Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outlet Mall

With us being busy and gone all weekend and Michelle having Monday off it was declared a...Stay at home day! I needed to get laundry done and organized for school since it started in less then 10 days. Then I got to thinking...10 days? Hmmmm I really need to go shopping for school. Some of my kids are still wearing sneakers from last Sept. I'm not sure about backpacks and certain kids are low on clothes (Luke and Jake...decent shirts, Eileen...bottoms (skirts and jeans)) I know! We'll go to the outlet mall! When I asked everyone was excited and got ready to get out the door.

Michelle made egg salad and fed everyone sandwiches on the way. We brought bread and salami for sandwiches later in the evening. We also threw in...snacks, cups, and our water container. So no needing to waste money at the food court. Both the umbrella and my regular stroller were loaded in to the back of the van, all the kids were buckled in and we were off by 2pm.

OMGoodness!!! The place was PACKED! It was not the ideal place to be with 2 strollers and 8 walking kids to keep track off. Still the kids were good for the most part and we did ok. The boys got a bunch of $2 and $3 shirts, Luke found a pair of sneaks to replace his from last year, and I got a TON of things for 2 baby showers I know that'll be coming up. Blue for my neice and pink for a church family. It was so much fun! I've come realize once I have grandkids coming I will be in a LOT of trouble if I don't watch it! Everything is so cute!

One of the kids asked why so many people were speaking a different language. It floored them to hear that people from different places come to this area only to shop. I saw a LOT of cars packed with both luggage and shopping bags.

Sean was a perfect angel in the stroller. He didn't cry to get out the entire 5+ hrs we were there. He enjoyed sitting there watching everyone. When he waved to everyone he looked like he was on a parade float. He has the princess wave down pat. lol

I have to redo my lists of supplies and see exactly what I need. I think I have most of the basic things. At least enough to get through the first week of class...I think. I know I need to take a trip to the vision center on Wednesday. Luke and Liz's glasses are both pretty beat up and out of warranty. Luckily our plan covers them getting another plan now. I hope.

I told the younger girls that I'd break out my sewing machine and make them skirts. At first I did it because I know their skirts can be done pretty easily. Now having looked in the store I think I'm going to HAVE to do it out of necessity. Where are all the skirts in the stores? I noticed the lack of skirts when Tom and I were in Walmart on Saturday. Shopping yesterday just confirmed it...they aren't putting skirts out much anymore. I don't know maybe it's just a matter of looking in the wrong places. Or wanting them clearanced and there aren't any right now. I hope so. I've already gone through the having to make your own clothes era. I don't want to do it again, especially for the older girls...they can be so particular. Guess it's time to tune up my grandmother's sewing machine and weed through my fabric supply.

Today is Danielle's 3rd birthday! She's so excited. One of Michelle's co-workers, E, has "adopted" Danielle and wanted to get her something for her birthday. Last time we were in the store he asked Danielle what she wanted. She was so excited to see him that she was tongue tied. After he walked away she found her voice again and said she wanted a sucker. So Liz took Danielle over to him and she told him...I want a sucker! He was amazed it was all she asked for and said he'd look for a HUGE sucker. Danielle is hoping that today is the day that E has her sucker for her. :o)

I'm not exactly sure what we're doing for her dinner. Last week when I asked her someone mentioned Chinese which she jumped on big time (it's her favorite place to go to eat). I am NOT going to pay for everyone to go to the chinese buffet but maybe we can find some things to fulfill that requirement at Michelle's work (Orange chicken chunks, egg rolls type of thing). Hmmm maybe I'll have someone make her some jello. You can't have a chinese buffet without jello! lol

I'm having the girls wrap Danielle's presents while we're gone to take Michelle to work and run errands. Hopefully later I'll have pictures to share. I know I have some really cute pictures taken over the last few weeks that I've wanted to share (posts were already pretty picture heavy so didn't...like this adorable but poorly lit one).

Our big night away

Tom had been saying for a few days that we were going away. We didn't know where but we were. Then we weren't. Then we were. There were quite a few factors getting in the way, one of them NOT being Michelle's need to get to work. (Drew agreed to drive her) The State Fair's going on so all hotels in that area were filled. Then the other major cities were booked with college families moving their kids into their dorms. And of course it's still summer and the rates proved it. Did we really want to spend $100 or more for a simple room for 16hrs or so? Was it worth the work to get out the door for only one night? If we were going for 2 nights it'd been a whole different thing.

