Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Candy Galore

I mentioned in my last post that we doubled up a bit on both Halloween and birthday parties this year so as to simplify justify the work.  We were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Halloween and the Oompa Loompa stole the show!  Seriously, he couldn't have been any cuter!  The down side is I didn't get any great pictures of him.  Adam's work Halloween party and the ward trunk or treat were on the same day and it was crazy busy.  I figured I would get better shots of Benson on Halloween without all the chaos and then the green dye didn't come out of his hair 100% in the back so I got too nervous to color it again.  Just take my word for it that he loved it :)

I can't say so much for Clayton.  ALL he wanted to be was Iron Man.  That's what he was last year.  The costume didn't fit anymore and I couldn't convince him to do anything else.  He doesn't even like Iron Man that much.  I just think he remembers that last year he was Iron Man and everyone gave him candy.  Why would he risk messing that up!!!  I may or may not have made him be a chocolate bar and said for Halloween night he could be whatever he wanted (and he was Iron Man in a way too small suit by the way).  He didn't put up too much of a fight with that agreement.  Some day he will learn this is Mom's holiday, not his.  I'm just glad 3 of the 4 kids plus one husband go along with my ideas are were excited about it.
Willy Wonka, Oompa Loompa, Violet Beauregarde, Wonka Bar, Veruca Salt, and Mike Teavee
I even made Mariah and Zach's trick or treat buckets, as well as a golden egg headband for Mariah, so that you could tell who they were suppose to be a little more.  They were almost more work than the costumes themselves but they loved them!

I'm most proud of my Willy Wonka.  His vest looked legit but Zach was adamant it was way to flowery for a boy!  And I must say our decorated trunk complete with music from the movie, wasn't too bad either.  Needless to say, we won a gift card to Bosa Donuts for the best family costume.  2 for 4 years baby!   P.S. Adam was a pretty good sport to be wearing that costume, jacket and all, since it was 99 degrees the day of the trunk or treat.  Everyone was so hot as we ate hot chili and so many kids were in costumes fit for winter!
Trick or Treating at Intel was better than ever this year.  Adam has moved floors and his current floor went all out on decorating and games.  No longer was it just cubicles.  They kids had so much fun with this.  Each isle was a different theme from a movie.  Adam's isle was Minions.  I'm sure work productivity was down last week with all their decorating and I know the expense right offs increased!  LOL.

Some of the other favorites:
Inside Out including cubicles decorated like the memory dump and a chain of "memories"

 The circus

 And Finding Dory where they passed out Nemo stamps instead of candy.

The least favorite was the haunted house.  But they had PRIZES, so the kids, especially Zach who really loves small toys, sucked it up and went through.

It may appear like the stroller didn't come in handy since most of the time you could find Benson pushing, but things aren't always as they appear.  Those candy buckets got heavy real quick when you get a new piece of candy every few feet instead of going house to house, and that stroller did an awesome job of carrying those heavy buckets.  Oh, and don't you just love his curl?
Kinda funny that by Halloween most of the excitement was over.  The kids trick or treated a bit but were pretty content to just hang out in the drive way with our friends eating pizza.  After all, they had already got enough candy to last them for longer than we need before the 31st ever came.  As long as they enjoyed themselves, we'll call it a win.  Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Willy Wonka Birthday Party

