October 28, 2012

  Tonight I taught Ryan the fine art of making scary faces with a flashlight.  Something every boy should know.  After he got over being spooked by it, he thought it was pretty fun.

October 27, 2012

  Tonight was the annual carving of the pumpkins.  Every year it seems someone is in tears over a mistake in carving or the end product not being what they had in mind.  But I'm proud to announce that it was a drama-free night.  Sydney, Erik, and Ryan each chose a pattern out of a book.  Shelbi designed her own.  Jeff "carved" Ryan's with a roto-drill while Ryan supervised.  Erik decided he couldn't stand the sight or smell of the pumpkin guts, so he spent the evening playing in his room while I carved.  I'm not sure if he even saw what his pumpkin ended up looking like.  Syd and Shelbi both carved their own.  And even Jeff and I each carved one.  A success all around.

Sydney insisted I take a goofy picture too...
(The pictures are a bit fuzzy because of the lengthened exposure time to get a shot of the pumpkins lit up.  This is actually taken in our foyer with all the downstairs lights off.)

October 26, 2012

  This was one of my favorite birthdays ever.  We had only been in New Jersey for a few months and decided to take a day trip up to Princeton University.  It was gorgeous.  The fall leaves and the awesome buildings made for a picture-perfect day.  I wish I could say that this was the first of many trips to the sights in that part of the country, but we were just too dang poor to travel anywhere.  We barely made it across the bridge into Philadelphia a few times.  Now that we can better afford to, we take little weekend trips where we can around Amarillo.  But let's be honest, Oklahoma City just isn't as cool as New York City.

October 25, 2012

  With the emergence of digital photography, I usually just look at the pictures I have on my computer.  I forget that there are years of our family life that were memorialized on a good old fashioned 35mm camera.  I pulled out the photo album and found this gem.  I'm not sure why he had a mustache at this time.  He doesn't usually grow a mustache unless there's a joke behind it.  You'll also notice he's "reading" the business section.  Again a joke.

October 24, 2012

  Oh, before owning smart phones, how did we ever keep our kids happy at restaurants while waiting for the food to come?  Tonight is brought to you by "DoodleBuddy,"  a fun app that does the following:

October 23, 2012

  If you are one of those people who is opposed to letting the t.v. be the babysitter every once in a while, then you're not going to like what I'm about to say.  I'm thrilled that Bailey has discovered Dora the Explorer.  It means I can make dinner in peace (because right after her nap is the grumpiest time of day), I get an extra bit of sleep on Saturday mornings, and I can shower in the morning without worry of her getting into who knows what. 
And it's extra awesome when Sydney makes a cozy spot on the floor for cartoon watching.

October 22, 2012

  This is the picture that was supposed to be taken today.  But actually this is the day after her birthday.  She was sick on her actual birthday, Oct. 22.  Again.  She was sick last year too.  So we postponed birthday cake for a night.
   If I can't brag a little bit about my kids on their birthdays, when can I?   I'm crazy about this girl.  She's pretty amazing.  She's smart, she has a fantastic laugh, she looks out for her brothers and sisters, and she has a lot of intergrity.  Love her.

October 21, 2012

I actually took this picture last Friday.  We were at the part with some friends and they brought some bread to feed the ducks.  Feeding ducks seems like something every kid has done but somehow I dropped the ball with Ryan.  This was his first experience and he was delighted!  He laughed and talked to the ducks the whole time, smiling ear to ear.  Definitely something we'll have to go do more often.

October 20, 2012

  This is about the worst picture I've taken for this blog, but you get the gist of it.  I was on the phone and saw Bailey and Jeff ride by.  I grabbed my cellphone and took this shot one-handed as they passed me.

October 19, 2012

  I'm not really ready for this.  I know it sounds cliche to say that your kids are growing up too fast, but what can I say?  That's how I feel.  For Shelbi's birthday party she wanted to invite a few friends for dinner, a movie and a sleepover.  As I drove these girls to dinner and the movie, I silently sat and listened to what they talk about.  I'm sure it's not so different from what I was gossiping about with my friends at her age.  But is seems like with every other stage my kids have been in, I've seen it coming.  I guess I'm so used to the Shelbi that plays paperdolls with Sydney and builds things out of blocks with the boys.  "Tween Shelbi" is a shock to my system.  I have a feeling I'll just get used to this, and then she'll be "Teen Shelbi" and then "High School Shelbi."  Oh, boy.

