Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great Thanksgiving Weekend

Wow! What a great weekend! We always go to one of my sister's house for Thanksgiving each year. She and her husband cook amazing dinners every year. They have four kids between 7 and 11 years, my other sister and her husband have three kids between 8 and 11 years, we have our five, and my mother goes as well. Their house is big enough that even with all of us there, it still never seems crowded. Or loud, which is amazing. It was a really good day, even though it took us three and a half hours to get there. It usually takes about an hour and a half. It was just the five kids and I in the car because Ray drove by himself. The kids and I spent the night, but Ray wanted to leave that night. It was pretty crazy trying to watch all three little ones all day and I have to say I was beyond exhausted when we got home Friday night. I slept with Brookelyn and Sasha and it took forever to get them to fall asleep. They took turns tossing and turning, waking up coughing, rolling onto each other, waking up...I hardly slept. The next day we all went to an amusement park, which was great. We were celebrating three birthdays. Brookelyn turned three on Wednesday, Nov 26th, my niece Jacquie, turned eight on Nov 20th, and Dakota will be turning 18 on Dec 5th. We went to the same amusement park last year the day after Thanksgiving and had a great time so we thought we would do it again. It was great. It was pretty empty, so we were able to ride one ride after another with no line. They have rides for little kids like Sasha and for older kids too, so all of us like going. We stayed four hours. Luckily for me, my older kids, my sisters and two brother-in-laws helped me with the little kids. Brayden, Brookelyn and Sasha all really liked it. All three loved going on the rides. We didn't get home until after 8:00 pm and we were all exhausted. Another great holiday with family.
Another thing I was really happy about was that I learned how to crochet this weekend. A couple of weeks ago I made a huge pan of pasta and brought it to a local shelter. My mom and one of my sisters went too. We all brought food and helped serve dinner one night and clean up. While we were there we passed out hats and scarves that someone had made and donated. The people at the shelter (men, women and children) all were very appreciative of them. They actually were really pretty and really soft. I decided that night that I wanted to learn how to crochet so I could make scarves and hats and donate them as well. Some of the people at that shelter slept inside, but a lot of them slept outside and those scarves and hats made a huge difference in their lives. So one of my sisters taught my mom, other sister and I how to crochet this weekend and we all learned how to make scarves. I loved it. I went out yesterday and bought a bunch of yarn and a few more crocheting hooks (needles?) and started a scarf. I stayed up until 2:00 am last night working on it and just finished my first scarf tonight. It turned out a lot better than I had expected it would and I hope I will get better and better as I go along. It is pretty addictive. Brayden and Brookleyn have asked me if I would make them each a scarf and even my older daughter asked if I would make her one. I volunteered to get a group of people together to cook and serve dinner at the shelter on Jan 14th, so I thought I would work hard to make as many scarves as I can before then. How great that I found a hobby that is so cheap (the yarn for this scarf was less than $2.00) and one that helps other people? I'll post pictures tomorrow. I am still tired from the lack of sleep from this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sea World

Sea World

We had a great time at Sea World. We have annual passes, but don't make it down there as often as I would like to go. It is an hour and fifteen minutes from our house. We got there about 10:30 and left at about 4:30. We probably stayed just a little bit too long. All three of them wanted to ride in the stroller and it was pretty heavy for me to push. But I wanted to seea show that started at 3:15 and then we saw a couple of exhibits while we were in that part of the park. We started off the day seeing the Klyesdale horses and then went to the kid's play area where the kids ran around, played in a sandbox, and we all went on a kid's ride. We then went to the see the differnent eels. The eels wanted to be fed so they came right up to the side and are easily touched and petted. One kept putting it's head about six inches out of the water right next to us. We walked over and looked at the dolphins for awhile, went to the shark exhibit and walked under the sharks, had lunch, saw a Sesame Street 3-D show (which was fun-it rained on us when it rained in the movie, bubbles fell from the ceiling when Ernie was taking a bubble bath, and we got splashed when some character turned a hose on, we saw the polar bear and baluga whales, saw the penguins, saw the manatees and the dolphins, got ice cream, saw the Pet's Rule show (great show with birds, dogs, cats, ducks, and pigs) and then went home. I think that is it. It was a really busy, full day. Luckily for me, Brayden was great. The older he gets, the easier it is for all of us to go out. He gets that he has to stay by me, which helps a lot. The worst things was that a few of the exhibits had scary music and low lighting, so Brookelyn wanted me to carry her. I carried Brookelyn and Sasha around enough throughout the day that my legs were vibrating when we got back to the car. Seriously. I can handle carrying one of them, but I spent a lot of time carrying them both. I think their combined weight is about 50 pounds, which is about half of my weight.
I tried really hard to keep the day fun, even during those moments that were not even the slightest bit fun. Such as when we first got there. I wanted to get a quick breakfast before we started off since I had forgotten to eat and knew it was going to be a physical day for me. Breakfast in the hospitality center comes with eggs, bacon, potatoes and a muffin. Brookelyn had a meltdown byt the counter because she couldn't get lunch (they weren't serving lunch yet) and then another meltdown all the way to the table and at the table for most of my meal because I didn't divide the muffin right between the three of them. I let her scream since I needed to eat and knew it wasn't really about the muffin, it was because she is just in that stage where she melts down easlily. I am sure I looked like a horrible mom calmly eating while my child lost it, but anyone who has a child has been through it. We had a couple of meltdowns throughout the day over one thing or another, but I knew it was a long day. Overall, we all had a lot of fun. I want to bring Brayden back in the next couple of weeks. He would enjoy seeing more of the shows. I just knew the girls wouldn't like sitting still for them, so we only went to interactive ones. It was also nice that Sea World wasn't packed, it was actualy fairly empty. I think it was in the mid 80's, which was perfect.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fender Bender

