Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Kids Are Getting So Big--what's getting easier and what's getting harder

It's just a year later, but it feels like we have seen some tremendous milestones in our kiddos this year. In so many ways, life is easier, but then again cloth or disposable used to be my biggest dilemma!



EASIER--
  • Everyone can buckle their own seat belt in the car.  And unbuckle themselves. It takes a bizarrely long time for this to happen, but it does happen.  
  • All six kids are old enough to handle a daily chore that ranges from loading/unloading the dishwasher to washing their own clothes, to vacuuming the living room. However, we are still working on quality control.  For example, if you happen to notice the new spots on my couch slipcovers, ask me about the crayons that ended up in the laundry.  
  • Rarely does anyone ask me to play with them because they all have a pretty close to same age companion.  This does not hurt my feelings.  I do not like to play with dolls, I do not like to color, and I do not like rolling cars around the living room.
  • Grace has become an amazing older sister!  She sat down last night and painted everything single fingernail in the house.  Often I find her reading to her baby sisters at bedtime.  She is sweet and patient and my dearest BFF!


  • They are becoming much less picky eaters. Some of them will even eat brussel sprouts!
  • And we can eat at a restaurant without drawing undue attention. Don't get me wrong, we still get stared at like crazy, but not because of broken dishes or spilled drinks (quite as often).
  • I can pretty much have a reasonable conversation with any of them about a lot of different things. Like farting. One of my boys can find a way to work in farting into pretty much any conversation.


  • We can almost have a family game night. We introduced the kids to Uno the other night and there was no bloodshed and only a little bit of crying (that might have come from Brian).
  • We can watch an entire family movie. And sometimes we can even watch it without spilling an entire bowl of popcorn.
  • Haven and I just finished a really hard 750 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I used to be a puzzle fanatic, but pretty much haven't done one that didn't include a princess or a super hero in almost 10 years. I am genuinely excited that one of my kids shares my love of jigsaw puzzles!

HARDER--
  • My kids have been fighting/bickering/arguing/tattling/and generally driving me crazy all summer long.  It has reached a fever pitch since we got back from our camping trip.  We are all suffering from some serious summer is over blues :(
  • They are all becoming emotionally much needier than they were just last year. Their very complex personalities are emerging, sometimes in really lovely ways, but sometimes in really hard ways. For instance, one of our kiddos has a tendency to flip into rages over really small things. They don't usually last too long, but when they are in full swing it is exhausting and makes everyone in the house really sad.

  • They are obsessed with their tablets and TV. Screen time is a daily argument.
  • They talk back. Probably something they learned on Nickelodeon or the Disney Channel!
  • They seem much messier than ever before. I think because they are bigger and each have more individual possessions. And their toys all have a gazillion pieces.  

  • My big girl is moving into puberty. And I think I am probably moving into menopause. Oh the mood swings. This will probably need to be it's own blog post.

Ages and stages.  And days, months, and years spinning by too quickly. I really struggle with my kids getting older. I want them right here, right now, forever. Wonder what the next year will bring?



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Last Day of Summer

Today was my last day of summer vacation.

My last sleep in.

My last morning to drink coffee in my jammies as long as I want...and then go back and have another cup.

My last bacon and eggs on toast...served around 10am.

My last long swim in the pool.

My last family movie night.

My last tuck in and cuddle and goodnight kiss before a very early morning that comes way too soon for a night owl like me.

I know, I know, this all sounds very melodramatic for those of you who aren't teachers. For those of you that don't spend all summer with your kids.  For those of you who have kids that you are eagerly sending off to school tomorrow.  Yes, I can still swim in the pool. Yes, I can still drink coffee in the morning. No, my kids aren't going to forget who I am by tomorrow afternoon.

But honestly, tonight will be one of the hardest nights of my year. Because leaving my kids tomorrow....holy smokes it sure is making me drip on my keyboard right now.


