Sunday, November 30, 2008

And You Thought You'd Heard It All


This blog could very well be called "Life As I Knew It" with all of the stories I tell you about my past. I have been thinking about that lately. Should I be more focused on the here-and-now?

Here's my conclusion: Nah. I can write about whatever I want.

I have had a few people tell me I should write a book about my childhood and teenage experiences. Well, you'd have to buy a book, but my blog? It's FREE! (Now, that's priceless.)

My sister-in-law's sister (got that?) has apparently written a book which includes one of my experiences. You could go buy her book when it's available - or read all about it here. For FREE!

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago... (fade to past)

Soon after I graduated from high school, my friends and I went on a weekend trip. We returned on a Sunday afternoon, refreshed and ready to get back to school and jobs and whatnot. However, nothing could have prepared me for what I found when I returned home.





Nothing.





We lived in an upstairs apartment, #6 to be exact, of Bay Village Apartments. I unlocked the door and walked up the stairs, my red backpack slung over my shoulder. As I reached the top of the stairs, I wondered if I had somehow entered a vacant apartment... everything was gone. I mean, everything. There were no pictures on the walls, no couches, no tables, no television sets. (Yes, I said sets. My parents each had their own, and they were watched simultaneously.) I walked around the apartment, wondering what thief could possibly steal every single item from our home, unnoticed.

I was in shock.

I wandered around - no bikes on the balcony. No food in the refrigerator. No discarded popcorn kernels hiding in the corners of the kitchen floor.

Wait a minute. The thief took the time to clean up afterwards? This was getting seriously freaky.

I immediately thought of my personal belongings - my bedroom! I ran toward it and noticed something strange - it was the only door in the whole place that was shut. And there was a note taped to the door.

It read:

Dear Gerby,
We moved to a house in Gardena.
Here is our phone number: 555-1234.
Call us when you get home.


Loves, Mom and Dad

I stood there, frozen. They moved? I slowly twisted the doorknob, afraid of what I would find.
My bedroom was exactly as I had left it. It was eerie, like walking into an episode of the Twilight Zone. Posters still covered the walls. Clothing was still strewn about the floor. My bed remained unmade. I collapsed onto the bed, staring up at the ceiling, to let it all sink in...

They moved. Without me.

I thought to call my friend Julie who lived just down the court.

No phones.

I walked to her apartment, filling her in on the details of what had just happened. Julie's mom, (my 2nd mom, incidentally) suggested: "Why don't you just move in with us?"

So I did.




And that's the truth.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So Thankful

Tomorrow is that day of the year where we give thanks for our blessings. I have been thinking for the entire month about what I would write today. I had all kinds of great ideas which included stories from my childhood, Thanksgivings now past, unanswered prayers, extended family, wonderful friends and the generosity of others. But, when it comes down to it, this is what I am most thankful for: my family.

I am thankful for a husband who works hard for the money (so hard for it, honey!) to support our family. For his ability to do pretty much anything house or car or yard related. Thankful he is as frugal-minded as I am and that we are on the same page when it comes to our household and finances. I love how service-oriented he is and that he is OK with my own whimsical desires to serve others - that he understands my need to do so. I am thankful that he loves kids as much as I do and that he's willing to support and love a whole houseful with me. I am especially thankful that he loves me enough to put up with all my weaknesses and imperfections - and I have a few. He's one of my greatest blessings.

I am thankful for kids who are nothing short of amazing. Are they perfect? Of course not. But when I hear others complaining about their teenagers' attitudes and unwillingness to contribute to their families, I realize how great we've got it here. I am a tad bit overprotective of my kids (yes, I know this and can admit it) because I love them so much. I want them home, with me, all the time, because can anyone really appreciate them like I do? (For the record, I am learning to loosen the apron strings some...) I am thankful that they know how to make good choices and that they are not afraid to do what they know is right - or to tell others what they think. I am thankful that they love each other and are loyal to each other and look out for each other. I am thankful that they put up with the crazy chaos that we call our home and that they all contribute to making it our own little piece of heaven here on earth.

Really, words cannot describe what I am feeling. Language is not sufficient to explain the emotions in my heart. Love? Thankful? Amazing? Words don't seem adequate. The thoughts of family that I hold in my heart, that float around in my head like a beautiful melody, seem to come out in a jumbled muck of words when I attempt to voice them. It is frustrating. So, let me just say again:

I am thankful for my family. So thankful.

