You made it! Here it is... the blog where you get to sit back and laugh at - or be completely horrified by - life with 5 kids, 2 parents, some frogs, a cat & a rabbit (and those are just the creatures we know about).



Every parent finds things to brag about when it comes to their kids. I'm sure I've done it a million times. However, sometimes my kids find ways to impress me that are less than brag-worthy. Here is a short list:

  • It is impressive that my children can turn something as benign as using Play-Doh into a competitive sport.
  • It is impressive that these same children who fight over Play-Doh can, moments later, be found sitting sweetly together and coloring with crayons.
  • It is impressive that my girls, when armed with a tiny box of play make-up, can instantly turn themselves into something that would rival any lady of the night or cast member from "To Wong Foo..."
  • It is impressive that when I manage to ditch a kid or two, it is actually more work for me. The more there are, the more they entertain each other.
  • It is impressive that my kids operate on only two sound levels: Deathly Silent - wherein I need to be sure everyone is still breathing and there are no secret plots being hatched - and Krakatoa - which involves decibel levels that actually cause pain to normal human ears.
    • Related fact: It is impressive that the switch between these two sound levels is often instantaneous.
  • It is impressive that the room that took me two hours to clean can be destroyed in a matter of mere minutes by my kids.
  • It is impressive that my children can change their clothes so many times a day as to never allow for me to catch up on the laundry.
  • It is impressive that, no matter where I try to hide, they always find me.
  • It is impressive that all five kids can entertain each other with a game that involves running through the house to get away from Sophie while screaming, "Watch out for Deep Darkness!"
As you can see, my kids have some quirky traits and behaviors. It is safe to say that I won't find life boring any time soon.

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'Tis the Day After Christmas

'Tis the day after Christmas, the house is a mess.
I can't find the energy to get myself dressed.

My plan is to lay around acting so lazy,
While hunting for food to dip in leftover gravy.

{choices:fruity pebbles, uncooked pasta, or frozen breadsticks}

The house is littered with millions of parts.
There's no telling where or when organization will start.

The dishes are piled high in the sink.
Maybe I'll get to them before they stink?

Meanwhile, the kids are all happily amused.
Not a single new toy has gone unused.

So today I will sit and continue relaxing,
Because tomorrow's clean up is sure to be taxing.

Another Christmas has passed, we're still full of cheer.
Let's carry it into the next New Year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


I was even too lazy to upload a picture of the ripped wrapping paper and opened presents. I intended to find an appropriate picture online. Unfortunately, image searches for "ripped wrapping paper" and "unwrapped presents" brought up quite a few inappropriate images. Clearly, I'm behind on some slang.


'Twas the Day Before Christmas...

'Twas the day before Christmas and all through my home
My children are acting like psychotic gnomes.

So full of excitement and crazy-eyed glee,
It appears their sole purpose is to drive me crazy.

Their movement is made up of quick jerks and jumps
Which soon result in numerous bumps.

Why speak to each other to say what you mean,
When thoughts can be conveyed through ear-splitting screams?

Threats of the naughty list no longer hold power
When Santa is coming in just a few short hours.

The Elf on the Shelf has abandoned me now -
He uselessly watches from the tree's highest bough.

I continue to try to get everything done
While the children just run (and run and run).

I'll frantically attempt to complete each task,
Is a little quiet too much to ask?

Here we are now, at the end of the line.
Santa is coming - it's almost time.

Bedtime can't come quite soon enough,
So tomorrow we'll revel in too much new stuff.

And there we will sit amidst a huge mess
And know it's just another chaotic Christmas.


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Christmas Madness

It's crunch time, people!

Sorry. I felt like that was necessary. The only thing anyone seems to talk about right now is how much they need to get done before Christmas arrives in less than two weeks. There seem to be two camps of people out there. The "I've had all of my gifts purchased and wrapped for weeks" gang and the "how the hell am I going to do the eighty-five thousand things on my list??" posse. If you have a conversation with either group, it tends to leave you feeling a little less than the Christmas spirit. The first bunch will give you a smug smile and boast about the fact that they've been all done for ages. The second bunch will have that panicked look in their eyes and proceed to tell you every single thing they have yet to do.

