Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Patch pics - proceed at your own risk {very pic heavy!}


{Paige, in front of a shed they decorated to look rustic. I loved it so much,
I decided to do a design by fire technique on it to punch up the contrast}

We spent Sunday afternoon at Sweetberry Farm in Marble Falls. They have a pumpkin patch each year and we thought it would be fun to take the kids and see what all the fuss was about. We had a great time and the kids really enjoyed the hayride, feeding the animals, going through the kids maze, homemade ice cream and, of course, picking out pumpkins!

what should we do first?

ah, let's pose with everyone who's willing...


yup, everyone likes a sullen scarecrow. thumbs up, kiddo!

that's more like it! give it some spunk!!

Paige feeds her first kid. Ok, not including Drew.

Neil, Jonathan and Paige wait for the hayride.

Ashley feeds the goat.

And is immediately grossed out because *that* animal is licking her hand!

Paige feeds another kid.

Then the kid gets a little greedy, lunging for more.

Jonathan's turn to feed the kid!

I couldn't help posting this photo since those goats are all but saying
'enough with the pleasantries, give us some food ALREADY!!'


Now, it's his turn to be grossed out!!!

Paige and Jonathan are the first portrait victims.

I love this picture of Jonathan!

First, the girls cooperate.

Now the boys cooperate!

Paige and the tractor.

Paige is making sure those tiny pumpkins are 'OK' to sell.

Ashley and Drew look over this one very carefully.



Paige sitting next to a new friend, Mr. Pumpkin. Yeah, I'm just that original. ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Throwback Thursday, with a twist - Neil's doppleganger?? You decide...

A couple of nights ago the t.v. was on HGTV in the evening after, I guess, one of my shows had recorded. It was a show I like to watch, Property Virgins, but don't have a timer for. So, we're sitting there, getting ready for evening prayers when Neil blurts out (something to the effect of)...'that guy, he looks like me!...'well, my skinny self anyway'. And we sat there and looked at this guy. I have to admit, it felt a little weird checking him out thinking 'yup, he's definitely Neil...in a different way'. Was it wrong to think he was cute? I dunno. But I went ahead and recorded the show and last night we paused it and stared at his face some more. Then a lightbulb went off. I grabbed Neil's scrapbook that his mom made. We went through a few pages and realized this guy is a carbon copy of Neil from high school.

So, I present to you a few pictures of Neil from his younger years and then some photos I took from the t.v. of the guy in question - you decide.

**Neil**




***

**Random dude from HGTV**




Sunday, October 26, 2008

Meeting a two-time Olympic medalist!


{Jonathan and Kaitlin Sandeno - she wrote 'You Rock!' on his autograph card}

Yesterday, Jonathan had the opportunity to attend a strokes clinic at Nitro. For a mere $25 he was coached by Kaitlin Sandeno, got to hold her Olympic medal and got an autograph and photo with her. Even though he has officially decided to take a break from swimming (though he calls it quitting) he was really excited to attend. He was not nervous to talk to her and even told her about his getting first place in his heat in the 25m backstroke last weekend. He got a high five from her!

Coach Mike explained that he was approached by NIKE to use the Nitro swim facilities to shoot a magazine. When Kaitlin came for the shoot she stopped and saw Coach Mike was doing an evaluation for one of their swimmers and came over and helped out. Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen were also there for the shoot. There were some other names, but from where I was sitting it was hard to hear.

Kaitlin shares her stories of being in the Olympics, even down to training the past two years alongside Aaron Peirsol and Michael Phelps in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the hopes of making a third Olympics. She did not make it to the trials due to a knee injury two months before followed by an upper respiratory infection two weeks prior to the trials.

Jonathan gets to hold Kaitlin's silver medal, which she says meant the most to her because it was in her worst stroke. I can't remember what stroke that is, but if I had to guess it was the breast stroke.

the silver medal

the swimmers watch as Kaitlin demonstrates how to do the dolphin kick

Jonathan between exercises

Kaitlin diving




Coach Mike makes an example of Jonathan in how 'not' to come up for air during the freestyle.

Jonathan is super excited to have Kaitlin down on his side of the pool.

She gives him a high-five after he tells her he came in first in his heat in backstroke last weekend.

Jonathan getting an autograph.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eleven months old!


{as I sit here, scrapblog has not been cooperating, so it'll be later in the day before the header is updated}

I bought this outfit two weeks ago betting on a warm October. I mean, why wouldn't I figure it'd be warm here well into November?? Well, it was 44 degrees this morning and chilly in the house. Oh well. It takes a lot to be a Texas fan! I thought this outfit was appropriate given the #1 rank of my alma mater. Let's hope the horns have what it takes to go undefeated and give us another BCS championship.