I am thankful to have so much.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ask And You Shall Receive


I have recently become reacquainted with an old friend from high school who now lives in Germany. (Hi Stephanie!) She was curious as to what my daily schedule is like with 9 children. In fact, she says she finds things like that "fascinating".

Regardless of how mundane my daily schedule seems to me, I like to appear fascinating to others. So Stephanie, this post's for you! (Grab yourself a snack, it's pretty long...)

6:30 am - Coolister wakes me up almost every morning. (I'm lazy that way.) I like to prepare a real breakfast for the family every morning. This varies from hot cereals (oatmeal, germade, cornmeal or rice) to scrambled eggs to pancakes or waffles, baked oatmeal or breakfast sandwiches... the possibilities are endless but vary depending on the actual time I wake up. We eat cold cereal most Sundays, which the kids consider a treat.

6:45 am - I start making lunches and check that everyone who has to go to school is awake.

6:50 am - Breakfast is served! The kids eat in waves. Usually Coolister and ElemenoB eat at this time.

7:00 am - Coolister leaves for the bus stop. I am still making everyone else's lunches. ElemenoB changes her outfit for the 3rd time then gets in the shower.

7:15 am - Lunches are done. Go tell Thumbelina that her bus leaves in 15 minutes so she had better get out of bed!

7:25 am - Thumbelina, All-a-boy and Cowgirl eat breakfast. I tell All-a-boy that he can NOT wear that same shirt again. He rolls his eyes and goes to change.

7:35 am - ElemenoB and Thumbelina should leave for their bus stop, but Thumbelina usually can't find her shoes or her math homework or her jacket. ElemenoB acts annoyed but secretly revels in the fact that she can check her hair in the mirror one more time.

7:37 am - The girls bid me farewell.

7:40 am - I do Cowgirl's hair. All-a-boy shows up in the shirt I told him to change out of. I state his name and give him 'the look'. He rolls his eyes again and heads back to his bedroom.

7:41 am - All-a-boy comes up in a different shirt... with shorts. I remind him that it is about 40 degrees outside. More eye rolling, more clothing changes.

7:45 am - I brush down All-a-boy's cowlicks with plenty of water and hair gel. He requests 'spiky' or 'flat' and I comply.

7:50 am - Last minute (frantic!) scramble for jackets, homework, backpacks, lunches, shoes... All-a-boy and Cowgirl watch out the window for their carpool and slam the door on their way out.

Sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 am - Princess, Hubba and Curly wake up and eat breakfast. Princess throws a royal fit if it is "oatmeal again". I sit down and eat with them.

Whatever time I sit down to eat - Baby O wakes up. I feed him then finish feeding myself.

Around 9:15 am - Wash breakfast dishes.

9:45 am - Get kids dressed. Let Hubba stay in his pajamas, since he's going to change back into them anyway at some point in the day. Get out Legos or K'nex or Furryvilles or trains for them to play with. If I want to take a shower, I put in a movie for them downstairs with strict instructions not to answer the door while I am in the shower! Princess does not get this, as she is fully capable of answering the door without my assistance. Luckily, we have not had many visitors at this time.

10:15 am - Make my bed, put in a load of laundry, then get on the computer. Check Google Reader for new blog posts. Mull over what comments to leave. Read my email.

11:00 am - Put the laundry in the dryer. Put Baby O down for his morning nap. Back to the computer to see if I got any new email or comments on posts. Read the local news online at KSL and Herald Extra. Begin to compose a blog post if I feel so inspired.

11:20 am - Lunch for the kidlets. Princess usually requests not a sandwich. Quesedillas or cheese and crackers are regulars, along with some form of fruit or vegetable.

11:30 am - Clean up lunch, do Princess' hair according to her specifications: "Two braids today, mom - in the back." or "No ponytails, just a clip with a flower." or "Two big ponytails". Or, if we are in a hurry, it just gets brushed. Last minute search for show-and-tell items, homework, and jacket - despite Princess' declarations of 'I like cold!' and 'I get too sweaty in my jacket anyways, Mom! Geez!!'

