Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Slow Month Here at the Zoo...I Mean House

By the time we returned from our trip, there wasn't much more to do this summer. It's been a slow month. I'm just fine with that, though.

We had some fun on the 4th watching fireworks. Pretty and Snort were most impressed. The Beast just wanted to know if he could have something to eat. Figures.

I guess there have been a few little highlights here and there.

The Practically Perfect Playdate
I didn't think it was possible to have extra human children in my home and not have the walls fall down. I pictured weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, toys flying into lands so far away that we never see them again, noises that send UFO researchers running to our area to identify them, and a mess that can only be described with a loud and terrified scream. Sounds like the average playdate, right?

I'm pleased to announce that I was pleasantly mistaken. Number One has been wanting to get together with his good friend, J, ever since summer started. These two are just days apart in age and have been friends since pre-school when they were two. J has never been a difficult kid, but sometimes together they could get noisy or rough or exclude the Beast or whatever. It is summer, though, so I agreed that J could come over one afternoon and stay until dinner time.

Oh. My. GOSH!!! What a great day it was. All the kids played nicely together while I made lunch. Seriously. ALL of them. Even Beast and Pretty got to join in. (Thank goodness I have enough swords and light sabers to go around. Those are vital.) They all ate lunch, and not one bit got stuck to my ceilings. After lunch, Pretty took a nap and the Beast played on the computer, probably downloading porn or something. (Just kidding! I have a computer monitor with strict blocks set up). Anyway, Number One and J just played and played and played. There was no arguing, no running in the house, no FBI agents at my door. It was a very peaceful day.

Eventually they decided that it was hot and that they needed to run through the sprinkler. Who can argue with that? I think they washed a corner of my van, too. (Hey! A corner is good. Beggers can't be choosers, people).

J was beyond polite using his yes, ma'am and please and thank you. I called his mom the next day to check on him thinking he might be sick and have died of the plague overnight as that is the only thing that could have explained this amazing behavior. Nope! Alive and well with not even a fever or runny nose.

I'm thinking I'll have to invite J for another playdate soon. There is still almost a whole month before school starts again.

Pretty Turns Two
Pretty turned two last week! I can't even believe she's that old. She is delighted with her two new baby buggies and the babies that go in them. Marlene even made a dress for her and a matching one for her babies. She's very proud to carry her babies everywhere she goes. And I do mean everywhere.

We had a nice small party for her. I got some little inflatable pools and let the kids have at it. The King was in charge of pictures and took mostly video. Due to the fact that I look like a slowly dying beached whale in the videos, I'm unwilling to post them, but I will post the couple decent pictures that are there.

I'm proud of my Pretty girl. She's getting so big, and loves to do everything just like her big brothers do. She loves to run and scream through the house, love on her little brother (a little too much, but who's really counting anyway?), munch on bananas all day long, play with friends, "talk" on the phone, build high towers with the jumbo legos, and cuddle with her daddy. She is the ULTIMATE daddy's girl.

Hey! I'm a Nephite!

The Beast came running out of his room on Sunday looking like this. Apparently he'd learned something about the Nephites and Lamanites at church that day. He promptly informed me that he was a Nephite, so I just had to take a picture. Luckily I took a picture only from the waiste up. It wasn't until after I took the picture that I realized that he was totally naked from there down. You can only imagine where his Nephite head dress came from.

So, there you have it folks. Not too much to add from our neck of the woods. And, honestly, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Heard in the Back of My Van

Beast: Whoa! What is that???
Number One: It's very rare. I found it in my pants.
Beast: Wow! Did you take it out of mine?

Those who know me know that my mind went straight to the gutter after this conversation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

6 Documented Cases...Well, Make That 7

The Lord, in His great wisdom, has consistantly shown His sense of humor through the children He gives me. They all come with some kind of weird quirk. Number One has had eczema and food allergies since birth. We won't talk about the Beast. He wouldn't hear us anyway. Pretty couldn't break down anti-biotics, so they ate away at her gut causing her to need special formula as a baby. She got over that, and now her only quirk is deviousness. And then there's Snort. He is awfully young to have glasses. But, he's not the first baby to wear glasses, so it's no biggie, right? That's what we thought anyway. Just consider it one more joke the Lord is playing on us.

Today, the joke went one step further. I took Snort for his three month vision check-up. He's had his glasses for a couple of months now, and the dr. wants to monitor him to see how he's doing. I wasn't surprised that he wanted to see Snort every three months because I remember him mentioning in passing that it was pretty unusual to see a baby as young as he was with his kind of vision troubles. That didn't surprise me, though. Did you read the first paragraph about the "quirks" my kids come with??? Yeah, not surprising that Snort would have something a little unusual, too.