Tom finally put his foot down and said...We're going! The plan was we'd drive around and see if anything is open. We headed out the door at 3pm, loaded Sean into the backseat and headed up to a northern Walmart to pick up some eats. Then down 104 west we went. We took a few side trips into lakeside towns like Fair Haven and Sodus Point but didn't find anything that was open or appealed to us. At least we were getting a chance to have a conversation without being interrupted (Sean was sleeping)

The further we got away from home the more desperate we became. At one point it seemed we were really desperate when we saw a smaller motel. Tom went in and asked about rates and whether they had a room open. There were rooms open and the rate was only $49. Tom said he was waiting for the manager to ask him if he wanted a nightly rate or hourly rate. LOL As he was coming back to the car we witnessed an older woman fighting with a man, yelling...You got what you wanted!!! I told Tom I'd probably be afraid to let Sean on the floor. So we decided take our chances and move on.

It was almost 7pm, Sean had woken up and was crying. He'd had enough of sitting by himself in the backseat. He wanted OUT! We pulled into a Super 8 Motel in Webster. Tom went in and came right back out...they were full. But the manager gave Tom directions to two other hotels in the area. I sent Tom back in to get the phone numbers. Instead he came out with the news that the Holiday Inn Express had one room open for $143. So back down the street we ran to the HIE only to find out when we got there...the room was gone. :o( Tom asked if there were other places we could try and the lady called another HIE in Greece for us. They had one room left and did we want them to hold it for us? We said yes, got back in the car and headed back down 104 west again. Poor Sean every time we put him back into his carseat he became more and more frustrated. He wanted OUT of there!!!

As we got closer to the HIE we also saw a Comfort Inn a few doors down. We decided to try the Comfort Inn first to see if they had more room choices and cheaper prices. I grabbed Sean out of his seat and nursed him in the car while Tom ran in. He was gone a good bit of time which I assumed was good. I was right! He came back with a room for less money. :o) We got into our room and called the HIE to tell them we weren't taking the room they were holding for us. We were barely in the room when my cell phone rang. I saw it was home and the thoughts came...They are SO in trouble! WHY are they bugging us!?! They know better. Then I answered the phone and heard Eileen's voice. She was noticeably upset...oh crud! What's the matter? Then she let it all out...something got 2 of the chickens! I don't know what to do? I found them...It's gross mommy I almost puked. Awwww! Out of all the kids to have found it, Eileen is the one I'd prefer it not to be. She's a worrywart and easily overcome with anxiety. Having to deal with new or different things can make her feel physically sick. She didn't want me to talk to Michelle because Michelle would be mad at her for calling. But it was so bad mommy...I had to call! I calmed her down and told her it was ok until we got home. That if the chickens were put away for the night (they were) that she didn't have to go back out there anymore and see it. In the morning I found a voicemail from her (not sure how I missed her call) wishing me a good night. It sounded like she had been crying. Talk about being buried in Mother's guilt! UGH!!!!

Anyways, back to our night. Luckily we had gotten things to eat that could be considered a meal because neither one of us was ready to go fight the dinnertime crowds. I certainly didn't want to try to keep Sean in a highchair after he'd been sitting in the car for 5hrs.

Sean was good but he was BUSY! He was intrigued with the phone on the nightstand. It took a good bit of work to get him to ignore it (mostly). His favorite thing to do was to climb up in the chair and watch the awesome view (shopping centers and traffic).

Him being well rested from his extended nap in the car didn't help matters although he did go to bed at a reasonable time. Still we let Sean know...it's the last time he's invited to our nights away! LOL

You'd think...all alone, no kids to bug you...they'd sleep in. WRONG! I fell asleep fairly early and stupid body of mine won't let me sleep for more then 5 or 6 hrs. So I was wide awake by 4:30am! Oh well, sleeping in is highly overrated.

The surprising thing was Tom was also up bright and early (he's a sleeper and would've slept all day). I guess it wasn't so surprising seeing as Sean was banging on his head for quite some time before he actually got up. We had a relaxing morning and enjoyed the complimentary continental breakfast the hotel provided. Then it was back into the car. Sean wasn't too happy to be stuck in his carseat again.

