Monday, January 31, 2011



For me, it's....

~a trip to Starbucks

~turning on BOTH shower heads on a cold morning

~my heated car seat

~date night with my hubby

~chocolate... any kind

~taking a cat nap when I'm nursing a babe

~sleeping in until 7:30 on the weekends

~NOT cleaning the kitchen floor at the end of the day

~reading a "trash" magazine by the pool

~"tweeting" when I should be working

~catching an episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras"

~standing in the shower longer than I need to

~dinner out with the family

~skipping exercise

~bread..... just bread

~NOT answering my kids for a few minutes when I hear them calling

~sitting in a sunny window on a cold day

~wearing sweats out in public

~NOT putting on makeup



So, how do YOU indulge?!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm meeeeelting....

We got lots of snow, so my husband built a snowman....

One of his biggest snowmen to date!

(We're thinking he's at least 15 feet tall!)
But then it got warm out, and our snowman ended up headless.....

Too bad for our poor snowman, but GREAT for the boys who got to expend some built up energy....

When you've been cooped up for several weeks straight, then one sport at a time just isn't enough ;-) Josh had to roller blade and shoot hoops at the same time!

Matthew took advantage of the almost 60 degree temps to ride his bike!

AND we even got our Christmas lights taken down!! It's a good thing too, because the forecast for the next several days ain't good..... ice storm starting tonight and then 6-10 inches of snow on top of that by Tuesday!

(Does anyone else sense a snowday coming?!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

This is your life....

Almost 4 years ago, when we first moved in to our current house, my parents gave me all the boxes they had been storing for me from my childhood- things that I left with them when I went away to college.

Needless to say, those boxes have been sitting up in our attic since I got them. When we returned from our Christmas trip, my husband was putting our luggage away and happened to notice the boxes and decided to mention them to me. I think he was secretly trying to get me to finally go through it all in hopes that it would all go in the trash ;-)

Anyway, this past weekend, I decided to drag out the boxes and take a trip down memory lane! I thought it might be fun for the kids, so I invited them all to come help me....
It quickly proved to be a very fun experience for the gang as we began to dig through my old treasures!
Jacob found some fun little odds and ends- things like a pet rock, a miniature deck of cards, and some wooden beads.....basically, stuff that should have gone in the trash 20 years ago!
Emily discovered that her ol' mom had quite the collection of old records- remember Kevin Bacon?!
And no self-respecting child of the 70's toy collection would be complete without one of these beauties!
Even Caleb got in on the fun, although he much preferred the paper that housed the contents of all those boxes ;-)
Emily was excited to procure a miniature pepsi can that I had saved from the ferry that I took between London and Paris when I was about 12 years old!
And Jacob quickly claimed my old snoopy bank ;-)

And since I am a true Army Brat, having spent my entire childhood as the daughter of an Army officer, I would not be caught dead without one of these in my stuffed animal collection!

Then Emily, who is in her junior year of high school, decided to practice for her own impending graduation with my old cap!!

And I'm not sure what this is, but I can tell you that it ended up right where it belongs.....

in the trash ;-)

And here's my very first cheerleading trophy.... YES, cheerleading IS a sport!

Oh boy, and check out this lovely book end.....

It now belongs to Allie!!

Now, what on earth do you think this next item is?

NO, it's not "yucky popcorn" as Jacob insisted that it was!!! It's my baby teeth! For some strange reason, I felt compelled to save all my old teeth ;-) The funny thing is, I also save all my kids baby teeth- maybe I need to go on that new show MY STRANGE ADDICTION!

Ok, here's another one for you.... what do you think this is.....

This is even more strange than the teeth! This is actually the last remaining piece of the old blanket that I carried from the time I was an infant until I quit sucking my thumb..... at age 13!

No, I'm not ashamed to admit that ;-)
Even when I went away to college, I just couldn't bear to part with this last piece of my blanky.... so I saved it! I remember when I was little, my plan was always to save my blanky before anything else in my room if there were ever a fire!!!