It's amazing how much joy and excitement the anticipation of a birthday can be to kids.  They'd been counting down forever and could hardly sleep the day before.  Zach turned 5 and got Spider-man bike with the coolest basket that you can hang super heroes on.  He loves being spoiled but it doesn't take much.  A lunch date with some one-on-one time while the brothers slept is all he needed to have a perfect day.
Mariah is now 7 and you can hear her singing "Once I was Seven Years Old" all. the. time.  I have a feeling it will be her theme song for the entire year.  We are already sick of it with only 1 week into this.  She's growing fast.  You know you are entering a different phase of life when she wants a desk and crafts for her birthday instead of things from the toy isle.  She was thrilled that her birthday just happened to be picture day which meant she didn't have to wear her uniform!!!  Seriously, she spent 30 minutes picking out her outfit.  Glad we don't deal with that on a day to day basis!
For their birthday party we decided on the theme Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  After reading the book with the kids and seeing how much they LOVED it, I knew it would be perfect, Didn't really consider the fact that we were having a candy party 2 days after the ward trunk or treat and 2 days before Halloween.  I'm sure parents were thrilled when we stuffed their kids full of candy and sent them home with even more.  Oops.  Speaking of oops, we are done with joint parties.  We had such a hard time narrowing the guest list because we didn't want anyone to feel left out.  Adam and I decided to just send out all the invites and hope that several kids couldn't come.  100% of the kids RSVP-ed that they would be there!  We sent out 23 invitations...plus my 4.  Major oops.  We prayed for some to come down with the flu.  It didn't happen.  All but 3 ended up coming.  Chaos is an understatement.  School friends, church friends, neighborhood friends, it's just too much!  All that being said we had a lot of fun.  It may have even been better than Christmas morning because we certainly aren't buying them 20 presents!
Anyway, I'm on a tangent...back to the party.  We sent out Golden Ticket invitations with a request to meet at the "factory gates by ten o'clock".  They were pretty awesome.  I've got to be honest.  Then Zach and Mariah and I spent days making candy decorations out of paper plates and toilet paper rolls wrapped in cellophane.  It was good craft time for the kids so somehow I can justify wasting a colossal amount of time.

When the kids got to our house they were greeted by Mr. Wonka (Adam in costume) himself as the music "I've got a golden ticket" played on repeat (and was in my head all day long) and they walked past the giant bag of everlasting gobstoppers and through the gates.
Once inside we had Mike Teavee's Photobooth with every Wonka themed dress up in the house that we could find.  It helped that we were able to use this years Halloween costumes as props as well.
Some Zach's friends
Mariah's clan from school
Doesn't get any more adorable than that!
Then we had the lickable wallpaper with different flavors of  Fruit by the Foot.  I wrote each kids name on a slip of paper for germ reasons.  Don't tell any of the parents that Clayton and Benson don't know how to read and may or may not have helped themselves to whichever ones they felt a couple of times.
 The Oompa Loompa Waddle balloon relay
As well as making sure to get Veruca Salt's eggs to the other side of the yard without dropping them off the wooden spoon.  If you dropped them they became bad eggs...in theory...nobody really listened to any of the rules, and several kids did whatever they wanted the entire 2 hours...aka the longest two hours ever.
The best and worst idea of the party were Violet's Blueberries.  I bought enough water beads to fill up the water table (they start as super small pellets and when you hydrate them they grow to 100 times their size.  It's a really fun sensory activity and kids love them).  This was seriously the highlight of the party.  Every single person loved playing with these.  But it was a bad, bad idea.  You should see my backyard right now.  Some kids (including two of my boys) just can't keep from throwing things all over the place.  All over!!!  They got smashed, they got scattered, they got chucked.  However, they did love it.  And each kid got to take home a bag to keep so their parents love me now too.  Candy and small water beads.  Aren't we the best friends to have ever!?
Agustus Gloop's chocolate fondue.  I really wish I could have done a chocolate fountain for this but I couldn't find one to borrow and they aren't that cheap to buy (unless of course you buy a cheap one but then they aren't tall enough to be that cool looking and don't flow well).  We settled for the fondue and after watching the kids drip their mouths over the pot or lose their strawberry and dig it out with slimy, licked fingers, we threw out the extra chocolate in the end.  But it was served with fruit and so we felt good about having something that wasn't completely junk.  Right?
The last activity we had was candy bingo.  It was the only one that didn't feel crazy.  Maybe that's because you don't take turns so nobody had to wait.  We should have had more things to engage everyone at the same time but how do you do that with so many kids?  The winners of bingo got cupcake erasers.  We also had thank you boxes with Fizzy Lifting Bubbles and fruit scented pens inside. They filled up the rest of the box from the candy buffet.  My favorite was the cake lined with Kit Kats and M&M's on top.
I hope the kids had the time of their lives because next year they have to start alternating parties and inviting less friends.  Never again to so many kids and only 2 adults.  My poor house afterwards.  Chocolate smeared on walls and candy all over the floor.  Benson LOVED being the little vacuum and you could find him cruising the floors picking up all the pieces of dropped goodness.  If Mariah and Zach ever want to know if I love them I'm just saying "24 kids at one party"!  That says enough doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Break Stay-cation