I saw a sign for Palmyra and asked Tom if we could go down there. Knowing people from LOK and TOK who are Mormons I knew that Palmyra was a pretty big deal to them. I wanted to go see it so I'd know what they were talking about. Tom being the great husband that he is, agreed to take me there. We missed the turn off for the LDS Visitor Center so ended up at a park in Macedon. It was an aqueduct with a waterfall and mill. Sean got his first ride on a swing. At first he wasn't sure he liked it but eventually I played with him enough that he started laughing.

We eventually found the visitor center. We went in, had a tour and heard the story of the founding of the Mormon church. I had to take Sean out of the room during the Q&A session because he was fussing. We explored the resource room for a few minutes and then headed back on the road. We got another call from Eileen. Another chicken was dead and the wild mother cat was seen eating her. Whether the cat killed her or found her is something yet to be determined.

Finally Sean had had enough of his carseat and he let everyone know it! I climbed into the back seat, faced backwards, leaned over Sean's carseat and nursed him until he fell asleep. For a little while. Let's just say as much as I was wishing Tom and I could stay out a little while longer...I was VERY glad to be pulling back into our driveway.

The gladness didn't last long as reality came back and bit me hard. 1.5hrs later I was back in the car going to pickup Michelle from work. (we let Drew off the hook since we were already on our way home) Then I dropped off Michelle, picked up Carrie and headed to my sister's house. We exchanged Carrie for my sister's youngest until Tues night. I was SO tired on the way to my sister's that I was worried about the drive home. Sean was sleeping in his carseat so I sat in the car while the girls did what they had to do before leaving again. I told my neice...I'm going to rest for a few minutes. Well I went conked right out! To the point of having a dream. Next thing I know I hear my sister calling me. OOPS! I guess I rested a bit too deeply. lol Thing is, it did me a world of wonder! I felt like a new person driving home. Still once I was home it wasn't too long before I was grabbing Sean and jumping into bed for the night. And of course my stupid body had me awake for the day at 4:30am yet again.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A quick post for Jonny

At Southwick Beach they are putting in a new playground which has been WAY over due!! It looked to be almost done except for the bedding underneath the equipment. Seeing the machines sitting there made me think of Jonny. He's my nephew and he LOVES all vehicles and machinery.

At lunch I mentioned how Jonny would like the machinery on the playground. So Michelle went up and took some pictures that I could share with him.

That just flew by!

We've all enjoyed Tom being home these last 5 days. I really wish it was for longer as it seemed to FLY by! On Friday we got up bright and early and went to our favorite beach...Southwick's. It was a hot and sunny day, perfect beach weather. Tom went to gas up the van (to the tune of $97!) while we finished packing up the entire contents of our house and even some of the neighbor's (or so it seemed). With the back of the van crammed to the roof and the kids all piled into our seats were were off. Danielle was more then happy to ask every 5 minutes..."Are we at the beach now?".

I can't blame her, she first saw Lake Ontario 20 minutes into the 80 minute ride. Makes perfect sense to her that we were almost at the beach.

Everyone started cheering when this came into view...

Excited kids waiting for us to finish setting things up so they can GO DOWN TO THE BEACH!

The beach is perfect for babies and toddlers.

It's all sand and very shallow for a good bit of time. There wasn't any seaweed along the shore and I only saw a few patches in the shallow sections. (didn't go into the deeper parts so have no idea how it was out there). Sean crawled around in the water for quite a while. Then he discovered the sand and a "pool" someone had dug earlier. Oh he was in heaven! He sat in his hole, splashed in the water and dug in the sand. He then realized other kids' holes and creations were much more fun. After trying to prevent him from being Babyzilla way too many times I decided it was time for a break from the sand and water. So we headed up to our table for a while.

Sean fell asleep for a good bit of time and Tom took the little ones down to the beach. I relaxed so much that I actually dozed off! lol I can't remember the last time that happened at the beach, probably when I was a sunbathing teen. The older kids spent a looooong time (over an hour...so say 2hrs) building sandcastles.

The start of their castle...

Danielle taking a break from digging and visiting Val on her blanket

I'd love to be able to show you their masterpiece but it seems they decided to take a quick dip in the lake after they finished building it but before photographing it. Before they got out of the water some kid had come over and DESTROYED every inch of what they built.

The aftermath...

Michelle was SO mad at the kid. For some reason she decided to go back down to the beach and take pictures of him. She got one of him in action on someone else's creation.

Tom and some of the kids went for one more swim before the beach closed. Then we sat in the shade, read books, talked and had dinner of burgers, coneys and pasta salad.