October 18, 2012

  Erik recently has been asking if we can go eat lunch with him at school.  He said the rules were 1) just one parent can come and 2)they have to bring restaurant food.  I'm pretty sure this is all he's seen so he figures that's the way it has to be.  Well we broke rule number one today. Jeff, Ryan, Bailey, and I all went to eat with Erik.  We felt a little sheepish walking in with our McDonald's, especially when we sat down next to another family who brought their healthy lunch in some tupperware.  But it was fun to see Erik in this environment.  I'd love to be invisible and follow him around all day at school.

October 17, 2012

A Chapter from the Book of Shelbi:
The Patch Years

 I took this picture of Shelbi when she first got her glasses.  She was four years old.  I had noticed that every once in a while she would go cross-eyed.  I asked her pediatrician about it and he sent us to a pediatric opthalmologist.  She was diagnosed with amblyopia, which is basically lazy eye.  When just the glasses didn't help with the condition, we had to try patching one eye.  She was outfitted with this:

That was a miserable time.  The point of it was to block her good eye, so the weak eye would have to work harder and get stronger.  But she'd find a way to turn her head ever so slightly and still use her good eye.  We were making no progress and surgery looked like it was in her future.
  We moved to Michigan at this point and her new doctor, while frustrating at first, was very good.  He suggested we use this kind of patch:
  It worked wonders.  Her vision in her bad eye improved quickly. Although it wasn't without a lot of sacrificing on her part.  She had to wear this patch six days a week, for eight hours a day.  This lasted for over a year.  There was much celebrating the day the doctor declared her done with the patch.
  Her eyesight isn't perfect, it never will be.  The left eye will always be weaker than the right.  But her eyes don't cross any more and have stopped getting weaker.  Her current eye doctor has told me that she wouldn't recommend Shelbi ever get contacts.  If something were to damage her good eye, she'd be in a lot of trouble.  So that's where she is today. 

October 16, 2012

  If I had to complain about one thing about the girls' school here in Texas it's that they don't have nearly enough fun.  So much pressure is put on them and the teacher to do well on the end-of-year tests that a lot of the enjoyable, kid stuff goes out the window.  A costume parade for Halloween, for example.  This is Shelbi in kindergarten in Michigan.  Is she not the cutest?  The school in Michigan reminded me of what I loved about elementary school.  I remember having a class party for nearly every holiday.  But in Texas, Christmas is the only holiday they celebrate in school.  The kids can't even bring a treat for the class on their birthday.  It's a shame.

October 15, 2012

Some days Bailey looks like this:
Today she looked like this:

No pants, shirt stained from chocolate milk, and hair crusty from the applesauce she smeared in it.

October 14, 2012

I love it when Jeff has Sunday off.

October 13, 2012

  The kids' schools held a 5K/1 mile fun run this evening.  The girls took it very seriously.  They ran ahead of us and finished the mile in about twelve minutes.  Ryan and Jeff were next.  They ran for a good amount of time and then walked the rest.  Erik, Bailey (in a stroller), and I were at the tail end.  Before we even turned the first corner, about a minute into the race, Erik told me, "Whew, I thought I was going to throw up."  That didn't bode well for the rest of the race.  The only thing keeping him going was the promise of Gatorade at the end.  We finally made it in about 26 minutes.
    After the race they served hamburgers and had a bunch of bouncy houses for the kids.  The favorite was one where the kids push a big ball, trying to knock each other off the platforms.
That's Sydney pushing the ball and Shelbi in the striped socks.

Ry-Guy playing with the big boys.

October 12, 2012

  I felt very Texan tonight.  We went to have some BBQ for dinner.  The restaurant was filled with "y'alls," cowboy boots, and loud country music.  A great Friday night.

October 11, 2012

Wanna know how to make my kids really happy for about $10?  Bring home new coloring books for the younger ones and a book of Barbie paperdolls for the girls. 
  Originally I was just going to get a couple of coloring books, but then I saw the paperdolls.  I would have loved these when I was Sydney's age, so I brought them home for her.  Apparently I underestimated Shelbi's excitement over them too.

