Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Graham Cracker Houses

Every Christmas season, we make a gingerbread house. I usually buy one from Costco, which comes with everything in one box. The problem is the gingerbread is not all that yummy, so it pretty much goes uneaten. Dave wanted to make graham cracker houses instead, just like his mom does. Immediately, Rachel loved the idea because she could do it all the way that she wanted. This, apparently, got Alex's brain moving to figure out how he would do his. He came up with the idea of a football field. So, we were in search of candy that could somehow represent the parts of a football field. Then, Zack needed to do something sports related and settled on a soccer field, just to be slightly different from his older brother. Matthew was just happy to throw some candy on his house and probably in his mouth when I wasn't paying too much attention.

Unfortunately, the first two batches of frosting that I made were not quite right, so I was stuck creating another batch and then helping Rachel fix her 3 story hotel that kept falling down. That's right - Rachel set out to build a 3-story hotel with a hot tub - out of graham crackers! I think a little patience would have done her well, but if you know her at all, you know that she's lacking a little in that. After the boys were long done, and I had delayed dinner by an hour or so, I made the frosting using a different recipe and got the consistency we needed to build Rachel's hotel. We even died some frosting blue to fix the hot tub with water.

Dave, of course, produced his own little house that looked perfect. I think the kids respected the beauty of his simple house, but I don't think any of them regretted their choice of construction - despite the fact that none of them turned out as well as they had envisioned. At least, no one can claim that my children are not creative.

Of course, a couple bites here and there were about all that was eaten. The rest was thrown away, exactly the way the simple gingerbread house in a box has been done every other year. We'll see what the kids ask for next year!

Matthew had no plan. Just throw candy and crackers on a tray.

He did make this cute robot, though. I just discovered this on the table at some point. I was surprised to find out that Matthew had made him.

Zack's soccer field - I can barely even tell what all the parts are because he couldn't edit himself. He has a bench with players on it and a scoreboard as well.
Alex's football field. He came home and printed out a picture of the Atlanta Falcons' field. But, then, he thought it looked too complicated to make the falcon. So, he decided on the Colts. But, he was truly underestimating how difficult it would be to make an accurate field with candy. He only made 1/2 the field because he ran out of space, and I don't think he ever got to decorating the endzone. And, he definitely never made the goalposts that he had planned.

The failed attempt at the hotel. It kept collapsing slowly until it just became one huge pile of rubble. You can see the remains of the hot tub in this one, though.

The hotel #2 - much better.

Dave's simple, yet stylish house.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The whole gang!

We had a pretty low-key Halloween. Rachel had a friend over, and the boys trick-or-treated with a kid down the street. This was the first time in many years that I dressed up at all. Rachel had asked me at Target what Daddy and I were going to be. We saw the Ghostbusters costume for Dave, and I couldn't resist buying it. I went for a simple kitty cat. It was kind of fun!

Rachel squared

"Star Wars character with gun", Captain America, and Harry Potter

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

The end of an era

It all started nine and a half years ago...Rachel got a present from my mom's cousin, Mary. It was a super-soft, white bear. Immediately, she became attached to that bear and carried it with her everywhere. She simply named him, "Bear." She slept with him for a couple years straight before he was accidentally forgotten. After many tears and a substitute unicorn, she made it through that night, but he was not forgotten again for many years.

Over the past year or so, sleepovers have been arranged on the spur of the moment, and I've been able to talk Rachel out of the obligatory drive over to bring Bear. But, he still had a warm spot in her bed every night here.

Last week, as we were hanging a new shelf in her room, Rachel decided that she was willing to put Bear up there for good. I could tell it was a decision she felt she needed to do because she was growing up but that it was hard to do. So, he now has a prime location on her shelf overlooking her room. I'm happy that she decided to put him up before he was too destroyed. He's no longer white or soft. He's been sewn a few times to fix broken seams. But, he's been such a part of Rachel's childhood that I wanted to keep him as a memento.

It was very much a bittersweet moment for me. I'm happy to be done having to remember that Bear on every trip or search the house high and low to find him to get her to sleep. But, it's a clear sign that she's growing up. My baby girl is no longer a baby and that definitely brings tears to my eyes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Responsibilities

I read an article about a lady that was dying of cancer. She wanted to find ways to help her family after she was gone, so one thing she did was to teach each of her kids to make one meal. I think she had 5 kids, so she figured they would at least be able to make these 5 meals. I found this incredibly sad, but I liked the idea of teaching kids to make a specific meal. While the kids have always helped some in the kitchen, I wanted to pick meals for each of them that they would always be responsible for helping me with, so they could learn how to make something from start to finish.