Our school district does short summers so that we can have longer breaks when the weather is beautiful.  Mariah had 2.5 weeks off of school for fall break!  It was amazing.  We had us a wonderful little stay-cation and spent many hours outside.
You can't have a fall break without visiting a pumpkin patch.  Schnepf Farms is rated one of the best in the nation.  Rides, shows, zip-lines, bounce pads, hayrides, giant slides etc.  The kids had a ball!  Benson ended up crashing in the stroller without a peep so we weren't forced to leave for naps.  We ended up spending as many hours here than we did at Knott's Berry Farm.  
It was all fun and games until we attempted the four acre corn maze.  I figured it was MUCH smaller than the 10 acre so that must mean it's for kids.  Well we all discovered that 4 is still a large area.  We got lost big time.  Just mom and four little frustrated kids.  We even cut through the corn several times and couldn't find our way.  After FOREVER, we made it out THE ENTRANCE!  All that walking and we were at the beginning?  I'm done with corn mazes!
A good friend of mine hooked us up with free tickets to the zoo.  It even happened to have a Lego exhibit going on at the time and Zach had heard about it and had been begging to go.  This Lego lover was in awe at what they could build.  I think he's picked a new career.
Emerson, Brie, Mariah, Zach
I'm not a huge fan of the zoo myself.  Animals just lay there, often in the back corner, and do nothing.  However, my kids love it and Benson was no exception.  He went crazy when he spotted the animals.  You see a face like this and somehow it becomes pure joy for me to go to the zoo.  I guess that's what they call 'living life through a child's eyes'.  
The low light and failed attempt was the reptile museum.  Adam got tickets from work and the kids hated it!  An hour drive each way and we were there 30 minutes.  When we arrived and they saw that a 5 foot crocodile wasn't in a cage and people were holding the snakes they went nuts.  After that they wouldn't even look at the ones behind glass.  It offered no security!  We did get to see babies crocodiles as they hatched though, which was pretty cool.  Clay was the only one who was brave enough to feed the turtles...from outside the fence...I don't think his arm could get any longer.  He kept his distance!  What happened to my kids?  Not that long ago these kids were willing to pet a giant snake and now they cry if it's caged!
My favorite activity of the week was the Intel Mile Fun Run we did. It was super hero themed with capes and all.  
Mariah and Zach ran the whole way and even "trained" for it by running 20 laps in the backyard several nights (aka .1 mile) lol.  One of the kids was more positive about the run than the other.  See if you can guess which from the picture (with a good zoom that face is epic).
Zach seriously did so great and was so optimistic even though you could tell he was tired.  He kept on running and saying "I've got this".  Mariah made me hold her hand and said she felt like she was going to die and that her side hurt!!!  One is more drama than the other.  Once they got their metals and got to jump in bounce houses though, life was good. 
A few other activities were an outdoor movie at the park with popcorn and friends, Little Rembrandt class where they built sculptures out of colored sugar cubes and glitter glue, and Messy Play class with pumpkin goos and fall smells.

