Saturday, February 28, 2009


What happens when you have too many princess dress up clothes and not enough body parts.
How do I know Jared is my son? In the car the other day he told me he couldn't wait for another wedding party. I asked him why. "Because of all the free drinks!" he exclaimed. Granted, he was talking about ginger ale, but I can see a little bit of a resemblance to his mommy.
Quote of the week: Zach when I told him what was for dinner asked me, "Oh, is that the thing that we hate?" Uhm, yes, son, it's written right here in my cookbook "Dinner item all the boys hate."
I don't care what the big J wants to be when he grows up, he's going to become a baker. He's awesome in the kitchen. I just have to say "hey, there a sugar cookie recipe that I just happened to google on my computer,.. go check it out,.." and before you know it, I have fresh cookies! Which means he gets very disgruntled these days when hubby doesn't understand the kid knows his way around the kitchen and micromanages the grilled cheese flipping. Or perhaps hubby is afraid the big J takes after his mother in more ways than enjoying a few rounds on the house. When I asked Zach what he wanted for lunch one afternoon he told me "that burnt thing with cheese in the middle,.." to which Jared (who knows his way around the kitchen you remember) guessed he meant my grilled cheese sandwich. Jared will be the first college-bound child to send his mother care packages instead of the other way around.
Fifi agrees - good cookies!
I can honeslty say I have everything AND the kitchen sink,.. in my kitchen.
And we close with Fifi getting in touch with her inner Angus Young. If this is her bedtime routine, no wonder she hasn't really slept through the night yet,...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Are They All Yours?

I hate to bump the ol' leprechaun testicles down, but this is a great article about large families.

I'm over the whole freaked out to go into public with my five kids. It took me a year, however. The looks in the department store, the man yelling at me in Disneyland, "#&$)*! Are they all yours?" The airport security personnel giving Hubby the high five. The stewardesses commenting on how lovely all our children are - AFTER the flight where they all behaved. Would it have been the same if the boys were fighting the whole time and the girls threw temper tantrums? I don't think so.

We were at McDonald's the other night for McTeacher night - a fund raiser for the boys' school. It was McChaos, lemme tell you. Watching your teacher sling hamburgers and bus tables is a popular activity with the K-6 grade set. As I sat at a table built for three with six people at it, baby on my lap, boys sharing a seat, the B on Hubby's lap, amid major noise and bodies in the restaurant, a teacher stopped and said to me, "You look so calm!" Honey, it was nothin' compared to the rigamoral of my daily existance, usually with one additional child per my child in or hanging (literally, we have a fun tree and a wooden fence that just must be scaled) at my house.

So, liked the article. Esp. for you crazies out there who like a swarm.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Ol' Leprechaun Bait and Switch

So, you know why they make magazines for kids and then magazines for grown-up people? Because it's necessary, that's why. The trouble comes in when the magazine is for the grown up, but about the kid and the grown up, let's pretend, me (because I'm just that loony), decides to share funny/interesting/informative articles with said kid.

I thought it would be cute to show the 12 year old the Family Fun magazine with the Leprauchan traps. What a fun idea, I thought! To pretend to try and catch that pesky ol' Leprechaun as he trollops around the house leaving gold coins and making a mess for all the wee babes.

So, I showed it to the 12 year old. Who showed it to the 9 year old. And then they started thinking of all the things that would happen if they caught this leprechaun. Like, in the old world, traps are set to capture edible delicacies, so what would a leprechaun taste like? And would they have to eat every part of the leprechaun? Which, of course, led to the question of whether leprechauns have testicles, and did you know, Mom, that some tribes in Africa eat EVERY part of the animal they kill, including the testicles. Therefore, they would have to eat the leprechaun testicles.

What does all that above paragraph mean? It means that the boys have been watching WAAAAAAY too much of that psychopath SurvivorMan and his BFF Bear Grylls (Man V. Wild). Gads. Where's that channel changer?

