Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Bummed...

Okay, I'm pretty bummed out tonight. Our cat Roxy is missing. She's this totally awesome tortoise shell calico that Afton saw at a shelter about 3 years. TOTALLY cool cat -- very social. We live in an area where coyotes run around in the late night/early mornings, so everyone who has cats keeps them indoors. Well, in THIS house...it is totally impossible to keep a cat inside. The front door, back door, garage door is always being opened by someone at least 50+ times a day. So try as we may, Roxy always manages to sneak out. She loves it outside and we can always find her across the street "staking out" the bushes where the wild rabbits hide. There are times when she's been out all night, but she always comes back and scratches on the door to get in. Or she will meow at the backdoor and I usually hear her and will let her in. Normally we get her in the house before it gets dark, but every once in a while she won't come when we call. But she always comes back.

So all day today Rich and I were very busy cleaning out our garage. It literally took us all day to do that. The kids played in the backyard while we did the garage. It was a super, super busy day, and I honestly didn't remember seeing Roxy anywhere, and didn't give it any thought until later tonight when I realized I hadn't seen her all day. Then I tried to remember the last time I saw her around here, and I couldn't remember. So I woke Afton up and asked her if she'd seen her cat today, and she sleepily replied "no" and said the last time she remembered seeing her was the day before at around 2pm! So that means she was out last night and no one knew. So...if she didn't come home last night, and we didn't see her all day today...and now it's 1:41am the next day and she hasn't come home yet.....well, that doesn't look good for Roxy :( So there's a very good chance a coyote got her.

Rich walked all around the neighborhood looking for her just an hour ago, with a flashlight. But no luck. He has to work tomorrow so I felt bad that he was out walking the neighborhood when he should be sleeping. When he came home I told him to just get to bed because she'll come back if she's going to come back -- there's really nothing we can do about it now.

So now everyone is sleeping, but I just can't sleep. If Roxy doesn't come back, I'm really going to miss that cat. She was so sweet! She hated Milo, though. That dog sure did pester her. Perhaps she went out looking for a more peaceful place to live? No...she loved us. She wouldn't do that!

No more cats for us, that's for sure. We had another cat a few years ago who snuck out of the house and a coyote got her. That was Sassy and she was a calico, too. She was an awesome cat. Nope, no more cats for us. It's just too hard to keep them inside, and cats love going outside. I have too many little ones to monitor all day long...and I can't be watching out every second for a cat who is ready and waiting to sneak out once a door is opened. And it's just not fair to the cat to have them in our neighborhood with all the coyotes around. So no more cats for us. Which is a bummer because all my life I have always had cats, and I love cats and I wanted my children to have cats as well. But like I said, it's not fair to have them in our area. I don't want to lose yet another to a coyote. I would hate the coyotes, but I feel bad for them, too...because the only reason they roam around our neighborhood is because developers keep building homes and tearing down the areas they live in. So what are they supposed to do for food? They hunt the wild rabbits up here (there are a ton of wild rabbits!!) and so every once in a while, if a cat is out, they are easy prey because they don't run like the rabbits do. They are easier to sneak up on and easier to catch.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Afton #3

This is Afton Kelly -- who we call #3 because of two reasons: that is her favorite number, and that is her birth order! This picture was taken just a few days ago in our backyard. She bought these sunglasses with her own money :) She is going to soccer camp this week, and I will miss her! She is a big- time soccer player and has been playing since she was 4 years old. Her jersey number has ALWAYS been the number three! Afton used to take ballet, too, and was quite good. But once she got recruited to play on a club soccer team, the time committment was too much and she had to make a choice between ballet and soccer. She picked soccer. I often wonder how far she would have taken ballet and dance...but there is just not enough time or money for both! Anyway, Afton has high aspirations and USC is her college of choice -- so we are hoping she gets a soccer scholarship to help out with that!! Afton is growing up so quickly and it's hard to believe that we only have 6 more years of her living here in our home ( because she's always said she wants to live on campus at her college!!) Time just goes by too quickly lately! My big kids are growing up! This makes me appreciate my little ones all that much more, because now I really know that they grow up too quickly! Afton and I have great talks lately, and I really enjoy that. She said not too long ago that she doesn't think she wants a big family when she grows up-- she said, "I'm thinking maybe 5 or 6 kids" and I said, "That's IS a big family, what are you talking about!" and she rolled her eyes and said, "Oh, five or six isn't that much!" Okay, that comment can only come from a child growing up with seven siblings!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Avery and her littlest brother

Avery is such a good big sister! She especially loves the babies! So far she has taken good care of A.J. as a baby, Aislynn as a baby, and now she loves to look after our youngest family member...Andrew! Avery is 6.5 years old now and she can help Andrew down the stairs (by putting him on her lap and going down one at a time), she can get him out of his crib, and she can change his diaper ( um...not the poop ones!)
In our backyard Avery will put Andrew in front of her and ride him all around the track. Andrew LOVES this and never wants to stop. He makes the "Vroom-Vrooooom" sound which means he wants to "ride"! It's so cute! My greatest joy is watching my children play together.



