Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lake day

One of the things on Brad's "New Hampshire bucket list" was to rent a boat and spend a day out on one of the big lakes near our house.

In order to do that, he had to have a boating license.
After cramming for about 20 minutes, he took his test, scored 21/25 (20 would have been failing), and he was issued his temporary boating license.

I asked him later if there had been any practical portion of the exam.
You know, like when you get a driver's license and you have to actually prove you can drive a car...

Just 1 point better than failing and you get a boat! ;)

Luckily, driving a boat is way easier than driving a car!
And the lake was pretty empty that day.
We had successfully prayed for no rain, but we forgot to pray for warm weather too.
It was a wee bit chilly that day!

Not that the cold stopped these crazy kids from jumping in the water!

John was less sure about the lake than his sisters and took a lot of convincing to get in the water.
He immediately decided it was a bad idea!

Once, safely back on the boat, John spent the rest of the day either snacking or sleeping!

 The other big kids spent the rest of the day tubing.  
Unfortunately the pontoon boat was not not nearly fast enough to satisfy these little speed demons!

It was however plenty fast enough for the other two kids that gave it a go!

 Sadly, the lake did not have a zero entry end for Jami, so she was unable to enjoy this bath!
(Have I mentioned that she labels any body of water big enough to splash in a "bath".)
Instead she helped out with driving the boat instead of swimming.

When she wasn't busy napping

 or playing dress up in Uncle Pat's radioactive pullover.
Anyone else think she looks like Slimer?

Not to worry though, these two did enough swimming for everyone! :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

too cool for the pool

We have experienced a lot of firsts this summer.
Including an outing so fun we repeated it two days in a row:

Our first time to a public pool!

In Florida, almost everybody has a pool right out their own back door and as soon as the weather get even slightly warm, my kids want to start swimming everyday.
This is usually sometime around the end of March!

In New Hampshire, almost no one has a private pool and the public pools don't even open for the season until after July 4th!
So another first for us would be waiting until mid-July for the first swim of the summer.

When we got to the pool, I told the kids that this pool would be different from our pool at home.  I told them there are rules and if they broke the rules the lifeguards would blow a whistle at them.

By the look they all gave me, you would have thought I said, "the lifeguards have guns and if you break a rule they will blow your face off."
But considering how bad John is about running by the pool, I figured a little terror was a good thing!

They were so excited to be swimming again!

After about an hour, all the whistles blew and I realized I had forgotten to share another important public pool rule:
 The Five Minute Break.
The kids were confused but they sat on the side of the pool with everyone else and patiently waited for the whistle to blow again.

Libby may have used her five minutes for a little snack break.

We had so much fun on day 1, we brought Jami back on day 2 for a little first of her own.
That's right, my Florida baby had to travel all the way to New Hampshire just to go swimming for the first time.
I so wish our pool at home had a zero entry shallow end!

But she had so much fun, I think the days of keeping her out of our big backyard "bath" are over.  Time for swim lessons!

And yes, I realize that her hat is too small.  She made it perfectly clear that she did not appreciate me jamming her big ole head into it!  Poor little fourth baby!

How are you beating the heat this summer?

Monday, July 29, 2013


It's not a birthday party without cake!
And when your having a party celebrating three birthdays in one, that adds up to a LOT of cake!

We had one super cool nascar cake for our big 6 year old, my nephew Ryan!

And then there were the TWO purple cakes for me!
(Long story.)
We only ate one.
The other one is in the freezer.

Since we already had three cakes at this point, Jami just dug into a piece of nascar cake
and enjoyed it as thoroughly as if it had been her own little girly smash cake.
She was immediately excused from the party to take a quick bath!

After everyone had eaten their fill of cake and ice cream (and gotten cleaned up) we took a group picture of the July 27th birthday buddies.
What a great day to turn "24", 1, and 6!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Jami's Birth Day

Tomorrow is a big day.

Jami and I will both be celebrating a birthday.
Technically I will be 33, but I like to think that since Jami was born on my birthday that it is now her birthday and I get to stop aging. No?