Anyway, so the dr. did the exam and confirmed that his vision has a problem that would be corrected with lenses and not surgery (YAY!!!!). When he was done with the exam, he said he'd be taking some pictures. Okay, that's fine. Lots of dr's keep pictures of their patients on file. In he comes with his camera and starts snapping away. He took pictures with glasses on, glasses off, even pictures of his file. I still sat there, and didn't think much of it. That's when the dr. hit me with the following statement: "I'm taking all these pictures because the vision troubles your baby has has only been documented in six other cases. We see it frequently in children over 2 1/2, but never this young".

You read that right, people. Once again, the Lord has hit me with a quirky kid. Only this time, he's so quirky that there is almost no one on the planet like him. Nice. Very nice. We're starting to call him Double Eye Seven. (Get it? He's the seventh documented case.)

*Sigh* I can only imagine what the baby I'm carrying will bring us. Maybe s/he will usher in the return of the Bubonic Plague.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Things You Can Only Learn in a Children's Museum

So,I have a really good friend who runs our local children's museum. It's a great little museum, and the year-round family pass we purchased has been worth every single penny. My kids love going to climb on the giant pirate ship, using the oversized toothbrushes to do "oral surgery" on unfortunate and unsuspecting stuffed animals, and looking at all the cool critters that live there.

There is a ton more to do there, but I generally spend my time just keeping Pretty from letting the animals out, torturing other kids, or breaking her neck nose diving off the climbing wall. In other words, it's not like I get to do much playing there.

Anyway, like I said, my friend runs the museum. Her job is to make sure the animals are fed, parties are booked, exhibits are cared for, etc. She secured a grant to get some summer help from a local college. All but one of the students helping her are girls. Lots of estrogen runs through that place.

This past week, she got a call from one of her summer helpers that the ball python appeared to have legs sticking out from underneath him. After some research, they learned that snakes don't have legs (well, that wasn't much of a surprise), but instead that their "boy parts" appear to have two prongs that will stick out when the snake is aroused.

Here's where it gets really funny. The ladies asked the vet about why it would suddenly be that the snake was showing off his manhood. The vet asked a few questions, and then gave his answer. Snakes are able to sense pheromones, even from humans. Since all but one staff member at the museum are female and they were all on the same cycle, the snake was falling in love and ready to mate. Yep! You read it here first, people. The children's museum snake is all hot and bothered by his human handlers.

And that, my friends, is something that you can only learn at a children's museum.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gosh Darn Mushy Gooshy Pregnant Hormones!

You know, if someone is going to post something heart wrenching on YouTube, the least they could do is put some sort of disclaimer suggesting that pregnant women not watch unless they want to be forced to go running to take out stock in the Kleenex company.

I don't tend to be that outwardly emotional, except to people who know me really well. It's a whole other ball game when I'm pregnant, though. Sheesh! What do I not cry about? They get new apples at Wal-Mart, and I'm just so touched by it that I can't help but well up with tears. A new bird builds a nest in my poison ivy vine and I find it to be so amazing that any creature can be at peace there that I must take a moment to soak it all in. Gag!!! What is wrong with me??? Oh, I remember. I'm knocked up. Again.

So, I couldn't sleep tonight and decided to watch some videos from America's Got Talent on YouTube. What happens? A sweet little kid gets up and sings a song. I'm all gooey mushy over it. Some trio gets up with a Russian stick and does a cool routine. Again, I'm all mushy about it. Yuck! We won't even talk about the guy who sang "Walking in Memphis" or the opera guy or the violin players. I didn't get too worked up over the Brittany Spears impersonator, but maybe I was having a better moment at that time...or I just don't like Brittany that much...or both. Who knows? We won't even discuss what happened when I watched The Bachelorette season finale. I'm still not sure she chose the right guy, but who cares? He made her eyes twinkle, and that made me all sappy again.

Surely there is a cure for this problem in pregnant women. Surely there aren't millions of knocked up chicks out there just crying at the drop of a hat because their hormones are all whacked out. Or maybe there are. I don't know, but this has got to stop. I prefer people to believe I have ice running through my veins. What will the mushiness do for my image?!? Dang! I'm getting all mushy again. I just saw my two cats cuddling, and that did me in.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Our New England Vacation

So, we decided to take a family trip to New England. My parents (who are really my grandparents) hadn't seen any of us in almost six years. So, they've basically met Number One, but none of the other kids. I felt strongly that it was time we take the kids to see my side of the family. While it was quite the adventure, it was definately a good one. We made memories to last a lifetime. So, here come the details. Get yourself some popcorn and a drink. You may be here for a while.