I am very happily in my own group altogether. Feel free to join me. I am in the "procrastination is the only way I know how to do anything and it doesn't stress me out at all" crowd. Although, I'm not too sure you can call it a crowd. PJ and I are happy to do everything last minute. This is how we roll. We sit down one night and do a bunch of shopping online. Then, we have my in-laws babysit one evening and make a date night of picking up anything that we need to get in the stores. Inevitably, this all happens about a week before Christmas. It's fun and we never have an issue getting it all done. I'm also happy to continue the tradition of staying up until 3 am on Christmas Eve and wrapping everyone's presents while A Christmas Story plays on repeat. I just have to remember to have some yummy snacks on hand so I don't steal Santa's cookies and milk. Goodness knows, the reindeer's carrots don't tempt me at all.

Lately, I have been fielding a new question. (Apparently, people are over the "are they all yours?" question for the moment.) "Have you finished your shopping?" This is where I smile and say, "No. We haven't even started yet." I wish I could properly type the gasp that I get as a response. Even the panicked posse shuts up for a minute. 

I don't love to shop. I also don't like crowds. Add in the wild-eyed lunatics that are out hunting for one last gift - and will happily knock you down or pepper spray you to get it - and I start to lose it altogether. I feel my skin begin to crawl when I drive by the mall and watch the cars slowly stalking anyone who walks through the lot just to get a parking spot. The less time I spend dealing with that, the better for everyone.

So, we bang out our shopping in an evening or two. We make most of our purchases online. Then we sit back and enjoy the festivities without having gone nuts for months in advance. It's fun and it works for us. But, who am I kidding? I don't do anything without procrastinating anyway!
Bring your pepper spray!

Get a good spot!
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The Elf on the Shelf

 We have the Elf on the Shelf in our house. When he first came to us two years ago, the kids named him Fred Paul (these are the same kids who tried to name Charlotte Cherry Sprinkles). Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, he returns to us from the North Pole. Except for this year, when he had to make an early appearance due to some fresh behavior. I warned them that it might happen. Sure enough, a few days before Thanksgiving, he had returned to his favorite shelf in the living room to watch over my little angels. {snicker}

The kids adore Fred Paul. They jump out of bed every morning to see where he might be sitting after his nightly visit to the North Pole. They leave him little notes and questions about Santa (that he answers for them every night). Unfortunately, the first question this year was, "Do raindears {sic} fart?" Aside from potty humor, they do try to behave a little bit better when reminded of the fact that he makes a nightly report to Santa about them. As of yet, they haven't become aware of his general creep factor.

Fred Paul reminds me of all of the dolls and clowns I was afraid of as a grown-up child. He's got eyes that follow you (seriously, walk back and forth - he's still looking right at you) and a little smirk that says, "I'll be coming to life while you're sleeping..." My twisted imagination draws very sinister conclusions. Not only that, but he is sent here from the North Pole to watch our every move. I'm pretty certain they've developed laws in most states that define that as stalking. I am fully aware that, as an adult, I should really be able to handle the inanimate objects in my house. There must be some unresolved childhood issues at work here because I am still waiting for Lucy's American Girl doll to open her eyes and talk to me when I check on the kids every night.

Seriously, though... I am positive that if I ever let the kids watch the clown scene in Poltergeist, they might view Fred Paul a little differently, too. For now, I'll happily use his powers to control my children's behavior - as long as he doesn't kill me in my sleep.

You never know where he'll turn up!
Look at those eyes - sweet elf or evil clown?
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No, this isn't a post discussing ways I could finally get my body back. Although, maybe less blogging and more crunching would help. This post is all about one of my least favorite sounds (besides whining, crying, and kazoos). Okay, so maybe I have noise issues - add them to the list with my OCD and aversion to sticky things. But, I digress...

A crunch, in general, isn't so offensive. It's the fact that a crunch in my house is accompanied by the feeling of millions of tiny crumbs exploding beneath my (usually bare, since I can't find any socks) feet. It seems that my children may be part of some bizarre cult that prefers to cover all floor surfaces with crumbs of any nature. Or maybe they're trying out a new beach-themed decor and need to create sand. Most likely, it is due to the fact that I have raised a houseful of slobs who are completely unfazed by food falling on the floor.

There's nothing quite like trying to start the day making a cup of coffee and managing to crush a Cheerio, Goldfish cracker, and a Cocoa Puff between the coffee maker and the refrigerator. {crunch, crunch, crunch} I'm hardly a neat-freak, but I do clean. And I have someone who comes in to do the things I never get to (mopping, tub scrubbing, etc.) twice a month. How is it possible that I'm always stepping on crunchy foods? Clearly, I'm doing something wrong. Someday soon I'll have to institute a new policy - whatever you drop you must eat. Wait - who am I kidding? My children have absolutely no qualms about eating off of the floor. And that's not a testament to my housekeeping abilities.