Friends

Every year we go on vacation with our good friends The Eisenhut Family :) We always go to Indian Wells, CA, which is near Palm Springs. The Eisenhuts have four children, and they are all best friends with our children. We used to live right nextdoor to them until the year 2002 when we both moved to different houses in different towns.


Here is Alex with Katelyn. They have ALWAYS been two peas in a pod, ever since they were toddlers. They even fight like brother and sister sometimes. But they play and play and play....until they both fall asleep from exhaustion. They have very similar personalities and for the most part that works well, but sometimes they clash. When they butt heads, it's usually Alex who gives in to Katelyn... just to keep the peace (he's learning young!!)


Here is the whole gang (minus Aislynn who refused to get in the picture!) So there are just 11 kids instead of 12. Top row from left: Avery, Michaela, Katelyn, Alex, Afton holding Andrew, Brennen, Tony holding A.J. Bottom row from the left: Audriana and Holly
Holly, Audriana and Afton are all best friends (well, Audriana and Afton fight quite a bit because they are sisters, but when the three of them get together, they are normally all best friends!!) Audriana just got her glasses for this trip and was getting used to wearing them. They look 50-ish style in my opinion, but they are the style of today (so they say) Audriana picked them out herself.
Oh my gosh...I love, love, love this picture of Avery and Michaela (who we've always called "Kay Kay" but lately she's been insisting we call her by her "real" name!) These two have always been the best of friends and we have so many cute pictures of the two of them growing up.
Although Tony is 4 years older than Brennen, these two get along great and are very close friends. When we lived nextdoor to each other, we used to have a gate inbetween our fences and the kids would always go back and forth all day long playing in each other's yards.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

I'm an Auntie again

Just a little after midnight today I got a phonecall -- and since today, July 14th, is my birthday, I just assumed it was my husband calling from work wishing me a happy birthday (calling at midnght so that he could be the first to say it to me) but instead of Rich, it was my sister in Austin, TX.

Here's how the phonecall went:

"Hello?" I said.

"Treene?" she said.

then a pause from me...

....and I said, "What?"

because I knew she couldn't have been waiting up just to wish me a Happy Birthday, afterall...there's a two hour time difference which would make it 2:00am over there. So right away I was guarded as to why she was calling me...because the only OTHER reason she'd be calling me this late would be to tell me that her baby had been born....and him being born on my birthday would be so crazy because we have been saying all these months that it would be so cool if the baby were born on my birthday. But I had just talked to her maybe 5 hours ago. She couldn't have had the baby inbetween that time! She wasn't even in labor when we hung up the phone.

Sure enough, she said, "I had the baby!!"

"You did???!!! Oh my gosh!! When?? Today? On my birthday??"

Just too good to be true!! A healthy little boy.

They named him Jason Robert.
He is 8 pounds 8 ounces and 22 inches.

I'm so excited!!

She called me right after he was born and he hadn't been weighed yet. He was born at home, so she had him in bed with her. He was still naked and they were skin-to-skin and I could hear him nursing in the background, and every now and then he'd let out a long, whiney cry....and oh the memories of those very first minutes with a newborn just came flooding back to me. Those first cries are just precious. I could hear that new-mom excitement in her voice, talking fast and telling me everything she could. And then stopping to talk to the baby whenever he'd start to fuss. There is just absolutely nothing on this earth more precious than those first few hours after a baby has been born, when you are cuddling skin-to-skin and discovering what your new baby looks like. Man, I love it so much.

I hate that I'm getting older. It means that my childbearing years are coming to an end. Today I am 38 years old. Thirty-eight! I certainly do not feel thirty-eight. And I look more like twenty-eight.... (ha! I wish. I'm just saying that right now to make myself feel better....afterall, today's my birthday!)

Anyway, I am soooo excited to be a new auntie! I am Auntie Trina now to Jacob and Jason (my sister Kelly's children) and I am "Aunt Trina" to Rich's two sister's children; Phillip, Miguel, Gabriel, Angelina, Kathleen and Yvonne. And I'm Aunt Trina to my half-sister, Theresa's children; Andrew and Noel.

