Monday, June 22, 2009

Birthday Pics

We had rhubarb pie, as I foolishly made our normal birthday cake for a church function. This during birthday season! So as we were stuffed to the gills with cake, we went with pie. This happens to be one of Jonathan's (and Benjamin's and Ethan's) favorites, anyway.
(And yes, the rhubarb runneth over and now my oven bottom is covered in it.)
There's no time like the present for the . . . present. Hmmm.
And a couple from our trip to Butte last week:
A little trepidation at the slide:
But he made it.
(He does have a top lip, I assure you.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

And the baby is one

This past week marked the first birthday of our youngest.

Jonathan ("Jon-Jon") celebrated with a recycled toy (Abraham's dump truck, found in a box in the garage, cleaned up, and wrapped by Lily) and the promise of another gift when we can find it. Ethan's mom gave Benjamin a GREAT ride-on scooter when he turned one. It was plush,  soft, and cheery. It lasted through all of the other children and just recently fell apart past repairing. But we're not settling for any plasticky TV-character themed scooter. So the next time we visit Murdock's (because we already tried the obvious Shopko, Walmart, and Target), we might find the adorable scooter we're looking for.
I can't believe this child is one. He seems littler than the others did, although he's trying hard to get an attitude (which is the mark of maturity). He refuses to try to walk, although he will stand for long periods of time when he doesn't notice. He didn't sit until he was nine months old, but this was because he wouldn't stay still long enough. He's been crawling since he was five months old, and whenever we tried to sit him down, he would just take off.
(Incidentally, I was the same way. Only I just found this out. All of my life, my mother has told young mothers, "Rachel didn't sit until she was nine months old. She was so RETARDED!" So a few months ago, after Jonathan finally learned to sit, I called her up and asked, "Did I crawl before I sat?" "Oh, yes, you'd been crawling for ages!" she replied. Thanks, Mom. I (and I'm sure all you told) had visions of this helpless roly-poly baby lying prostrate on the floor, bumbling around and wondering, "How do I SIT?")
His vocabulary impresses me. He can say Papa, Mama, Edee, Yeeyee (Lily), Bumbum (Ben), Boo, Dog, and Deer (and he can identify deer from the living room window!). This impresses me because No is not yet in there.
He is one of the gang. With each baby, I have wondered, "How will they fit in with this group that is already a happy, complete group?" And with each baby, the group has grown and loved their new member and become a bigger, happier, more complete group.

He loves cars and trucks. He pushes them around the floor, making car noises while he's doing so. He loves to take the crank off a casement window and then studiously try to get it back on (and he has succeeded a few times). His bottom starts pulsing with any beat (the radio, the musical toys, the cell phone ring). He taught himself "Peek-a-boo" when he was only a few months old.
We are working on the screech. He was born with this high-pitched cry that can rattle the nerves of the strongest. Fortunately, he is getting to be old enough to recognize that there are bad consequences for this cry and is picking different ones. His feet never stop moving: his ankles are usually turning if he's being held, and he pumps his legs vigorously if he's excited or agitated.

High-pitched wail at the carwash (what IS that scary thing?):
He has such a passion for life. It's all-or-nothing with him. (Which does, incidentally, make sleeping in his carseat a rare thing indeed.)
I'm pretty smitten with this little guy. He has a great sense of humor and personality already, and those brown eyes . . . when those are bright and smiling and his dimple and baby teeth are showing . . . well. He could have the world. Or my piece of cake, which is more likely what he's after.
(I will post actual birthday pics later ... they are still uploading ... new laptop/new system/ new learning curve.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Free Therapy

Warning: For my few friends that find psychology to be of valuable study: you might just want to move along. But ALSO, if you happen to be one of these friends, then you know that I find the modern study of psychology to be drivel, manipulative, deceitful, and downright expensive. I'm just saying. For everyone else, here's a breath of fresh air:

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stuff and Nonsense and More Stuff

Our six-month lease in this house runs out June 20th. Our landlady (who currently lives in Virginia) called us to ask what our thoughts were about moving, etc. During this conversation, it came out that it behooves both her family and ours for us to continue with a month-to-month lease, and she will put the house back on the market.
Back on the market. Which she did on June 1st.
The Realtor showed the house Friday.
I don't know if the magnitude of those words comes through strongly enough. We have six kids, two cats, and a dog, and the house we live in was open for others to come in, turn things over, open things, and generally micro-inspect.
Sooooo . . . obviously, a massive de-cluttering took place this week. It happened at a very convenient time, as we opted to run a church rummage sale at the local "Clancy Days" festival. We filled two vans with . . . well, honestly . . . junk. And then people came by our church table and paid money for our junk. And then, an hour before we left, we started giving away our junk. And then we wrestled confiscated junk from the clutches of our children, and we finally took the remains of our junk and left it at Goodwill. (And, I'd like to add, by the time we got to Goodwill, the girls were all fighting loudly over who got to zip up The Quiet Book before we donated it. Hmm.)
Our house feels SO. GOOD.
I KNOW that kids are happier with less . . . stuffage. I know it, but things add up and get out of hand and then I forget that a lot of the frustration and mayhem and confusion is compounded by all the STUFF that I move out of the way and dust (or need to dust) and climb under or over to get to whatever I'm after.
It's just STUFF. We were pretty ruthless. We said "Goodbye" to three chairs (including a papasan -- the dumbest idea ever for chic seating), the pasta machine (because really, twice a year is not worth the real estate it's taking up in the kitchen), the juicer (same problem), a cordless drill, a pellet gun, a sit-and-stand stroller, a coffee table, some clothing and shoes, and so many kids books and toys -- some of which had never been opened ("oooh, a fire-and-ice set, won't they love that?"). Obviously I'm forgetting things, because what we had took up the back of our 12-seater van and all of the minivan.
See what I mean? I can't even remember what it was that we held so dear that we carried it all the way from Virginia to here.
I want to hold on to this Not Holding On.
Because some things you just need to let go of, so you can enjoy other things.
Things like an orange lollipop and two pairs of brown eyes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Where We Live