11:50 am - Wake Baby O. Load the smallish ones into the suburban. Chase Hubba and Curly around the house a few times, screaming threats of no more milk today! if they don't get in their carseats RIGHT NOW.

11:58 am - Leave for kindergarten. Sing the 'Bob the Builder' theme song and 'Thomas We Love You' 3 times on the way while looking for large machinery to point out to Hubba. As in, "Hey, Hubba - there's Scoop! Do you see Roley?"

12:04 pm - Drop Princess off for kindergarten. She is always at least 3 minutes late, so I figure I'm being consistent.

12:10 pm - Back at home. Throw in another load of laundry, fold the dry load. Vacuum the floors so Baby O can soldier crawl to his heart's content amongst the discarded Legos and trains.

12:30 pm - Turn on www.starfall.com to occupy Hubba and Curly. Try to eat my lunch somewhere that I won't be discovered.

12:31 pm -
Hubba: "Mom, can I have a bite of yours?"
Me: "But you already ate lunch..."
H: "But not yours lunch."
Me: "Mom needs to eat lunch, too. Do you want a sandwich?"
H: "I want yours lunch."
Me: "I'll make you your own bowl of soup, ok?"
H: "Can I eat yours soup? And you can make the other bowl for you?"
Me: (thinking) Could he possibly know that mine is really ice cream?

12:45 pm - Put the laundry in the dryer. Finish my blog post, if one is started. Check my email again. (Hmmm... I'm sensing a pattern here...)

1:00 pm - This varies, depending on the day. It includes: Start to think about dinner. Pay bills. Compose email replies. Make phone calls. Clean bathroom. Vacuum. Screen phone calls. Try to come up with a more creative answering machine message. Look at old pictures. Read old journals. Leave comments on blogs read earlier. Transfer pictures from camera to computer. Put on some music and sing really loud. Dance a little if alone. Dance a lot if the kids are watching. Check the calendar for what else is coming up this week. Take a kid to a doctor's appointment. The list goes on for miles...

2:30 pm - Start getting the kids in the vehicle to go pick up the elementary school kids. Try to find shoes. Tell Hubba socks are good enough. Try to be systematic about this - Put Baby O in the suburban. Go get Curly. Buckle her in. Go get Hubba - who has escaped from the house and is running down the street in his socks and pajamas, laughing his head off. Try to stifle laughter when I capture him and tell him he should not run from me.

2:45 pm - Buckle Hubba in. Count the animals we pass on the way to the school (horses, sheep, cows and goats).

2:50 pm - Pick up at the school of my 3 plus 3 others. Drop others off.

3:05 pm - Home again. Homework starts immediately or else I will forget to make them do it. Everyone had to read at least 20 minutes every day. There is often also spelling and math involved.

3:15 pm - ElemenoB and Thumbelina get home. (except for the days when they have play practice. Then they get home at 4:30 pm). ElemenoB goes to babysit. Thumbelina locks herself in her room with a book and says, "I'm doing my homework!" when I knock. "Homework at the table!" I yell back. I can feel her eyes rolling at me behind the door when I hear the exasperated sigh.

3:30 pm - Run a few errands now that I don't have to take the whole gang with me. Last-minute groceries, the bank, the library and stores with supplies for school projects are the top 4 destinations. The local bakery is often right on the way, so I have been known to stop there on occasion. I am a firm believer in supporting local businesses, you know.

4:30 pm - Coolister calls and wants a ride home from cross country practice. If I am already out running errands, I oblige. If I am not, he gets more running practice in as he makes his way home.

5:00 pm - I am home. I marvel over how the kids can undo what I have done in the house throughout the day and pick up some things, enlisting the help of the slaves. I start getting out what is needed for dinner. I help with unfinished homework. I read to Princess and Cowgirl.

5:30 pm - Put dinner together. Let it cook. Pick up more stuff off the floors, counter tops and couches.

6:00 pm - ElemenoB gets home from babysitting. On a good day, someone sets the table and dinner is served. Dinner is served between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. I hate the 9:00 pm dinner days, but when it's a day for grocery shopping that's what happens.

Everything gets crazy at this time of day, depending on the day of the week.

Mondays we have "Family Home Evening" which is where we sing songs, play games and have a short lesson about something, followed by a treat.