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Family Picture - Uncensored

"Okay, everyone, Grandma wants a picture before we get on the plane back to SoCal. "

"Okay, I've wrastled three of the grandkids, quick! Grab the rest!"

"Aha! Got another one!"

"Here's another one,.. what?!? There's more?!?! When do they stop?"

Wait for it,..

Wait for it,...
National Geographic photographers have nothing on me. Photo of seven grandchildren in a busy airport, or clicking pics of lions from a blind in the savannah - they each have their challenges.
Don't you wonder what we did before digital photos?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Be My Bloody Valentine

And I mean that in the British sense, darnit!

Valentine's Day is fun when you are a kid, stressful when you are a single adult and a pretty much forgotten holiday when you are married with children.

What does Valentine's Day look like when you have five kids? First, you get a little me time by insisting on taking the car to the car wash ALONE. I made it a spa date by stopping by Starbucks and buying a trashy magazine when I picked up snacks for the 12 year old's basketball game.

Nothing like treating yourself to a clean car. In my case, a biohazard-free car. It hadn't been cleaned accept for periodic trash dumping since our voyage to Washington back at Christmastime. Scary, I know. I was silently screaming inside the whole time last Monday when our realtor came along in my car to look at a few houses. She hasn't called since then; I'm trying not to take it personally.

Call me spoiled, but I'm telling you, a thorough wash, vaccuum and wipedown of the interior of the Suburban is so worth that $20, and there is no way I could do it in less than an afternoon (what with all the juice, diaper changing, lunchbreaking, read-a-book-to-me-now, make sure the baby doesn't kill herselfing that would have entailed). I'll take the handcar wash over the manicure any day.

Then, three basketball games that took us through til the early evening. Hotdogs and fruit salad for kids. Bath and bedtime for the babies. The B was sick AGAIN, with a fever, so she was easy to put to bed. Nothing like a feverish child to make your life a little more relaxing for a few hours.

Then, grown up dinner. I rely on Trader Joe's to make sure I have a good time. There is nothing like yummy, already-made-for-you food for a working mom who is trying to have a relaxing dinner. I am a big proponent for the ol' heat and eat when appropriate. We bought a case of our fav champagne on sale a while back and broke out a bottle. I had to wipe the dish soap bubbles off my hands in order to do my toast. (can't be in a romantic mood if you KNOW there are stale hotdog dishes in the sink.) Told the boys the kitchen was a NO KID ZONE and threatened to 'make out' if they invaded. Checked the TV viewing through out the evening, making them turn off COPS and find something a little more appropriate for the 7 through 12 age set. And no, big 12 year old, your justification of 'I want to be a cop when I grow up, so I'm doing research, ...' doesn't fly with me.

Dispatched kids to bed and hubby and I settled in for a movie. We watched 'Blindness' which was disturbing, unrealistic, and a little thrilling. I was in a horror movie mood, what with the day before being Friday the 13th and all. No, we didn't go to see the movie of the same name, although, from the sounds of it, every other kid and teacher at the boys' school went. I know that isn't true, but a least a couple of teachers were talking to the 6th graders about going to the movie, which is an R-rating. I don't really find that appropriate. I kind of want my kids to strive for a little more in life. I don't know if these teachers are trying to be cool in the kids' eyes or what, but I find it disconcerting and a little pathetic. Besides all the 6th graders who going to the movie that night or right after school. Shame on you parents for thinking that is an acceptable way for your 12 year olds to spend two hours of their day; watching sex and blood and torture in life size proportions.

Okay, enough of my rant. I love a good yucky film, and I can't wait until my kids are old enough to watch them too, but that isn't happening for a while yet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Kettle Chips

So, I was in the grocery store the other day (okay, I go to the grocery store approximately every day), and I was grabbing food items and tossing them in the ol' cart. I had to stop by the 'healthy' section because my 9 year old is INFATUATED with Puffins. He loves birds in general, but especially Puffins. Followed by hawks, all sorts of boobies (yes, he is the one I hear screaming when we go to the zoo, "Look at all the Boobies!" And I don't freak because I know he is talking about the blue-footed ones.)