It was getting close to sunset so we packed up most of the stuff and headed to the showers. We rinsed the sand off and changed into our going home clothes. With the beach closed most of the people had left which meant we had the beach almost to ourselves. Tom and some kids played frisbee.

Of course they HAD to sit in the lifeguard chair

And get some cuddles in

Then we all enjoyed the glorious sunset!

(notice the fish cloud in the top right? It stayed in that shape for a long time)

We were all soooo tired! I had a hard time driving home and was very happy to finally pull into our driveway.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Been enjoying the nice weather

Not a lot time spent on the computer lately. Today I was on a bit but decided to redo my foodblog's template. I like it so much that I keep finding myself visiting it for no reason but to look at it. LOL

We're on a new adventure with the chickens. They are loose in the yard now. The idea is to eventually build them a run and contain them but Tom hasn't worked on it much lately. At first it wasn't a problem for them to be on their own with no boundries...they kept to under or around the coop. Today though (4th day) I noticed they were venturing into new territory. The first few nights I had a really hard time getting all of them into the coop so I could close it up tight against predators. The last two nights it's gone a lot better. They're quick learners. I'm having LOTS of fun trying to count them each night to be sure they're all there. Tonight though I think I came up short...hope whoever got left outside is ok and learned a lesson. They're also growing quickly! Which is a good thing considering in a couple weeks some of the roosters will be heading to freezer camp since they're 9wks old already.

Tom's on vacation for the rest of the week. We don't have specific plans but we want to do something. There's been talk of going to our favorite beach on Friday. Of course arrangements will have to be made for Michelle to get to and from work. I know the kids also want to go to the zoo so maybe we'll throw that on the agenda too.

Sean is almost 13mos and still no signs of walking. (just an observation, I'm not worried) He can stand all he wants and climbs like a mountain goat. But to take a step, nope, not gonna do it! He's just starting to "fall" with a couple shuffles in there from one piece of furniture to another. I think when he finally throws caution to the wind, he'll go right to running. :o)

I'm really wishing we had a swingset. It was Danielle's favorite thing to do at the summer conference. After she got comfy with being there she'd wander off to the playground by herself. (I could always see her) One day she spent well over an hour just draped over a swing, in her own little world. It amazed me that she never looked up to see where I was, or came to check in. Just layed there with her legs dangling on one side, arms and head on the other...pushing herself back and forth. Every once in a while another little person would occupy the swing next to her's and she'd strike up a conversation with them. They'd leave and she'd go right back to her own little world. She's been asking to go back to the playground almost every day since we've been back. I really should be nice and take her back there a few times before summer is over.

Something else I learned about Danielle while at the conference...she doesn't need any toys! One of the funniest times there was when she decided to adopt 2 large driveway rocks as her babies. She rocked them, she showed them off, she asked everyone to hold them, she put them to bed. She was even surprised when she found them still in bed...right where she left them...when she returned the next day. What good babies.

When I realized that Carrie and Danielle's birthday were only 12 days apart it hit me. Danielle is Carrie's age when she went through her bone marrow transplant. We were just finishing up her 2nd major hospital stay after she had meningitis/encephalitis from a drug allergy. (after being out of the hospital all of ONE day) She'd lost the ability to talk and walk during that time. She regained talking quickly, walking was a bit difficult and took a while until it was normal. Anyways they'd let us finally go home home (not to our apartment in Boston) the weekend before Carrie turned 3 so we'd be able to celebrate her birthday with the family. Val expressed it the best when she yelled out...THAT'S INSANE! And it is. It's one of those times when you look back and say how did we manage? Besides having lots of faith in God and tons of family to help, we managed because we had no other choice. We just did what had to be done and that was that. No nobility, no sainthood, no special powers....just one day at a time, sometimes even only minutes at a time.

I have to give kudos to Carrie. She's doing much better with her meds. :oD The last 2wks she's reached 50% compliance (up from 16%). Hopefully soon we'll be nearing 100%!