Last year, my birthday plans were pretty low-key.
I was going to get a pedicure, get my hair done, take a nice long nap and then go over to my friend, Cyndi's house in my pajamas for movie night and cake.

I certainly didn't plan on giving birth.
I actually didn't plan on doing that for like another two weeks.
One week at the very least!

But God and Jami had other plans!
Very early in the morning on the 27th, I woke up with contractions.
They weren't very painful, but consistent enough to keep me from really falling back to sleep.
At 6am, when Brad woke up I told him that I had been having contractions for 3 hours and would probably be having a baby sometime later that day.

The first words out of my sweet husband's mouth were "Can I still go play golf?"
I am sure my body was releasing some sort of "happy hormone" at the time because I did not throw a lamp at him.

"Yes, you can still go golf.  I have an appointment at 9. I'll let you know what the doctor says." said the wife of the year.

Before going to my appt, I sat down to rework my plans for the day.  
Since I hadn't packed a hospital bag, washed any baby clothes, made up the crib, or gotten the infant seat out of the attic, I had a feeling my nap was not going to happen!

By the time I got to the doctor's office I was starting to feel "in labor" and I was already mentally crossing a pedicure off my list.

The doctor confirmed what I already knew.  
I was 3cm dilated, 50% effaced, her head was nice and low, and I was definitely having a baby that day.
At this point, I started to get really excited.  I have never spontaneously dilated and I really thought that God was answering my prayers for a pitocin free delivery.  

And then she listened for a heartbeat and couldn't find one.
I wasn't worried yet.  Jami was kicking like crazy so I knew she was fine.

Dr was worried though and sent me down the hall for a non-stress test to monitor Jami.
20 minutes later, Jami failed the NST and I was sent down the hall in the other direction for a sonogram.

As much as I just really wanted to leave the doctor's office and get on with my day at this point, thank goodness for sonograms!
Jami's heart was beating loud and clear over the ultrasound, but instead of her head pressing downward, it was her bum.
She was in a full Frank breech position with her feet up by her ears.
The ultrasound tech just looked at me and said, "Did you not know she was breech?"
I was like, "My last sono was 20 weeks ago! How should I have known?"
And the bad news just continued...
I was also leaking fluid and she was engaged.
There was no turning back.

All of my big birthday plans:
even going home to pack a bag flew out the window.

All of my plans for a completely natural, drug-free delivery also went out the window.
I was sent to the hospital for an emergency c-section instead.

I have to give it to my husband here.
When I called him, completely freaking out about having a c-section, he was so calm and reassuring!
He told me he would get the kids settled at Cyndi's, go home to pack for me and then meet me at the hospital.
I actually felt better when we got off the phone.
I later found out that he immediately called my sister and freaked out all over her!

8 hours and one small(ish) panic attack on the operating table later, Jami was born and I got to meet my baby girl for the first time!

Apparently, my "emergency" c-section wasn't the most pressing emergency that day, so I got to spend all day hanging out in the hospital, twiddling my thumbs.
So wish I had gone home first to pack myself!

This was the last time I held her that night, because as I already knew, anesthesia is not my friend!
I spent the rest of the night throwing up and Jami spent it in the nursery.

 But even though my plans failed, I was and am so thankful that God's plans are bigger. 
 I almost skipped my appointment that morning since I already knew I was in labor.  I figured I could just show up at the hospital when it was time to push.
 And sometimes when I am feeling sorry for my failed plans and my ugly scar, I think to myself, "what a waste, I could have pushed that tiny baby out easy." 
But the truth is, I have no idea what God was protecting me and Jami from when he hid her heartbeat in the exam room and during the NST.  
We wouldn't have discovered she was breech until too late without that sonogram.
So today, before her birthday, I am thanking God for my ugly scar and my healthy baby! 