One of the best things I still have from my younger days are my old Disney albums! I remember listening to them and reading the stories that went along with them inside the covers- ah, the good ol' days!

In addition to my Disney albums, I also had a pretty sweet collection of current hits....

Hits from the mid- 80's that is ;-)

And some of you may be old enough- can't believe I just wrote that- to remember those little single albums as well......

And out of all my stuffed animals, these are the only ones that made the cut....ya know, for sentimental reasons!

Oh, and here is some of my doll collection! I haven't decided who to hand this down to..... truth be told, no one wants it! But I do have a really nice collection since I have a grandmother and a dad that travel all over the world and bring me dolls from places they visit!
In the end, it was nice to sort through all my old stuff! I was able to consolidate and share some great memories with my kids at the same time!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Confessions of a self-feeder

HI, I'm Caleb! I'm 8 1/2 months old, and I'm learning to feed myself!

Since I'm new to this whole experience, there are several things that I try to do every time I feed myself- here are just a few of them.........

I don't have the best control of my fine motor skills yet, so when I finally get some food in my fat little fists I have to roll it all over my face before I put it IN my mouth!

I make sure to chew with my mouth open.... ya know, cuz I can ;-)

And I like to giggle when I realize how dirty I am.... especially since I still hate baths and I give mommy such a hard time when she puts me in one ;-)

I am extremely careful to smush all the food that I've already chewed back into my hands and in between each and every finger!

I also like to be sure that I get as many pieces of food as I can in each one of my fists!

And because I'm so stinkin' cute, I love to show mommy my little teeth- the same ones I like to BITE her with lately when I nurse!!!

I'm sure to use BOTH fists when I eat.....

And I like to have a finger shoved in there with each bite of food..... it just tastes better somehow ;-)
I always, always rub my hands ALL OVER my chair.....

And I make certain that I play with every bite.....

But most of all, I am careful to drop as much food in my lap as I can (cuz I KNOW how much mommy likes to clean up messes!).....

Monday, January 24, 2011

A stranger at our door

Oh my goodness. I was just reading some comments on my last blog post and one of them asked if I could tell the "Facebook" story.

Yes.... I can! And I will.

Despite the fact that I was warned not to, and despite the fact that it's an incredibly long and complicated story, I will still tell the story.

However, in the interest of time, I'm just going to give it to you in a nutshell- the details don't really matter anymore, and I don't want to get myself all worked up about it again anyway.

Besides, the main reason for sharing the story isn't to drag anyone through the mud, it's to make a point about the dangers of Facebook....

and all parents out there should know how easily this can happen.

Here goes:

I have 3 teenage daughters.

They each have their own accounts on Facebook (FB).

One of my daughters "accepted" a "friend request" from someone she didn't know.

That "friend" was from another country.... or so she said.

That "friend" had many of the same interests as my daughter.

That "friend" had several conversations with my daughter on FB and then mentioned that she might be coming to our town in the near future with a church group (at least, that was our understanding).

One night this past summer, we were sitting at our dinner table eating dinner when there was a knock at our front door.

To our complete and utter astonishment, we opened the door to find this "friend" standing on our doorstep.

She was alone. No church group. No family. No car. No transportation.


In fact, she had walked to our house from a hotel she was staying in.....

about 12 miles away!

We were so completely in shock, that it took us a while to process the situation. After a little while I had the girls drive her back to her hotel.

She was a delightful young lady.

As soon as the girls returned, I began to question them as to how on earth this "friend" had found our house. I was very concerned that one of the girls had given out our address.


Now, I'm not going to go into all of the details that followed. As I stated, the story gets very long and complicated, as there were MANY lies being told to us. The issue of how this person found our house was just the beginning.

What I will tell you is that, after a couple of days of letting this young woman into our home and our lives, I began to realize that the questions we kept asking weren't being answered with things that made sense. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I know for a fact that there was some sort of harm intended for our family, but I finally became convinced that there were just too many questions and not enough answers to make me comfortable having this person around my children.