Tuesdays the oldest 3 kids go to church at 7:00 pm with the other youth in our area. The boys play basketball or Frisbee and call it "scouts". The girls do various things from cooking to sewing to having a little lesson.

Wednesdays All-a-boy has cub scouts.

Thursdays Allen has church meetings all night.

Fridays are often date nights. (I like Fridays.)

Weekends are a completely different story.

Around 8:00 - 9:00 pm, or whenever everyone is home, we read scriptures together.

Bedtime is somewhere between 8:30 and 10:30 pm, though we have been doing much better lately and getting to bed closer to 9:00 pm. This routine includes drinks of milk, bathroom reminders and empty threats before everyone is finally asleep somewhere. Hubba has a very nice bed but usually chooses to sleep with the "big girls", Coolister or right between Allen and I.

Once the kids are in bed Allen checks sports scores, peruses You Tube videos and does some work on his laptop while I head to the desktop for more blog surfing and email checking.

There are various things mixed in on different days, but that's about it. Pretty exciting stuff!




See what you get when you ask? Anyone else?

(I'm taking requests.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Order of Things

Apparently, if you are crazy enough to do this:

You may unexpectedly get something like this:


Where you could be told you've received this:


Any questions?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leiannaconnannaconnadonna

I will admit that I have been known to be a drama queen at times.

I know, most of you are completely surprised. It's true. I haven't always been the genteel lady you know me as today.

I mean, I used to be a liar, too. There it all is! Out on the table. All of my secrets, revealed. And here is my story.

Back in high school, I had an eclectic group of friends. Seriously, check out the picture. Everyone had their 'thing' that really made them stand out - I mean, Melanie had that cool hat . Debi wore RayBans 24/7, plus check out her awesome jacket with like 5,000 pins on it. Trish always wore the raddest clothes. Holly had her awesome orange convertible bug. Me? I had bangs like a polygamist. Hmmm. Not so cool. I needed a trademark! Something to make me memorable. Then suddenly, I had it! I needed a new middle name.

It had to be really out there. I mean, come on, my first name was already Gerberta - it had to compete with that. So a couple of friends and I thought long and hard and came up with this: Leiannaconnannaconnadonna. And I stuck with it. "What's your name?" someone would ask, unassuming. And they'd get the whole shebang: Gerberta Leiannaconnannaconnadonna Royce.

Was I part Hawaiian? Were my parents hippies? No. Was that really my middle name? Yes. I kept my answers simple. (Much easier to keep up with a lie when it's not too complicated. I was a professional.)

Then came Terry. A boy-friend. (Hey - I didn't wear the braided, bangs-to-the-sky look daily. When my long, curly locks were swaying about my shoulders, I was downright irresistible! Keep saying it, it may become true... I was irresistible. I was irresistible.) One day Terry asked me, "What's your middle name?" So automatic was my response, I didn't even think twice. "That's really your middle name?" he asked, incredulous. I gave my standard reply. His response? "Cool."

And then the lie started to catch up with me. One day Terry told me he had been in an argument with him mom. I asked him what about? "Your middle name." I cringed inside. Stick with it. Don't mess it up... "What about it?" I asked cooly. Apparently, his mom didn't believe that was really my middle name. And he defended me. I couldn't tell him the truth now! Or ever.

Then comes the part where Terry and I did that thing they call "breaking up". And in a final effort to win my heart back, he wrote me a song. I swear, this part is true. He went to a real recording studio and played the keyboard and sang the lines he wrote from his heart, to me. It was one of the best gifts I have ever been given, and I still have the tape he recorded it on. Inside the tape cover, he wrote: For G.L. Royce, From T.

G.L.?
I thought. Who is G.L.?

Oh, yes, that was me. He also uses the name "Leianna" in the song, titled "Leianna's Heart". And my 16-year-old self thought, Someday when he's a famous singer and songwriter I can show this tape to my kids and say, "See? He wrote a song for me once." And they'll say, "Who is G.L. Royce? Who is Leianna? Your middle name is Donna." And they'll all write it off to Mom The Drama Queen making up her crazy stories again.

Here are the morals to this story.

