Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Trip

Here I am, finally blogging about our once-in-a-lifetime Thanksgiving trip. Who knows when I'll catch up on all that has happened since then.

All nine of us left in the wee hours of the morning for the airport the Monday before Thanksgiving. We took two cars and had nine bags plus three car seats to check. The skycap guy EARNED his tip. Each of us had carry-on bags with books, toys, art supplies, games, work to do, and snacks, snacks, snacks. It was pretty exciting to go on the airplane. So exciting, that Michael was satisfied with the fun he'd had and asked at the end of the first leg of our trip out, as we were deplaning, "Are we back?"

I took this picture of Michael in one of the three airports we were in because I liked how his shirt matched the grey and yellow of the escalator. Notice his half on/half off suspenders. Michael's suspenders made their mark forever in the history of our family when they set off the metal detector at the security checkpoint.

We flew into Dulles, picked up the 12 passenger van we were renting, and drove to the Washington D.C. Temple. We met Aunt Sara at the Visitor's Center, took a couple of pictures, decided it was too cold for our thin-blooded selves and headed to our hotel.

I had written our congressman months before to get tickets to the White House, so Stan, the kids and I took off. I had grand plans about driving all the way around D.C., taking the Metro in and having a head start on our trip south, but rush hour traffic was not part of them. I don't know why I was so sure we could make it. I should have remembered from when we lived there, but we never would have attempted this trip if I wasn't an optimist, so we were lucky that Sara was back at the hotel, using the WiFi to do homework on her laptop. She found a Metro station online, got us to it and saved the day. We parked the van, bought some tickets, hopped on the train and made it just in time for our tour.

Our extended family reunion theme was "Concentrated Insanity", but our specific family sub-theme may have been "Security Checkpoint Mishaps." Summer set off the metal detector at the White House with her braces (as confirmed by the Secret Service guy using the wand on her after she made the walk-through alarm sound).

The White House was neat. I think my favorite parts of being there were the feeling of walking where so many admirable people have walked and also the paintings.

After the White House, we walked to the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum and met Sara there. Stan took a picture of the rest of us in front of the elephant in the rotunda.

One of the funnest parts of our day in D.C. was riding the Metro. I regaled the kids with stories of the times I rode the Subway in N.Y. in high school. They all learned why there are lots of things to hold onto while you stand.

We got back in the van, drove down the George Washington Memorial Parkway and stopped to see the house we rented while we lived in Alexandria. This is the house Heather came home from the hospital to, so we took her picture in front of it.

We headed to North Carolina Tuesday afternoon and stayed the night in Fayetteville so that we could spend the next morning with my sister Abby and her family. She made German pancakes and French toast for us for breakfast - very international and very yummy.

We drove from North to South Carolina Wednesday and got lost. We waited in a Baptist church's parking lot, overlooking the graveyard for my brother Tim to come rescue us and that is where we first met up with all the grandparents -- my mom, my dad and my Grandma Blanche -- who flew out for the reunion.

We finally made it to the condos on Lake Moultrie we were staying in, ate something, got the kids off to bed and made plans to play jokes on the aged father for his 65th birthday. Sara, Summer, Rachel and I got up at two and, trying to keep the giggling down, made a pyramid of plastic cups in front of his bedroom door and wrote a message with toothpaste and mini-mini marshmallows. His nickname is Mean Old Ugly Ogre, in case you are wondering.

Here are Summer, Rachel, and Heather playing football with their cousins and some kids that were staying next door Thanksgiving Day. They had a blast.

Everyone loves the Mean Old Ugly Ogre. He almost constantly had some admiring grandchild or another in his footsteps. Here he is on the Lake Moultrie beach with Adele.

We really enjoyed spending time on the beach. We never made it to the Atlantic, but the beach on the lake was nice, too. There were lots of shells...

...and Naomi discovered that sand tastes good salty or not.

Gwen enjoyed the sand too, even though she didn't eat any.

Summer, Rachel and various aunts cut cardboard mustaches out for us all to wear for the family pictures. Here is Kelly looking adorable with fake facial hair.

We ate all kinds of interesting things. Tim deep fried a couple of turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner -- they were delicious. We also ate fried okra, Moon Pie, Grandpa's donuts, Krispy Kreme donuts, shakes from Cookout's, and oysters on the half shell. One thing I love about Stan is his willingness to try new things. Here he is getting ready to swallow his first oyster, it's heart probably still beating.

After having a Thanksgiving, Grandpa's birthday and an all around blast with the family, we headed back north in the van on Saturday. It was fun to take a road trip together in one vehicle, which we haven't done since Mo was born.

We enjoyed seeing the scenery, especially the fall leaves, which, while not as spectacular as New England, were still impressive to us south westerners.

Our trip back to Virginia Saturday included the low point of the trip when I locked the van's keys inside...oops! Poor Stan waited outside near the van, so that we didn't miss the locksmith in weather colder than we usually see all year. Every cloud has a silver lining, though. He bought himself a jar of pickled pig's feet at the gas station we were stuck at. He's been trying to get the kids to try them for months and is planning on having these for his birthday dinner.

We went to church Sunday morning and headed to the airport. I ended up volunteering my seat and taking a different flight than Stan and the six older kids, but we still all made it home within an hour of each other. Stan and I looked at each other and said, "Whew, I can't believe we made it!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Gwen's Story

Gwen had to write a story about pizza for her math class. Here it is, with minor editorial corrections.

Once, not too long ago, there was a boy named Hamlet. He loved pizza. When ever he saw it, even if it wasn’t his, he would yell, “Pizza!” grab it and eat it.

One day, Hamlet was visiting the queen and she was eating pizza for lunch. He lost control, yelled, “Pizza!” and ate her pizza! He was sentenced to die for his crime, but the queen had mercy on him and said he only had to stay in the dungeon for two years.