I suppose I should just consider myself lucky that they only drop crunchy (and not sticky - gah!) food on my floor. It'll be another post entirely when things start to go 'squish' beneath my feet.

If there were chocolate involved, I might not mind!
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This, right here, is a day in the life. It's not at all glamorous. It's often completely nuts. But, I wouldn't change a thing. Unless, of course, anyone wants to come fold my laundry.

5:00am - Alarm goes off for the first time.
5:40am - After pressing the snooze button 5 times, I drag myself out of bed.
5:45am - Make coffee and madly dig through unfolded laundry to find clean outfits for the kids.
6:00am - Lay out the clothes and start packing lunches. Try to make sleep-deprived brain remember who likes which snacks. Give up on the sandwiches and log onto the school website to find the hot lunch menu.
6:15am - Start dragging the oldest ones out of bed without waking the little ones.
6:20am - Make breakfast (a.k.a. pour cereal) with one hand since Charlotte woke up and doesn't want to be put down. Also, let out the dog and feed the cats.
6:30am - Take a 4 minute shower while Charlotte repeatedly tries to climb into the tub, then get dressed. 
6:45am - Make the big kids get dressed and ready and pack up the backpacks. Listen to them fight over who gets to brush their teeth first. Also, brush all of the knots out of the girls' hair.
7:10am - Hustle the big kids into their jackets, backpacks, hats, scarves, etc.
7:15am - Send the big kids off to school with Juju or Pop-pop, our fabulous chauffeurs.
7:20am - Attempt to clean up the house so our babysitters don't know what slobs we are. This includes, but is not limited to: emptying and reloading the dishwasher, rotating through another load of laundry that probably won't get folded, vacuuming and sweeping up miscellaneous crumbs left behind by "Not Me" and "I Didn't Do It", making beds (on a really good day), wiping down 85,000 fingerprints and random sticky stuff, and marveling at how dirty the house became since yesterday.
8:00am - Scratch head and wonder how I can work up such a sweat but never lose weight.
8:01am - Change and dress the little ones which includes grabbing Charlotte by the ankle while she tries to crawl her naked butt away.
8:15am - Welcome the day's babysitter, discuss any important items for the day and try to sneak out before Charlotte catches me.
9:00am - Teach many tiny children.
4:00pm - Arrive home to 57 children trying to tell me about their day all at once. "Mom, sign this!" "Mama, look what I made!" "Mommy, I need art supplies and two dozen cookies for tomorrow!"
5:00pm - Make dinner while checking homework, changing diapers, feeding pets, and entertaining children. Then yell at everyone to get out of the kitchen or dinner will never get done.
5:45pm - Sit down and enjoy dinner as a family. Everyone tells one good thing and one bad thing about their day. The kids almost never have a bad thing to tell. How nice to be young!
5:50pm - Sean announces dinner is "gross" and he won't be eating.
6:00pm - PJ and I continue trying to enjoy our meal while the children decide it is an opportune time to run around and play tag.
6:30pm - Play with the kids. Ensure the homework is done. On a good night, give baths and showers.
7:30pm - Dress kids and usher them off to bed. Have one of the older kids read a story to the younger ones. 
8:00pm - Start baking cookies for the latest school event.
8:30pm - Try to clean up some dishes.
8:45pm - Decide to give up on cleaning and leave it for the morning.
9:00pm - Collapse on couch to watch a good show. And fold all of that laundry.
9:05pm - Put a cranky, teething Charlotte back to bed. Forget about the laundry.
9:10pm - Attempt to watch the show again.
9:15pm - Briefly entertain the idea of laying out the clothes and packing the lunches. Decide it can all wait until the morning.
9:30pm - Start getting into the show when Charlotte wakes up. Again.
12:00am - Wake up on the couch and have no recollection of what happened in that show.
12:05am - Go to bed and know that it will all start again in a matter of a few short hours.

Welcome to CrazyTown. It's wild - and that's exactly how we like it!

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Thankful (a picture essay)

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:
trying to get 5 kids to sit still for a picture (& not make crazy faces)...
adding in some cousins & a little chaos...
getting a "better" shot...
football obsessions...
strangling sisters...
goofy faces...
upside-down babies...
taking a snuggly nap...
then waking up to play...
a toddler who refers to himself as "Trigger Happy"...
playing catch with Daddy...
hysterically opposing expressions...
freckly faces...
happy faces...
getting a potential Christmas card shot!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Bad Words!