So, without any explanation to this person, we dropped her off at her hotel after she had joined us at our pool for the afternoon, and we headed straight to the police station.

Let me say again.... there were MANY things that happened that we couldn't understand, but through it all this person was absolutely lovely and sweet. I cried when I finally realized that I needed to get my family out of the situation- it was a very hard thing for me to go to the police.

A detective took our statement and then she ushered my daughter out the door.....she wanted to talk to my husband & me in private.

Her words were chilling, but they confirmed to me that we had made the right decision.

She told us that there is actually a lot of human-trafficking in our area.

She told us that they use people like this girl to gain other young girls' trust.

She told us to cut off ALL communications immediately.

We did.

We changed cell phone numbers and deleted this person from "friend" lists on FB.

She continued to try to contact us, worried that we were upset with her and she wanted a chance to explain.

We didn't want to hear more things that we couldn't trust.

In the end, she returned to her home.....

at least, we think she did.

But then, she must have, because a short time later I received an email from her so-called "lawyer," who, by the way, also claimed to be a pastor's wife.

The email was rather threatening- telling me that I had better not write a post about this person or legal action would be taken.

I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure it was either the girl or a friend who wrote the email.

You see, I had been posting things on twitter about having to go to the police. I also tweeted that I would write up a post about it when I felt it was safe. My tweets come up on my blog.

She must have been reading my blog.

HOW did she get my blog address?

We don't know- WE didn't give it to her.

In fact, no one ever told her I had a blog.

There is no doubt that she had researched our family on the internet- to extreme lengths!

And that's just one of the MANY examples of scary things that was going on. She knew way to much about us.... we knew nothing about her.

But again, none of that matters anymore.

It does, however, prove how dangerous this entire situation was, or could have been.

I had let the girls drive her around without an adult.

She was in my home.

She knew where we lived.

It took me several weeks before I was comfortable letting the boys outside AT ALL, and even then they had to go out with an adult.

Because, if we were being targeted, I had no way of knowing which child was the TARGET.

Maybe someone wanted my baby.

Maybe someone wanted my daughter.

How the heck was I supposed to know?!

All I had been given were lies.

The point of all of this.....



I'm not sure if "she" is still monitoring my blog, nor do I care anymore. I will not be threatened about speaking out about the dangers of Facebook! We may never know whether we were in a dangerous situation or not, but the fact that a stranger showed up on our doorstep, from another country, simply based on a Facebook "friend request," well, now THAT'S just scary!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

From the vault...

Here are some oldies but goodies! Finally getting around to fixing them up ;-)



Wanna see some more? Go to my photoblog!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sleepless in Illinois


Our recent return trip from Florida was rather uneventful. In fact, you could almost say it was downright boring, except for one unbelievably scary and harrowing minor incident.

The drive home took two days, with the first day being the longest at 13 hours! By the time we reached our hotel, it was nearly 8pm, and most of us were completely exhausted. Those of us that didn't NAP the whole day in the car, that is ;-)

After a quick bite to eat, we made our way back to the hotel, where we had a room on the second floor- yes, all 10 of us in ONE room. After a round of showers and some time to settle down, we were ready for bed- those of us that DIDN'T nap in the car, that is ;-)

With so many people in the room, we had about half in beds and the other half in sleeping bags on the floor. I don't remember the particulars of who slept where, but I do know that Jacob & Noah were both sleeping on the floor at the foot of my bed, which was the last bed in the room by the window and furthest from the hotel room door.

The last time I checked the clock, it was 10pm. Jacob was still wide awake (HE slept in the car all day), but was quietly talking to himself as he lay on his sleeping bag. Zack, Matthew, Emily & Sophie were already snoring loudly at that point, and despite the noise, it didn't take long for me to drift off to sleep. And after a week at Disney World and a full day of travel, I was beyond tired.

So, when the phone in our room rang unexpectedly at 12:10am, it was no surprise that I simply ignored it, chalking it up to a wrong number, and went straight back to sleep.

But I didn't ignore it when it rang again... just a few minutes later..... waking me up from my much-needed slumber......