When the two years were over, he got out and guess what? Hamlet hated pizza! He never took a piece of pizza again, but he decided to become a thief, because of his hatred for the queen. Hamlet stole and stole and stole. He was finally caught and sent to back to the dungeon. One night in the dark, he was thinking about what he had done with his life and how the queen had saved him from death. When he got out of the dungeon, Hamlet told the queen he was sorry and never did anything wrong again.

The End

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I've been tagged.

A friend of mine (hi, Emily) has a blog and tagged me, so...here goes, six facts about myself. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether they are interesting facts...or not.

1. I like to bake - bread, cookies, cream puffs, you name it.

2. I can't stand buying clothes for full price. I get so excited when I get a bargain. Just last Thursday I got a pair of pants at J.C. Penney for $0. Mom, my budget thanks you for the good training!

3. My two favorite authors are Leo Tolstoy and P.G. Wodehouse. Here's one of my favorite short stories of Wodehouse's, because obviously we have the same taste in literature.

4. I have Sargassumophobia, or fear of seaweed, especially of it wrapping around my legs while I swim. I can trace this directly back to Whaley Lake and all those summers of swimming tests.

5. I have seven kids. Ok, that is about the kids, but it also defines so much of who I am, and I love seeing the looks on strangers' faces when I tell them, so I have to include it.

6. I've always enjoyed creating art in one form or another. I even went to an art high school. Life is busy, and I don't get to do as much as I like, but these are my outlets. Once or twice every five years I break out my favorite watercolors. I bead when I get the chance (a day to just bead is one of my favorite b-day presents from Stan). I love taking pictures - can you tell from my blog? And...I paint my toes. I've done that for a few years, but ever since the YW president treated me to a pedicure, I've been trying to put designs on them and have been getting more creative with color. I even keep a blog as a record of what I've tried. As you can see, My latest pedicure is a combination of past designs, culled and combined from my online journal of toes.

And now, I will share the love and tag Steph, Sarah, Sara, and Claire. I'll be watching your blogs with bated breath!

Humongous Egg

Buttercup must think she is a goose or a turkey (someone should warn her of the dangers in that last delusion this time of year). She laid an ENORMOUS egg. It weighed 94 grams and was 7 full centimeters from one end to the other (measured flat, not curved around the egg).

Here it is in a carton next some others of hers and Rose's eggs.

And here it is next to a large egg from the grocery store.

LIfe is too busy for pumpkins.

We didn't get around to carving our pumpkins for Halloween. Starting three weeks before, we kept trying to do it for FHE, or on Saturday, but we were always too swamped. The kids got so desperate to unleash their creativity on the orange fruit in the living room that they dressed them up one day. If you look closely, you can see that each pumpkin has headgear, shoes, clothes and hobbies. The gourds are twin babies - a boy and a girl.

I finally promised Rachel one day when she asked me when, "Before Thanksgiving!" Well, we barely made it. Here they are yesterday, the Saturday before every self respecting pumpkin is a pie, carving faces.

Stan and I were (still!) too busy to help carve, so our pumpkin got dressed up again rather than going under the knife.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Naomi is...

...nine months old!

She celebrated by eating her first donut :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

More Chickens Laying More Eggs

Buttercup laid a lovely light pinkish brown speckled egg.

Daisy laid a creamy off white egg, which was the biggest one so far. She's the biggest chicken, so that makes sense.

We're still waiting for Lily and Violet to start laying and still fervently hoping we get some blue or green eggs...

Naomi Videos

Naomi is learning all kinds of new things. The good news is, she's crawling, and the bad news is, SHE"S CRAWLING!!! I was kind of hoping she'd wait until after our upcoming trip, but oh well.

She's also learned what babies throughout time have all discovered. Life is just a smorgasbord and the world, including, but not limited to, sandy beaches, is just like Willy Wonka's factory - full of good things to eat.

There is so much going on around here and Naomi loves to be involved in all of it. Why, if it is as much fun as she is having, do we all lose interest in folding laundry as we age?

And finally, she's learning the all important, end of conversation skill of waving goodbye.
Goodbye All!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Stan took this picture of Grandpa Dale, the kids and me at the Annual Trunk or Treat. Grandpa Dale enjoyed the chili, cornbread and homemade ice cream dinner after six weeks in the Phillippines. He flew into LAX and stayed with us for a quick weekend on his way home.

This was Summer's excuse for not wearing a costume.

Rachel was a cowgirl.

Heather was a clown.

Gwen was a cat.

Kelly was a fairy with a baton.

Michael was a pumpkin. The prospect of all that candy made it impossible to hold still for the photographer.

Mo was a chicken. Now that Halloween is over for the year, we can pass the baby costume on.

The San Diego Zoo

We left early on Monday the 22nd, before I listened to the news , to go to the San Diego Zoo. I should have realized there was something wrong when we saw this thick, dark cloud as we headed south on the freeway.

As we drove through the smoky part of San Diego County , this is what the sky looked like...

...and this was the sun.

Thankfully, the air at the zoo was clearer and even though it took us twice as long as usual to get there, we had a fun visit.

Some of my favorite animals are the large reptiles (which I might be seeing more of soon...) and they had some spectacular ones.

This male Indian Gharial was probably 5 or 6 yards long.

Here is a skeleton of a female.

Every time we go, I always have to see the Komodo Dragon!

Naomi really liked this wood duck.

Here's a slide show of the pictures that need no explanations...

...and finally, some piggies and some piggies :)

Michael's 3rd Birthday

He is three!!!

So many sisters to help open presents...

Eating Nerds with a fork?!?

Protecting his Skittles from a persuasive Kelly.

Naomi enjoyed the birthday dinner pasta - her first spaghetti ever :)