Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! It feels really odd to be saying that after getting 6 inches of snow on Saturday. Yes, snow. We're used to not having to wear jackets trick-or-treating, but this year we'll be bundled up. Happily everyone's costumes will accommodate that this year. So LAST weekend we went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and WOW that was fun! A beautiful woodsy setting, good food, good drink (hard cider - YUM!) and fun stuff for the kids - although Matt joked that every time he turned around he was pulling a $20 from his wallet.
I love me some historical costumes, and I really enjoyed checking out what everyone was wearing. Now this being a Renaissance festival, you'd think that'd be how most people dressed - NOT TRUE!

While there were plenty of people walking around in period costumes - such as this $1500 beauty I was lusting after:
- there were plenty of other people walking around in all kinds of different stuff - Victorian, Fairy costumes, goth, steam punk, and yes there was even a little boy in an Iron Man costume.
There were tons of shops willing to take your money in exchange for something fantastic....
...and an archery demonstration. Evie is now pestering Matt for a bow and arrow - I'm not sure how I feel about that.

While we waited for jousting to start, Matt saved seats while I took the boys to the armory for swords and shields - wooden, of course.

These fine fellows got the crowd riled up to cheer for our respective knights...

...and the jousting began. I can't imagine trying to move in all that armor, and it was kind of amazing to watch these guys thundering towards each other holding a lance.

We had ice cream, went on pony rides, and did some rock climbing...

We all agreed we had a great time, and can't wait to go back next year :)
Sarah asked me last week how people are able to talk. I explained that we have vocal chords in our neck that make sound when air passes over them - she thought about that for a minute and said, so we're electric?? I love how little minds connect things together :)
Halloween is Matt's favorite holiday & we're almost all set for tonight - just some last minute prep, candles to light and costumes to don! You do dress up, right? Hopefully I'll get some decent pictures to share and we won't freeze our tushies off tonight. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Evie enters the double-digits...

I'm not sure how it's possible, but we now have a 10 year old. Wow. I find it really hard to believe that so much time has passed since I woke up in the middle of the night, not sure if we were about to have a baby or not. Evie came barreling into the world at 6:08am after 40 minutes of pushing. My doctor arrived just in time to catch her, as we'd only gotten to the hospital at about 4:30am or so - no pain killers for me that time! Her arrival is clearly burned in my memory, whereas the other 3 sort of blend together - much less drama associated with their arrival all around.
Evie's really turning out to be a great kid - mostly polite and helpful, conscientious about schoolwork, and lots of fun to be around. She talks a lot, and there's so much going on inside her head that she loves to share - the house is definitely much quieter when Evie's not around, there is a noticeable difference in the energy level around here and her absence is obvious.
So LAST YEAR Evie picked out the cake she wanted from the Cake Bible - the Blueberry Swan Lake cake. I think I'm going to throw the Cake Bible away so the other kids don't get any bright ideas. This thing took me most of Sunday afternoon to put together - we were out of the house all day Saturday, and it's just a cake, right? The cake itself went together easily enough - but the frosting was a big disappointment, and the blueberry topping that was supposed to be thick and create a 'lake-like' layer on top never gelled. This is not the first cake I've tried from that book, but it might be the last - I have better luck with recipes I find on the internet. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and Evie was happy, so that's what's important. Moving on!
Evie had made a birthday list right after William's birthday. Then she revised it. Then she revised it again. And after Sarah's birthday, she revised it again. And again, after I told her I was not buying her any more stuffed animals - EVER. She got a few things on her list, and I was able to surprise her with a few things...
My Harry Potter lover now can wear the Gryffindor crest with pride...
And go figure - a latch hook kit doesn't come with a hook! Guess I'll be swinging by the craft store (again) so she can start yet another project. Maybe one of them will get finished some day :)
The one thing she was really hoping for was a pair of rollerblades, and Dad picked out the perfect pair for her - I think she's pretty excited :)
Happy Birthday Evie! I can't wait to see what the next 10 years brings your way :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

