Sunday, April 20, 2014

one last look at vegas

I love road trips.  Some people might think I am insane for wanting to travel for hours on end with the kids in the van but this is how I see it....

Usually, a trip has been booked because I am desperate to get away from the every day hustle and bustle.  So, with that mindset, I am excited regardless of mode of transportation.  I am also excited to have my gang with me without any distractions...just us.  We are usually headed somewhere we have never been as I am not good at repeats (too much to see in this vast, wonderful world) so this is thrilling on its own.  Regarding the road trip part, in particular, I am not a fan of flying and doing things at our own speed is waaayyy more relaxing.  And don't forget that leading up to this sort of trip, there is a lot of preparation in addition to the regular goings-on around here so when we are finally packed up and on our way, woohoo...sitting still and staring out that window is awesome.  Eventually, the kids start asking for food (you know...after about 5 minutes or so), there is bickering over who gets which iPad, which movie to watch, who gets to sit where (we have vowed to buy a bigger vehicle before the next long drive...shoulders all getting too big) but there are lots of quiet moments to watch the changing scenery, read my book, chat with Kev or move to the back to snuggle with the kids (Mags needs a break now and then...poor girl :).

On our way to Vegas, we drove for hours and hours and hours through this.....(thanks Mags for taking pics)...




Conditions got more desert-like as we progressed but this computer is still giving me a pain in my side.  Gassing up and going to the bathroom became very strategic because there was not much of anything for hours on end (or so it seemed).

After 2 good days of driving by Kev and of feeding the kids, changing dvds, giving markers to Franny by me....(still have to clean a window or two...."Mom!  Franny is drawing on the van!"...whatever keeps her happy on hour 16 :)....we arrived (totally filthy but safe and sound).


Our 2-bedroom condo held us easily - with Franny still bunking in with us, we were able to fib that we were a family of 6 (or so we convinced ourselves). The little kids got the pull-out for most of the week but they managed fine (not many years left for that...they will all soon be too heavy for those usually awful beds).

Kev and I were able to use the resort's fitness room and we usually had the kids to the pool before 9 -  quiet, sunny and already hot.  Slowly, other holidayers would make their way to the pool and the day would fill with people watching, reading, hot tubbing, playing catch, diving for toys, listening to music, chatting with a fellow lounger, soaking up that beautiful desert heat.

One night, we had fun playing charades  (thank you to Bridget for spearheading this)....


We got to the strip a couple of times, did some outlet shopping and took in a Cirque de Soleil show.  Great vacay.  Here are some more pics....








Happy Easter! xo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

spring break 2014 - las vegas

A couple of weeks before the kids' spring break, we decided that if we could find some inexpensive accommodations in the sun, we were going to go for it.  We lucked in and found a highly reviewed mini-resort off of the strip in Las Vegas (somewhere I had never been and was curious to check out...though Kev had been a lot which added to my comfort level).  Can you believe that it was only charging $100/night!?  Thank heavens for TripAdvisor or I would have guessed this place was a dive and wouldn't have chanced it.  Even then, I was a little nervous.  We have learned the hard way that what you see online is not necessarily how it will appear live (Katrina, if you are reading this...remember our first place in California a few years ago? not so good!).  

Well, we lucked in - the photos online didn't do it justice - and after a long drive (approximately 18 hours....yes, our kids rock as long distance passengers), we pulled into the Desert Paradise Resort where we were greeted with 6 long days of killer heat and sunshine.  Not all vacations are going to work out weather-wise but this one sure did and are we ever grateful...would have been a long way to go for more clouds and cool temps.

I can't seem to get the photos off of my phone. The iphoto app is giving me a hard time so here are a few from the big camera.  I can still feel that glorious sunshine....

On the first day, G got too much sun on his face so we strolled down to the local Walgreens and picked up a hat (which Maggie was happy to wear whenever she could)...


The kids played endlessly in the pool...


It was even warm enough for me to get in (needs to be upper 80s and into the 90s for me).  The kids were surprised to see me get wet...yes, I am a wimp....


G was in that water sooo much and often made friends to play with for hours on end.  Unfortunately, these are the only photos of our pool time on the big camera....everything else is on our phones (I do have photos of Kev!)...


More to come as I figure this iPhoto thing out.  Hope all is well in your next of the woods!  xo

Friday, March 28, 2014

not me definitely lives here!

Growing up, I loved to read the Family Circus comic.  Not only was it cute but the family in the comic was set up just like the family I was in....3 boys and a girl.  The girl was second in line, just like I was. 

