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).


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