Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Another Phone Purge

I just realized that I'm about to leave on a big vacation. Which means I'm about to take a gazillion pictures (give or take one or two). Which means that I'd better catch up on what has been going on or I never will. Time for a phone photo purge. Here we go..

Looks like we're starting on May 26th. We cleared away the kids' "wash plant" from their search for gold and it left an awful mess on the back patio. It didn't stop the kids from playing a rousing game of marbles, but I think I'm going to have to insist that the next "wash plant" be built on the dirt.

I pretty much think this girl is the cutest 2 year old on the planet. And, yes, I'm biased.

Bud has been such a great playmate for Edith since school got out for summer. They have a lot of fun together. I don't know what I'm going to do when that sweet boy is gone at his cousins' house for the whole month of July. I know he'll have a blast, though.

This is what Big and I have been doing all summer. Pretty much every day while Edith naps. I hope he'll remember it forever.

I really love this selfie phone shot Pen took. It's just so quirky and cute. Hard to believe she's fourteen...

I just don't get tired of hiking with my kids. It's just too bad for Bud that we ran into so many unleashed dogs on the trail this time around. 

I had to laugh when I found Edith in the bathroom with sunscreen all over her face. She's not normally a kid who gets into things she shouldn't, but earlier in the day she had heard me talk to her sister about the importance of reapplying sunscreen. Way to listen to your mother, Edith!

Big split his knee open and really needed a bandage. Edith really needed to be like her brother. 

I tried to teach Edith how to ride her tricycle on June 8th, but she flatly refused. Instead, she walked her bike up and down the driveway. The best part was how as she walked her bike down the slope she would give a halfhearted "Whee." or "Yay." What a thrill.

Sometimes a miracle occurs and all three of the younger kids play well together. An occasion to be documented, for sure.

Another paparazzi hater in the house..

By June 11th, Edith was tired of walking her bike up and down the driveway. After about 30 minutes of helping her up and down the driveway so she could get the feel of how it all worked (oh, my aching back!), and using the momentum of the slope to help her coast and then continue to pedal to the back of the garage... we have a pedaler! Yessss!

I watched my sister's twin boybies one morning so she could work on a special Father's Day surprise for her husband. I wanted to get a picture of the three 2 year olds together, but they wanted nothing to do with it. Finally, I had to pull out the big guns. A bribe. The photo isn't perfect, but it only cost me one chocolate chip apiece! So naive they are! But, I know they'll master the art of negotiating better terms soon.

Here's another photo of the boybies with their parents. Quite the photogenic bunch. I just loved it when Edith was carrying them and accidentally dropped the nightingale. She cried out, "Oh, no! My Auntie Art!" Adorable.

We went on a family outing and I just had to snap a few pictures of my girls. I love each one of them, and I love how different they are from each other. 

Okay, and I just love that my 2 year old has hair like this. Flip it, baby.

I know this next picture really deserves a post all its own, but I just don't have time. Pen got her braces off! Hooray!

Still a paparazzi hater.... 

...except for when a Monday Miracle occurs and she asks me to take her picture. Seriously, a miracle!

And when the boys played "Disguise" together (nicely!) without a third party involved? Another miracle!

Bud and I have both really been enjoying the fact that he now has a later bedtime than Big and Edith. A little Mommy/Bud time every night is nice.

Edith doesn't like it when something she does produces disappointing results (trying to draw tattoos on her arms, reapplying her own sunscreen, playing in the dirt when wet from the sprinklers...). She gets the same look on her face every time.

This next one wasn't even her fault, but the results were definitely disappointing. Dumb leaky pen.

Thank heavens for baths.

Thank heavens for hand-me-downs, too. They make everything better. Especially when they sparkle.

The last great and fantastic thing to happen (that deserves its own post, sorry Bud)...

Doesn't he look handsome in his new glasses? I knew from all the squinting that he's been doing that he probably needed them. Bud had his eye doctor appointment yesterday, and today we went to a one-hour place so he could get his glasses before we leave on vacation (since he'll be gone a month!). He is so happy to have them and adjusted right away. In fact, he says he thinks he looks better with the glasses than without. He has been so cute, running to the far end of the family room so he can read the clock from a distance. Nice specs, Bud!

Anyway, that's the past month in photos (besides those I used in other, individual, posts). Phew! It feels good to have that done before I leave.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Graduation Cat

A funny thing happened when we were at Ginger's 6th grade graduation last month. As the end of the ceremony neared, we were reminded over the microphone to make sure to pick up our student's graduation cap before we left (a construction paper version that was taped to the wall). Pen got a confused look on her face and said, "Why are they giving them a graduation cat?" I about died laughing. Cap, Pen, CAP.

We've been cracking jokes about it ever since. And then, while Pen was sitting next to me on the couch the other day, I ran across a funny story online. It was about a woman who ordered a cake with her daughter's picture on it for high school graduation. Apparently, when she requested of the young bakery worker that maybe they could draw a cap on her head with icing, the kid got a kinda weird look on his face. Gee, I wonder why...