October 10, 2012

  The point of these pictures is not to show you how messy my house is.  It's just a glimpse at what things look like at 6:00 PM, the culmination of kids coming home from school, tossing their stuff wherever they please and filling the kitchen sink with snack dishes.

I also happened to take a picture of the table set for dinner. This is about what it looks like every night.  There are no plates because we dish up from the stove and only the utensils I know we'll use.  It would be an interesting comparison to a picture of the set dinner table when I was growing up.  There would be full place settings, milk in a pitcher, and any condiments in bowls with spoons.  When I visited my parents this Summer, my mom was looking for a bowl to put sour cream in.  When I suggested we just put the tub of sour cream on the table  as it was, she gave me a look that said, "We don't do that."  My mom is not hoity-toity, but she knows how to make things nice.

October 9, 2012

  So long, my friends.  Until we meet again.  I remember when I first saw you in The Gap and thought $16 was probably too much to spend on flip flops.  But then I noticed you had rubber soles, not cheap foam and I was convinced of your comfort.   And so I brought you home with me.  We've seen some good times this Summer.  You've been with me nearly every day.  The beaches of California, playing in the backyard, swimming at the pool, walking BYU campus, Bear Lake, T-ball games...I could go on and on.  But now the weather is just too cool to wear flip flops every day.  So I'll pack you away until next Spring, when I'll probably decide you look too grody to wear again.  Sorry.  Don't take it personally.

October 8, 2012

  No new picture today, but here's one from October 2006. 

This is a picture taken of us in front of our house in Michigan.  We loved that house.  It wasn't new or big or particularly nice when we bought it.  But after painting every room in the house except the laundry room and adding other updates, we were quite happy with it.  Before we left I wanted to take a picture of every room to remember what it looked like. (Somehow I missed the girls' room.)  If you're not interested in seeing a bunch of empty rooms, skip the rest of this post.  But I love to see other people's houses.
This is the front door and foyer.  To the right are three stairs up to the bedrooms and to the left is the living room.  The door right by the front door leads to the basement.  There was terrible linoleum in this foyer when we first moved in, only to be made worse by the raccoon who pulled up pieces of it by the window, trying to get out.  We did this tile ourselves, and I must say it's the best home-improvement project we've ever completed. 

 Living room.  We used the back part, which is supposed to be a formal dining room, for a computer area.  The door on the left, behind the table lamp, leads to the kitchen.
This is the family room, right through the foyer area.  And that's the lock on the fireplace doors to keep raccoons out.

The kitchen and dining room.  The door on the right goes to the living room and the glass doors on the left go out to the patio.  In the back is the laundry room.

 Laundry room.  The door at the back is a half bath that I probably only used 2 or 3 times the whole time we lived here.  To the right is a door that leads into the garage.
Stairs and hallway leading up from the foyer.  The door on the left is a bathroom.  The first door on the right is the girls' room, the second door is the boys' room and the door straight back is the master bedroom.

 This hall bathroom was the first room we redid.  It had some terrible wallpaper and tiny white tile.  Everytime I cleaned it, I felt like I was only releasing the pee smell even more.  So we tore it up and never looked back.

The boys' bedroom.  Erik still morns leaving this room behind. 

Master bedroom.  There is also a master bathroom off to the left.

Basement playroom/craftroom/guestroom.  When we moved in, this room had dark paneling on the walls and one lone light fixture.  Jeff's dad helped add more lighting and we painted the paneling--an awful bright yellow color.  I can only attribute my lapse in judgment of picking that color to being pregnant.  In fact I went into labor with Ryan while painting.  My neighbor came over to watch the other kids while we went to the hospital and I can only imagine her reaction to the color we were painting.  A couple years later we repainted it.

 Back patio
Hours and hours were spent on this swingset that came with the house.  My neighbor, whose yard you see behind the set, told me when we moved that she was going to make her husband put up a fence so she wouldn't have to look at the empty swing set.  That still makes me cry. 

Front of the house.  These flowers never looked better than the few weeks before we moved. 

This picture was taken of us on our last day in Michigan, just as we were getting into the car to drive away.  Leaving that place was about the hardest thing I've ever done.