BUT the only one who shares my birthday is little Jason...so he is my favorite! (shhhhh....let's just keep that between us!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME --- I'M A NEW AUNTIE !!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Crazy Day

Since Afton left her digital camera (which I use) in the van (which Rich took to work to get a new DVD player installed) I have no new pictures to post today. Oh well. I'll just have to write an entry this time, which as most of you who know me well know that this could get long, as I am a fast typer (thanks to my many years in court reporting school) and I have a lot to say (thanks to all that is always going on in my life with a husband, eight kids, a dog, a cat, fish and a horse!)

So tonight I hosted a jewelry party for a friend of mine. It was a "open house" kind of party where people would come at different times and "shop". There was beautiful silver jewelry displayed in my house and people could try the pieces on and place an order. I don't usually entertain, so a party like this is a stretch for me. The party started at 6:30 and ended (or was supposed to end) at 9:00pm. The party went very well, many friends showed up....so I'd say it was a success.

But what a crazy day I had getting ready for it.

Rich, of course, was working. And Tony (16) is gone visiting family, so my next biggest helper was gone, too (Rich being my first biggest helper!) The older girls helped me with babysitting while I went to Costco to buy food and supplies for the party, and also food for our household as we were getting very low! I was gone about an hour, and when I came home the house was a wreck! We spent all last night trying to clean it, and it looked pretty decent before I left for Costco. But in an hour that was all undone. I tried not to get angry with that, although it did put some pressure on me, but I'm sure the girls did the best that they could while I was gone. It isn't easy watching 5 children, 2 of which are babies! But they could tell by the look on my face that I was disappointed in the way the house looked, and without my even asking they all started to clean up. That was nice.

I took Afton to soccer practice at 5:45 and rushed home to get into the shower. I got into the shower at 6:10 (with Aislynn because she insisted on getting in with me) and was ready and back downstairs by 6:30. I clean up quick when I need to, luckily. My hair is so thin it dries in about 4 minutes with the blow dryer!

People started arriving for the party at 6:30. I tried to bribe all the kids to STAY UPSTAIRS while my guests were here. Yes, that lasted about....I'd say 15 minutes. Soon I was hearing, "mommy?" from the top of the stairs. When I would go to see what they wanted, they always wanted food. Figures. They had already eaten, and what I had downstairs was for the guests. But...to keep them from coming downstairs and to keep them quiet, I got a few plates of strawberries and whip cream, some crackers and cheese, some celery and carrott sticks with ranch dressing and some grapes and brought it up to the hungry pack. Then I went back downstairs to try to mingle with my guests.

Ten minutes later Aislynn is standing in the middle of the living room wearing nothing but a diaper. "Hi Mommy!" she says. I quickly scooped her up and carried her back upstairs. (remember, if one gets out then they all will break free....hey, that reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Breakfast Club, where Judd Nelson says, "Hey....how come Andrew gets to get up? If he gets up, we'll all get up -- it will be anarchy!") (okay, a trip back to the 80's there for a minute, sorry about that!)

Once I get Aislynn back upstairs she starts to whine and I know it's only a matter of seconds before that whine turns into a full blown cry -- or worse-- an Aislynn fit, which is not pretty and there's no recovering from. So I quickly say, "What? What do you want? Tell me." and she simply says, "I want Bob."

(sidenote: Once Aislynn stopped nursing she started taking a bottle, and she called her bottle "bob" because she couldn't say bottle. So it's been Bob ever since! Her favorite saying around here is "I want Bob.")

So I go back downstairs and quickly fill up a bottle of milk for her.

Back upstairs I go, only to hand it to her and see a very displeased look on her face and the whining starts in again.

"What?!! What's wrong now?" I ask.

And she simply says, "Ju Ju" which is her word for orange juice.

Ugh! I forgot to ask her what she would like IN her Bob. My mistake! So I try to play it off and tell her, "Milk is better right now....it's late. Just drink the milk." and her whining gets louder as she hears me say this, so I grab Bob and march back downstairs to get the Ju Ju. I have about 8 women in my house at this time, and all I keep doing is passing by them. I try not to get impatient. Afterall, Aislynn is just 2 years old. But I really want to talk with my friends, some of them came a long way to see me. And one lady is a new neighbor who just moved in and doesn't know anyone but me...so I wanted to be there to make her feel comfortable. But my time is spent going up and down the stairs catering to Aisy. Great.

So I get the Ju Ju in the Bob and go right back upstairs and hand it to Aisy, and she is happy. The house heaved a great big sigh -- yes, I heard it - and finally I go downstairs.