We've just started this, and it is working out very well. Rachel has picked the family favorite of Parmesan Chicken. She even made some (almost on her own) for our neighbor that just had a baby. Matthew helped make spaghetti last night - and only Matthew, which led to some frustrations because everyone wanted to help. But, the beauty of it is that one kid gets that special role at a time.

So, tonight, it was Zack's turn. We had a simple dinner of pancakes and sausage links. Despite the flour all over my newly-cleaned kitchen floor and the egg shells I had to pick out, I let Zack do most of the work. I even let go enough to let him pour the batter on the griddle. It was hard because I'm surprisingly a little bit of a Nervous Nelly. He loved it and did such a great job.

After soccer, we came back to cook the remaining batter for frozen pancakes. Alex and Rachel really wanted to help this time, so I let them take it on themselves. I had to look away a little and let my desires to control the situation go, but once I did, it was like a light bulb went on. They happily cooked pancakes for 30 minutes while I cleaned up, read with Zack, put Matthew to bed. I really saw the beauty
of this new plan. I think we might be having pancakes for breakfast every night!

The new (and improved?) Naked Chef
At least by this point, I had made him put something else on besides his underwear that he was wearing to bed.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just like the big kids!

Matthew always wants to be just like his brothers. It's been bothering him that he can't read like them, ride bikes like them, etc. Well, we fixed the bike problem. Once I got him over his fear of riding in the road, he took off like a pro.

I had video of better riding skills, but I loved the little smile at the end of this one. I didn't have the camera out when he would fall, then jump up and come running and squealing toward me because he was so excited. It was so cute because he was proud of himself.

Deja vu? Zack just happened to be wearing the same shirt when he learned to ride a bike. Maybe the shirt has super powers!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Communion

On May 1st, Alex celebrated his First Communion. He looked so handsome in his little suit. It wasn't quite the production to get the outfit ready as it was for Rachel, but I still loved seeing him all dressed up.

With his godmommy, Aunt Tara

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

UVA with Abby and Matt

My friend from college, Abby, wanted to meet up in Charlottesville to run the 1/2 marathon with Dave. So, we headed down for a couple days to meet up with them. It was great to see them and UVA. It felt so nice we even looked a little at real estate booklets.

Here we are bright and early preparing to cheer Abby and Dave on as they pass 1 mile into the race.

Then, the kids and I walked 1 mile to the finish and met up with the jungle gym, um...Matt. He provided great entertainment for my kids by swinging them around, tickling them, putting them on his shoulders and playing tag with the others. The kids absolutely adored him, but they wouldn't leave him alone all day. I'm sure Matt enjoyed it but was glad to see us go.

Apparently the course was super hilly, so Dave and Abby were both happy with their performance. It was fun to be there and cheer them on.

We played football and threw a frisbee on the lawn, had some ice cream on the corner and bought some UVA merchandise at the bookstore. It was nice to relive the glory days. Here the kids are posing in front of the Rotunda.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Doyle's Visit

We were blessed to have Alice and her 4 youngest girls come visit with us for a couple weeks. We really loved having them around to go to celebrate Rachel's birthday, Easter, and just everyday events like soccer games. Rachel particularly loved having girls around to play with. It was fun! Here are just a few pictures of our time together.

Matthew, Zack, Sophie and Ella dye eggs

Easter group pic

Matthew and Sophie

Rachel takes Sophie for a ride

Grace, Mia and Ella on a cannon at the Manassas Battlefield

Matthew beats Alice in a race. He still talks about how is faster than Aunt Alice.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ten??? Really?

I cannot believe that I have been a parent for 10 years. I still get flashes of disbelief that I am mature enough to be responsible for these children. It's been such an unbelievable ride, and it's probably going to get bumpier with a "tween" as she so often likes to remind me that she has become at 10.

Having the 3 boys, I'm so thankful to have a daughter. She is such a strong and confident person. She is so talented in ways that are so different from her brothers, and she's just happy with the person that she is. I love it! She sang a solo at church for Easter. I was so impressed and proud of her for being able to sing strong and confidently with 1500 people there. I was nervous, but she did great!