Why? fortheluvofgawd I don't know. I will surmise it began with a nasty bout of Croup back in '07 on Christmas Eve. Hubby hustled the kid into the ER at 11pm. After yucky treatments like Xrays, steroid shots and breathing treatments, it is the hospital's tradition to give kids a stuffed animal. Zach came home with a stuffed chicken. I attribute this whole craziness and the fact that I can look forward to my kid living in some tent made out of whale belly in the middle of the Arctic with a long beard and no family, to that stuffed chicken. Thanks so much, St. Peter's Hospital.

Anyways, back here in SoCal, I am grabbing the Puffin cereal. Which everyone else in the family will not eat because it has the label ORGANIC on it. That seems to be one of the golden rules around here. Leaf of three, leave it be. Red and black stripes, don't touch it. Organic, don't cross the lips.

So, then I spot the chips. I love chips, but I'm trying very hard to be good and not eat them. I love baked chips, and as long as I haven't had a real chip for about a month, I can trick myself into thinking they actually taste good. The baked tater ones? Especially great with onion dip you make with fat free plain yoghurt and french onion soup mix. And good for you. The baked corn ones? Rock with some veggie refried beans and fat free plain yoghurt. These can be a tasty lunch, folks, as long as your kids aren't looking.

So, I see they have baked Kettle chips. Kettle chips are no longer allowed in my house. When preggo with the last kid, I bought the darned things at Costco. I think my last 20 pounds of weight gain I can write a thank you note directly to the makers of the Kettle chips. So, I'm psyched they have the baked chips. I toss them in the cart.

I get home and begin unpacking the groceries. I unpack the Kettle chips. They have transformed from 'baked' to 'organic'. Don't you just hate that? When you mean to grab one thing, but a different thing is what you bring home? I do this all the time, but I usually can just blame it on kid distraction. This time I was alone. I think what may happen is people grab one thing, see something else they like better, and replace them. This is the only way I can square away why I sometimes come home with one white cheddar macaroni and cheese and one alfredo macaroni and cheese. The kids eat two boxes at a time. I mix them together, hoping no one will notice the difference. Oh, they notice.

So, dang it, now I have a bag of high caloric chips that I can't just leave on the kid snack shelf because they have that 'ORGANIC' label. Might as well put a Mr. Yuck sticker on it, they would have a better chance of being eaten. And what's with organic chips? Don't you think anything that fell into that vat of boiling grease wouldn't just get instantaneously zapped and stripped of all its toxicity? Don't you think deep fat fryer trumps pesticides?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Seattle or Bust!

I'm beginning to think that Washington state is my second home. ExceptI don't own a home there. Well, I own two there, but not one I can go to and sack out at. That is reserved for my dear mother, who has to deal with seven two legged creatures (and sometimes a couple of four legged ones- don't worry, mom, I'm patting down the kids again to make sure we don't have any rat stow-aways).

This time, however, we are going to take a plane. How spoiled are my jet setting kids? The 9 year old waxed poetic, got that glassy look in his eyes as he stared into fantasy world and asked "I wonder what movies will be on the plane?" To which I shook him awake and explained, "We're flying Southworst, baby, not Singapore Airlines.You will be lucky to have a bag of peanuts and a slurp of coke for dinner. Pack your PSP."

