Monday, January 31, 2011

She's Eighteen Today

Eighteen years ago today, at 1:06pm on Superbowl Sunday, I held my first child in my arms.  The feeling of that moment cannot adequately be described, so I won't even attempt it.  But  I will say this:  I love all my children equally; this is very true.  And all the births are so special.  But the first?  Well, that first one made me a mommy.  The first one changed me.  The feelings that go with that change can never be duplicated; the unique joy of that moment has never been matched.  

We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl.  I wanted to be surprised.   For some reason I had myself convinced that it would be a boy....

But she was a GIRL!!
8 lbs  6 oz
22 inches

When we brought her home, those first few weeks were hard.   She would not sleep unless I held her.  Then I would put her into her crib, and she would wake up in about ten minutes!  Rich kept telling me to put her into the bed with us, that she would sleep well next to me, but I was being told by others that I should NOT do that.  That will "spoil" her.  I might "roll over" on her.   Finally, one morning, Rich got up when she cried.  He picked her up, put her next to me while I was sleeping, and I woke up hours later having had the best sleep in 6 weeks.  She was next to me, sleeping soundly.  From then on...we all slept much better.  And her crib became a place where we put our laundry.

She taught me so many things.  She paved the way for her future brothers and sisters, because the "mistakes" I made with her (like clipping the skin of her fingertips thinking they were her nails)   I did not make with the rest of them!  

When I had her, I was still driving  around in my first car -- the car I bought when I was seventeen years old.  Gotta love those dependable Toyota Tercels.  

She had bad hair days.

And Alfalfa hair days.

Oh, she was so much fun, and I LOVED being a mama.  For as long as I could remember, the only thing I ever "wanted to be when I grew up"  was a mother.   After having her, I felt completely 100% right in my world.   I felt like I had arrived in the place I was born to be.  It was a wonderful feeling.

Happy 18th Birthday, Audriana!

I love you and am so proud of you!
Thank you for making me a mommy :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How do you know...?

How do you know when:

1) it's time to start potty training your little one, and
2) you spend way too much time on the computer


When while on the computer, your two-year-old comes up to you, pulls at your arm and says, "Mom! Get off the computer and change my poop!"

Oh my gosh, she's too funny!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

more family ties

My younger sister Kelly is only 24 hours away from us (if we drive without stopping!).   She lives in Texas with her husband and three children.  We drive out there once a year for a visit.  This year, we had a new baby to celebrate:  my little niece, Jillian

What a cutie-patootie, huh?  She's such a good baby, too.  Very mellow, yet alert.  So sweet :)  In this photo, Audriana holds her newest cousin.

Andrew with cousin Jason

Jason and Aria 

I love how my oldest might be nineteen but yet  doesn't think himself too cool to play with all the little ones.  No matter who's watching, he is himself.  Always.

We also visited Sedona, Arizona on our last trip out to Texas.  It wasn't exactly on the way, but so worth the detour.  It's so pretty there!  We can't wait to go back when we have time to camp and enjoy some hikes and bike rides.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

family ties

This is me and my older sister, Theresa.  Isn't she beautiful? This photo was taken in 1998 but I swear she looks exactly the same.   She lives waaaaay on the other end of the world country from me...far away from my non-flying family (why don't we fly? because eleven round-trip plane tickets is only slightly out of our budget!)  Anyway, Theresa sort of made me the famous "middle child" in our family (when normally it's the younger sibling that makes you the middle child)  only because for 15 years I thought I was the oldest.  I had been raised with just my little sister, never knowing I had an older sister until Theresa turned 18 and searched out her birth parents (my mom is her birth mom)  and wow, was I surprised to know that I had an older sister!  I remember being so thrilled...until I saw her for the first time and immediately felt so jealous!  She looked exactly like my mother, when all my life I had been told how much I look like my mother.  She outdid me in that department, that's for sure.  I guess the sibling rivalry set in there for just second or two, lol.  But after the initial shock of resemblance wore off, I was thrilled to have an older sister.  She has two children, my nephew and niece, and I only wish they lived closer!   They are due for a visit soon.  Theresa, if you're reading, what does your summer look like?  You guys need to come out here!  
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mom to Mom: What's Your Best Mom Tip?

There's a Link Party going on over at It's Almost Naptime! -- What is your Favorite Mom Tip?  and I've been wracking my brains, trying to think of something that I do that might help a fellow mom in her day.  Seriously, I can't think of anything!  How lame, huh? You'd think that with all these kids, I'd at least have a few things to share.  

