Family canning

Caleb cut beans for almost 3 hours today.  With his mama.  At the kitchen counter.  The boy loves doing meaningful work.  He was literally happier than I’ve seen him in a long time.  He thrives on making a valued contribution.  It was a delight to hang out with him.

Audrey and Rylee owned the tomato situation last night.  35 pounds done in just a couple hours thanks to the fantabulous teamwork that took place.  Truly some of our best family times are spent in the kitchen together.

I can barely move at this point but we’ve had a great time canning so far.  I didn’t realize how tired I was or how pregnant I am until I broke down sobbing over a chicken nugget at the dinner table last night!

Many hands may make light work.  They also make a mess.  And memories too…

Fine dining fun with five small children

As if heading to downtown Seattle the last weekend night before Christmas wasn’t ambitious enough for our little family, as our evening unfolded we found ourselves to be part of quite an adventure.

First, in order to get out of the parking garage, we waited what seemed like an eternity for the elevator that must be older than we are.

Then we walked up a few blocks to watch the fake snow fall in a mall atrium.  We waited for almost a half an hour looking upward.  When the snow came, it was actually some bubble foam sprayed from a few stories up.   It was cool enough for one time, but won’t make the cut next year.

By this time we were pretty hungry.  Kids have been in strollers or on backs.  It was crazy crowded so no running around was in order.

We head back to the other mall for food.  Despite the fact it is the weekend before Christmas, they were closing in 30 minutes.  We learned 3 years ago that when they close, even if you just got your food, they will stand around watching you as they ask you to leave your table and exit the area.  That was fun.

So we set out in a mainly retail area, to secure some food.  We burned through my well stocked snack bag quite quickly.  A pregnant sister, five little troopers whose patience was waning and no sign of a food source.  We were getting desperate.  We kept saying “One more block?”.  Every place we found was a super long wait.

My sister staked out an Italian restaurant that she thought was a low key pasta joint.  She glanced at the menu but only paid mind to the pizza prices.  She noticed that the guests were wearing slacks and dresses.   We were so in need of food at this point that the fact this was a high caliber Italian restaurant with rave reviews was quite impertinent.  We sat.  We ordered.  We waited.

“Would you like some wine with your ravioli?”  our waiter asks me.

My kidneys hate me I remind myself.  They are working overtime still trying to heal.  Alcohol is off limits but somehow I still manage to say “I shouldn’t but….yes, please.”

Sippy cups were thrown.   Bread came.  Bread was devoured.

We noted that this was not exactly family restaurant, a far cry from Red Robin indeed.  We definitely caught some glances at our table for TEN-five kids, five adults.

Audrey filled her diaper.  I went to change her.  I discovered that this kind of establishment does not cater to kids, thus had no changing table.  So I piled up 20 paper towels and laid her on the small bathroom counter.  I turned slightly red as woman after woman came to wash their hands while I was busy wiping a ghastly smelling diaper within arms reach.

We returned from said bathroom adventure to find antsy little people.  We inquired about crayons to do some drawing.

Instead of crayons they were pleased to offer us – SHARPIE permanent markers  “In all sorts of colors!” said the congenial waiter as he handed them to a three year old!

“Why does Audrey have a that-she can’t have that!?” said my curious husband.

“We are on the brink.  I’m not sure if you can feel it over there.  But we’re so close.  We are just trying to hang in till food comes okay?”  I replied.

Our food arrived, Rylee ate her fillet of grilled salmon in 3 minutes and promptly asked for another, I smiled and shook my head.  Caleb’s pizza was twice the size of his head.  My $20 plate of ravioli consisted of two giant pieces of pasta.  They were fantastic, I inhaled them in 5 minutes knowing Audrey was about to lose it.

I stood and grabbed Audrey ready to make a run for it.  I grabbed my glass of wine, quickly finished the glass.  Kyler joins me as we hightail it out of there.  We find wide open spaces and the two littles run free.

They watched a window washer through the beautiful glass window railing.  Then just as I snapped this photo…

…Kyler gets his head stuck on the other side as he peers down 2 stories.  He starts to panic and pull back and scream.  I hope I don’t rip his ears off as I pull him back through.  We find something a bit safer to do after I determine that Audrey’s head AND entire body would certainly fit through the opening.

We then ventured back to the carousel and end the evening riding horses together just as we (and my sister Danielle and her husband Todd) have done for the past 9 years in a row.  This year it was great fun to have our other sister, now graduated from nursing school, back home to join us as well.

Fall family fun

We’ve enjoyed getting pumpkins and celebrating fall with my sister Danielle for several years (here is my post from last October)  and this year – for the first time – our other sister now graduated from college, was able to join us.  It was a muddy, perfect, beautiful, cold day.  Upon peeking outside at the weather, I grabbed my bulky old Minolta SLR for the adventure.  The pictures I get on that camera are always better than the ones from our little digital pocket camera so I decided it was worth the hassle for this lovely day:

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Auntie
Steph bike
DeeDee train
Steph train
rylee train
Caleb train
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Searching for pumpkins
Isaac and Audie
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Isaac
sisters

If you’ve made it this far, bravo!  Here are my top two reasons for busting out my old 35 mm camera:

Audie and Daddy

Those eyes melt my heart.  All four of them.