So, everyone seems to think flying is the way to go. I'd much rather just drive, I swear it's actually less shlepping and corraling in the long run. I STILL have to pack a couple suitcases, a diaper box full of old baby clothes for the SIL (Yes, I'm a stylish traveller that way.), the port-a-crib, a booster seat, a car seat, a stroller (only the one child version, I'm afraid. I'll regret that later, oh, about 8:55 tonight), my computer bag, a purse, the B's backpack, some sort of sack for Fifi, all those damn bottles, a few binkies (Lord help me to find them just one more day! Then I promise, PROMISE, to be aware and take note of where I put them from now on), some toys no child will care about, some snacks I won't be able to find until we land, an extra pair of clothes for the B in case she has an accident. An extra pair of clothes for Fifi in case she has an accident. An extra pair of clothes for me in case any one of the above mentioned children has an accident ON ME. (exhibit A: Christmas Eve night at the In-laws and the case of the projectile vomiting on the new shiny Karen Kane sweater. So sad.) Oh, and my husband, who promises, PROMISES to be home on time so I don't have a damn anurism freaking out because we get to the airport late. We are well past the swing into the airport 15 minutes before the plane departs and flash them your Costco card for identification to board. We need an ARMY just to get us from the car to the shuttle bus. I may be able to swing a little me time in there as I manipulate said husband into dropping me off at the departure area with the mound of belongings while he parks the car and lets the kids have the educational opportunity of riding that cool shuttle bus. A girl can dream.

Right now I'm wasting time blogging when I need to do one more dryer full of clothes, take a shower, feed 5 kids, get 3 of them to school, take 500 dress shirts to the dry cleaner (I think there is a 'you have to wears shoes and a shirt' dress policy at hubby's job and he's very near to breaking that rule), run off a million copies of a mortgage application (yes, let' s just buy a house right now BECAUSE WE HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO DO.), take the dogs to the 'Four Paws Inn',.. oh wait. That's right, I don't have the shot records for the foster beast. Which I didn't realize until about 8pm last night. I don't want this trip to go smoothly, oh no, what ever would I blog about?? So, I've left a frantic message with the Rescue and am hoping to sweet talk my dog into the boarding facilities so I don't have to sneak her into the backyard of my friend's who have 2 dogs and hope they don't notice they have a spare german shepherd for the weekend.

All for my brother's wedding. I tell ya.

Well, better grind some more coffee down so I can make it to the departure gate. God speed to me!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


So, I've been a little delinquent in the ol' blogging department lately. I am hanging on to life by the skin of my teeth. Not that it isn't enjoyable, me being the adrenaline junkie that I am.

Here are some catch ups for you all:

*I am stealing myself for Valentine's Day. This house runs the spectrum for love. The 12 year old broke another heart yesterday when he declined a young woman's invitation to 'go out with him.' (this is the one who hopes to become a priest to stay away from the fairer sex.)

Then, there is the 9 year old - I hate to see this kid when his testosterone kicks in! He asked a little girl in his class to marry him. I told him he needed to wait about 15 more years. He didn't listen to me (can you believe it) and continued to pepper her with marriage requests decorated with pictures of baby owls (I don't even want to know what Freud would think of that) all during his catechism class last night. Well, at least she's catholic; he'll marry into the faith. Ha.

The 7 year old? As far as I know he hasn't been employing his oldest brother to write love notes to older women (he was in kindergarten at the time; they were all mature 1st graders) lately. But he could be in stealth mode.

Then, there is the 3 year old, who my nursing friend insists is normal and just a girl; but she is heavily into kissing,.. everything. You, me, the fencepost. I mean literally.

The babe? She'll pingpong between giving you a cute little peck on the cheek to ripping your eyeballs out.

* Hubby and I did a presentation on 'Discipleship' at a Church retreat. It was fun. We talked just a bit about Indonesia and mostly about the road to getting there and how everyone is called to find their inner disciple. It was fun, so far we haven't been fired and will give this again in March. Unlike Teri, I DO NOT like public speaking. I see myself more as a puppetteer - creating the articles and slick marketing materials for others to use in presentations. I've been demonstrating software and talking and singing and playing various instruments and acting in plays since I was a teenager, and I can honestly say that practice does not make it any easier.

* We are travelling back up to Washington State tomorrow for my brother's wedding on Saturday. This time we will be travelling in style on Southworst Airlines, instead of the usual Suburban packed to the gills with living life forms. I don't think the plane will make it any easier or faster.

That's it. Gotta get back to it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Amazing Story

This is just an incredible tale, and even more so because I know the person who this is about. And even more special is my great friend, who herself is blessed with twins, sent this over. After you read this, I dare you to say there isn't a higher power out there, you just have to have the grace to look.