 Now a whole year has passed in the blink of an eye!
And yes, I realize I am missing 2 months. September was a bad month for pictures!
Happy almost Birthday, Jami!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Traveling Tales

Last weekend, I took a little quick trip home to Tampa to see some friends and sing at church.
I was really looking forward to my solo plane ride.
I was looking forward to reading a book in which Thomas the Train made no appearance! 
I was looking forward to no little voices asking are we there yet.
I felt practically carefree when I boarded the plane.

For about two minutes...

I'm pretty sure Delta has me flagged in their system.
Because even though I didn't have my many children with me, my seat was still in the very back of the plane surrounded by toddlers.

Luckily, I like kids and since I know how nerve wracking traveling with little ones can be, I am usually pretty patient with other people's children. 
Let me stress usually!

I was sitting right next to a dad traveling alone with his two year old son.  
A two year old that clearly did not want to be on the airplane.
He screamed a LOT!
And loudly!
And I am pretty sure that he was missing his mommy because he kept trying to crawl into my lap.
When he wasn't screaming or trying to sit on me, he was giving me stickers or trying to share his cookies with me or trying to put his head phones on me so that I could watch Madagascar, too.
Not gonna lie...I prayed hard that these two would not be on my connecting flight from Atlanta!

About midway through the flight, there appeared out of no where another, unsupervised little boy next to me.  He also felt at liberty to drape himself across my lap and ask me all sort of questions.
"What's your name?"
"What's his name?"
"What are you doing?"

I only had one question:
"Where is your mother?!"

She was across the aisle and behind me.
After calling him to her with no results a few times she finally got up to come get him.
He of course, took off running up the aisle to the front of the plane.

By the time we landed in Atlanta, I was so ready to get of the airplane!
But since I was sitting in the back of the plane, I knew that wasn't happening anytime soon.
While I was sitting there waiting, the little girl who had been sitting directly behind me came into the aisle and stood next to me.

After a moment or two of staring at me, she reached out and started rubbing my arm.
I really think I must have a tattoo on my forehead that says "I'm used to small people touching me all day, feel free."  

Her dad quickly grabbed her hand and told her to keep her hands to herself.
That did not deter her.
She started rubbing my arm again almost immediately.
Again her dad told her to stop.
She smile at me and said, "But I like her."
He responded with "personal space."
I just started laughing.

She continued to rub my arm off and on for the next few minutes or so until I finally just stood up.
I was slightly afraid she would start rubbing my bottom, but thankfully she didn't!

On my next flight, I was so grateful to be sitting next to adults!

While my flight to Tampa was annoying and not at all relaxing, my flight home was nothing short of pure torture!

Let me just say that I hate the Atlanta airport.  I am pretty sure that it exists solely to create a bottle neck of flights and to frustrate and confuse travelers.

My plane from Tampa arrived into Atlanta an hour late.  
This didn't bother me at first because it just shortened my layover time from 2 1/2 hours to 1 1/2 hours.
And then the delays started.
First it was twenty minutes.
Then 45 minutes.
Then two hours.

Then they changed my departure gate.
Five times.

After sitting in the airport for 8 hours, I finally got to board a plane at 12:35am.
At 4:15am, I finally was able to fall into bed.

Libby woke me up four hours later.

I have decided that I will never set foot in the Atlanta airport again.
We'll see.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Space Camp

Last week, the daddies were both out of town for work.
Since we had no "field trips" planned without daddy, we thought this would be a good week to enroll the kids in camp.

The 4 older kids had a blast being Planetary Explorers at the McAuliffe-Shephard Discovery Center.
They learned all about planets and our solar system.  
They got to view the night sky at the planetarium and look through a real telescope but the highlight of the week was definitely the egg drop on Friday!

The children all worked so hard on their egg holders.  
They made some pretty impressive contraptions!

The space camp instructors went up on the roof to drop the egg while the children waited on the curb below.
Some of them could barely contain their excitement!

Then came the moment of truth!
One by one the eggs were dropped.

Libby's was the only one that cracked.
At first, she wasn't too upset.

She did get a little teary when she realized everyone else's egg survived.