Day One-Just Flying In

One should take it as a sign that things are going to when just arriving at the airport to catch your flight is a challenge. Between finding parking, getting through security without getting arrested, and finding our terminal, I already felt like we'd had a trip and a half. We won't talk about how the King felt about it. Here's what it looked like while we were at the airport. It should have been a sign...but it wasn't.

Actually, I have to say that the first flight went really well. Pretty sat nicely in her seat and watched out the window. Snort sat on my lap and wiggled a little, but nothing I couldn't handle. The Beast and Number One sat quietly across the aisle with their dad eating their snacks, and reading their books. It was all really very civilized.

Then, came the connecting flight. We got on the plane, and they informed us that the weather in Newark was bad and we'd be delayed. So, we all had to get off the plane. I used this as a time to get the kids something to eat and let them wiggle a little bit. Finally, we got back on the plane and took off. Immediately, Pretty began screaming. And screaming. And screaming. Can you guess what she did for the entire flight? Yes. She screamed. It was delightful. And Number One kept accidentally bumping his feet on the seat in front of him (not that there is really any leg room anyway), so the guy in that seat got grumpy with him. Whatever, pal. You try traveling with four kids and a knocked up wife and see how well that works for you. It didn't help that the airport was running way behind so we got stuck in a "holding pattern" for an extra 40 minutes. Did I mention that Pretty cried the whole stinking flight?

We finally arrived, and Aunt Sue was there to meet us. Hooray for Aunt Sue!!!! We all loaded into her amazing van that fit us all and our luggage with room to spare (I'm coveting that van now), and off we went. She took a wrong turn somehow and we wound up in New York City. Since we were there, she gave the King a tour. He'd always wanted to go, but was too scared. He has since changed his mind, and says he'd love to go someday...without the kids, of course.

Number One was excited to see the Statue of Liberty. We tried to get her to turn for us to get a better picture, but I guess she was being stubborn that day.

Day Two-Meeting the Family
Day two of our trip was actually a little slower than the other days. We took the kids to Aunt Sue's house where Melissa and her daughter, Abby, were staying. The Beast really loved his cousin, Abby, and they played well together. Sue has a great pool, so we all opted to take advantage. It was so cold for us wimps, so we only stayed in for a little while.

Since there were a total of five kids, and Sue's house is less than kid friendly, we opted to go out to eat and kill some time. We picked up my other cousin, Christina, and headed off to Friendly's for lunch. We don't have a Friendly's where we live, so this was quite a treat for me. I am pleased to say they seated us in our own little room in the back. I don't know what tipped them off that we might need to be away from the rest of society. Surely it couldn't have been the five kids, four of which were under five years old, all climbing the walls and squealing loudly.

After lunch, we went to Goodwill. Why am I sharing such a silly little detail? Because New England Goodwills are AWESOME! I couldn't believe the children's clothes and shoes they had there with the tags still on them. Pretty, Snort, and the Beast all came away with some pretty good clothing scores. Number One and the King were thrilled to find some books to read.

That night, Aunt Sue suggested a great park in Cheshire that was safe, kid-friendly, and FUN. So, off we went. The kids had the best time ever. They asked to go back day after day, but we just didn't really have the time to do it.

Just as we arrived there, the ice cream man came. The Beast hadn't ever seen anything like it, and just had to try it out. Our neighbor had given him some money to spend on the trip, and he decided that he needed a Spider Man popsicle. Two bites later, he decided that Pretty needed it more than he did. Figures. But she thoroughly enjoyed it.

The park was really amazing, though. There was something for all the kids to do. From sandboxes, to swings, to clubhouses, to this wild spider web-lookin' thing, the kids were delighted to be there. Snort decided to go for a thrill ride (well thrills for him), and enjoyed swinging with me for a while. Pretty played in the dirt and spent a good deal of her time trying to steal toys from other children in the park. Apparently she lives by the "you snooze, you lose" motto. I don't live by that one, however, and made her return her stash of toys, bikes, snacks, and money. She was disappointed, but quickly turned her attention to stealing things from her own family. Number One climbed to the top of the spider web thing, which I think might have been 20 feet up or more. It was really high.