Unexpected miracle
Jennifer Dobbs, Managing Editor
Posted: 01/26/2009 08:32:44 AM PST

Identical twin girls Lily Mae and Ivy Jean came into the world at 7:59 and 8 a.m. Jan. 5. at Redlands Community Hospital. They weighed just about 6 pounds each, give or take a few ounces.

Mom Gabrielle Symmes, 38, said it was an unplanned pregnancy - as many events of that year turned out to be. Along with the birth of these twins, 18 years after the birth of her son, Zach, came the unplanned miracle that may save her life.

I first heard this story from the twins' grandma, Mae Smith, who is herself a writer and works at a newspaper in Adams County, Idaho. She sent me a note addressed "to the grandma of one Lily from another." Attached was a photograph of twin brunette baby girls and a copy of a column she wrote for her newspaper.

She told the story of her daughter Gabrielle, known to most as Gabby, who lives in Redlands and worked until 2006 in marketing at ESRI.

That is the year she and husband Mike decided, because they had no plans to have any more children, she could take off a couple of years to be a stay-at-home mom to Zach, because it would be her only chance to have that experience.

She was having fun in her new role until February 2007, when Gabby's world was turned upside down. She was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) - a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that commonly strikes more men than women, and usually shows up in people after age 50.

"You hear 'cancer' or 'leukemia' and it is scary," she told me.

Two of her cousins, ages 30 and 6, died from acute leukemias. Her father has the same disease.
With CLL, she explained, a patient shows a low red-blood cell count and a high white-blood cell count. Normally, that would be good because the white-blood cells are the "soldiers" who fight off infection.

"When you have CLL," she said, "the soldier cells are replaced by idiots, and they crowd out the good cells."

Patients in more advanced stages of the disease become prone to infections. Cuts, colds and flu can become life-threatening.

Gabby is still at stage zero, where no treatment is necessary.

In May 2008, Gabby was working as an "alien" on the set of Adam Sandler's movie "Bedtime Stories." She was feeling nauseated, and attributed it to being nervous.

Two days later, she discovered she was pregnant.

The pregnancy was risky, because of her age and the disease. Doctors had no answers when she asked if the pregnancy would have an effect on CLL, or if the CLL would have an effect on the pregnancy. It was an "elderly disease," she was told, and pregnancy had never been an issue.
Gabby felt sick and had a recurrence of her initial CLL symptoms.

"My husband and I were frightened. All of a sudden I was sick again. We were afraid the pregnancy was kicking in the CLL. We were concerned about the pregnancy, and what it was going to do to my health," she said.

Gabby is a Googler, meaning she is into Internet research. It paid off when her research revealed that umbilical cord blood stem cells were being used to treat CLL.
"Some patients get bone marrow transplants," she said. Bone marrow is more difficult to match, she said. The cord blood stem cells are more pure.

There was only one drawback, and it was a biggie.

"It said the cells from one cord were often not enough for treatment."

About one week later, Gabby went to have an ultrasound and see how the baby was progressing. That was the day she and her husband were told they were having twins.

"At that time we realized we had no decisions to make. This was all happening for a reason and that it was supposed to happen. We accepted it as the blessing it was."

The twins were sharing one placenta, which can sometimes be a concern if one baby is taking most of the nourishment.

"I talked to them all through the pregnancy and told them to be good sharers. They worked with me," she said with a laugh.

Lily and Ivy were born by cesarean section at 37 weeks, which is considered full term for twins, both of them healthy.

Tests on the cord blood were good, and it will now be stored with the Cord Blood Registry program. Because Gabby has a disease known to be treatable with the cord blood stem cells, the program waived the testing and storage fees.

If and when the time comes that Gabby needs treatment, the cord blood stem cells will be there.
"These are our miracle babies," she said. "My husband and I just look at each other and shake our heads. A year ago, we never thought we would be in this place now."