I don't know if I'd call this a TIP, but...well, brushing teeth in this house can be quite the chore.  I tell them to brush their teeth, but we all know that you need to oversee everything that kids under 12 do (and something those over 12!)  and so that basically means that I am responsible for seeing to it that six kids in this house are brushing their teeth -- correctly!  And sometimes the older three need reminding, too.  So I guess the better count would be nine.  The kids ages 5 to 12 have to come breathe in my face after they brush.  We started this a long time ago whenever they wanted to prove to me that they had brushed, and well, it just stuck.  They will give me a kiss goodnight, along with a quick breathe-blow in my face.  And I usually say, "smells good....goodnight"

Okay, we are strange.  That's O.K.  Strange is okay, sometimes.

The biggest deal in our family is toothbrushes.  Everyone is always "losing" their toothbrush.  It can be there in the drawer one morning, and then gone by bedtime.  We have a toothbrush thief, or many of them, running around this house.  You know what is gross?  Some children in the family (who shall remain nameless) just take the nearest toothbrush when they can't find theirs.  Then when they are done using it, they put it back...and the owner comes along and notices that his/her toothbrush is wet, and I heard this:  "Ewwwwwww!  Mom!  Someone just used my toothbrush!  I'm not using this thing!  I need NEW one!"

So whenever I go to Costco, I always buy a pack of 6 or 8 toothbrushes.  Just for those occasions.  I have about 25 new toothbrushes in the cabinet above the washer/dryer -- on hand, all the time.  We shall never be toothbrushless. 

The little ones....ages 4 and younger (which right now is Andrew and Aria)  brush their teeth while in the bath.  I hand them both their toothbrush with toothpaste on it, and they brush their teeth while sitting right there in the water.  When it's time to spit, I hold a big cup under their chins.  Then I rinse it out and next it's my turn to brush their teeth. We do the same thing with the cup...and it's done.  This is just easier for me because I'm doing two things at once:  brushing teeth and bathing them.  In this busy house, it can be easy to "forget" to brush the little one's whenever I can combine a "must do" activity, I do it!  Makes life simpler.

Oh, and whenever the little ones are in the bath (they get washed in my master bathroom)  this is the time that I put all my laundry away (my closet is in our bathroom)  and I the clean sinks, wipe the mirrors, and clean the toilet.  And the kids have sponges in their collection of bath toys, and one of their favorite things to do while in the bath is wash the bathtub.  I put body soap on the sponges and just let them go to town, washing the tile and the tub.  I let the water run out of the drain while they are still in there, and they continue wiping down the tub until all the water is gone.  Then I give them a final rinse, and everyone is clean -- even the tub!

Other things I do to make life just *that much easier around here:

1)  We keep a box in our van full of flip-flops of various sizes (because someone always gets into the van without shoes on...and doesn't realize it until we are at our destination.   And even I've done that a couple times, myself!

2)  I keep a phone in the house that is actually plugged into that wall and you cannot walk around with it (you know, the old fashioned kind)  because we always lose our cordless phones around the house (in between the couch cushions, under beds, in the laundry pile...)  and this way, we ALWAYS have a phone that we can use, if the other two are MIA.

3)  I have a lock on our pantry door (the kind that needs a key!) and I keep the key on my person all day long.  This might sound a bit overboard, but I'm in and out of the house all day, sometimes leaving kids in the house by themselves...and if mom ain't watching, they will eat just to be eating -- even after they've just had a meal.  Also, I am upstairs a lot, and if the pantry is left "open" they will sneak food.  Not because they are hungry -- but just because it's there.  If you've seen pictures of my kids, you'll see that they aren't starving.  But they do like to snack.  I have to control that....or there will be no food left!

4)  I play classical music while they are doing homework or while we are in the middle of our homeschool day.  Good for the brain :)

5)  We turn the dishwasher on at night...and then whoever has the chore of emptying it will do so the next morning before school.  I LOVE that!  There's nothing better than starting your day with a clean kitchen and an empty dishwasher!

6)  I have a basket for clean laundry per bedroom, 5 baskets:  The Boys, The Girls, Afton, Audriana, Mom, Dad & Aria.  (Anthony does his own laundry and doesn't require a basket)   I have 3 of the boys sharing a room, so their clothes go in The Boys basket.  Avery and Aislynn share a room, so their clothes go in The Girls basket.  Afton and Audriana have their own rooms, thus their own baskets. And me and Rich share our room with Aria, so we all share a basket.  The baskets STAY on the top of the washer and dryer, all lined up in a row.  And as I fold, I put the clothes into the correct basket.  Then, each morning, everyone grabs from the baskets and takes them into the bedrooms, regardless if it's their clothing or not.  They all just grab stuff and take it up, then place it on the beds in the room they belong in.  Again, the baskets STAY on the washer and dryer and never go upstairs (if they go upstairs, then they don't come down again...and the next time I go to fold laundry, I have no place to put the clothes)

Well, I think that's about all I can think of.  If you have any tips you want to share, just go to Missy's Blog at It's Almost Naptime  and link it up!