The Beast had other plans. He was intent on making new friends, and did so with gusto. Every time I turned around, he was bringing someone new to introduce to me. We stayed so long that it quickly became dark and all the other children went home. Apparently, he decided that he'd play with anyone he could find. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to befriend seven, yes SEVEN, gorgeous high school girls. I had no idea this was even going on. As I was loading him into the van, he cried and cried that he needed to say goodbye to his "girl". Rather than fighting him, I went to the fence and asked who had been playing with the kid with the hearing aids. None wanted to fess up until I said, "he's heartbroken because he didn't get to say goodbye to you", and ALL of them came running over. How the heck did he manage to get quality time with each of these girls?!?!! I'll never know.

They stood by the van and talked to the kids, mostly the Beast, for a good ten minutes before it really was time to go. I wanted to remember this one, though, and asked if they'd mind if I took a picture. The Beast hasn't stopped talking about "my new girls" (as if he ever had old ones), and looks at the picture frequently. I gave the girls this blog address. If any of you happen to read this, and would like to identify yourselves for me, that would be great. If not, I guess he'll continue to call you "my new girls". I should point out that he wanted to know why he wasn't allowed to bring the new girls to his "vacation house" (hotel room) and take a bath with them. That's not a talk I'm ready to have with him just yet.

Day Three-Lake Compounce
We had been promising the kids a trip to an amusement park. We were talking about Six Flags in our area, but it's so hot here and Six Flags is expensive. Then we found out that my cousin, Jeremy, worked at Lake Compounce. Thanks to him, we got in for half price, and had an AMAZING time. The weather was cool with a little rain, so there were almost no crowds. The kids really enjoyed themselves.

Number One was delighted to learn that he is finally tall enough for the thrill rides like the log flume and roller coasters. Since I'm knocked up, the King had to take him on all those rides. The King is a larger man and was incredibly sore after all those rides. I think he's still applying Ben Gay to his back side. But, he did a really great thing by taking Number One on all those bigger rides.

The Beast was just happy to be there. He rode every kid ride available to him, and especially liked shooting ghosts in the haunted house. And eating. The Beast was pleased to see how many places there were to get food and drinks.

Pretty took some time to figure out how it all worked, but then was really happy to be there. We had to laugh because Number One and the Beast wanted to win big lollipops from the stick game. You had to pull a stick out of the hole. If your stick was blank, you got a huge sucker. If you got a red stick, you got a medium prize. If your stick was blue, you got a really big prize. Guess who accidentally got a blue stick? Yep. That would be Pretty. She got a three foot long stuffed caterpillar. (Don't even ask me how we packed that sucker to come home. Just know it was a miracle.) The funny thing is that she cried and cried because she really just wanted a sucker like her brothers. So, we wound up paying for her to play again so we could hope to lose for her to get her sucker.

Snort was just happy to ride the merry-go-round. I think he enjoyed the cool breeze and being held. He was also pleased to ride the train around the lake.

All in all, it was a GREAT day. The kids were tired by the end, though. Note the picture of the Beast and Snort at the end of the day.

Day Four-Driving to Maine and Meeting Great Mum and Great Papa
Day four was pretty much just driving. I did all the driving since the King was still in so much pain from the rides at the amusement park. I didn't mind driving, though. Thank goodness the van had a built-in navigation system, though. We might have ended up in outer Mongolia somewhere otherwise.

The only trouble with making such a big drive with four kids is the constant need to poop, eat, change a diaper, wiggle around, ask if we're there yet, point out when siblings are looking at each other the wrong way, ask if we're there yet, cry, and ask if we're there yet. I think the next time we go on a long drive with any of our kids some sort of sedating medication might be involved.

My parents were so excited to see us when we got there. The kids all jumped out and immediately began investigating the place. There was the pile of sand, the kitchen full of gadgets and gizmos they'd never seen before, the stairs, the bookshelves full of pop-up books, the antiques just asking to be broken, and so much more.

Great Mum taught Number One and the Beast how to make biscuits for strawberry shortcake while Pretty immediately bonded to Great Papa, who she called "Boppa". She is still looking for him. They were truly two peas in a pod.

Snort just tried to take it all in. He's a laid back kind of guy who is usually just happy to be there. That was the case this time, too.

After the rest of the family got there, we all headed over to Shaw's Wharf for some seafood and fun. The kids loved seeing where the boats come in, watching seagulls steal food off people's plates, and running around on the deck. They inspected the lobster traps, took pictures in the clam and lobster cut-outs, and visited the gift shop to check out the orange lobster they had in there. Apparently being orange is good luck for a lobster as it means you're a tourist attraction and won't ever be eaten.

Later that night, Number One and the Beast caught fire flies and everyone enjoyed fireworks. Luckily it was a damp night, or I think someone would have burnt down the house and everything in a twenty mile radius. Those kids are wild with sparklers!