The other morning, with this comic strip in mind, I laughed along with Maggie when, soon after I scolded Maggie for leaving a puddle of milk on the floor, Franny (who was witnessing this all from her high chair) said quite emphatically "Not my fault!".   Someone isn't missing a thing around here and is quickly learning how to cover her behind :).  

I think I have learned how to have another child without giving Kev a nervous breakdown.  This sixth child is Not Me.  I think every family has this one extra bonus kid :).



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

seeing dani and deep thoughts...

It is 2 a.m.  Quiet time.  Time when I sometimes reflect so excuse the cheesiness of this post :).  

We had an awesome day yesterday.  It came on the heels of an awesome, beautiful weekend.

When I stepped on the stairmaster today and found that I wasn't really drawn in by Kelly & Michael, I turned to my new Songza app introduced to us by Jamie - love it.  I cued up Uplifting Tunes or something like that and was given a song called Compass by Lady Antebellum.  Well, it lifted me up!


I know, cheesy, right?  I don't think Kev will be able to listen to it :)...neither will Dani.  I learned they have the same taste in music.

I got to see Dani these past two weekends and it has been sooo nice to connect with her (for friends who don't know, Dani is my much younger cousin).  When I was up in Vancouver last weekend for a quick visit with Kris (my slightly older cousin...ha! :), we got to have brunch with Dani and see her new apartment (she had just moved in the day before, it is very cool and near Kris's place).


Then this past weekend, Dani came down to Seattle to meet up with an old friend who is trying to figure out where to move (she is currently in Detroit with her folks).  This friend has recently return to the States from a few years in Korea and is in the stage of "where to live, what to do?".  When I heard they were going to be in town, I asked if they could hang out with us for a bit and they were keen.  I picked them up downtown and while we were waiting to head out on our hike, we visited in the sun in the backyard.  I instantly liked Dani's friend and felt a a connection (she is from a family of 6 kids!).  

While listening to my new favorite song today, I couldn't help think about Dani's friend and this tough time in her life...what do next when it just isn't obvious.  Been there!  I thought about our kids and how some of them will probably go through this time of quandary as well.

As the sun kept warming our little world here yesterday and after the initial craziness of the after school rush (sorry that was going on when you called, Mom and Dad), the kids got to playing outside and I felt happy....grateful.  There was a time in my twenties when I sure didn't know if this would all happen.  Happy that my kids will have each other.  Happy that Dani's friend has such a good friend in Dani and that big family of hers.  Grateful that I have a big family back home to share with our kids (and that some of that family is close by us here as well).  

Some picks from our weekend and yesterday....

The girls working together to get the backyard ready for company Saturday night...


Mags playing lacrosse...


Gabe and Franny playing on the trampoline after school...(he is pointing out an airplane to her)....


Hoping that wasn't too cheesy.  Hoping you like my new favorite song.  I'll play it to death and be sick of it next week but liking it now :). xo

Thursday, March 20, 2014

mid march update (part 2)

It is dark as I sit here in the early morning and the house is quiet.  The fridge is gently humming as I am parked at the table with my cup of tea and looking at the counter full of dishes.  Kev offered many times last night to empty the dishwasher and refill it.  I was not going to have it.  That boy is working so hard right now (up till wee hours of the morning again last night) that I said 'don't you dare touch them' as I went to bed.  Gone are the days when the dishwasher is run once a day.  I think it is the after school play dates that kill us...the cups used and snacks consumed increase our dishes used big time.  Thank God for a dishwasher!  I'll tackle those dishes as I am making the kids breakfast and lunch.  I digress....that is a boring start to this post.....

I was out with Eve last night at a middle school info night.  She is hot on Maggie's heels and will be joining her there next year.  I took zero photos!  What has happened to me??  Arg.  Here however are a few more that I found on my phone...a couple of short videos as well....

Jamie and Leah were here recently.  We had a really nice visit but unfortunately the weather was pretty rotten the whole week.  That stressed me out.  I know they were coming from the tundra and it was still milder here but cold rain is no fun.  I remember Grandpa stressing about a bad weather March Break for us in Florida and I get it.  Here we are standing in the rain while the kids run around us....(probably wasn't the best for Jamie's pneumonia)...


This park is extra fun because of the zipline.  Maggie took my phone and recorded of B.....


Wouldn't you know that the one day we decide to go to Chuck E. Cheese (haven't been in years), the sun came out for a bit but the kids had a blast and the pizza was really good....




G got himself some fun glasses with his winnings :).....