But that anger quickly turned into fear as I heard the voice on the other end of the phone.....

Ma'm, this is the --- county police department. Do you have children in your room with you? Ma'm, quickly, can you tell me if you have all your children..... check now!

Still in a fog and not quite sure how to process what I was hearing, I began to scan the room from left to right. As I got to the foot of my bed a feeling of terror came over me and I heard myself say outloud to the officer......


Jacob is missing.

I continued to stare at the empty space where I knew my precious little 3 yr-old should be. The blankets were folded back, and there was no denying that he was NOT in his spot.

In a split second, so many horrible thoughts raced through my mind as to where Jacob might be. But the thought of checking the bathroom never even crossed my mind since I had no doubt that, although I didn't know where my child was at that very second, it was obvious that the police officer on the other end did.

The condition of my child was another story.

The next thing I remember was the officer repeating Jacob's name....

and then I could almost hear the relief in his voice.

Ma'm, you need to come to the front desk RIGHT NOW.

To my astonishment, I heard myself responding Ok, my husband's on his way.

Not, is he ok or do you have him?

I think I was too afraid to ask.

By this time, everyone in our room was awake. Zack understood instantly what was going on, and although the how and why as to what had happened could not be answered at that time, we knew he had to get downstairs immediately.

I spent the next ten minutes sitting on my bed, rocking back & forth....... praying. It was the longest ten minutes of my life.

The next thing I knew, Zack was walking back through the door.... carrying my baby.

Jacob was sound asleep.

He screamed himself to sleep.

After Zack placed him back in his bed, he began to tell me the story of Jacob's late night jaunt.

Apparently, Jacob never did go to sleep, opting instead to leave our hotel room. We're pretty sure that the reason he left the room was because he wanted to go push the buttons in the elevator- those of you who have ever had a 3 yr-old can understand that ;-)

As you know, Jacob is our 7th child, and until this incident, we had NEVER had a child wander out of one of our hotel rooms. They couldn't leave because it was nearly impossible. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS locked the deadbolt on the door.

And this time was no different..... well, the locking of the deadbolt was no different anyway. Unfortunately, there WAS one slight difference. You see, the deadbolt was literally RIGHT above the door knob, giving any small child complete access to the world outside the door.

Yep, all you needed was one bored child, two exhausted parents and the lure of an elevator!

Fortunately, for ALL involved, Jacob ended up wandering right up to the front desk- we're assuming he took the elevator- where the clerk happened to notice him.

The clerk wasn't sure which direction Jacob had come from, and didn't even know if he belonged in the hotel, although he was dressed only in his jammies and had nothing on his feet. He immediately contacted the police, who began by knocking on all the hotel room doors to see if someone was missing a child.

Supposedly, they knocked on our door.... but we never heard them, and they certainly didn't try very hard or keep track of which guests actually answered their doors. And then there were the phone calls. After trying to reach each guest by phone the first time, they made the decision to take Jacob back to the station and call child services.......

THANK THE GOOD LORD that someone was there to STOP them!!!!!!

Our guardian angels were there that night, and they came in the form of 2 loving parents to four small children. They happened to be checking in when Jacob wandered into the lobby shortly after 10pm, and they held him and comforted him the entire time the police were conducting their search.

They said he sobbed uncontrollably until about 11pm, when he finally fell asleep.

When Zack arrived downstairs, the kind father-of-four had Jacob in his arms, all wrapped up in a blanket. He told Zack that the police had wanted to take our baby to the station, but that he had convinced them to give the phone calls one more try. He was concerned that, once child services got involved, it would be a nightmare for the parents to get their child back......

I'm sure he was right.

And I'm so happy I answered the phone the second time.

The police were relieved as well, and they told us that they kept asking poor Jacob questions, but he just kept nodding his head and saying "yes" to everything they asked him! Since the incident happened in such a small town, it was a pretty big deal for the police. They told Zack how they even started to panic as time went on and they couldn't locate the parents.

It took two hours for the adrenaline to subside so I could finally go back to sleep.