I was rear ended yesterday afternoon. I am fine and luckily I was alone. I am never, ever alone so that was actually amazing. I had driven to the nail salon that I used to go to until a couple of months ago. I have been going there for a couple of years and really like the women. They translated a couple things for me when I was waiting for news about Sasha, taught me how to pronounce her Vietnamese name, oohed and aahed over her pictures when I was sent new pictures of her while waiting to go get her, were excited when I brought her in to visit...but the lady who does my nail had her own baby and only works on weekends now. You would think I could get my nails done on the weekend, but it just doesn't work. I tried it a couple of times and it was too hard. I don't know if it is Ray or the kids or if the kids just work him when I am gone, but he really can't do it. So I usually got several phone calls for help while I was gone and was a nervous wreck during it. No joke. And it is supposed to be a relaxing thing. I found another woman closer to my house and get it done during the week. Anyway, the lady who used to do my nails is a single mother of a baby girl. So I have been giving her a lot of things as Sasha outgrows them. Sasha was taking a nap and Brayden and Brookelyn were watching a movie so I decided to run the things over to her store. I was slowing down at a red light, getting ready to stop, when I saw a SUV behind me in my rear view mirror and it was going fast. I knew it couldn't stop in time and was going to hit me. I couldn't avoid it because there was a car stopped in front of me. It hit me pretty hard. I am fine, though I admit I was shaking as I wrote down my info, but the van looks bad. The back door is really messed up and looks like a part of it is just going to fall off at any minute. And of course the woman doesn't want me to call my insurance because her insurance will go up. A friend of ours who owns a body shop is going to fix it up. We've had him work on our cars before and he does good work. It's just a hassle to rent a car, move all of my car seats and junk into it, figure out the details of her paying for one has time for it. I do feel really lucky though. First of all, that the kids weren't in the car. Also, that after she hit me that I didn't hit the car in front of me. Luckily for me, the light had just turned green before or while she hit me, so the car in front of me was already moving when I got hit. I got in a really bad car accident the spring before I graduated from college and had to have a ton of stitches in my face and leg. I had broken my nose, so it had to be re-aligned (painful) and a plastic surgeon told me he put over 100 stitches on my face. My leg hit a metal plate on my car and has a huge scar on it. I had to be in a leg brace for a while afterwards. I guess the campus police had seen a man stealing things on campus so they were chasing him in their squad car. I was just leaving my neighborhood in 5 Points, South Carolina It was spring break of my senior year of college. My younger sister and her friend had flown in from the Midwest to go to Myrtle Beach with me. I think we made it two blocks away from my house. I was driving my trusty Pinto and the guy being chased by the police was in a huge Lincoln or something like it. We were headed down a two way street packed with parked cars on both sides, so it really only left room for one car to pass through at a time. They were being chased by the police, so were really fast and hit us head on. We are all lucky to be alive. Were we wearing our seat belts, you ask? What seat belts? This was 1986. Don't make fun of my trusty Pinto either. I bought that with my tuition money when I lived in New Jersey for a semester of college. $1000. Then I had to quickly get a job and pay my tuition in installments since I hadn't told my parents I had moved to New Jersey or that I bought a car. I wound up staying in New Jersey for the summer and fall and then move back down to South Carolina. I drove from Bergen County, NJ to Miami (my dad lived down there) and then back to South Carolina with no car trouble. Actually, it was raining when I left NJ and the sound when the door is open came on a half hour into the drive and didn't go off for hours. And my muffler fell of when I was going through D.C. But otherwise, it was great. I went on a ton of weekend trips my last two years of college in that car and it was great. It was totalled after the head on accident with the Lincoln though. So instead of the trip backpacking in Europe, I went on a two month camping, hitchhicking trip through the US with a few friends. We started out in a VW Bus and ended the trip hicking. We started in DC and drove to the West Coast. I finally stopped in Estes Park, Colorado. I had a great time traveling in the VW Bus and camping at night, but I really didn't like the hiking and hitchhiking thing. It all sounded good until I put the backpack on. Then I wanted to be done with it. It was heavy and too much work. And the reality of hitchhiking almost every day was pretty darn scary. And I was pretty sick of eating peanut butter and jelly. I think I lasted for two weeks of hiking before I called it. Which I have to say, is really good since I knew within two seconds of putting on the backpack that I didn't like it.
Anyway, back to my poor minivan...I am bringing Brayden, Brookelyn and Sasha down to Sea World tomorrow, so having to switch all of the stuff is a pain. We need to go though. I keep meaning to bring them and something comes up. They don't know we are going. I rarely tell them until the morning we are leaving in case something changes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gifts that give back