It's fairly well known that I have a foul mouth. Obviously, I have to curtail my cursing when I am at work (around all of those innocent children). I try to do the same in front of my own innocent children, too. I have discovered over many years that I must have some kind of cursing quota that I have to hit each week. When my work week ends, I swear more than any other time. Needless to say, I have slipped in front of the kids. And we all know what little sponges these darlings can be.

Luckily, we've never had any dramatic instances where the kids have used any of these words in public (I'm sure it's only a matter of time), but they have used them on a few occasions. The funniest thing about hearing a toddler or young child curse is that, they not only say the word crystal clear, but they use it in perfect context. Sean, for example, is only 2 1/2. One day a few months ago, he was playing a game on the computer in the kitchen while I cooked dinner. Apparently, it wasn't going well because, all of a sudden, he shouted, "Dammit!" in the middle of the game. I had to stop what I was doing because I was dumbfounded. He seemed completely unfazed.

The big challenge, at least for me, is being able to appropriately reprimand the angel with the sailor's mouth without laughing straight in their face. Lucy was in the back seat of the car one afternoon. Patrick was teasing her about some nonsense. She asked him, more than once, to stop bothering her. Of course, being a typically annoying big brother, he didn't. Out of the blue Lucy yelled (in that tiny, helium voice she used to have), "Patrick, you're an a$$hole!" In her defense, he was acting exactly as she described. We then had to have a serious conversation about how to deal with problems while I tried not to laugh at her little voice saying such a nasty word.

Sophie recently had a swearing incident in the car, herself. We were playing a rhyming game using words that end with the 'ock' sound. We had already discussed chalk, talk, rock, and sock. Sophie very innocently said, "Mama, I know another word that rhymes with 'sock'... f*ck." I'm not sure what possessed her to say it, because it doesn't rhyme I'm positive that she knew it was naughty. I think she even surprised herself, though. Before I could even say anything, she burst into tears about using bad language.

Lucy and Patrick are older now and they definitely know better than to swear. There is something far different about a toddler repeating something fresh versus an older child doing the same. It's not cute or even remotely funny when you're older and know better. That doesn't stop Lucy from whispering very quietly the word "jerk" (with feeling) when she gets in trouble for something. She is the sweet one, certainly, but she has a little dark side.

Unfortunately, I'm a terrible example. As a parent, you are able to pinpoint which words come from you and which come from your spouse. I'd like to try to blame PJ for those few times one of the kids has repeated a bad word. Sadly, though, I can tell that the majority of them are mine. Maybe I can get my act together before Charlotte drops her first f-bomb. 

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One Word: ILL

There is a special kind of hell that consists of being sick when you are home with children. Being sick sucks. There's really no other way to say it. Being sick when there are children running through your room blowing kazoos and trying to tag each other leaves me convinced that I am a very bad person and this must be some kind of karmic retribution.

I am very rarely sick. I do not think this is a testament to some marvelous immune system. I'm fairly certain it has everything to do with the fact that I just can't handle being sick and having to deal with my darling children. I think my kids are wonderful. But, my house isn't that big. You can run but you can't hide. 

This week I felt ill for about two days. I didn't miss any work, but by the time I dragged myself home, the feeling was akin to death warmed over. I was trying desperately to hide in my bed and ride out the awful chills and aches, but those pesky kids just kept finding me. That kazoo scenario I described was an actual occurrence. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. 

Luckily, whatever I had passed quickly. I am now well enough to take out the person who let the kids come home with kazoos (you know who you are)...

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Kleptomania: (n) an irresistible urge to steal items of trivial value. 

I'm pretty sure my children suffer from a case of this. My kids are very lucky. They have plenty of toys and books. Even though times can get tight, they rarely want for anything. This doesn't stop them from wanting things, however. Really trivial things.

There is something the kids find so irresistible about free stuff. It doesn't much matter what it is. If someone is handing out flyers, they'll take three. On the way out of the Olive Garden, they will happily take a catering menu, a regular menu, a half-dozen of the manager's business cards, and some crayons. What, pray tell, are they going to do with all of this litter? Probably throw it on the floor of the car and forget all about it. I'd hate to see what kind of damage they could do with all of the handouts on the Las Vegas strip.