The next morning, we took the whole gang down to the breakfast room.....

Jacob had become the talk of the hotel.

You see, everyone knew about the situation because the police had knocked on all the doors and called all the rooms.

And not only were all the guests going on about the "situation," but all of the hotel management was there as well. They were incredibly apologetic about the deadbolts being so low and promised us that they would be sure to have them all moved higher- thankful that the incident ended well.

I'm not gonna lie..... the thought of a lawsuit DID cross my mind ;-)

But I was just so darned happy to have such a good outcome that I was able to let it go..... especially after management promised to change the locks. On the other hand, if Jacob could get OUT of the room, maybe he could have gotten IN to the pool.

I think the hotel needs to count THEIR blessings as well.

In the end, it's one of those situations where things could have turned out so differently, and we just have to believe that God was in control of things from the time we fell asleep...

we are thankful for that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A few more....

Still fixing up shots of Caleb..... here are a few more from our recent shoot!

Although we don't technically "baptize" our babies anymore ("dedicating" them instead), I still have to have the proverbial "baptism" photograph! All of the boys have been photographed wearing the same outfit at about the same age- we did the girls as well- and since I'm no longer going to a photography studio to get shots of my kids anymore, I had to do them at home!


Actually, I can't even take credit for these! Allie insisted on taking them (I have to fight her for the camera these days ;-)


She got some really cute shots, but on top of school, plays and friends she has yet to "fix" them all up! And, since I'm still not the photoshop pro that she is, I am happy to leave them for her. I really need to get crackin' on learning photoshop I think ;-)

The great thing is that I don't always have to play "photographer" now, and I'm able to get in some shots......


Sigh..... even if it's just my fat thighs!

This next one is a great pose, but I think I'll like it better in a natural finish or black and white..... Allie says I'm boring!


All of these shots were taken against in our living room, against a black back-drop with natural light.... not too bad!

And since Jacob is such a cutie and loves to pose, we even got a couple shots of him!!


Friday, January 14, 2011

The downside to breastfeeding

I love nursing!

In fact, I have nursed almost every baby exclusively, starting with baby #1.

The shortest period of time that I breastfed was 8 months, and that was with my first, Allie. You see, I was 4 months pregnant with #2, Emily, at that time, and I was experiencing placenta previa (at one point we thought we were miscarrying because the bleeding was so heavy). The doctors decided it would be better for me to quit nursing because it causes the uterus to contract and makes the bleeding worse. So Allie was my only partially bottle-fed baby!

I was able to nurse Emily until she was 12 months, when we "mutually" agreed to stop. Looking back, I am now certain that she would have nursed longer, but I was young and didn't understand that it was ok to continue nursing even after you started your baby on cow's milk ;-) I knew people did it, but I guess I thought it was a little weird- that seems so laughable now!

When Sophie came along, I again nursed exclusively and kept nursing until she was 18 months old. I'm not sure what made me go longer with her, but again, I think she may have continued for several more months had I let her! I remember weaning her by reading books to her before nap time in place of nursing..... somehow I was still under the impression that THAT was long enough!!

Josh was weaned at 15 months because my husband & I were scheduled to go on a trip ALONE, and after having 4 little ones, that was a much-needed break for us! Noah, on the other hand, nursed until HE was done...... about 22 months old. It was fabulous :-)

Matthew was about 15 months when we stopped. I was pregnant with Jacob at that time, and we were both ready! Same thing for Jacob, as I was again pregnant (with Caleb) and Jacob was already about 22 months old!!

So, you can see that I love breastfeeding! It's worked well for our family, and I definitely consider myself blessed to have been able to nurse as I have ;-) It has not, however, always been an easy thing or without consequence. Some of you may remember the TERRIBLE time I had getting Jacob to nurse properly. He seemed to have some sort of latching issue, and I spent the first 3 months in terrible pain, thinking I had a poor milk supply and working with several lactation consultants, all the while determined to continue nursing without supplements! And then there was that time I had to have a clogged duct drained by a surgeon with a BIG needle ;-)

Anyway, you might say that I've seen it all when it comes to nursing.... from lazy nursers to bad latchers, I've certainly had my share of ups and downs. I've nursed in bathroom stalls and on airplanes. I've nursed in a car, with baby STILL in a car seat ;-) I've nursed at basketball games, in church, and even walking through a corn maze! Oh, and that reminds me, I also nursed while waiting in line for the new Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios over Christmas break..... while the line was moving!