The boys had preschool a few days that Mariah was off so with extra car seats and less kids, I picked up one of her besties, Peyton, and went to play with just the girls...and the little brother who doesn't compete for attention enough to bother her.  Of course of all the things to do, she picked play games at the Soda Shop.  Seriously, this girl loves her soda...and her poses.
Speaking of extra kids, sometimes people think 4 is the new 10.  All the time people comment on how they grew up with 10 siblings, or 8 or whatever and so they get how crazy my life is.  Um 10!  I'm pretty sure adding 6 more kids, S-I-X makes a big difference and my life isn't even comparable to that.  But these days, at least not around other LDS people, it looks just as insane.  However, it's not that bad.  You can multi-task.  Like when 3 of my 4 kids had wellness checkups at the same time.  Line em up and get er done (while Clay goes nuts running around, pushing buttons, and turning off lights again and again and again.  Maybe that's why people think my life looks so crazy.  Get rid of the three year old and the storm would fade).
Dr. to Zach: Zach are you happy and healthy?
Zach: Yep!
Dr: Does anything hurt?
Zach: Yep!
Dr: What?
Zach: Shots!
The last thing worth mentioning was General Conference, which was the start of our break.  Conference (as well as any sacrament meeting) generally feels like a waste of time.  More of an act of obedience than a spiritual experience.  Thank goodness for the Ensign.  There were however, two experiences that made it all worth it; Mariah took notes for the first time without any prompting from us and it melted my heart!  She was focused and listening and engaged.
Then toward the end of conference when all had gone down the drain after 8 hours in one weekend Clay was quietly coloring on the couch by me and all the other kids had disappeared while Adam watched in the office to try and stay focused.
Clay looks up and says: What's that guys name?
Me:Elder Schmutz (which is a terrible last name by the way)
Clay: Oh, he's nice to me
Me: Why is he nice?
Clay: Because he just gave me a temperature
Me: What's a temperature
Clay: You know when you get sick you have a temperature.  It's when you're warm
It brought tears to my eyes.  Somehow the Spirit reached out to him and he felt God's love through His chosen servants.  Clayton went right on coloring and was unaffected but I needed that more than him.  I needed to feel like my bad attempts sometimes reach them and it was a moment that I will never forget and that he will probably never remember.  But I believe the "temperature" wasn't for him anyway.  It was for me.
It was a wonderful fall break.  Now bring on Halloween and birthdays!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Weekend Getaway

Sometimes mom's just need to run away...even if it's only for one night.  9 of my girl friends and I caught early morning flights to LA, spent one night and flew home late the next day.  A quick trip but who knew how rejuvenating it would be?!  We rented a commercial vehicle so we could all travel together and then shopped our little hearts out.
We head to the Fashion District in run-down, sketchy LA and seriously shopped until the stores kicked us out for closing.  Nothing beats bartering in Spanish for killer deals and street tacos.  Everyone thought I was crazy when I bought tacos..."So dirty! Aren't you going to get sick?" and then they saw my tacos and heard the price and next thing I know, all 9 were in line.  My 18 months in Central America made me afraid of nothing!  Someday I'm sure I'll regret it.
My favorite find was this $7 skirt.  I bought two and several of the others bought them as well.  Most of us are in the same ward.  I may match 4 friends one of these Sundays but we'll just laugh and get a picture if that happens.  Oh and the shirt was only $10.  Woot.  I'm itching to get back now that I know where everyone found their good deals.
After we shopped we headed to one of the ladies time shares.  It was one packed elevator but how else do you get 10 people in a selfie!
We ate, we laughed, we chatted, and we empathized with each others struggles.  I came home very grateful for the blessings I have (and the husband who took work off so that I could go!).  The best part was no one asked me to get them something to eat, no one told me there was a stinky diaper, no one fought, no one screamed for mom, and no one woke me up-- the downside is I realized my kids have ruined me and I woke up FAR earlier than I should have!!!
The next day we went to Downtown Disney for more shopping.  I bought nothing.  After the prices in "Northern Mexico" no way was I paying the prices for Disney.  But it was 70 something degrees outside and I had adult conversation so no complains whatsoever!
It went too fast and suddenly we found ourselves back in the airport.  This picture seriously cracks me up with everyone on their phones...but it's not as lame as it looks.  We didn't ignore each other.  I didn't take a single picture the whole time.  Really only 2 people did.  While we waited for our plane those with pics, text everyone and we all pulled out our phones to look.  Someone noticed the humor and took a picture.  Oh and ignore my bad posture :/
After we all booked the trip, they announced the dates for the ward camp out and it turned out to be the same week.  My rock star husband didn't let that scare him and he took ALL FOUR KIDS CAMPING by himself.  The kids loved it but Adam's nights sleep wasn't as uninterrupted as mine :)
When I got home I asked what their favorite part was--
Mariah: the zip line
Clayton: the fish (there's a hatchery near by)