On rare occasions, my children have taken things that are not free. I often go to the grocery store with all of the kids. We usually use those crazy shopping carts that have the little cars attached to the front. While this helps to contain all of the ragamuffins, it makes it difficult to see them on the way through the check-out line. Many years ago, after a long trip to the store, Patrick informed me that Sophie had taken a lollipop. I was tired and the idea of going back to the cashier to return the stolen goods seemed like more than I could handle. I was about to set a really bad example for my kids and blow off the theft altogether. Luckily, I stopped to take a peek into the carriage and saw Sophie sitting in the tiny driver's seat, holding not only one lollipop, but the entire display of lollipops. I wearily turned around and informed the customer service lady that my child had just shoplifted forty lollipops. Fortunately, she thought it was quite funny.

Swiping candy on the way through the check-out line at the grocery store seems like a toddler rite of passage. It's the random lifting of "trivial items" that is so absurd. While making lunch this week, I was lamenting the fact that I had run out of toothpicks. Sophie told me not to worry because she had some in her top (underwear) drawer. Apparently, she's been stockpiling a collection of toothpicks that she picks up on the way out of restaurants. Really? Lucy, on the other hand, is a huge fan of crafting. One day, I found seven different buttons in her uniform pocket. Immediately, Patrick tattled on her when he recognized them from the art room at school. 

Needless to say, as long as the children are taking free things and not actually stealing, I don't really care. I just have to make it a point to raid their drawers occasionally and throw out all of the random bits and pieces of junk that they collect. Anyone have any creative ideas for what to do with fifty-two toothpicks and some business cards?
Toothpick art
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My kids are weird. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm sure 99% of the time, they appear normal to the outside world. But, they're kids. They say and do some of the darndest strangest things. What makes it so crazy is the fact that they each have a different set of quirks. This means a constant buffet of weirdness to choose from.

Recently, we had hot dogs for dinner. This is a pretty basic American staple. A hot dog in a bun doesn't seem strange or very interesting. How one eats a hot dog also seems to be rather mundane. Unless, of course, you give it to Sean. I handed him a plate upon which I had placed a hot dog in a bun. He's had hot dogs before. I just assumed he would pick it up and eat it like everyone else. He will occasionally forgo the bun. Instead he went to town on that hot dog the way Heckle and Jeckle used to eat corn on the cob. (Remember them?)
Who eats a hot dog like that?
My little Charlotte may only be 1, but she's already got some quirks of her own. How many toddlers do you know that would pass up a freshly baked cinnamon roll for a piece of turkey? Maybe she's on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. All I know is that I had made cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but she wasn't at all interested. Instead, she did a drive-by toddle-by and stole a piece of turkey while I was packing lunches for the kids. 

And then there is her fascination with Shakira. Charlotte is usually very content in the car. If, however, she starts crying, she will not stop unless you stop the car and get her out of her seat. This is not very convenient if you're actually trying to get somewhere. So, we've been known to drive around with a screaming Charlotte. Until Sophie - thanks to Juju's Zumba habit - discovered the one thing that could shut her up. Playing "Waka Waka" by Shakira. Very loudly and on repeat (much to Patrick's dismay). We've actually had some fun with it. Charlotte starts screaming. As soon as she hears the opening of the song, she stops. Stop the music. Scream. Start the music. Stop. It's comical. If we got a video of it, we might have a YouTube sensation on our hands. Don't get me wrong, it is a very catchy song. But after the 25th time, it starts to wear on you. Although, our Fang is getting better and better!
Shakira dancing in the Waka Waka video
Now, Sophie has always been different from the rest. I think it's a birth-order thing. I've been polling families with three or more children for years. Number three is almost always a little bit louder, more adventurous, and crazier funnier than the others. For example, she is the only one of my children who ever had a habit of eating Barbie shoes. Mostly, though, Sophie is famous for saying unexpected things. You never really know what might come out of her mouth.

The other night, we used our popcorn popper and had a little movie night. I had to make a few batches because the bowls kept turning up empty. After the movie was over Sophie turned to us and very seriously said, "I can't eat anymore popcorn. All those kernels really hurt my brain." Um, ok.

Lucy and Patrick are getting older and far less unpredictable. Lucy still has questionable fashion choices but, for the most part, I think they've grown out of the weirdness. I suppose it's a sign of them growing up - which is a little sad. Maybe maturity and normal go hand in hand. Although, knowing Sophie like I do, I think she's always going to have a few extra quirks to keep us all laughing!