No sooner do I get down there and I hear Audriana (14) calling from the top of the stairs, "Mom! Don't forget Afton." and I look at the clock and it's already 7pm! Time to pick Afton up from soccer practice. Since Rich is at work and we do not have a carpool for this, I have to leave my own party to go pick up Afton from practice. So I make a brief explanation to my friends and dash out the door. Aislynn comes running down the stairs crying to come with me, so I scoop her up and put her in the car and we head off to pick Afton up.

Twenty minutes later I am back at home. And guess what? Five kids are downstairs eating the guest food. They broke free when the warden was away! I shuffle them all back upstairs and promise them a cookie if they stay up there. Afton carries Aisy upstairs for me, and I once again join my friends. I noticed there are some new people who arrived while I was gone, and I noticed one friend left while I was gone (but I knew she was leavning early so this didn't surprise me, but I felt bad I didn't get to say good-bye) I started a conversation up with my friend Ruth, who had driven about 40 minutes from her home to be here.

I'd say about15 minutes go by and I hear, "Mommy! Andrew's got a poop!" So I excuse myself once again and back upstairs I go. I change the baby and hand him off to one of the kids... and immediately he starts crying. So I take him back, put him on my hip, and head downstairs. So now I'm trying to mingle with a baby on my hip. I decided to put Andrew in his highchair and give him some crackers and cheese.

I'm free to mingle again!

It's now about 8:3 and A.J. sneaks downstairs while I'm busy talking with someone. Oh, the heck with it...I decide not to say anything to him and just let him be. Maybe he'll just fade into the background and people won't notice him.

Because I'm not saying anything to him, he pushes the envelope a bit further and gets his Legos out and dumps them right in the middle of the formal living room, and I look over at him and he gives me a look that says, I know what I'm doing is not what you would like...but are you going to do anything about it?

(A.J. has such a devilish look sometimes, it's so funny. He has this way of lifting his eyes up and rolling them up and out to the sides. Anyway, I decide not to say anything and let him be.)

I return his look with eyes that say to him, I'm watching you and you are treading on thin ice, buddy, so you better behave.

I let him be at this time because I feel we have a connection and a mutual understanding. He knows that I know he's there, and he knows I'm trusting him to play quietly. And I know he's thinking I'm a pretty cool mom at this point, and I know he will behave just because he knows that I am trusting him to be good. And he plays quietly for about 10 minutes.

Soon a friend comes with her two boys, ages 5 and 3. They are two blond cuties and quickly run upstairs to play with the other kids. A.J. -- curious now to see who these new kids are -- follows them, leaving behind his Legos on my living room floor.

Do I call him down to pick them up? Maybe I should have, but I didn't.

Do I clean it up myself? Nope. Just left it there on the floor.

I'm telling you, by this time I just didn't care. I figured everyone at my party knows me well, knows my life with all the kids, and seriously....what's a few Legos among friends?

So I go back into the kitchen and all over the floor are pieces of yellow cheddar cheese and a bunch of crackers. I look over at Andrew in his highchair, and he's giving me "the look" he gives when he knows he's thrown all his food down and he's going to get a reaction for that. It's all about 'cause and effect' for him lately.

So I said, "Uh oh...did you throw all your food on my floor?" and he smiles, and his smile just melts my heart every single time. And so I just step over the food and get him out of that chair, and now he's toddling around the place. I kick a few of the pieces of cheese and crackers under his highchair so that no one will step on them, and leave them be. Afterall, what's a little food on the floor among friends?

Now Andrew is running all over, and guess what? My friend's two boys and my boys are all downstairs. One starts playing with the Legos that are still on the living room floor, and the two-year-old starts playing the piano. Woo-Hoo...now we've got some live entertainment. Of course he's had years and years of piano lessons and so was very easy on the ears to listen to.

But did I care about that? Nope. He's having fun.

Aislynn comes downstairs at that point and is angry that the 2 year old is on "her" piano bench playing "her" piano. I explainto her that we need to share with our friends, and she furrows her brow and yells "NO" at the top of her lungs. (You just gotta love 2 year olds.) So I take her over to the dessert tray and quiet her with a brownie.

She's now walking around the house with a brownie that is crumbling all over my carpet.
Do I care? Nope.

I'm talking with friends, having a good time -- meanwhile my house is fallin apart, as ALL the kids are downstairs now. And ALL the strawberries and whip cream are gone in about 2 minutes when they attacked.

My friends are busy trying on jewelry and filling out order forms, and drinking wine.... no one seems to notice all these kids. There are 9 children downstairs --no, make that 10. Audriana's best friend Brooke is here, too-- so that's my seven plus three extras. All downstairs during my party.

Do I care at this point? Nope.