While Jamie and Leah were here, Evie had a concert with her choir.  Can you see her right in the middle?  I spent most of the concert running around after Fransters in the foyer as she wanted to go to Eve when we were in the auditorium.  Kev was with G at his basketball finals that night or I'd have left F with him.  I think we are a year away from Franny being able to sit through this sort of thing....


The weather is getting nicer here.  The grey skies are breaking up more often and we are seeing the sun.  It is a good thing.  We aren't at warm yet but I'll take sunshine over thick cloud cover any day!  Fransters and I are not the only ones at the park any more.  She loves hooking up with other little kids...we have another social butterfly on our hands (not sure how this happened...not one anti-social one among them!)...




I don't mean to rub your noses in it, EastCoasters...but this was a happy day....we went for a cone before heading to the park after school.  B was on that swing for ages.....



Ok, to the dishes! xo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

mid march update

One might think that with Kev working from home these days, we get to spend a lot of time together. This is not the case.  Don't get me wrong....it is so great to have him here with us most of the time and our dinners have improved remarkably with Kev in the kitchen most nights.  However, at this stage in our lives, finding time for the two of us is a challenge.  

I think back to all of those early baby years when we passed the newborn back and forth in the evening, when Kev and I chatted while Mags sat in the high chair at dinner, when the kids were so little they were all asleep by 7.  We had lots of time then.  And, I know there will soon be years and years of just the two of us when the kids are grabbing the keys to the cars and being more independent.  I am not complaining in the least....just merely making an observation about this time in our lives.  We are rocking and rolling right now!

For the past week, Kev and I have been trying to sit down together to make some travel plans.  Summer is fast approaching as well as the kids' spring break.  It was a bit comical that we couldn't manage to find the time to get this done (definitely does not help that I can't manage to stay awake when putting Franny to bed)...we are at the stage where we need to book time to book some time together :).  Finally, yesterday, while the kids were running around getting ready for school and then last night while they were enjoying the mild temps outside at bedtime, we did it.  Yay!

The big camera never seems to come out these days.  Here are a few current shots....

Franny is still loving her Mommy & Me dance class.  Here she is waiting for her class to start.  She is a great listener and active participant in class....


Who would have ever thought that I would have the only blond in a class???  This was taken just this week....


For February break, we got away to Great Wolf Lodge.  This is not my favorite of places....not a fan of standing around in my bathing suit unless it is under a blazing sun, but we wanted to get away with the kids and this was easy and fun for the all of the kids (can be tough to please ages 12 through 2 while all staying together)...



Also over the break, I took the big kids skating while Franny napped with Kev at home.  The kids hadn't been on skates in over a year but they did really well (not Ottawa-well but well enough :).  Here is G with his good buddy, Bo.  This was Bo's first time on skates and he was a trooper.  I believe this is a pic I sent to both dads and referred to these guys as Bambis on ice.  But there was no complaining at all.  G seems to love skating and always has regardless of the falls.


For a while, signs were popping up all over the house.  One morning, I woke up to find these on the fridge.  Bridget is a little entrepreneur.  These are sign up sheets for her massage business....


Eve continues to play soooo well with all ages and for a while she was hosting a dance studio for the neighbors and sisters in our basement....


Competing for time in this coveted, more private space, was G who is trying to get his youtube-ing career off the ground (though very frustrated with our lack of assistance...poor G...please see my first three paragraphs of this post :)...


Mags continues to participate in her sports.  She has recently added lacrosse and is doing well (scored 3 goals in the first jamboree last weekend in the rain) but I am not sure this sport is going to stick.  But like she said the other day "at least I've tried it"... (here she is wearing a fleece I wore in university!)...


I don't have a pic (they are all on Kev's phone) but Mags' basketball team recently won their league championship with a lot of help from our girl.  She is really becoming a great ball player...fabulous on defence and aggressive on O.  She has just made a club team that won the state finals last weekend!

Oh, Franny is up.  Have to fly.  More later....xo

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

visitors a-comin'


Jamie, Leah and Jack arrive tomorrow.  We are very excited to see them.  Unfortunately, Jamie just found out he has pneumonia!  Right to bed for him.  

I've been cleaning like a fool.  Nothing like visitors to light a fire under you and to get things nice.  It feels good.  Thank God for a washing machine is all I have to say.  And, IKEA slip covers that can so easily be cleaned.  Jamie will be riding one clean couch in his recovery.

Looking so forward to some good chats and laughs and just generally hanging out with these guys.  The baked ziti and apple crisp are ready to go for our weary travelers.  

Crazy kids coming to the rain and a house with 5 kids for their holidays.  Sometimes crazy is good :).