We're slowly starting to get ready for the dreaded moment...the first day of school! Summer has gone by WAY to fast for us, especially Carrie. I need to go sneaker shopping but not sure when it'll happen. I've made a teeny tiny dent in my extremely long list of needed things. I'd really appreciate it if someone would find and hit the pause button for a few days please.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday - Children's Day

Tuesday was a BEAUTIFUL day! It was sunny but not oppressively hot. There was a pleasant breeze to keep things pleasant. The day started with a children's meeting and a video of the outdoor challenge. Then it was onto the much anticipated CHILDREN'S DAY! Each of the younger kids signed up for activities in hour or half hour sessions from 1 to 5pm. Jake did fun things like shooting Airsoft pistols, "boot camp", and outdoor survival. Eileen and Olivia were signed up for things like gymnastics, jumping rope, ice cream making and beading. I helped Della with her cookie decorating table

Also around us were...

Dollhouse village

Finger painting

A repxzzzzzzzztile rescue show (the lady did an awesome job!)

A bubbles/shaving cream table (that's Sonja under that beard)

Camille thought her sister was hilarious

Sean being silly with a balloon sculpture

Other things I saw around us...wood airplane building, leather stamping, and a playdough table. Needless to say I saw very little of my kids as they ran from activity to activity.

(sorry if you saw this page before it was done...Sean was messing with the keyboard and published it before I was done)

And of course you can't forget the...


The Grill


Then it was over. :o( The older kids went into the youth meeting and I gathered the little ones. As we drove down the street I was relieved to be heading to my own house but I was so sad. It was a great time and I hated to see it end. I'll miss seeing so many wonderful people and I know my kids will miss their friends who live faraway. It's great to have such church that is so knitted together.

We're home and dragging along

PHEW! I'm tired! I left the conference early last night because the little ones (and me) were so worn out. Poor Sean ended up coming down with a runny nose and didn't sleep well at all. (He's sleeping in my arms as I type)

As usual we were late getting out the door on Saturday. There really wasn't anything I needed to be at church for so there was no pressing deadline. I had taken Liz and a few of the older kids over in the morning so they were where they needed to be. I was shooting for 2 and we left at 5. Since I didn't have a campsite to act as a central point I used the snack bar/grill as my main stomping ground. The grill/snack bar is a pretty cool place. Our local fellowship runs it 3 times a day...lunch, dinner and late night snack bar. We sell burgers, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hotdogs, corn on the cob and salt potatoes. Everyday there is usually something different added like pulled pork or italian sausage with peppers and onions. The snack bar serves burgers and dogs but adds in nachos, rootbeer floats, large pretzels and such. It's a great service for those that are traveling to the conference (don't need to pack a lot of perishables). It's also the perfect place to camp out at since a lot of people come by there. That makes for a lot of opportunities to have fellowship.

Danielle and her cousin Charlotte being cute...

My nieces playing with their cousin/sister


Sunday started the official meetings and activities. We started bright and early with all the kids parading around the conference center and then into the meeting hall for a children's meeting and a play.

After lunch we went back into the meeting hall for some skits and a concert.

The kids played on the playground

Visited the candy store

Had a few sno cones

They had a "old timers" softball game in the afternoon which resulted in old of the ladies visiting the ER. She went to field a grounder and dislocated her finger so bad the joint broke through the skin OUCH! I talked to her the next day and she's doing well.


Monday we were slow getting out the door. There were some things I needed to do at home. We missed the children's meeting but got there in time for lunch. It was also when the inflatables were setup including a huge waterslide. (didn't get a picture of it) Unfortunately it was the chilliest day of the year and not geared toward getting too wet.

Large bouncy house, joust pit, bungy run game

Small bouncy house and dino obstacle course

Eileen with Charlotte and Danielle in the bouncy house

Best friends...Eileen, Kathryn, and Jonny

The girls running the bungy game

For the older kids it was the Outdoor Challenge. Each fellowship had a team compete. They had 9 stations to travel to all over the grounds. Each station was a challenge. Things like doing a puzzle blindfolded with guidance from your teammates, eating raw clams, porting a canoe in a creek, marksmanship and sawing a log with a 2 man saw, rescue a "hostage" from paintball gunmen, save someone drowning in a pool. Liz helped out in one of our stations. It was setup as a forensic scene with 2 dead vicitims. The teams had to process it and process it properly. Liz the glitch in the process. She was a friend of the victims that was distraught and trying to get to her friends. (and contaminating the scene) She did everything she could to get to them including being physical. I guess it was hilarious (they were way back in the woods so you couldn't watch it). She is covered in bug bites and bruises from the experience. Our team came in 3rd with Conneticut coming in 2nd and Urbana winning. I'm hoping to see and maybe share pictures of it later.

I'll be posting about Tuesday - Children's day separately since it's pretty photo heavy.