1. Don't be a drama queen. And

2. Lying is wrong.




And now for the Fine Print:
Exceptions can occasionally be made in certain circumstances where you may need to employ the skill of "stretching the truth a bit". Then it may be sort of okay. Or if you get a song written for you out of it, that may also be justified. Also, if you need a really good story to tell your kids someday, a very small lie may be acceptable. And when you make a story a little more interesting by adding a few facts? That is strictly for entertainment value and completely forgivable. There may also be times that your kids ask you questions about your past and a small fabrication is a good idea. Plus, I am not really a drama queen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Songs

Hello, everyone. I have resurfaced from my sickness fog. It is good to be back and fully functioning. Did you miss me? I missed you.

The final playlist for my Thanksgiving CD is complete. Thanks for your ideas and suggestions! Don't be sad if your songs aren't included - I may not have been able to find them.

(Or one song may have had a couple of lines that I didn't want to have to explain to my kids. Don't think I didn't love hearing that song again, though! It's been a long time...)

I also did not want a whole CD full of just instrumental music - I like to sing along. So a few were excluded for that reason.

When I played the songs for my kids, if they said anything like "That sounds weird" then I left it out as well. I mean, they're going to have to listen to this until after Thanksgiving, too.

A few songs were thrown in even if they just said "Thank you" in them because I wanted a little variety. I also opted to throw in a few songs about eating and home, because (hello!) where do we go and what do we do for Thanksgiving? And how else could I include Michael Buble?

Why do I feel the need to explain myself? Because I love you all. I do not like hurt feelings. And I especially do not like secret hurt feelings that come across as "No everything's just fine and I am not at all offended that you didn't like my song choices" but really mean "Why do I even bother reading your blog when you obviously hate me and all that I suggest and stand for?"

I really love you. Really. Really!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for (drumroll, please...)

Here's the playlist: (UPDATED! I forgot one! See #15...)

1. Thankful - Josh Groban
2. Thanksgiving Theme - Vince Guaraldi Trio (think Charlie Brown)
3. Colors - John McCutcheon
4. Prayer of Thanksgiving - David Tolk
5. Eat It - Weird Al
6. Thanksgiving Day - John McCutcheon
7. Thank U - Alanis Morrissette (who doesn't love singing along to this one at the top of their lungs? THANK YOU, SILEEEEEEEENCE!!)
8. When Fall Comes to New England - Cheryl Wheeler
9. Take Me Home Country Roads - John Denver
10. Thank You - John Mellencamp
11. Happy Thanksgiving - Debbie Friedman
12. Home - Michael Buble
13. Thanksgiving - George Winston
14. Celebrate Me Home - Kenny Loggins
15. Thanksgiving - Jim Brickman

Now I need to start working on a "Winter" CD for the day after Christmas...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sick and Tired (No, Really...)

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say something like, "Hey! Next week we're going to Disneyland!" You'd get all excited and not be able to sleep the whole week leading up to the big day - so sure that something terrible would happen to you or your family or even Disneyland itself and you'd have to miss out?

And then the big day would come and you'd be so excited that it was THE DAY and everyone was healthy and no one got hit by a firetruck and Disneyland didn't burn down?

That was awesome.

But now my body plays different tricks on me.

I get really excited about going to something like a Theatrical Interpreting Workshop with my brother for the weekend - a mini-vacation, really - and then my body says, "HA! I've got a little something I've been saving up for just such an occasion!"

And my throat hurts. And my head hurts. And I just want to go to sleep.

And parent/teacher conferences are today.

Plus I am doing my first interpreting job in a LONG time tonight.

Mean body.

But I'm older now, and smarter too. I'm fighting this for all it's worth - with banana/blueberry/pineapple smoothies and lots of water and herbal teas with honey and whatever else I can think of.

Here's hoping I wake up tomorrow feeling renewed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We Still Have Thanksgiving

First of all, let me just say that I LOVE Christmas. I especially love how it brings out the best in so many people. But you know what? I also love Thanksgiving. And I wish people would stop acting like it doesn't exist.

Have I mentioned that I don't want to hear Christmas music until after Thanksgiving? Well, I don't. You can listen now. That's all fine and good, and I'll still be your friend. But I don't want to.

So, in the spirit of my desire to recognize Thanksgiving for the fabulous holiday that it is, I am creating a compilation CD with Thanksgiving music. But here's where I need your help.

I only have one song in mind so far.

