Brunch at my house

18 little ones.
2 bumps.
6 mamas.
A driveway cum minivan lot.
Monkey bread.
Egg casserole.
Banana bread.
Acini de pepe salad.
Absolutely no leftovers, (luckily I set aside plates for Kevin and my mom, or they wouldn’t have gotten any lunch.)
A modicum of conversations above the general hubbub.
Knowing you have women by your side who completely understand.
And a completely clean kitchen (only 4 1/2 hours later!)
And in other, completely unrelated news, I am ridiculously excited about my new recipe box I ordered on Etsy. Maybe one day, my grandchildren will be going through these same recipes asking me to help them learn to cook and bake. Maybe they’ll get all nostalgic after I’ve gone to be with Jesus because of the recipes in my handwriting. Maybe they’ll have to do a coin toss to see who ends up with Grandma’s precious recipes. Maybe.

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I’m not sure if that’s a scream or a sigh.

I got invited on a spur of the moment road trip by my bestie to visit my bestie in Louisville, Kentucky. With her two boys (8 & 7) and my five year old, we set out on Friday morning.

It. took. for. ever. to cross Illinois. It. took. even. longer to cross Indiana. But finally we made it!

We had lots of time for girl talk.

We went to the zoo.

We went out to eat.

We went shopping in a hoity-toity part of town. ( I didn’t buy anything, but it was fun to look!)

We went to a great service at church.

We watched movies.

We hung out.

We had a fabulous time!

The drive home was much better–I don’t know what the difference was, but it seemed to be a lot shorter than the 8 hours it took. I got an amazingly lot of knitting done. It was so good to see my littles again.

Of course, that was before the 45 minute tantrum by the boy and the whinging and sneaking frosting and pillow losing by the girl and the noticing the sheer dirtiness of the floors and the make-me-puke toilet.

Kevin had to work almost all weekend so the kids were farmed out to my mom, his mom, his sister, my sister, and our neighbor.

I’m pretty sure they would have gotten away with anything short of starting a fire in each other’s hair.

But I’m so grateful for the time away, I don’t even care. I love knowing we have people in our lives we can depend on.

And, they got to do this:
Hang out with their Tia and cousins

Watching a sheep be sheared

Holding a MASSIVE Great Pyrenees puppy

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Today, I slept in (once I pawned the baby off to Dada at sunrise).

I had cake for breakfast.

And a coffee.

I was awestruck by God’s handiwork above and below the ground. His attention to detail is breathtaking.

Special thanks to Jon Flavel for these photos, since I forgot my camera.

I laughed a lot.

I had some serious heart-to-heart with my parents. And it was a balm to my soul.

I watched a cicada hatching from its nymph case.

Thank you Anita363 for this staggering photo.

I lolled on a porch swing while marveling a dragonfly’s flight engineering. Isn’t the Creator amazing?

I headed off several near tantrums.

I made dinner without a recipe!

I nursed. I snuggled. I read. I kissed. I listened. I loved.

And today, I did it well. Thank you God.

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We may have gotten a little carried away…

A simple game of dress-up… dancing regally around the living room

Not quite swinging from the chandelier

Gypsy wanted in on the act. Really she did.

Dancing regally with Brielle…
Uh-oh…What’s Dada going to say when he sees this?
Shrug. I’ll just chew on my tiara. I’m comfortable with my manhood.

It’s inevitable really, what with two sparkly big sisters and all. We may as well get him used to sequins early.

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Fancy Tea Party

You’d never guess I’d been up since four…Cadrian looks like he’s being possessive doesn’t he?

My nephew Titus and little friend Sydney

Reading some Valentine stories
Cora enjoying her snacks

Aviana being cooperative with the camera

All the fanciness

Homemade pretzels
London Bridge and dancing
Aviana and Ella counting the booty after the heart hunt

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The Magic House..and some other stuff

If you like to see how we’ve changed in the last year and a half, here is our first trip to The Magic House, when I was just barely pregnant with Cadrian.

We love St. Louis, but we only stayed there one night. We stayed at the Drury Inn and had a marvelous time (despite the gross fat self-tatooed guy in the pool who showed up wearing this tee shirt. How proud his wife must be.) and the brunch was scrumptious.

I wanted to go to H&M to find baby boy some bigger clothes, and so we navigated our way to the mall. Kevin and I nearly got into a fight trying to figure out how to get there–actually, we didn’t. A few years ago, we would have. Probably a big one. That would have completely ruined the rest of the day. I’m not even kidding.

Both of us tired. Long trip. Loud kids. Tense with traffic and construction and closed roads and unfamiliarity. Yada yada yada. I’m so in awe of what God has done in both of us.

Wouldn’t you know this H&M didn’t have children’s clothes, but I did find some good deals for our 12 month wearing six month old regardless. Aviana was disappointed there was no play area in the mall, but agreed the gigantic fountain more than compensated for it.

Do you think the way home from vacation always takes longer than the way there? I sure do. It took us about seven years to get from St. Louis to Peoria to stop by my cousins’ for too short a visit. Then it took about 12 more years to get home.

But. Now that we’ve been home for almost a week, I think we are recovered and pretty much back to normal.

At least as normal as things get around here, anyway.

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More about our trip

I mentioned we went to the Titanic Museum. Is that not the coolest?

The only thing I was disappointed about was that due to copyrights, no photos were allowed inside the museum.

Aviana was interested in learning more, so of course, I turned to my home away from home, the library. We found a super duper book called
A mom, who survived the sinking with her husband and only son, wrote the story for her son a couple of years after the sinking. She gave it to him for Christmas in1913. Many years later, a relative found the book among the mom’s belongings and published it. The book includes both illustrations and photographs.