The kids are spoiled, and the blame lies squarely on the people we see in the mirror every morning. This was an interesting weekend, with a lot of attitude from 3 out of 4 kids - I'm not naming names, but the Princess was in rare form, the Hot Mess seemed to devolve 3 years, and one of them seems more and more to be approaching the wicked teenage years - WOW I'm not looking forward to more of that...
Remember Bob the TV timer? Each kid got a block of time to use on the TV, and after time was up Bob would shut off the power? The kids hated Bob, until they figured out how to work the system - they were using all their time to play Lego Playstation games together - when Jason's time was up, Sarah would put in her code, and so on, until they were all still sitting there for hours on end.
Well - we've woken up to that, and will be making some changes - Bob allows you to block out specific hours during the day where it won't turn on - I'd already programmed it so they couldn't turn the TV on before school during the week, but I think we'll be adding blocks for after school and weekend hours as well, because between the four of them that thing seems to be on all the time again, and they've forgotten how to play without it. And when Bob time is up, they want to play games on the computer, or my phone, or as Jason puts it, "something electronical".
Evie I don't mind so much - Evie's busy with activities to the point where she doesn't really have a lot of time to sit and watch tv, and even if she is, she usually has a drawing book in front of her or she works on her cross-stitching, but Evie's also always been that way about tv - rarely would she just sit and stare at it. Evie's also happy to go outside and play, whereas the others? When I do get fed up and shoo them all outside, more often than not I turn around after 10 minutes and the younger 3 have disappeared back inside on me - Sarah doesn't like to be 'too hot'; Sarah and William get annoyed by bugs, and Jason wants to be wherever Sarah and William are.
I'm trying to turn over a new leaf be better about planning things to do with the kids; on Saturday they painted fall pictures for the frames I have in the kitchen, and on Sunday we went the farmer's market to pick out pumpkins for carving later; then we came back and painted the little pumpkins from the pumpkin patch last weekend.
This is a challenge for me, because I find dealing with the four of them similar to trying to stuff cats into a bag. Tracking them all down and getting them into shoes and into the van to go anywhere can sometimes take forever, and with projects Sarah and Jason can still demand a lot of help sometimes, if they don't think they can or don't want to do something themselves - happily, that wasn't the case this weekend, Jason painted some fabulous watercolors and painted his little pumpkin green, all by himself :)
Matt was really frustrated with the kids on Sunday - he finds Sundays rough because he heads into the office on Mondays, which means catching the bus at 6am, which means leaving the house at I-have-no-idea-what-time - I'm always asleep :) So he has a hard time relaxing on Sunday afternoons because for him the weekend is over and he's ramping up to an early bedtime and Monday morning. We had a long discussion about how no, the neighbor's kids are NOT like ours and that's how they're able to go everywhere and seemingly do everything together with no strife. I pointed out that our kids are mostly well-behaved in public, and that I'm sure people wonder how we manage it all - no one sees what goes on behind closed doors, and yes there's a reason why our windows are usually closed (stinkbugs and fruit flies being only a part of that...)
We're trying - that's all you can do, really, right? Try to be the best person and parent you can, while still maintaining a sense of self; I'm all too aware, as Evie turns 10 this coming Sunday, of how swiftly time flies - it always hits me at this time of year as we celebrate all the kids' birthday from late August to early November, another year has flown by - and we won't always be dealing with little-kid nonsense - the BIG KID NONSENSE is just down the road :)
I'm just happy for moments like these, where everyone pretty much gets along, and enjoys each others' company - and I have pictures to prove it actually happened :) Happy Monday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dreaming of a getaway - Friday Daydreaming 10.14.11

In December Matt and I will have been married for 14 years; we've had kids for the past 10. In all that time, we've managed to get away alone, overnight once. For one night. How sad is that? That's the price you pay for living far away from family, and for having 4 kids in 6 years - it has only recently felt like we could go away for a few days, but again, there's that whole 'who's going to watch the kids?' question.