Thankful by Josh Groban

Do you know of any other great songs that talk about being thankful? Please, enlighten me, and I'll share my final playlist later.



Save me from the Christmas music.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Read Your Labels!

Today I made a startling discovery: there is tuna in tuna.

I know, I know - you are probably relieved to know this, especially for those of you with tuna allergies. I mean, you could have opened up a can of tuna and made yourself a sandwich or something and never have known that there was tuna inside.

I would just like to give a shout-out to the people who are conscientious enough to add information like this to the label of a can of tuna:


Thank you, Tuna-Warning Creators. Thank you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bragging Rights

My kids are pretty dang awesome, to put it lightly. So, although this blog is generally not a place where I gush over my kids' accomplishments (and awesomeness), that's what it's going to be today. Consider it a Christmas letter if you want - I mean, they ARE playing CHRISTMAS MUSIC ON THE RADIO ALREADY!! And it did snow here this week. (But you'll still get a Christmas letter in December. You know you want it.)

Wait... why am I making excuses? It's my blog, after all. You don't have to read it.

And so, (drum roll, please) I present for your reading pleasure: My Amazing Offspring!

First we have Coolister.
Can I just come right out and say that I LOVE when my kids share the same interests that I had at their age? He ran his first season of Cross Country and loved it as much as I did. His fastest time was 16:58. Not only was he Rookie of the Year, he also lettered and got an Academic Achievement award. On top of this, he gets the grades I only dreamed of at his age. And (here's my favorite part) when he gets home from school the first thing he (almost - there is food, too...) always does is to find his baby brother or sister and give them hugs. OK, I'll stop.

Next we have ElemenoB.
She graduated from braces and got contacts. (And I bought a bat.) This young woman has taken up a liking for drama and just auditioned for the school musical. She seems to have natural ability in everything she does. She is a huge help with the kids and around the house and a loyal friend to her siblings. She has a talent for writing and a new interest in photography which is pretty impressive. You will never see her sitting around without a book in her hands. ElemenoB also shares my love for finding a great deal, and I won't lie - I LOVE it.

And now, Thumbelina! This girl also shares my love for drama and is hoping for a part in the school musical. However, they came up with a new rule that 7th graders cannot play main roles. Don't get me started on that. Just let me say this: their loss. She is also very patient and loving towards her younger siblings. I was initially worried about her transition to middle school but it turns out she has just enough sass and spunk to OWN that place. Like her older sister, she has a knack for writing and drawing. Thumbelina is my best helper when it comes to cleaning. If I want a thorough job, she's the one I ask.

Next in line, All-a-Boy!
This kid has been an amazing reader from kindergarten, but it still amazes me when he brings home books as thick as his arm and finishes them in just a few days. He's been reading the "Fablehaven" series and also just finished the book "Brisinger". He's 9. Is this normal? All-a-Boy is always sharing some deep insight with us or asking questions we don't know the answers to. This kid has an old soul, but he still thrives on playing with friends and building Lego creations.

Next we have Cowgirl.
This sweet kid is still in love with anything having to do with cowboys, Texas and horses. Her creative abilities are always amazing me - from her homemade 'computers' to her written stories and colorful drawings. If we gave her a ream of paper and a box of markers and locked her in a room, I don't think she'd re-surface until the markers had gone dry or the paper ran out. Cowgirl has a tender heart and likes to make sure no one is ever left out of anything. She loves caring for and singing to her baby brother.

Look out for the Princess!
I mean, look at that face - do I need to say more? (I will anyway...) This girl is the queen of randomness which is a great source of laughter for the family. She is also not shy about voicing her thoughts. In fact, just this week when I asked her if she could please get me a diaper, she responded, "Um, Mom? When you ask me to do things like that it kind of makes me feel like I'm your slave. So don't ask me anymore, OK? OK." She mixes up 'ask' and 'tell' which makes for some interesting conversations as well.

Next I present... Hubba! This train lover has branched out some and also loves the main characters from Toy Story. He is all boy, through and through. Hubba has recently taken to walking up and hugging me around the neck from behind and saying, "I love you, Mom." I love his sweet hugs. He is as addicted to milk as ever and likes to have 'BIG drinks', not little ones. One little quirk he has that makes us smile every time is the way he points with one eye squeezed shut. I'll have to post a picture of that sometime.