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Seamless (how NOT to describe Friday night)

This past Friday I was home alone with the kids. Fridays are when the whole week seems to catch up with them and I end up with a house full of cranky kids. To head off the impending disaster, I decided on early dinner and bedtime for all of them. By eight o'clock, I had a quiet house all to myself. 

While I was catching up on my DVR shows, I texted my husband to ask him to bring me home some dinner. He responded, "I just ordered. I'll be home soon." I took this very literally and assumed this meant he'd be heading home with food for me.

Imagine my surprise when the doorbell rang at 8:30. I jumped out of bed while the dog barked madly and ran to see who could possibly be at my door this late. There was a gentleman standing on my porch with a pizza box and a bag in his hand. Huh?

I stepped out onto the porch (to prevent the dog from eating said gentleman) and tried to figure out if this food belonged to me. I explained that I hadn't ordered any food (that I could recall) but the slip surely had my address on it. This man then informed me that I owed him $27.60. I'm sure he thought he would just show up with food and get money. Instead he got the confused lady who had to go call her husband. As I set the food down on the porch so I could go inside to get the phone, he was yelling, "Sweetie, take your food inside or it'll get cold!" Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "I'm pretty sure I don't have $27.60 in my purse." 

I call PJ and discover that he did, indeed, order food for me using his new Seamless App on the iPhone. While he's trying to explain to me that the order was placed through his debit card - contrary to the delivery man's belief - the baby wakes up screaming. Now I'm standing on the porch with a dog who is trying out for the remake of Cujo, a crying baby, and a bunch of food that is supposedly paid for, but we're not really sure. The poor delivery man was at a loss.  "Please, Miss. Just take the food and take the baby inside. Please," he was pleading. I didn't know what to do. I tipped him the only $2 I had in my pocket and went inside. In the meantime, PJ confirmed with the pizza shop that they did get their money. The poor delivery guy probably won't be rushing back to our house any time soon after all of the confusion.

I got the baby settled down and decided to check out my dinner. I assumed, based on orders of the past, that it would be a pepperoni pizza and some buffalo fingers. I opened the small container and found plain, over-cooked chicken wings. Not exactly mouthwatering (or anything I would order). So, I decided to start on the pizza. Imagine my surprise when I found a large pepperoni pizza - with broccoli on top. I'm a big fan of broccoli, as a side dish at dinner. Maybe even on a veggie pizza. But on top of pepperoni? No, thanks. I thought PJ was trying to be funny when he ordered. Although, if you know me well, you know better than to mess with my food.
No, thanks!
PJ came home a few hours later. He was rummaging around looking for a midnight snack. Needless to say, even he was surprised by the food we got. Apparently, it wasn't at all what he had ordered. Seamless wasn't so seamless after all.

As usual, what should be a normal event, turns into lessons for us all:

1.) Don't over-do it with technology. Just pick up the damn phone and order a pizza.
2.) Too many cooks in the kitchen - don't ask your husband to do something that you can just do yourself. You'll end up standing on the porch, scaring the delivery guy, and eating gross topping combos.


The Weekend of Cakes

We had a very busy weekend. There were birthday parties, a christening, and more birthdays to celebrate. All of these events involved cake. I'm pretty sure that there were still bowls of frosting in my sink when I left for work this morning. (We'll discuss the fact that my dishwasher stopped working mid-cycle at a later date. {sob})

Patrick and his friend, Sean, had a joint birthday party for their classmates this weekend. They agreed on a basketball-themed cake.
Cupcakes to match!
A friend had also hired me to make a Belle cake for her daughter's birthday. I was so pleased to be working on a new princess - I've made a LOT of Ariel cakes!

Finally, we topped off our weekend with Charlotte's christening. This happened to coincide with Patrick's 8th birthday (today) and Charlotte's 1st birthday (last week). I couldn't quite figure out how those three events could be represented on a cake that didn't look completely haphazard, so I made 3 small cakes. Of course, in all the chaos that is involved in making our house suitable for company and getting everyone ready (& finishing all of the other cakes), I didn't know if I could pull it off. They definitely weren't my best work, but I threw some designs on them as quickly as I could before we left the house for church!
Patrick wanted Angry Birds
Charlotte's birthday Owl
Charlotte's little christening cake
It worked out to be the kind of weekend that you need the whole work week to recover from.  But - it was filled with fun and family (& cake!). Now, it's time to scrape those frosting bowls and pray to the patron saint of dishwashers...