I showed it to Pen and we both totally cracked up. I'm absolutely gonna order that for Pen when she graduates in a few years. No question. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

All About Dad

Father's Day was a really low-key affair this year (sorry, Honey). I was a little spaced out when it came to what day of the week it was and so ended up making his special Father's Day breakfast of puffed pancakes a day early. That just meant he could request steel cut oats for the actual Father's Day the next day. Lucky duck. We were invited to Rophone's Dad's house for dinner and it was so great to spend some much-needed time with them. 

The one thing I did make sure to do for Father's Day was have the kids fill out a questionnaire about their dad like they did for me on Mother's Day. I think it's fun to see their answers.

Edith does an amazingly good job of answering the questions-- her answers are pretty spot on. You're right, Edith, your daddy is getting really good at Scrabble. 

Big said that I "never" laugh, and said he doesn't know when Rophone laughs... guess we'd better laugh more with Big. 

I totally wasn't surprised that Bud said his favorite thing to do with Rophone is "go shopping". The kid is a clothes horse and Rophone is a softie-- a match made in heaven!
Those brown eyes get him every time...

Ginger is the second kid to give a shout out to Rophone's french toast. It's true, the dash of cinnamon he adds puts it over the top.

There are many things to love about Pen. Clearly, she needs a reminder of what those are. She knows her dad pretty well. 

Rophone is such a fantastic father to our kids-- I really couldn't ask for anyone better. I love him and, obviously, so do they. Happy Father's Day, Rophone! We're so glad you're ours!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Collector

The trail that we frequent the most on our hikes is in a very rocky canyon. It's super close to home, so its proximity allows us to go several times a week. I always let Edith out of the backpack for a bit so she can explore, but it's still pretty tough for her to scale the rocky terrain. Because of this she has developed a routine. A super cute routine. 

While the other kids climb around, Edith sits on a special big rock she has chosen and starts to place littler rocks she thinks are pretty on the boulder's open surface around her. She started doing this a few weeks ago, and every time we've gone hiking her rocks are sitting there, undisturbed, waiting for her to add to her collection. 

Edith was so happy to show her collection to Ginger today and tried to convince her sister to start a collection of her own, but you can tell that Ginger just doesn't get the mania. 

(Being a bit of a rock-collecter myself, well...we can talk about how crazy she is and how much she's missing out on when we're looking for rocks together. Okay, Edith?)

Seriously, it's so cute to watch Edith gather the rocks she likes and to hear her tell about why she thinks they should become a part of her collection. "This is pretty and pink.", "This one is sparkly." ,"This rock is huuuge!", or "Look, Mom! A triangle!" Then she finds just the right spot on her boulder to place the new addition.

Edith loves rocks. And I mean loves them. Not just a little bit. See?

I could watch her gather rocks for hours. Look how happy she is! And cute! (Yeah, I know I've mentioned how cute it is but, come on!)

There's a slight problem, though. Edith's collection is starting to outgrow her storage space.

Looks like next time we're up in the canyon we'll be searching for a new, bigger boulder where Edith can park her collection. It's not the kind of thing we really have the proper display space for at home. I do let Edith bring home a little rock she finds particularly nice each time we hike, however. Most of them have gotten lost as she carries them around, but she's combined a few of the rocks with the other item she collects. 

I'm sure the collection will just keep growing in size. Especially considering the fact that she awoke, sobbing, from her nap today, distressed about a pretty rock that she had left in the canyon and had meant to bring home.  The barrettes are easy to come by, too. 

I love your collection, Edith. It's beautiful.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Chore Chart

Rophone and I have been meaning to get a chore chart organized for, like, forever. We used chore sticks in the past, and those were good, but now that the kids are older I felt like we needed a more consistent system. One where the everyday expectations of the kids were clear. I wasn't getting the support or consistent help I needed as a Mom trying to run a household of seven. Quite frankly, I was traveling pedal to the metal toward Crazytown and the car had plenty of gas.

Things kind of reached a head right before Mother's Day (due to many reasons) and a MOMumental breakdown occurred. Thankfully, Rophone experienced an epiphany and got me the perfect gift to celebrate. I know most women would have been angry or disappointed to receive the makings of a new chore chart system, but I was overjoyed. Not only because of the chart, but because of the support that he gave along with it. He took the lead and let the kids know that they'd better get ready for a new normal and explained to them how it was all going to work. Priceless. 

It took a few weeks for me to blog about it, because I kinda wanted to see how well it would work. Can I just say I think it's the best gift ever? We're going to tweak the system a little as we go along, but so far the chore chart has been life changing. I"m not going to say that the kids don't complain when it comes to helping out, but they complain less. I think having exactly what they're supposed to do to help each day outlined on the board keeps them from feeling like they're being blindsided by requests. 

Each room has been assigned to a kid (or two) to be cleaned at the end of each day (along with bedrooms). Each day has a Kitchen Captain and a Kitchen Helper. Laundry and changing of sheets is assigned. Even shower nights are assigned. We have more extensive chores listed for Fridays and every Saturday morning is spent doing a little yard work. 