I was reading the magazine, Adoptive Families, last night and saw a great website called The full name is Change Online Shopping For Good. If you go to it and sign up, a portion of the money you spend when you buy things through them gets sent to an organization of your choice. I guess there are about 25,000 organizations listed to choose from already. If you don't see one you want to donate to, you can have it added. There are a ton of stores on it like Staples, Baby Gap, Ebay, Barnes and Noble, QVC, Best Buy,, Apple itunes, is free to sign up. The amounts each store gives to the charity or organization of your choice varies. It says the highest is up to 26% of the puchase price. I am not selling it or connected with it in any way, I just like to share info when I see an easy way for people to help other people.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Brayden found a chocolate covered Oreo that I had hidden in the cupboard from when they went Trick or Treating. It was either let them share the cookie or have three kids having a group meltdown on the way to school. It was only one small cookie, but they did a great job sharing it and all three were happy afterwards. I asked them to raise their hands if they liked chocolate.

Pink, pink, pink

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pink Cupcakes

Brookelyn and I love reading one of her books about a little girl who eats so many pink cupcakes that she turns pink. Brookelyn loves pink so much that she fits the "pink" into every sentence she can, she loves wearing pink, she has to drink out of a pink cup, and no one else can like anything pink because she thinks anything that is pink should belong to her. I know she isnt trying to be unreasonable, pink just means everything to her right now. Anyway, after reading the book a few times about the pink cupcakes, I bought the ingrediants and we made them after school. I tried to make Brayden's frosting as red as I could since that is his favorite color. It was a lot of fun. Surprisingly, none of them finished eating even one cupcake, but they had a lot of fun making them!


I took these when I walked into the room and saw the girls sweetly sitting on the same chair looking at a book together. By the time I got back with the camera, they were no longer sitting still. And couldn't seem to hold still for a second. Brayden, who is usually instigating the trouble or chaos, sat calmly looking at his books. He loves when we read to him, especially now that he is starting to read a little on his own.

Sasha and Brayden with Jeep

This is while they are "helping" Daddy clean the garage. Sasha has learned a new, really cheesy smile. The sparkel shoes are Brookelyn's. One of Sasha's favorite things to do is to take off her shoes and put on other ones we keep in the front fall. Her favorites are always Brookelyn's shoes.

Face painting

Brayden's last day of soccer was Saturday, so there was a big party at the park. We waited for about 40 minutes in a long line on a very hot day to get their faces painted. It was worth it. The kid's faces looked great. I had them put little flowers on Sasha since I didn't think she would sit still long enough to get her face painted. She liked the flowers. I brought all three out to lunch with me while Ray did some work around the house later. Right before we got out of the car Brayden started cleaning off his face with some wipes. He said he didn't want to scare anyone at the restaurant. Brookelyn had to clean her face up too since Brayden did his. Instead of kids with neat face painting on them, I had kids with badly smeared paint all over their faces, arms and hands. They didn't really get totally clean until bath time before bed.

Inside pictures

I know we have a lot of nuetral colors in the house. I wish I was good with decorating, but I'm not, so I just go with what makes me comfortable. Warm colors. I still have to buy a new comforter, the one we have is from Vietnam Quilts. I love it, but it is small for our bed and we need a prettier one. Easier said than done, I have no time to look for a comforter. I didn't take pictures of Brayden's room, Colton's room or Dakota's room. We still have to hang up a couple of pitures in Brayden's room, I couldn't get a good angle to take a picture of Colton's room, and Dakota's room still needs to be painted. We let her do whatever she wanted in there so she did a lot of drawing and panting on the walls. I plan on painting it a grey/blue. I took a color sample from Restoration Hardware yesterday. We also have an office/library but that is the messiest room in the house. I spent today going though paperwork for all five kids. I bought five 2" binders and sheet protecters and then spent the day sorting getting them together. Now each one has a binder of things I have saved for them over the years (report cards, birth certificate, doctors notes for apointments, various certificates, a few papers they have written...Tonight after I made the kid's dinner, Colton and I went to College Night at his school while Ray stayed home with the little ones. I won't go into detail about what this place looks like, but I will say that from where I am right now I can see that every single toy was dumped out of the toy bin and not cleaned up.

Inside of house