Adam doesn't worry about getting a good picture as much as mom does
Zach: peeing on the trees (I don't have a picture of that one, wink wink)
And Benson can't talk but I'm sure if he could, being held most the time by the young women in the ward would top he list.
Once again with the awesome pictures from Dad.  However, I still had to post this one because it's my kids to the "T".  Mariah always striking a pose and Clay trying to copy,
There ya have it.  Our weekends away.  Mine was certainly better than Adam's.  Real life hit quick though when the first words out of my mouth upon seeing them were "go to time out for 5 minutes".  Yep, woke up to a whole lot of fighting.  Then Benson who wakes up asking for "mamma" every single day was asking for "dadda"!  How quickly I was replaced!!!  #worthit

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Joyful Mother of Children

Two nights ago I finished a book called "A Joyful Mother of Children" by Linda Eyre who raised 9 kids.  After reading I felt motivated to try a little harder and woke up with ambition.  We took Mariah to the bus stop and I let the kids play at the park afterwards until we were hot and thirsty.  When we got home the keypad on the garage wasn't working.  With no other way to get in the house and many failed attempts at different methods, I realized we were locked out!  Adam wasn't going to be able to come home until he finished his meeting so I broke out the water table to try and help the kids stay cool.  Benson was soaked in minutes and next thing I know he's headed for the sand box.  What a mess!

 I hadn't eaten breakfast yet and was running out of patience with whiny boys who just wanted inside one of which had to use the bathroom and the rocks weren't going to do!  By the time Adam got home with a key it had been 2.5 hours since the bus left...Sweaty kids meant time for a bath.  In the 2 seconds that Benson had his diaper off he chose to pee on my carpets, which we had just professionally cleaned days before.  Fast forward a bit to making muffins when Clayton smeared batter all over his hair and the kitchen that had been cleaned shortly before.  Oh and remember, we had just bathed!?  My point is, on a day for new goals all I needed was a do-over!!!  Nothing had gone as planned and motherhood was all but JOYFUL!  However, as I looked back at pictures, I was reminded that along with all the chaos, we do have a lot of fun together.  I may not be as calm as I would like and I have a lot of things I want to do better but overall, I do love these kiddos and I'm pretty sure they think I'm doing a better job than I do in raising my tribe.

Clayton started joy-school a few weeks back and the Olympics were in full swing when it was my turn to teach.  We held our own mini Olympics and had a blast.  I even tried my hand at some Brazilian cheese balls and a traditional desert.  Sooooo yummy!  We played balloon tennis and volleyball, walked on balance beams, and had a long jump.  All the kids were so proud of themselves when they received their metals!

I took the boys to a Little Rembrandt class where they got to paint with an eye dropper.  Both Zach and Clay love crafts.  No better outing then for them to get messy and for me to not clean it!

Benson is my first baby that I would say is truly a water baby.  He loves blowing bubbles and he LOVES jumping off (which is more like falling off since he can't jump) the side of the pool for you to catch him.  We are still plenty warm to swim but with him getting more and more adventurous we find ourselves going less and less.  It's just too hard to keep an eye on the other non-swimmers when he is all over the place and fearless about going under.  After a few minutes in the floaty, he wants out!!!  Next year better be easier!
Zach starts preschool next week so while Clayton is gone we've been taking the opportunity to have time together just the two of us, plus Benson who does't count because he doesn't interrupt :).
We even went on a date to The Soda Shop where he got a giant sugar cookie and Shark Attack Soda, gummy sharks included and all!
And lastly, the boys started a multi-sports class through the city and while peeking through the window one day I noticed that they were holding hands while they listened to instructions.  Melt my heart!  At that moment I forgot all the fighting and bickering they do and was truly full of joy.