I am naturally a very organized person, but unfortunately the kids can't see the little chart I have in my head of what needs to get done. I always know what needs to be done and when (and why it needs to happen when it does to facilitate other things getting done), but I think the kids just felt like I was throwing things at them. Even if I gave them fair warning and let them know verbally what I needed from them for that day, it still felt like an annoying request that was vague in timeframe, pulling them away from more desired activities.

Now we just check the chart. Not that we don't need to remind them, and there are glitches, but it's right there in black and white blue. We don't pay them for the work they do (I kind of feel like if they live here and eat our food, they should do their part), but Ginger had the grand idea to put a "Bonus Chore" in the empty upper left hand corner. This is a chore that is in addition to their regular chores and is worth a little compensation. As soon as someone claims a bonus chore another is added in its place. Oh, and each kid is only allowed to claim one bonus chore per week. Great idea, Ginger!

Anyway, the chore chart isn't perfect but it's pretty darn great to have. Here's a photo:

I really can't believe how perfectly the whiteboard Rophone picked out fits in that space. It was clearly meant to be. After we got the chore chart installed, I decided that I needed another one to be able to write inspirational quotes on. Maybe to try to ensure the kids do their very best as they work.

I'm pretty sure the next quote I put up will say "Your mother is a person." Ha! Thanks for the chore chart, Rophone!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Phone Purge

I don't really miss writing Friday Favorites posts. Even though the idea behind it was to get me to pay attention to the great things in my life (which is a good thing), it was really getting to be kind of a drag. I didn't like how I was saving things up during the week to try to beef up my post instead of writing individual posts about events, and the pressure to write every Friday was getting annoying. Sometimes at the end of a long Friday, the realization that I still had to do my Friday Favorites made me want to cry. But, I felt compelled. That's why I dumped it.

The one thing I do miss about writing Friday Favorites every week is the opportunity to post random photos that I've taken. Photos that deserve to be included, but don't necessarily warrant their own post. Anyway, I've been neglectful and have a bunch of catching up to do. So, this post is just what it says it is-- a purging of my phone photos with explanations. There are a lot, but hopefully I'll do this more often so I can keep up with documenting even the little things for the kids to look back on. I'm just not going to do it on a schedule.

Okay, let the purging begin...

I took this first photo on April 27th (see, I told you I had a lot of catching up to do). Even though it was just a few days after my gallbladder surgery I just had to snap it. It's not often that my boys play so well together. So cute.

In this next picture (April 29th), Edith was upset to find that her dad had deigned to go somewhere without her. They were pretty much constant companions while Rophone was off work to take care of things after the de-gallbaldder-ing. She angrily watched out the window for his return. Paparazzi hater.

I love this photo of Rophone playing Skip-Bo with the 3 youngest after church (May 5th). Rophone is such a good dad and Big is so totally his mini-me. The best.

I have been trying to be more relaxed in the kitchen and let the kids help more. Bud is so happy to be in the kitchen with me.

Sometimes I splurge and order an ice water from the drive-thru. I like to go to the same place every time because it's always served with a smile. Good customer service = repeat business.

On May 6th I caught a photo of Edith going down her favorite slide. The Daddy-slide. It cracks me up that she says "Wheeee! Whee!" as she scoots herself down inch by inch. I guess it must be a lot more fun than it seems.

I adore this photo of the kids enjoying rain. It makes the Oregonian in me smile. I get so flabbergasted around here when people say they can't do things because it's raining. Ummm... what? I'm so glad my kids seem to have some Oregonian in them, too.

On May 9th, the girls were being rather ornery all day-- every time we tried to ask them to do something we received some pretty nasty attitude in response. So, when we tried to get them to open their bedroom door to come to dinner and they snapped at us, we just left them. It was a lovely meal.

Still a paparazzi hater...

Edith did something so unlike her while I was getting ready for the day on May 14th. She explained that she thought it would look pretty, like tattoos, but was terribly disappointed that it didn't turn out as she had hoped. She asked me to wash it off. Who would have thought the two year old wants to be sleeved up?

We had a few dandelions in our backyard. After Big decided that blowing them was way more fun than obeying us and not blowing them (on several occasions-- he did it in secret), this is what you get. At least the photo is nice.

I am so glad that I'm raising Edith to appreciate green smoothies and good books. Perfect way to start the day.

I really can't believe how old Edith is starting to look. She's crossing the line between baby and kid, I can see it. Must be all of those good smoothies.

Can I just say how much I love it when kids fight over who gets to do a chore? Luckily splitting the kitchen in half is easier than splitting a baby. 

A few weeks ago, Bud started getting into Sudoku. He's a master.

I just had to take a picture of when Edith and I were playing together on May 20th. It was so cute how she kept accidentally calling my yak a "Zach". She was so embarrassed every time she misspoke. Adorable.

See what I mean about Edith straddling the line between baby and kid? Cute shopper.

Oh, and can I just add that my husband is totally hott? Totally.

There. That should just about bring us up to date. I'll try to be better about keeping up in the future.