I promised my dad I would post pics of what the area looks like around our house. These pictures are sort of misleading, as they were taken a few weeks ago. Anyone in Montana can tell you that things never look the same from week to week.
Today, for instance, it's very white.
Because it's snowing. Again. For the third day in a row.
Granted, the past two days, the snow has been gone by noon. None in the air, none on the ground. But right now, at 9:36 AM, it looks like a winter day. I can hear the electric heaters clicking on, my toes are freezing, and the hot chocolate smells delicious. Lily (5) just put on a turtleneck because "It looks like a freezing day, and I don't want to have to wear a scarf."
So, come to think of it, maybe things in Montana ALWAYS look the same.
I'm confusing myself.
On with the pics!
It takes about 15 minutes to hike from our backyard to the bald spot on the mountain, from which we can see Helena. The hike is a bit steep and requires about two Lemonhead-fueling stops for the children.
Getting ready for our hike up the back hill:
(This bench is outside of the workshop/playhouse)
(That's the back of Ethan's study/the garage in the background)
Suiting up:
Let's go!
Time for a rest:

A Lemonhead stop (my children are convinced Lemonheads belong in every survivor pack -- probably because they are always in their father's):
Finally! The view from the top:
Another view:
(That strange growth coming out of my husband's head is the side of Edee's head. Just so you weren't worried . . .)

And now we're heading back:
Even though we don't want to.


Friday, June 5, 2009

And the Two Are Four

There is nothing like one of my children's birthdays to make me feel older. And when the birthday is two of my children's birthday, well.
My eyesight is fading and my gray hairs are sprouting.
Yesterday was Abraham and Miriam's birthday. They turned FOUR.

Four doesn't seem so old, except that it means that later this year I'll also have a six-year old and an eight-year old. And in a few days, my youngest will be one. (Nothing happens to Edee, though, a fact that caused much consternation and pouting yesterday. Her birthday was in January.)
The day started late, a direct result of our having gone fishing and splashing (which is not exactly conducive to the fishing, ahem) at Canyon Ferry Lake the day before. The days end late now -- the sun has not fully set until 10 PM, and we didn't head out of the fishing spot until 10:18 exactly. I know, because when Miriam said, "It's late and we need to GO. TO. BED," I looked at the van clock and she was right.
So when we headed to Wal-Mart yesterday to buy a few things (all of the presents and the cake ingredients), it was early afternoon. And I refuse to apologize for this. Those of you who are die-hard early birds, congratulations. You get the worm.
We chose the divide-and-conquer approach. Ethan took Birthday Girl, Benjamin, and Edee. I took Birthday Boy, Lily, and Jonathan. As all the toys are in the same relative section (no, they don't conveniently put all girl toys on one end of the store and all boy toys on the other), we were only about 2 rows apart, but we tried to not shout what we were getting and hid everything under beach towels (also presents) turned inside out. Ethan's crowd bought for Abraham, and we bought for Miriam. As we had general categories that were the same (towels, sunglasses, pajamas, some kind of tractor toy or doll that wasn't a baby), we would take our charges to the row looking but also listening to how the Birthday Child we had was responding. Then we would call each other.
So, Ethan would call me with what Miriam was excited about, and I would call him with what Abraham was excited about.
They were both excited about sunglasses, having decided that mine were just too big to be of any use to them:

It was all very exhausting.
When we checked the mailbox, we found an autographed book from Grandma Allison, creative homemade cards from Aunt Becca and their cousin Titus, and a present from Grandpa and Grandma suggesting that they go see "Up." We had about two hours before the next showing, so we threw them in their beds to rest and I scrambled to get their cake together (one recipe German-Chocolate Upside-Down Cake, what else?, split into two round cake pans). Then we woke them up and headed to the THEATER!!! (A rare treat, indeed.)
The movie was wonderful. The theater was packed with other young children laughing and snortling and dropping their popcorn and getting up to go to the bathroom right along with ours. (Just a side note -- see this movie sometime even if you don't have little kids. It's more about life in general and fulfillment than it is about kiddie humor. Very good.)
So it was about 9:30 when we finally got back home and they ate their cake and opened their presents.

There was great excitement and a few tears (Edee's) and a bit of sibling rivalry (Jonathan stealing the tractors).

And now it's 10 in the morning, and two of them are still sleeping.
(Miriam and Abraham, sitting at the table for the first time.)
(Abraham and Miriam at the table yesterday)

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