After seeing it featured on House Hunters International, I've been dreaming about going to Costa Rica, specifically to the  Red Palm Villas. This looks like a place tailored for us to get away and escape for a week - they have adventures for Matt - zip lining through the jungle, scuba diving, snorkeling & surfing, and yoga on the beach for me - assuming I want to do anything other than sit in a chair :)

Airfare from where we are is really reasonable, I think about half of what it would cost to fly to California, if you can believe that, and the resort prices are pretty reasonable too - especially since we're used to paying for 6 people while traveling, and this would be just TWO :) I'm really, really hoping we can swing a trip here for our 15th anniversary next year - Matt says he's on board, so now I just have to find someone crazy enough to watch our kids for a week - talk about a daydream :)
Becca at R We There Yet Mom? hosts a great linky every Friday as a place to post your vacation stories or dreams about places you like to visit - click on the link, see what others are dreaming about, and do some daydreaming of your own :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A happy break from the routine.

Sometimes nice weekends pop up and surprise you - Columbus Day weekend was one of those for us. It finally stopped raining and was warm and sunny enough to spend some time comfortably outside. Of course - Saturday started out a little crazy, Evie and Coach Matt had a soccer game at 9am & since it wasn't pouring last week, I dragged the other three along, with our camp chairs. Could have just left the chairs behind for all the sitting we did, the soccer field is right next to a playground, and while I let the smaller 3 go off and play, it wasn't long before I turned to see William playing tug-of-war with another boy over an 8 foot long 'stick'. Apparently the other boy didn't think William should have it. While I agreed with him, I didn't necessarily think it was HIS place to remove it from William's hands.Of course I forgot the camera in the hustle to get out of the house and hence have no pictures of the only soccer game I've managed to see so far....

William's baseball game at 5 was also the first I've seen this season - again, no pictures, I stink - and after that we headed to a friend's house for a late dinner. You'd think taking the 4 to someone's house for dinner at 7pm is a bad idea - I know I was having second thoughts - but we all really had a fabulous time - good food & drink, wonderful conversation, and a beautiful night for a meal out on the patio all decked out for Halloween - thank you Mary for a terrific evening!

Of course - you pay for late nights like that with kids, and some small people were grumpy the next day - but not Jason, he slept in until almost 11am - never have I seen one of our kids do that, ever, no matter how late they stay up. We hung around the house until mid-afternoon and then headed out to Family Fun Day at Mackintosh Farm - the PTO arranged for the elementary school to have a 2 hour block of fun for free, including a hay-ride to the corn maze & a small pumpkin to take home.
Sunday was one of those perfect fall days - bright, sunny, and warm enough to be comfortable but not too hot - ok maybe it was a little warm wandering around the corn maze trying to find the exit, and we didn't bring drinks for anyone and they started fussing about halfway through - but it really was a nice day :)

Jason swore up and down he'd been here before (not true) but Jason also swears that the neighbor kids snuck into his room Saturday night and flushed his Mazin' Hamster Presto down the toilet, and that's why he can't find it (I seriously doubt this is true, but nonetheless Presto is missing....) Once we made it out of the corn maze, the kids all picked out their pumpkins and we walked back to the store for some sweet tea and soft pumpkin ice cream :)

Jason insisted he didn't want ice cream, he wanted an apple - go figure. Matt kept asking him for a bite & he refused, and then he offered one to me :) Stinker! Jason did eventually abandon the apple for some pumpkin ice cream.

Afterwords we ran an errand or two, and then on a whim drove into town to hunt down dinner. We ended up eating outdoors at a brew pub, and it really was just a wonderful family afternoon together - which we really needed, as there's been much bickering and crying lately - you think you get one kid more mature for a bit and then they devolve right before your eyes and you wonder what the hell happened. Baby steps - I need to remember that...

I tell you, they're all getting so big right before my very eyes, I'm very grateful for days like we had on Sunday, one of those happy little breaks where you don't really have any big plans and everyone actually gets along and you can enjoy each other's company - because it's an awful lot of work getting from the beginning of the day to the end, with all the must-do's crammed in there somehow, and a lot of times it feels really thankless - Sunday reminded me of why we do it. I needed that.

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