I had decided years ago when Rachel wanted her ears pierced that she could get it done for her 10th birthday. That way she would be old enough to decide for herself and do all the work to keep them clean. She has been counting down the days until her 10th birthday for a couple years now, so she was super excited. It was fun to have her Aunt Alice and cousins here to go with her.

Looking very nervous

Pretty blue flowers

One example of Rachel's great heart is this sweet letter I found just written on the board waiting for Zack to find. Makes a mom proud!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catching up...

I have been a total slacker on blogging, but I wanted to blog some of the stuff that happened. So, I decided that since I have a little time, I will go back and do some of the old stuff. I'm going to post-date everything, so I'll have a new post every couple days for a few days anyway.

April Fool's Day

Now, I'm not a big April Fool's Day person. I never really think of anything to do. When I was 12, I told everyone at school that my mom had had her baby, and it was a girl. I had everyone convinced except my teacher. That was kind of fun! But, I never really try to get my kids with anything other than the lame, "your shoe's untied."

But, this year Uncle Chris was at our house, and not surprisingly, he does like April Fool's Day. This year he wanted to Saran Wrap our kids in their rooms, so at a very late hour, we were searching for a solution to getting the Saran Wrap up.

It didn't have quite the effect that we would have liked. Alex gets up first, which is unfortunate, because when Zack gets up, it is often a mad dash to the bathroom. So, he might have just ran into it. Of course, he might have had an accident on the floor and been seriously devastated by it. But, that would have been a much more successful prank.

Chris also put their toothbrushes in ice. This one was funny. Matthew was very upset about this. I think he was crying. That's pretty standard for a visit with Uncle Chris. At least one of my kids usually ends up in tears.

Friday, May 7, 2010

8 years ago today...

My little Alex was born after way too long a labor. Dave was very glad that Alex was a boy because he really wanted a son and wanted to pressure removed early. Little did we know that making boys was not a problem for us!

Alex is a personality of extremes. When he's excited about something, he is really into it and will push himself, work hard and get a lot out of th
e experience. He loves football and is always looking for an opportunity to play. He has done quite well in his flag football season, and it's been fun watching him play.

Another example is his running. He is just fast (like Dave) and determined. Yesterday the kids ran the Race for Education at school. They run around a 1/4 mile lap as many times as they can in 1 hour. My goal was to run with him. Dave encouraged me with, "You're going to get your butt kicked." Well, he was right. I couldn't even keep up with his speed and then his endurance proved to strong for me, too. He was shooting for 20 laps (5 miles), but he just couldn't quite get it in time and got cut off at 19. But, he was pushing hard at the end. I noticed at the end that he had blood running all down his leg. Apparently he had fallen and skinned his knee, but it didn't stop him at all. (In a side note, Rachel and Zack did super well too. I was so impressed by all 3 of the kids. They were determined and pushed themselves beyond what many of the other kids did.)

In contrast with this positive side of Alex, if he isn't into something, it is like pulling teeth. He just stands his ground and fights it every step of the way. It can be infuriating, but I think it will help him stand true to his morals as he gets older. And, that makes me feel good as a mother.

I love my little man. I cannot believe how fast he is growing up.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My "baby" turns 4

The birthdays of my children are a big reminder of how fast time flies by. Rachel turns 10 this year, and my little baby just turned 4. But, he is quick to let me know anytime I slip and actually call him my baby. "I am not your baby. I am a BIG BOY!" Matthew has the strongest will of any of my kids. He knows what we wants, and he will fight hard to get it. I love him for this, even when it drives me crazy (which is every day).

He is definitely a leader. He is always coming up with ideas and trying to get other people to do them with him. Scary thought as he gets older and those ideas get a little more dangerous! And, he talks to everyone. He chats up the people at the grocery store, always meets a new friend at the park, has long conversations on the phone anytime he beats me to answer it. He loves to talk and will do it any chance he gets.

I love Matthew's sense of humor. He laughs at everything and loves to make people laugh. He will make funny faces or funny noises just to get a good reaction. He cracks me up all the time.

I love you, little buddy. Happy 4th!

Matthew with his buddies Cam, Christopher, Lizzie and J.J.

We took the kids and Grammy to the Melting Pot on Matthew's birthday (rescheduled from my birthday). In trying to make the kids cautious, Grammy scared Matthew enough that he was terrified of the chocolate, but just the chocolate. He even told the waiter that he didn't want any chocolate. It just took a few seconds before he realized what he was missing, and he dug right in.