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Dress Code

My children - particularly the girls - have a serious issue with dressing inappropriately.  Sometimes, it's lack of fashion sense. Most times, it's a lack of common sense. What I've discovered over time, however, is that I've lost the will to fight it.

This all started when Lucy was about 18 months old. She had a little white dress that she insisted on wearing over every outfit. Jeans, sneakers, sweatpants, other dresses - it didn't matter. That little dress with silver-sequined straps went right over. I stitched it back together a dozen times before finally putting it into retirement.

Sophie, on the other hand, has always had a penchant for wearing bathing suits. In the middle of December, she will happily skip around the house in any number of suits. Trust me - we don't turn the heat up high enough for that kind of attire. So, she merrily runs through the house, bathing suit-clad and sporting a nice bluish tinge.

During the week, the children wear uniforms to school. Every day, they have their uniforms  laid out for them. Once school is over or the weekend arrives, all bets are off. Early on, I decided that I really don't care what the children wear while they're inside the house. It took me a little bit longer before I threw my hands up in surrender when it came to the clothes they wear in public. So much of my time is spent organizing the outfits that all five kids will wear during the week - making sure all parts of the uniform are present and accounted for, making sure the little ones have extra outfits in case they have an accident - that I just can't care anymore when school is over. 

Which is probably why people look at us funny when we're out in public. After they finish counting how many kids I have, they must actually take a look at them. There goes Lucy in some ensemble that she thinks is absolutely glorious - polka dot leggings, a plaid sundress and some tiny sweater to make up for the fact that a sundress doesn't really work in November. Oh, look! Here comes Sophie right behind her - black tights, white dress shoes, and a multi-colored, striped sweater dress. Seriously, folks... get the catwalk ready. Project Runway, here they come.

Needless to say, there are times when the girls look a little foolish. But, they're happy with how they look and I am just too tired to care. Hey, what do I know? Maybe they're just ahead of their time and the "I put together my outfits with my eyes closed" look will be all the rage someday.



Halloween is crazy. But, it is definitely one of my favorite holidays. Anything that involves ridiculous costumes and ends with enough chocolate to make you sick is a good time in my book. The Halloween hangover is tough on the kids, though. Especially when it falls on a school night. 

My husband and I rushed home from work to start getting the kids ready. Predictably, he then had to run out (to three different stores) because we forgot to buy candy. In the meantime, I ran around picking up the house and getting bits and pieces of costumes on before the grandparents and other family members arrived. By this time - due to extreme excitement - the kids could only speak at decibel levels that rivaled jet engines. I found Sophie in her room crying hysterically. Apparently, waiting until dark to start trick-or-treating was actually going to kill her. As I wrestled Charlotte's chunky thighs into some tights and made sure everyone else had all of their parts, my husband finally returned with candy for the neighborhood children. After working myself into a sweat, everyone was ready and we were off to score some loot. 

Halloween is serious business in our neighborhood. Houses were decorated as though it were Christmas. The streets were teeming with monsters, ghouls, fairies and even a walking Schlitz bottle. Throw in Charlie Brown and his bag of rocks and you've got a traditional trick-or-treat scene. 

Miles lots of walking later - and one stop to the Jell-o shot house for the grown-ups - the kids made it home. The is where they proceeded to dump out their bags (in the middle of a doorway, no less) and sort, trade and share their wares. They gorged themselves on candy while all of the grown-ups ate pizza and fought for their favorite treat.

Way past their bedtimes, the kids were hustled off to bed. They laid their heads on bare pillows since the cases were filled with candy. In the morning, waking them was like waking a college kid after an all-night rave. The only thing that got them up was the promise of choosing one piece of candy for their lunch boxes.

Halloween is a favorite event in our house. Our bleary eyes and chocolate-stuffed bellies are sure signs of a good time had. Now we brace ourselves... the holiday countdown is only moments away!
Patrick as a werewolf
Lucy as a cheetah
Sophie as a "sparkle witch"
Sean as Super Why
Charlotte as a garden gnome


Christmas Socks

Let's talk about my socks. Halloween is a few days away. Some people like to wear cute little novelty socks. I happen to have novelty socks on today. But not Halloween socks. Christmas socks. Sadly, they're a step up from what I normally wear... no socks.

I hate to do the whole "woe is mom" thing, but I often come last in my house. Some days, it's all I can do to get everyone else in the house into clean socks and underwear. I've been known to wake with a start at two in the morning with the heart-stopping realization that one of the kids has no clean uniform shirts. So, I run to the washer and sleepily start a load of whites that I will then dry sometime before the crack of dawn. 