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

There's a Crib in My Shower

Have you ever heard of Hot Spots?

No, I'm not talking about the happening bars on a Friday night -- I'm referring to areas in your home that no matter how hard you try to keep  clean, "clutter" always finds a temporary home at.  They are the places in the home where everyone dumps their stuff.  Things that do not have a place of their own like to camp out here.  Hey, even things that DO have a home like to camp out if it's one big Clutter Party or something.

Hot Spot #1
our laundry room counter
This is where we come in from the garage, and things get placed here all the time.See that red purse to the right?  Yea, that's mine.  (I never said I didn't add to the problem!)

Hot Spot #2
the counter in our family nook/kitchen area
Here you will find a collection of things from practically every person in the house.  There are art projects, magazines, bills, school books, hair ties and ribbons, a packaged box containing the helmet cam that Rich got for Christmas, a porcelain tea set still in it's box, a plastic lid to a container.  And behind all that clutter?  The three photographs that I spent a small fortune on in photographer fees and frames.  Hidden, by the mess.  Such a shame.

Hot Spot #3
the homeschool desk
This desk was a big purchase for us.  They aren't cheap.  But sometimes I don't even know why we bothered getting one.  It seems all it's used for is a "go-between" before the items actually make it to their assigned places.  When we clean up the house, all the stuff on the floor or on the tables...go right here.  So where do we do school work?  Why, on the kitchen table, of course. 

Hot Spot #4
the formal living room table
Now, I think this one bugs me the most...only because this room is supposed to always look nice.  We hardly ever eat here; it's just pretty to look at (when it's clean) and so when there's clutter on it, this is usually the first Hot Spot that I choose to eliminate.

Oh, and in case you didn't notice the hideously wilted flowers in the above's a close-up of the poor things.  I swear, they looked good two weeks ago!

Hot Spot #5
the kitchen counter nearest the stove
I call this Rich's Hot Spot because for some reason here is where he puts all his tools and gadgets that belong in the garage but he's too lazy busy to put  away....

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

I mean, really?  What IS all this stuff?  I SPY.....a walkie-talkie remote, a clearance item for a toothbrush system that we don't even own, a mini-screwdriver set, a battery, two receipts of some sort, a coupon (he clips coupons, not me), a yellow hair band (okay, that might be mine) two different chargers for who knows what, a pen, a pen cap...and some big purple thing in the bottom left corner.

Hot Spot #6
our master bathroom shower
Okay, I know this sounds like a very strange and unusual Hot Spot.  I mean, who puts "extra stuff" in their shower?  Why, we do, of course!  One day...oh, I'd say about five months ago, we decided to take down Aria's crib and put it up in our garage rafters.  This was as far as it got. At first it was leaning up against a counter in our master bathroom and we kept bumping into it, so Rich said, "Let's just put it in here until I can get it into the garage."  That was five months ago.

Now, I ask long would YOU put up with a crib in your shower?  

If I don't say anything, this thing will be in here for years. I'm not exaggerating.  Rich, bless his little hard-working heart, has a few faults, as we all do -- but his major fault is procrastination.  I've decided that I'm going to do a little experiment this time.  I'm not going to say anything anymore about the crib in our shower.  I'll just continue using our bathtub to wash up in (yes, that's what we've been doing for the past five months, and Rich doesn't mind because 50% of the time he showers at the fire station during his shifts)   But yea, we will see just how long this stays this way.  

Any bets?  What month, what year, will this crib finally be removed from our shower (by him, not me!)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

this is what happens when I leave my computer unattended...

My Mac is upstairs in our hallway's media center, and I don't always turn it off when I walk away from it.  And if it's left unattended for too long, one by one the kids will walk by and cannot resist the urge to take photos of themselves with the iPhoto Booth camera.  Days, maybe even weeks later, I find images captured on my computer that I had no idea they took.  

Here are some that have made me laugh:

and my all-time favorite....

Apparently this little guy thought it would be  funny to "moon" the camera.   
BOYS!!!  You just gotta love 'em!

(This photo has been cropped for privacy purposes - not that I think he would even care - but I need to keep this a G-rated blog, ya know!) 

Linked up with

.Weekend Bloggy Reading

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

she makes me laugh

This morning Aria came into the bathroom as I was cleaning the globs of leftover toothpaste from the sinks.