In fact, I can't think of many places I HAVEN'T nursed a baby ;-)

And I've been happy to do it!

What I'm not happy to do..... is to have mastitis.

Ugh, the mere mention of the word makes me cringe!

Especially today, as I sit here waiting for my antibiotics to kick in and get rid of the horrible pain I'm currently experiencing due to yet another bout of the dreaded infection.

And, I might add, this is round 2. You see, I finished a course of antibiotics just 5 days ago for the same infection on the other side!

I seem to be prone to mastitis ;-)

On the plus side, I have had it so many times that I now know when it's coming.....

sometimes, I think, before IT knows it's coming ;-)

And man, it can come on quickly! Sometimes I have quite a bit of warning, but other times, as was the case yesterday, I can go from feeling completely fine to horribly sick in just a matter of hours!

I was sitting in the car line yesterday, waiting to pick up Sophie, when I noticed the beginning of a headache. My left breast had already been feeling a little sore by then, but as Caleb begins to eat more solid food, my milk supply continues to make adjustments, and sometimes I end up with a little too much milk. I was hoping this was the case, but by the time I got home the headache was worse, and I was beginning to feel feverish. It spiraled out of control so quickly that I actually FORGOT to pick up poor Noah from school!! In fact, I didn't even realize he was missing until I finally got a phone call one hour later asking if someone was going to pick him up!

That's when I called my doctor.

Fortunately, my doctor is awesome, and immediately called in a script for me- after all, I had just been through the same thing the week before! I was in rough shape by then, and I was trying to deal with all 5 boys on my own. Zack was out of town, the girls all had their own activities, and I was stuck sitting in the Target parking lot waiting for my script to be filled with a car full of hungry, shoe-less boys! I was so out of it at that point that when I headed back into the store to get the meds, I took the baby with me and was stopped TWICE by worried patrons wanting to tell me that my coat-less baby was also missing a sock!!! And dang, it was cold outside- not that I , in my feverish state, even realized or cared!

By the time I got home, my temp was about 101, and I was thankful to see that Allie & Emily were there! As much as I hated to miss it, I had to skip my Shred workout for the day, but I am hopeful that, by tonight, I will once again be pain-free and back to my old self ;-) I love antibiotics!!!

And I love breastfeeding....... still!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My fashion queen!

I spent the morning of my 40th birthday watching Allie participate in a local charity/fashion show to raise money for our local schools. This has become an annual event and my girls have attended in the past, but this was my first show and the first time one of my girls was actually IN the show! Allie had to sell a certain number of tickets to participate in the show, and then she was able to pick the gown she wanted to wear a few weeks in advance. The gowns were all by the same designer and were VERY pricey little numbers (ranging from $300-$600)! I wasn't sure what to expect from the show itself and was pretty impressed when I first walked in the door and saw the setup! Here's a shot of the runway and the MC.....
I was also very impressed by the overall feel of the show. All of the girls modeling were high school students and they had only spent a couple hours before the show practicing, but they did a great job and it really seemed like a professional show....not that I would know the difference ;-) Here's the first shot I got of Allie as she began her strut down the catwalk! (She's walking down the runway in the middle of the left side)
Here she comes.....
I'm a model, you know what I mean, and I do my little dance on the catwalk.....
on the catwalk....
and I shake my little tush on the catwalk.....
Oh, it was so cool.....
to see my baby up there ;-)
And after all the models were done (there were over 125), they took one more turn on the stage, and we got one more shot of Allie!
Here's Allie with one of her friends just after the show!
What a great way to spend part of my birthday!


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