But overall, they had a great week at Space Camp!
And Mommy and Aunt Catie enjoyed a little down time!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Building Character Through Chores

I have a confession to make:

I am an advocate for child labor.
In fact the reason I keep having kids is to staff my own little sweat shop.

I work my kids to the bone:  
they have to do things like 
make their beds
put away their own clean clothes
even unload the dishwasher occasionally.

Me = slave driver.
At least that is the impression my kids give when they fall down on the floor and writhe in agony over the prospect of putting that toy away.

As entertaining as the floor writhing is for me, it wastes valuable time that I could be cracking the whip.  So, I purchased the Accountable Kids program, convinced my husband that it was okay to drill a few extra holes in the wall for the charts and after a brief but painful training period my minions have been properly brainwashed and now perform all of those distasteful tasks without even being told.

Most of the time.

We have been trucking along with Accountable Kids for so long that when we came to New Hampshire with no real chore system in place, my eyes were opened to some personality quirks I had not previously  been aware of.

Take Emma Jane.  
She is my most helpful child.  
If I ever have an extra chore that I need help with, she is the one I usually turn to because she tends to keep the writhing to a minimum.  
I have always assumed that that desire to help with household chores stemmed from a natural cleanliness.

Libby on the other hand, when faced with any task that is not part of her usual routine, usually responds with lots of eye rolling and huffing and puffing.  

When we arrived in New Hampshire, Libby begged for her own room.  She has been sharing a room with Emma Jane practically her whole life and since John and EJ seemed happy to share a room for the summer, we let Libby have the room to herself this summer.  

The reason Libby longed for her own space quickly became apparent:

Emma Jane is a complete and total slob!
That child has not made her bed one time in six weeks!  
The only thing that has kept any thing that falls under Emma Jane's personal jurisdiction presentable in the last three years is the chore chart!  
Thank goodness she has a strong sense of responsibility to counteract her complete disregard for order and hygiene!

Whereas, Libby is so neat and clean that it almost borders on OCD. 
 She lives by the adage "a place for everything and everything in its place."  
She also lives by the adage "every man for himself."

We needed a system in place to foster both cleanliness in Emma Jane and graciousness in Libby.

Enter the Jewel Jar.
I wish I could take credit for this idea, but it was my sister's.

The jewel jar is simple.  
Each child has a mason jar and a bag of colored jewels.  They earn jewels for doing chores and being helpful and also for having good attitudes, showing kindness to others, sharing, etc.
I'm loving this system because it kills two birds with one stone.

When the jars are full the kids will get to trade in their full jars for a new lego set. 
 All of my kids love legos and if you also have a lego-obsessed child, you know just how stinking expensive those things are!  New lego sets don't come around often, so this is high motivation for my children.  
They are actually seeking out and creating opportunities to be kind and loving to one another and extra helpful around the house.  

Emma Jane has even cleaned her room a few times! 
 Without being asked!!

I think this is an idea that is going to follow us home to Tampa.

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Libby has lately been telling anyone and everyone that she is famous.  
Our trip to New England seems to be reinforcing her belief that she is famous. 

 While in Maine, we drove past a little house with a sign out front that said "Libby's Cottage."  Then on the way to see Uncle Pat's parents for Fourth of July we passed a restaurant called "Libby's Bar and Grille."  
She is convinced that these places were named after her.

While in Vermont, she got to experience another little taste of fame. 
 We were walking around the Church St. area of Burlington after dinner and stopped to watch a street performer. 
 We have seen several of these little street shows and in every single one a kid gets pulled out of the audience to assist with the show.  And without fail, that kid has always been paid $5.  

My sister and I were convinced that these kids were staged. 
 We were proved wrong. 
 Because this time, Libby got pulled in!  
And my little fame hound could not have been more thrilled!  

In fact, she told John the street performer that she was famous.  

In front of a crowd of people.  

In fact, she chattered on for several minutes about all the reasons she was famous and I'm pretty sure John was thinking to himself, "Great, this kid is going to totally steal my show!"

She has clearly gotten over that slow-to-warm-up shyness she experienced as a little one. 