ARIA: What you doing? 
ME: I'm cleaning the bathroom
ARIA: Why? 
ME: Because it's dirty. 
ARIA: Why? 
ME: Because kids don't clean up after themselves, no matter how many times you tell them to. 

(yes...I was complaining to a two-year-old) 
Aria watched, in silence. 
ME: you clean? 
ARIA: No, I not a mom yet. 

Yesterday, Avery asked Aria to help her clean up the mess in her room (that Aria made)  and Aria said no

AVERY: Okay, well ... then you aren't my best friend. 

Avery then walked out of the room in a huff, leaving Aria standing there with a look on her face that clearly showed her confusion as to what those words meant to her.  After a few seconds she yelled after Avery...

ARIA: MOMMY my best friend! My DADDY my best friend! 

(in other words, who needs you! LOL)

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

having a sucky day

So far the day has not been going so well.

Afton missed her permit test appointment at the DMV due to us not being able to find her original birth certificate.  My fault for not being organized and on top of things.  Her fault for not telling me she needed it until 15 minutes before we were heading out the door for the appointment.  She was beyond disappointed.  And now I'm stuck with the Mommy Guilt.

I got a $95 parking ticket this morning while parking near the kids' school.  The street was full of parked cars so I assumed it was okay to park there.  I even looked at the street sign right above me and it said NO PARKING BETWEEN THE HOURS of 7:30am and 8:15am.  It was 9:00am.  I spent the next two hours at the kids' school for "curriculum day".  The ticket was on my car when I got back.   Apparently I missed seeing the sign way down at the beginning of the street that read:  NO PARKING  1st and 3rd WEDNESDAY due to STREETS WEEPING.   Grrrrrrr..... that  is SO lame!  They should post the signs all along the street, many of them, not just one.  It was a very long street and not everyone enters this street from that side.  No wonder there were so many cars parked there -- all had tickets on their windshields, just like me.  

So far this day has cost me $95,  and I have a very disappointed fifteen-year-old.  

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a new driver? maybe.

She's taking her learner's permit test today.  She says it will be a piece of cake (the test) although I have never seen her study for it.  She's confident, this one, in all that she does. She always has been, and I like that about her.  She has always acted older than her age, too;  very  mature, very responsible.   The only young thing about Afton is that for some reason she still calls me "mommy"  --  most of them stop calling me "mommy" and start calling me "mom" by the age of 7 or so.  But not my Afton.   To her, I am "mommy" and I secretly hope that will never change!

I can't believe she might be driving a car as soon as this afternoon.  She's just fifteen and a half years old!  Why do they let them drive so young?  Ugh.  I am so not ready for this.  But SHE is.  She's been ready for this since she was about 9 years old, which was when she first said, "I can't wait until I can drive a car!!!"  with an attitude because I wouldn't drop everything and take her somewhere.

Well, that day has arrived.  She hopes.  We will see how she does on the test.

Stay tuned.....update to follow!
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home is where you hang your hat -- or your fishing pole.

As I was driving the girls to school this morning, there was a brief news report on the radio about the likelihood of a  "Superstorm" hitting the state of California in the very near future, where it rains hard and relentlessly for weeks on end.  This, they predict, will cause major landslides, flooding, and even tidal waves to hit our coast, causing major destruction worse than a major earthquake.

Really?  Worse than "The Big One" that we have been warned about for years and years?  Wow. That's some storm, all right!

And tidal waves?  I can see the landslides (those happen even in our state's average storms) and I can see flooding (many of our California streets are designed poorly for water run-off)  but a tidal wave?  As in, a tsunami?  I just can't see that.  But hey, I guess anything is possible.  Never say never, right?

Then I came home and saw this article on my AOL homepage.  Apparently, this "Superstorm" hits California once every 100 years. I don't ever remember being warned about this so-called "Superstorm" and I've lived here all my life.  We have been hearing about and preparing for "The Big One" for years and years...but that was referring to an earthquake,  not a "Superstorm" that apparently will wash us all away and/or bury us in mud.  (actually, the radio news reporter made it sound so much more catastrophic by throwing in the word "tidal wave" -- something that the AOL report didn't mention)

Well, as Rich says,  IF such a devastation should occur, at least we will never be homeless.  If our house tumbles to the ground in "The Big One" then we at least have this to call home:

And if this "Superstorm" is the natural disaster chosen  to take out California, then we will be hanging our hats here:

Looks like we'll either be drive'n around or float'n around.  Hey, so long as we're safe and all together, that's all that really matters.  (of course, being that I hate all fish and seafood, the boat senario doesn't look too appealing!)

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