Okay...so 9:00 finally comes. There are two guests left and the jewelry consultant -- Heather - who was great during all this. I was worried that the chaos of my home would cause her not to have a good outcome at the party, but apparently things still went well.

At this point in time, Afton is beginning to give me grief because she was supposed to spend the night at a friend's house as soon as my party ended -- I was supposed to drive her over there as soon as the party ended, and I guess she expected to leave at EXACTLY 9:00. I could hear her quietly saying, "Mom....let's go!" and every now and then I would hear a heavy sigh coming from her. I finally shot her "the death eyes" and she stopped. My house was emply of guests at 9:45, and I took Afton to her friend's house, came home, bathed the little ones and put everyone to bed.

Even though it sounds like I spent most of my time chasing kids -- I really did have a nice time! I managed to visit with my friends, and everyone was busy visiting with each other. I could sit around and huff and puff about having to tend to the kids, but really...where would that get me? The FACT of the matter is that I DO have a house FULL of children. And entertaining at my house is hard because of that reason. Which is why I don't do it often! So on the rare occassions that I do entertain, my friends expect this kind of a party from me, because they know my life and how it is with all the kids.

And you know what? I do what I can do, and that's just the best I can do.

And considering I didn't have Rich's help with this, I think things went pretty good.

The key to it all is not to STRESS OUT! Just go with it...even if it's not going perfectly, just go with it.

And you have to know when to bend the rules a bit, and you have to know when to just let go and almost have the mentality of "if you can't beat them, join them" which is why after a while I just let A.J. dump his Legos on the floor in the living room. I figured that the kid has been upstairs since 6:00. He did pretty good for 2 hours. It's not like he was misbehaving. He was quietly playing Legos. In fact, none of the kids were wild banshees or anything. When they all came downstairs, they were very well behaved.

So that was my crazy day and I'm tired so I'm going to bed :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A Day on Our Boat

Rich's dream was to have a boat, and back in 2000 we finally bought one. It's a 28 ft Sea Ray. I love it because it's an open bow so I can keep all the kids up front when we are moving (makes it easier to watch them all -- I don't like when they are behind me!) We have the boat at the local marina and Rich mostly goes out on it to fish, but on really nice days like today we all love to take a cruise on it. Today we found a really cool sand bar that the kids could wade out in. Our new puppy "Milo" came along for his very first boat ride. He LOVED it! Audriana is holding him in this picture, but Milo spent most of his day running back and forth on the boat and looking over the edge at the kids in the water.
Here is Uncle Phil (Rich's brother) with Andrew and Aislynn on the sand bar.
Andrew had a lot of fun in the water!


Alex (7) spent most of the day fishing -- either on the boat or on the sand bar. He can cast out by himself and reel a fish in, too. He's starting to really enjoy fishing, just like Daddy! Alex is very competetive, so if he knows that someone else caught a fish then he will not stop until he does, too.

more ocean pics...

Afton and Avery The captain of our boat :)
Mommy and Andrew
Andrew had to be watched constantly because he kept trying to climb overboard to join the rest of the guys who were wading in the sand bar! I sure had my work cut out for me today, chasing him all around the boat and holding onto him constantly. I didn't get much relaxation -- oh well. This age doesn't last long. Soon he will be out there with the rest of them!
....and here's Dad with his oldest son :)

Andrew -- June 30th

Andrew eating his birthday cake! getting on his new riding toy....


Here he is trying for the 100th time to ring the bell. You need to press down and release quickly, but he presses down and holds it and slowly lets it up to release it, which does not cause the bell to ring. Poor kid. He got very frustrated that he couldn't make the "ding" sound like everyone else seemed to do so easily. Oh well...he'll get it one day.
again....trying to show him how the bell works!


Andrew's First Birthday

It's hard to believe that my "baby" is already a year old. Where did that first year go?! It's amazing how quickly time goes by lately! June 30th was his birthday, and we celebrated with family. Both of Andrew's grandmas were here -- my mom and Rich's mom -- and of course all of his siblings. Opening his gifts...
Checking out his new Winnie the Pooh piggy bank....
" Wow -- you mean I get my OWN bike?!!"
One Cool Dude with the shades on.....

a Day with Dad

Afton had a soccer tournament about an hour's drive from our house this weekend, and because we also had a lot going on at home, we decided to let Rich take her for the day and I stayed home with the rest of the kids. In between games they had a few hours to kill, so they rented a kayak and had a lot of fun! There's nothing like spending special time with dad, one-on-one!
Rich loves the ocean and anything that has to do with it -- fishing, boating, kayaking, surfing -- he loves it all. His dream one day is to own his own fishing charter boat so that he can get paid for taking people out all day to fish!
Afton will be 12 years old in just a few days!