Day Five-Touring Maine
We were supposed to go to the beach on this day, but it was way too cold. I think it was in the 50's. Brrrrrrr!!! So, instead we toured around. We went to the penny candy store where the kids spent what felt like a century choosing their precious goods. The King got a root beer there and some new games, Snort got a dancing lobster toy, Pretty got a book about lobsters, and I don't really remember what Number One and the Beast got. I know they both got a good deal of candy, though.

Number One had been just itching to go fishing, so Uncle Marc took him fishing. He should get a gold star for how special he made Number One feel that day. They got to go fishing twice, and you'd think the kid had just gone to Disneyland. They caught several fish in total, and Number One was so proud to show them off. Uncle Marc told him that kissing your first fish would bring good fishing luck for life, so Number One proudly made out with his half-dead fish. Yuck!

Great Papa and Great Mum took the littler kids and us to see where the lobster boats come in. Pretty and the Beast thought it was so neat. They got to high five a live lobster. I was afraid they'd fall off the cliff, but Papa was very much in control of it all.

Later, we went down to Damariscotta with Papa and walked around there. We got some ornaments for our tree as we always do when we go on a trip. Number One got matching fishing ornaments for himself and Uncle Marc to remember their day by. I got the kids a gorgeous wooden advent calendar. Each day, they open another door, and will get a piece of candy out of it. It has a painting of Santa's sleigh ride over a wintry New England village. I'm excited to start that tradition.

That night, we ate lobster and burgers while the kids ran around like crazy people. Number One flirted all night with Jessica's friends, and the rest of us just wanted sleep. We finally got some much later on.

Day Six-Church, Pemaquid, and the Little Beach
The King had been invited to sing in my parents' ward, so we actually had to be at church on time. By some miracle, we made it just as the opening hymn was being sung. The King sang his song beautifully, and I think everyone enjoyed it. Pretty and Snort were in rare form, though, so we only stayed for the first hour of church. It was all I could do to survive that much.

The weather finally cleared, so we took the kids to see Pemaquid Lighthouse. It was too rocky for the babies, so they stayed in the van with Jessica while we took Number One and the Beast closer to the water. The Beast wasn't sure how much he liked the slippery rocks, but he felt better after his daddy helped him get his very own "cup of ocean". Number One enjoyed hunting for seashells. It was a truly beautiful area, and I couldn't help but enjoy taking pictures of the scenery around.

From Pemaquid, we headed over to Little Beach with Melissa and her family. Number One was delighted to play in the water, as was Pretty. The Beast enjoyed it, but was very upset to realize that he would get both wet and dirty at the beach. Apparently he hadn't gotten the memo. He did have fun with Abby trying to find shells.

Day Seven-The Long Drive Home and a Doctor Visit
We woke up bright and early to load the van and let the kids say their goodbyes. I hated to have to leave since the kids so loved being with their great-grandparents, but the ride back to CT would be long, and I knew it. So, we bid farewell and hit the road.

The drive was long, but the kids were able to watch some movies they'd borrowed from Jessica and Jeremy (thank goodness!!!). We made frequent potty stops and snack stops and stops to help keep me awake since I was still doing the driving due to the King's sore butt.

That night, we were scheduled to have dinner with Aunt Sue and Uncle Marc, but I came down with a horrible UTI. I thought I was going to die. I tried going to one Urgent Care, but they realized after they'd taken my urine sample that they can't treat pregnant women. So, they sent me with my urine sample to another Urgent Care thirty minutes away. There's nothing classier than driving around the state of Connecticut with a cup of your icky pee in a lovely white bag. I guess I should just be glad they gave me a bag to carry it in. Jessica was amazing, and took all four kids for me so I could go do that. Her parents were amazing, and tolerated my kids in their home that whole time. The doctor informed me that I really needed IV fluids, but I didn't have time for that since I wanted to get back to the kids. So, he let me watch it overnight if I promised to drink a lot and take the prescription he gave me. I did just that, and by some miracle, was feeling much better for the flight home the next day.

So, that was our trip. The ride to the airport the next morning and the flight home was relatively uneventful. I gave Pretty some Benedryl, so she was much more relaxed coming home. We're still exhausted from so much fun and traveling, but I don't think we'd have had it any other way. It was a really special time for us as a family and extended family.

Just for your viewing pleasure, here are a few more fun pictures from the trip. You'll have to forgive any duplicates. After all the hours it's taken to put this together, I can't remember what pictures I posted, and which ones I didn't.