Mama and Kyler

I love this boy.

Carvin’ up some fun

Saturday morning we went to a local pumpkin patch with Stephanie, Danielle, Todd, and Isaac.  It had rained significantly on Friday, so by the time we got there, it was pretty muddy.  You will have to wait to see some of the pictures to come from that day, but for now we will show you the vegetable of our labor.  We let the kids pick some nice pumpkins (they had to be able to lift the pumpkin into the wheelbarrow on their own).  Daddy cut open the tops and then each  of the kids took out the guts.  They each then chose something to go on the pumpkin and then watched as Daddy tried to come up with something that resembled what they were hoping for.  Going right to left: Rylee, Caleb, Kyler.  Maybe next year Audie will be able to lift one into the wheelbarrow.

Kyler Carve
Caleb Carve
Rylee Carve
Group Carve
Results

Valentines Day Fun

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Happy Valentines Day everyone!  We have been talking about what love means all week with our kids.  In fact, at the beginning of the week, Karissa painted the tree that you see pictured here – “The Tree of Love.”  Each time the kids did something loving toward one another, we would write what they did on a heart and put it on the tree.  Things like “Caleb encouraged Kyler and told him that he was a great treasure” or “Rylee encouraged Caleb while he worked” were the types of things that made it to the Tree of Love.

This morning, to kick off the valentines celebration, Karissa put together a great scavenger hunt for the three big kids to do.  She wrote up clues and put them around the house.  It was fun watching their little minds think through the clues and figure out what is “big, green, has wheels, and stays out side.”  They had a great time and enjoyed the balloons and fun things they got in their valentines bag.

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Tonight, we have the pleasure of watching little Isaac while his mama and daddy go on a date.  They watched our four while we went out the other night and so now it is our turn to watch their little one.  It is always fun having Isaac over because our kids just enjoy his company so much.  And now that he is crawling, it should be extra fun for everyone!  Perhaps Audrey will be inspired by her younger cousin to ditch the army crawl for good and go with the full crawl.  Our Valentines Day has been delightful so far and we wish the same for yours!

Costco won’t be the same…

…without Kristin and me and our combined seven children.

It may seem very strange but we have the best times there (large carts big enough for all four of my kids and a load of groceries, free samples, lots of noise) and in a few short weeks she and her family are moving to Arizona.   This is the theme for me the past few years with good friends I’ve had.  They move away or circumstances change and their place in my life is not the same.  I’m trying to understand the purpose in this but don’t have it figured out just yet.  That’s a whole other post.

On our last trip there, I for one was close to crying more than once.  There were all kinds of things that made it highly amusing and a delightful end to our Costco shopping career.  A short little lady with a thick Spanish accent said to me in the freezer section “You just need three more!  Then you will be like me-seven is so fun!”.  She went on to dote on all our kids and talk about how cute they were and how we should enjoy them every minute and they were such blessings.  Not the usual reaction we get and it was so sweet.   We did, in the same trip, get the pointing and laughing from another two ladies.  Some just shake their heads.

Then there was the moment three kids had to go to the bathroom, I took them.  We filled most of the stalls and as I waited for everyone, a man (distracted and talking on his cell phone) walks right into the women’s restroom, stops, looks at me, turns around quick as he can and exits still talking away.  In the same trip, another mom was in a stall with her two kids constantly telling them to keep the door shut, sit down, don’t touch anything-you know the drill-and finally the door came flying open and she was sitting on the toilet trying to finish quickly and cut her losses.  I couldn’t help but smile.

Our last Costco adventure...for now.
Our last Costco adventure...for now.

On another “Kristin” note, when she gets all set doing caligraphy for a little business on the side going, I’ll be sure and let you know.  She helped me create one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever had the joy of giving.  Visit Steph’s blog to see a picture of it.  If you click on the first photo you can get an idea of Kristin’s handwriting talents.  It’s pretty amazing.

Christmas Creativity

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I am so excited for Christmas! Why you ask? For a number of reasons, but right now, I can ‘t wait to exchange gifts with Todd, Danielle, Stephanie and Karissa. This was the first year that we decided to to the old draw name trick. I was not too excited about it, because who doesn’t like opening up two gifts instead of one…but it made sense to save some dinero as well as continue our pattern of trying to make Christmas not all about the indulgence of stuff.  However, when Danielle suggested that we do something creative for our drawn name, I began to get really excited.  What a potentially (I’ll let you know for sure in about a month) great tradition…to give a gift as well as some creative expression.  This could be a poem, dramatic re-enactment, song, sculpture, carving, skit, story, painting, pantomime, etc.  Not only am I looking forward to sharing my creativity with the person who’s name I drew, but I can not wait to see what everyone comes up with.  It is all going to be a surprise, so it should prove to be quite enjoyable.  

Karissa and I are continually trying to solidify our family traditions and have been pretty dilligent in thinking through how we want to experience the Christmas season as a family.  I am sure we will share about those in the days to come.  Until then, what are your favorite Christmas Traditions?

-Chris