Oh wait...this was supposed to be about Drew's milestone...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Organization is a must! Part I




It is the beast that must be conquered if you expect/wish/desire relief in any form for most families. It has to be integral as your family grows. I would hope that's a given! However, it's entirely up to you to decide how much organization or scheduling you want to invite into your family life.

Mine started the day I got married. Ok, I'm joking. But that's about the time that I started looking at my life a lot differently. I had packed up my Sentra and we drove to Manassas from Austin. As we were unloading the car and moving boxes into the apartment, I realized how much crap I had. Literal crap. But I did nothing about it. Those boxes sat there for the better part of a year before I decided to unpack them and spread it out around the apartment.

Then we moved to the townhouse. My crap followed me. Plus Neil's. Sorry honey, but we're in this together, right? Two kids, loads of crap. It wasn't until 2002 or 2003 that my mother-in-law, Mary Ann, mentioned this new fangled website called Fly Lady that I really started to get my organizing going in the right direction. No longer would I be doomed to stare at boxes of junk that I had no love for.

If you are clutter challenged or are easily overwhelmed by the mess caused by years of your life, you'll want to get started with Fly Lady's 15 minutes at a time. That's the policy. It won't be undone in a few hours or a few days. It took years to get it that way and it'll take a while to get it all back to uncluttered. And in the meantime, you learn lessons in how to manage your 'hot spots'. Those places in your house where papers and mail go to die, only to get scooped up and tossed into bags and hidden when company comes over.

Don't lie. You know you do this. Even Tori Spelling admits she does this. We're all fighting the same beast here!

So, where am I with Fly Lady these days? I have morphed her schedule into my own, but I have maintained a lot of the core elements of her program.

The Kitchen.

I keep the sink immaculate. It's been years since our sink has seen a pile up of dishes and pots and pans. The kitchen is the least forgiving of all the rooms in the house. Just as you get it cleaned out, you can count on someone to 'hungry up' and undo all that hard work. And this will happen many times in one day.

Kids as young as three can help with responsibilities. I'm a firm believer in family chores. Jonathan is responsible for wiping down the table after meals. Ashley is responsible for sweeping after meals and mopping once a week. Paige is our trivet retriever. Neil and I divvy up the responsibilities for each meal.

I used to struggle with the idea of handling all of the household responsibilities until Fly Lady came along. Since I'm home, it's just logical that I'll handle about 90% of it. It took many moons to accept that. But when everyone is home, I do expect them to do their share. We have waffled on the idea of having a cleaning lady, but the kids are old enough to pull their weight and a good solid 15 minutes of cleaning really accomplishes a lot.

Laundry.

This is one chore that you *must* have some kind of system in place or you'll see how quickly it all backfires on you. I had a friend once say that with her second child the laundry grew exponentially. I can totally see that too. I have family and friends who do all their laundry on one day. I might be up for trying that experiment if I didn't have *some* place to be each and every day. So, everyone gets a laundry day and when things are in the groove, their basket is next to the laundry room ready to go the night before. First thing in the morning I start the first loads of laundry. Our laundry schedule is as follows:

Monday: Ashley and Paige
Tuesday: me
Wednesday: Jonathan and Drew
Thursday: Neil
Friday: towels, sheets, etc.

One thing I do insist from the kids is that they bring me their laundry and return it to their room. This means they are responsible for gathering all their dirty clothes and putting them away after they're clean and folded.


****

Stay tuned for more on our chores!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

He's STANDING!

Just when I start my series on running our house, Drew decides it's more important to stand!! So, we worked with him a bit on his 'technique', which translates to his being distracted long enough to forget he's standing on his own. Then we broke out the camera to show you what he's learned. Earlier today I mentioned that I thought it would be two weeks before he attempts to take his first steps. Now, after seeing him stand for long periods of time, I might eat my words. I guess we'll see!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our how-to guide for a family of six

I've been thinking of doing this for a while and thought I would share how we do it. Not that we do it gracefully or perfectly, but back in June (I think it was) I blogged about the importance of a schedule. It is *so* true. Whenever possible, we stick to a schedule. So, in the next few posts I'm going to be going over a few of our tricks of the trade (whether borrowed or original) and how we've incorporated them into our daily lives.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

No more blogging?!

How quickly did you click to see what this was all about? Did I fool you? ;-) It's been almost a week since I posted last. Usually my noodle is always going with ideas for new blog topics or we are just overwhelmed with life and activities and it makes short work of my blogging. Our fridge situation has completely consumed my time. As I sit here, I am thinking how am I going to make this work with all four kids home from school tomorrow and Monday. And they have early release today.

Then Jonathan gets home.

He brought home his newsbook to share with us. He takes turns writing to both me and Neil and we have homework of writing him back. It's been a lot of fun. Here's one that Neil and I both get a kick out of.



"Dear Dad, I hope we get my favorite game Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. It is my favorite game. I know I haven't played it but I want it."