I guess I'd better get some sleep.  But first, one more round of goodnight kisses.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House

We just returned from our summer trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa.  We have mostly had a "stay-cation" this summer, but we had an opportunity to meet up with an aunt and cousin that Brian hasn't seen in years, so we loaded up the trailer and headed west to New Mexico.

First stop, Lake Arrowhead State Park.  In short, this was a campground I could definitely pass on next time.  The lake was swampy and gross, the bathrooms were scary, but there were prairie dogs. Freaky, in your face prairie dogs.







Next, we headed on to Ute Lake in Logan, New Mexico.  Something you might not know about New Mexico, there is only 1 tree for every million people.  And none of them are at Ute Lake State Park. It was HOT!  But there is a sweet cabin and a great lake for swimming and boating.  Plus, lots of relatives to play with. Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Cathy and Uncle Craig (the best playmates and jet ski drivers in the land), Great Aunt Jackie (the hippest Auntie you ever met), and the adorable Cousins Terri and Don.  The ladies painted every finger and toenail in the cabin, and the gentleman set up ninja courses and kiddie pools.  They altogether gave my kiddos one of their best vacations ever!














And then we started the long drive home.  We stopped for the night back at Grandma's house to do laundry and stock up on return trip provisions. Then we headed out on a sort of sentimental trip back in time for Brian and me.  We drove south and did a quick trip around our alma mater, Eastern New Mexico University. The campus looks really beautiful and things have definitely changed in 20+ years.  I only managed to take this one super lame photo.  For those of you that recognize it, it is the back of Bernalillo Hall, which they have turned into the Golden Library.  I was so excited looking at everything that I forgot to take photos!



Then after a long crazy drive down a barely paved road (beware the routes your phone map chooses for you) we arrived in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.  Many years ago, Brian and I fell in love with this tiny little village in the mountains.  So much so that we bought a plot of land in hopes of someday building a home.  But dreams change.  We moved far away from New Mexico, filled out house with kids, and tried like crazy to sell our land.  Any takers?










We haven't been able to sell it, so we decided to visit our little piece of mountain. It was definitely bitter sweet.  The land is still an amazing spot on the side of a mountain.  Quiet, serene, secluded. Gloriously cool, about 65 degrees the day we stayed.  But the community would be a terrible fit for our family.  First off, everyone there is white. Noticeably white, uncomfortably white.  We went to dinner (hoping to get some really good New Mexican food) and walked in the door to a crowded cafe.  People almost always stop and stare when we walk into any restaurant because of the sheer number of us, but these people did that sort of stare that you really feel. The kind of stare where when you make eye contact and smile, they don't smile back. Everyone there is also on the downhill side of old.  It has the feel of a retirement community. So I guess we will have to daydream about something else, because Cloudcroft, New Mexico has been crossed off our list.











After one night in Cloudcroft, we headed back to Texas. And I failed to take any more pictures. Oops!  We stayed one night at Balmorhea State Park.  It was so cool.  It is in the middle of nowhere, in the hottest, loneliest part of I-10. The campground is great and the park has a gigantic natural spring fed swimming pool.  It is 20 feet deep in some spots and filled with fish! So many fish that one swam right into Haven's mouth.

Our last night on the road was at South Llano River State Park. Not as bad as Lake Arrowhead, but not worth a return trip.  It is supposed to be a popular river floating park, but we like Pedernales Falls State Park way better. It took us an unreasonable amount of time down a poorly marked trail to finally reach water that was sort of warm and murky.  But we skipped a lot of rocks and watched Sing in the trailer before bed (thanks Aunt Cathy), so all in all, not a bad day.

And then we got home.  We did laundry for about 72 hours straight, took several naps and the whole household is suffering from a bit of post trip depression.  I have it the worst.  Summer is on the downhill slide.  I'm running out of days for sleeping in and staying up late. For movie nights and snuggling on the couch. For staying in my pj's and sewing all day long.  For one more camp out.  So sad to see summer go.


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