Next is Curly.Curly gets cuter every day. When the above picture was taken, I told her to smile, so she signed it. She has learned a lot of sign language and uses it to help us understand what she wants - which is usually 'milk' or some kind of food. She has recently started talking quite a bit and will repeat everything I say to her throughout the day. She is all girl but is happy to play with whatever Hubba is playing with - especially if he doesn't want her to. She is always asking to hold Baby O - who she refers to as "my baby boy".

And last but not least - Baby O.
Look at those eyes. Look at those cheeks. Look at the little button nose. Check out the cute teeny chin poking out from below those chunky cheeks. He is full of smiles and so patient with his youngest older siblings. He is beginning to master the floor-scoot which generally precedes the soldier-crawl. Oh, how I love this baby.




(By the way, all pictures are by Jason at Backroads Photography. Have you checked out his website yet? No time is better than the present.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gathering Leaves

To add a little something to our yard for Halloween, we scatter leaves over everything. The problem with this is that we do not have large trees that produce enough leaves for the desired effect, so I have to gather them from elsewhere.

This year I found the perfect spot - the parking lot of the church in front of my kids' elementary school was blanketed with the colors of autumn! I gathered leaves in small increments until Halloween day, when I hauled a small trailer over with me.

After dropping The Princess off at kindergarten I began to rake, creating swishy patterns on the bare pavement and grass as I swept away their leafy covering. The leaves filled the trailer by the armful until the job was complete.

And then I had a fleeting thought - but it wasn't fast enough for me not to catch it and smile.

I looked around and, seeing no one, climbed inside the trailer.

I covered myself completely with the leaves, these colorful gifts from the trees, and lay there in silence. I listened to the rustling of the leaves on the pavement beneath me, blown about by the wind. I breathed in the smell of younger Halloweens and of autumn, then sighed as I realized I could not stay this way for long, buried in my memories.

I held a silent countdown: 3... 2... 1... and then burst from the leaves, throwing them to the skies and watching with pleasure as they rained back down into the trailer and onto the ground.

I made quick work of recapturing the leaves that were lost. As I walked towards the front of the suburban to drive home, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. A woman, sitting in the driver's seat of a car that had been there all along, eating her lunch, watching me.

I smiled.



I'm pretty sure she was jealous.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Scariest Night of the Year!

No, I'm not talking about tonight. Although the results of today's election could be scary, indeed! But I'm not here to talk politics. I'm here to give you a full tour of our haunted house this year.

All of these amazing pictures were taken by the talented Jason of Backroads Photography. Thanks, Jason! To put it simply, you are awesome.

First, the view of the front yard. You better click on that one to really see all the details. Go ahead, click!
Here's a close-up in the cemetery. Spoooooky!
This was my witches' table just inside the front door where I greeted the trick-or-treaters.
Here's one of our new additions - a sign declaring the name of our Halloween abode. (Yes, Allen creates these in his head and builds them in our garage. He's got skills.)
Another new addition this year: the corn field.
The cemetery from another angle...Another shot of the house... I couldn't decide which one I liked best. (Just humor me. Thanks.)We had over 500 trick-or-treaters. It was crazy fun and the weather was perfect. The majority of the decorations came down last night, so Halloween season is officially over. (By the way, radio people, we still have Thanksgiving coming. Can you stop playing CHRISTMAS music already?!)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Be A Pal...

UPDATE: This lasts until November 15th - get over there and check it out! You are going to want family pictures to send out with your Christmas cards, prints to display in your home and Alphabetography creations to give as gifts this year. So go get it done, already!

I have a friend who is an amazing photographer.

In fact, he took our family pictures this year. (See? Amazing.)

He also takes some awesome pictures that you will want to frame and put up in your house.

In fact, I want to put one up in my house. And you want to help me.

(I'm using the force, is it working?)

Here's what we have to do. First, go check out his website by clicking HERE. Then go leave a comment on his blog telling him what you think and what pictures you like best by clicking HERE.

And here's the IMPORTANT part! When you leave your comment, be sure to say "Gerb sent me".

If you are really my friend, you will do this. (No pressure or anything.)

And if you decide to get all your friends to do it, too, and you're the winner, I get to come eat cookies at your house and see where you put your picture.

Deal?

(You: Deal.)

Ready, set, GO!