He went trick-or-treating for the first time this year. He got the hang of it pretty quick!

-Rachel turned 4 and Emily turned 6. They had a huge party together at Pump It Up and everyone had a great time.

-Thanksgiving and Christmas came around much too quickly. I guess your parents are right at least once--the older you get, the faster time goes....

Now it's another new year. We will start out with new (or old) goals and good intentions, fill our calendars with lots of to-dos and run frantically from one appointment to the next. I hope to live in the moment a little more this year. I sometimes worry that I am wishing away the precious moments of my childrens' childhoods. As my good friend reminds me, "just play with them". The song "Let Them Be Little" has been playing in my mind lately. So when you visit this year and the house is a disaster and the kids are in their pajamas at 4 pm, it won't really be anything new, but it won't be out of surrender to survival, it will be because we have embraced the moments that make memories and build forever families.

Happy All Year Long!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Christmas at the Cannons'

We had a truly wonderful Christmas together. Christmas Eve was spent making cookies for Santa, wrapping presents, and watching endless Christmas movies. Finally, that evening we shared our birthday gifts to Jesus and read the Christmas story at bedtime.

At 3 am Emily came running into our room to let us know that it was Christmas Day. I groggily told her that she was right and to go back to bed. Amazingly she complied. James and I slept lightly for the rest of the morning though listening for little feet (and feeding Sam). She made it until 6:15 when she came down and went into the living room before coming to tell us that Santa had visited. We told her to she had to go get her brother and sister before she went back to check it all out, which gave us time to start the video camera. I got some still photos this year as you see but mostly we were just enjoying the moment.

They were so cute!! Eli still doesn't really get the whole Santa thing, but he enjoyed his train table and tracks anyway. Emily and Rachel got their "growing puppies" that they have been seeking for 2 years. Sam got cute stuff that he is too little for. We spent the day making cupcakes, playing with dolls, puppies, trains and cars. It was a nice, relatively quiet (not really a word we use often in this house), enjoyable day as we celebrated the most important birthday, that of our Savior, Jesus Christ by sharing the day with those who mean the most to us.