 Having seen a one or two of these shows before, Libby knew what was coming.  
She was expecting $5. 

He gave her one. 

At first.
But my smart girl did not show her disappointment.
She just smiled and kept helping him stack the chairs. 

  Later he pulled out the fiver, making Libby the highest paid child assistant we have ever witnessed. 

 At the end of the show when the tip bucket was pulled out, John the performer said, "Now Libby, I don't want your five dollars in the bucket.  You earned that.
  I want your parents five dollars!"  

To which Libby responded, "No problem!"  
Libby's parents didn't have five dollars.  
So he got twenty.  
And since Libby made sure he saw her put in a twenty, she ensured that her fame will continue.

Because if you were a street performer and your child assistant tipped you $20 would you use that story in your next show when the tip bucket went around?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


This past weekend we went to Vermont and spent a couple of days.  Except for Pat who went to school in Vermont, this was a first for all of us.  Vermont is an incredibly beautiful state, made even more beautiful by the fact that there are no billboards along the highway messing up the view!

If you are from Florida, or have ever driven through Florida with small children that are just learning to read, you will understand why the absence of billboards is such a thumbs up for me. 

Our first stop was to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.
We left New Hampshire right after lunch so that we would arrive at the factory early in the afternoon on Friday.  The production floor is closed (you can see it, but there isn't any production going on) on the weekends.  We were disappointed to discover that they had reached their weekly quota earlier in the week and therefore weren't making any teddy bears that day anyways.

It was still cool to see the factory and learn about how the bears are made.  Although it would have been cooler to see an actual bear being made.    
So if you are in Vermont and want to visit the Teddy Bear Factory, make sure you go early in the week!

The kids were more interested in the store than the factory anyways.

They all thought they should go home with a teddy bear. 
They didn't.

But there were so many to choose from.

Including my favorite bear!
 Ha Ha!

Jami was a little underwhelmed with the teddy bear factory.  She was much more interested in the next factory we visited!

On Saturday morning we got up early and went into downtown Burlington and walked around the Farmer's Market.

An entire block was filled with vendor booths from local farmers, bakers, cheese makers and artists.

Some of them gave samples!
Jami was on the look out for the sample givers.

After the market, we walked down Church St.  Church St is full of restaurants and shops and street performers.  Libby was especially intrigued by the guy playing his violin on the street.  She asked if she played her violin outside Bagel Works, would people give her money?

I told her if she practiced really hard and played as well as the young man we passed, that she would probably make some money too.

Although with this cute face, she would probably make tips even if her playing was terrible!

After a few hours at the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center, we left Burlington and went to New  England's version of the happiest place on Earth:

Ben and Jerry's!
Ben and Jerry's production floor is also closed on the weekends so we were pretty much 0 for 2 with the factory tours!  But we still got to see the factory and learn a little bit about the history of Ben and Jerry's.  And at the end of the tour, we got samples!
HUGE samples!  
It was like a full scoop of ice cream.
Jami ate most of mine.
I personally thought the sample scoop was plenty and that there was no need to buy more ice cream afterwards...
Not everyone agreed with me!

Even though he didn't spill the ice cream, doesn't John look guilty here?!

On Sunday, we visited Shelburne Farms.  
This is the barn, or as Libby called it: 
the animal mansion!
 Seriously, this barn was nicer than my house!

The whole farmyard was hands on.  There were lots of animals to see and touch and a whole room full of farm toys to play with.

First on the agenda was the chicken parade!

Emma Jane was determined to hold a chicken.  She stalked several before managing to sneak up on this huge hen.  I'm amazed she could even pick it up! 

Ryan had no interest in touching a chicken but he did brave the chicken coop to search for an egg!

All the kids (except for Ryan) took a turn milking a cow.

We ate a really good, farm-fresh lunch at the farm stand before heading back to New Hampshire.

We had a great time in Vermont and saw so many fun and interesting things!
But the most interesting thing I saw was at the top of a telephone pole outside my car window:
A bald eagle's nest!
Now that is something you don't see everyday!