Then, after the chaos that is my morning routine, I prepare to get myself ready (last). I open my top drawer and find the pile of mismatched socks from everyone in the family. I have no matching socks. Unless you count these nice, black knee-socks with little, red Santas on them. In my defense, they do match what I'm wearing today. As long as no one gets too close, I should be able to hide the fact that I am wearing Christmas socks 5 days before Halloween.

My question is this: Where did I go wrong? I am not the most organized person. Who decided to coronate me the Queen of Laundry? Somewhere in our marriage, my husband and I adopted these very Cleaver-like roles. He does the "man's work" - take out the trash, mow the lawn, change the light bulbs, remove the spiders. I do the "lady's work" - cook the meals, bathe the children (on a good day), clean the house (ha!), do the laundry (ha! ha!). Clearly, the laundry situation is out of my control. The dirty pile just keeps growing no matter how many loads I do. The clean pile is still waiting to be folded and put away. And I have no socks. 

I'm thinking there must be some way I can make this a family affair. My oldest is almost 8. Can I teach him to fold? Or maybe someone has developed some sort of "laundry app" for the iPad. That will get my husband interested for sure.

Regardless, here I sit in my ill-timed Christmas socks. Meh... maybe I'll just pretend I'm early for something for once. That would be the day!

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Oops, I Did It Again...

I got a flat tire. Again. Apparently, the laws of Murphy were written explicitly for me. Flat tires do not happen when I'm just hanging out in my house on a Saturday. They happen when I am on my way to work. Or when Sophie has her early-release day from school and needs to be picked up in an hour. I am blessed to have an incredible family support system. If my father-in-law didn't come to my rescue (again), I'm not really sure what would've happened to the kids. I guess they'd still be at school waiting for me to get sorted out.

I have Fridays off. In theory, this sounds lovely. Every Friday, I think I am going to accomplish all sorts of tasks that have been put off all week. I think about the playdates I'll have with friends I haven't seen in a while. Unfortunately, the universe has conspired to make my Fridays a hectic mess. (I've already learned not to go to work on my day off since that is how I got my car towed away. Curse you, street cleaning day!)

This Friday started well. I dropped the kids off at school and headed to my mom's with Sean and Charlotte. Lala was going to make us breakfast. We hung out there for Moonstruck eggs and when I left, there was still plenty of time to get to Sophie's school for pick-up. Or so I thought.

Shortly after leaving my mom's house (with working tires!), I had to pull over on the side of the road because my front left tire was not only flat, but completely devoid of air. Just what you want when there are two little kids in the backseat and three more waiting to be picked up at school. Roadside assistance informed me that it would be an hour before someone could come and change the tire (which turned into 2 1/2). My poor father-in-law came and stayed with my car so I could take his car and pick up the kids. I made it to Sophie with a tire minute to spare.

All of the hassle made me want a coffee. I drove to the nearest Dunkin Donuts only to find that it had been closed for renovations. Seriously?? Who cares what it looks like? Just give me my caffeine! I decided that I really didn't feel like getting the kids out of the car, so I headed to the McDonald's drive-thru for a coffee. When the woman at the window handed it to me, I forgot which car I was driving. My father-in-law's car is smaller and lower than mine. I grabbed the cup and slammed it into the window frame. I spilled a ton of hot coffee all over myself and the steering wheel. The poor woman at the window started apologizing and throwing napkins at me. This - along with all of the other ridiculous events of the day - prompted me to start laughing maniacally. My sister was on the phone with me at the time and is still disturbed by what she could only describe as cackling. To top it all off, the coffee was horrible. I decided to take my sideshow into the local Starbuck's and treat myself to a latte. Clearly, I've got an addiction.

Once my coffee issues were addressed, I headed into the pick-up line at the big kids' school. This is where I discovered that I was going to have to get creative. I was driving a sedan. There aren't enough seats for all of my kids. I eventually did maneuver them into seat belts with some sharing involved. (Thank you to Alice for offering to help me shuttle some of the kids, though.) In the meantime, my father-in-law ended up wasting about 4 hours waiting for my tire to get replaced. It was a ridiculous day for him, for sure. I'm pretty certain he's going to retire from his own private roadside assistance. Unless he wants to capitalize on it and turn it into a legitimate business.

So, we are currently operating with full tires. But, it's the weekend and we have no plans. I'm sure the fates can arrange for something ridiculous in time for Monday morning...