It’s enough to give you goosebumpies. Go out and get it right now! I’d love to hear what you think of it.

We also visited The Butterfly Palace that day; here is a sampling of our morning.

3-D Glasses

Aviana was earnest in her love for this chair in the bathroom. She wanted me to take a picture of her on it, and of it by itself. I am earnest in my love for my daughter.

When this butterfly opens its wings, it looks like this:

In the mirror maze
Notice a butterfly over Kevin’s shoulder?

What a cool visit!

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More MO Vacation

Three of us got new hair; we went to Lambert’s –Home of the Throwed Rolls; started on our little sewing project; went to a story hour, which compared to ours at home was super lame, though the library was super huge and fantab, and did a lot of hanging out.

I’ll have to make links later, because I can’t seem to do it from this computer.

I’m fighting off a migraine (and I think I’m winning). I’m going to pack up our hotel suite and pack the van, and we are heading up to St. Louis today. We’re going to The Magic House, and then locating a hotel with SOFT beds!

Tomorrow we’re stopping off at my cousin’s for a visit and then heading home.

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MO Vacation

We’ve been having so much fun, we can hardly stand it.

It was especially fun this morning when we were searching our hotel room for the van keys for an hour. It was even more fun when Brielle had repeated meltdowns because we won’t let her leave the room by herself and wander the hallways. When she tripped over Cadrian and they both fell over and started screaming? That was the most fun yet! Don’t judge me for laughing; it was pretty funny.
We ARE having a good time here though, despite all the chaos that goes along with life with small children. Kevin heard the car keys jingling around his ankle. They had fallen through the hole in his pocket and were inside the lining of his pants.
Yesterday we went down to Branson and had essentially had the place to ourselves. This is the way to go, as I’m a crowd hater. We went to The Butterfly Palace in the morning. It was wonderful. Structurally and aesthetically, it’s beautifully designed. We enjoyed it all; The Rainforest Critter Center,  the Emerald Mirror Maze, the 3-D movie about a butterfly life cycle was so interesting, and of course, the Butterfly Room with close up views of all kinds of butterflies was the highlight. 
We ate lunch at the Cracker Barrel. Mmmm.
Then we went to The Titanic Museum on the birthday of the only Titanic survivor still living. She was only nine weeks old when the ship went down.  I stuck my hand in water that was the same temperature as the North Atlantic the night of the sinking. For about 20 seconds. Oh. My. Goodness. I cannot imagine being one of the passengers.  We saw a replica of a third class room and a first class room. All sorts of relics were there too, including purses, and dresses. People were appreciably smaller then. Thank the Lord for the good nutrition we have now. 
We were each given a boarding pass at the beginning of our tour, and at the end we found out if our character survived. 
They also had some movie memorabilia, including Rose’s purple hat and suit she wore in the opening scene, and the burgundy ‘jump’ dress. I love the costumes in that movie. I love the movie in general but–and this is a little off topic–can you imagine standing on a street watching two people inside a car make love? That’s essentially what you are doing if you watch that scene in the movie.
I love learning about the Titanic; one of my favorite ESL unit I did was on the Titanic, and we kind of had to rush through since the girls were nap-needy, but I still learned a lot at the museum.  
I think part of why it fascinates me so much is it seems as if the tragedy of so many lives lost was completely avoidable, if the men in charge were not so pompous, and if the divisive system of “class” hadn’t been so prevalent. 
Today we are having an at home day. Hopefully the girls will wake up in much better humor, and not so prone to tearful drama and whining. I’m going to go get a Nick Arujo-type makeover at my aunt’s salon while Kevin and Cadrian go to Bass Pro. 
Then we’re (Aunt Barb, Grandma-who has laryngitis-the girls and my cousin Tyler) all going to meet up and go bowling.
Ta Ta For Now
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Missouri Vacation

We left at 4 a.m. yesterday morning. The drive went well; especially considering the girls did NOT fall back asleep in the van as we had hoped. We stopped only a couple of times, and broke up just a bit of bickering. I was really impressed with my cherubs.

We arrived at my aunt’s home about one o’clock. Brielle slept for about an hour in the car. Kevin lay down with Aviana in hopes of getting her a nap in as well, but she didn’t comply for quite some time. She finally fell asleep (following her Dada’s good example), for about an hour too.
After some wonderful chatting, and a delicious ham dinner, we went to our “suite” at the hotel.
WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT! The room was fine, but not for our needs at all. The dividing wall between our part and the girls’ part didn’t go all the way to the ceiling and the wall was only halfway across the room. 
Much shenanigans and ballyhoo occurred, but Brielle finally crashed a bit after 8, an hour after her regular bedtime. Little Miss Aviana on the other hand, kept herself awake until almost 11! I couldn’t believe it. Our room was on the first floor, so despite the “black out curtains” which were barely grey out curtains, the lights everywhere, were terribly disturbing. I did not sleep much at all.
Kevin had already done a little scouting with other hotels in the area. It’s the off season, so rooms are easy to come by. We found a room across the street and it’s twice the size. Our room has a door we can shut, and the girls have a pull out couch instead of bunk beds. Kevin is most excited because the breakfast has meat! Best of all, we get it for the same price.
Today we switched out the rooms, went to my grandma’s Episcopal church–we go to a very contemporary church with about 600 attendees on our campus per weekend–her church had one other child in the nursery and was literally one of the ‘oldest’ most traditional services I’ve been to,–and made wonderful football themed food.
Now everyone is pestering me, because it’s time to go back to the hotel to unwind before bed. Obviously, I don’t want to leave.
 I’ll post pictures if I can figure out how to do that on Aunt Barb’s Macbook. I tell you what, after using this, I think I’ll be campaigning for one.
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