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You will need to know how to make paper airplanes.  

… and not ones that immediately nose-dive.  They will need to actually fly.  Obviously, the further the better but they won’t need to record-breakers. 

Advice:

Practice, learn to make them quickly and stock up on paper.  Try making them in the dark or with your hands behind your back for practice.  Practice, practice, practice.  And if you find that you can make a paper airplane that’ll stay afloat for 5 seconds, while holding a baby on one hip and stirring dinner on the stove with another…. well, my friend… YOU HAVE ARRIVED.

Here’s some websites that will help you develop your paper airplane skillz:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Paper-Airplane

http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/ 

http://www.paperairplanes.co.uk/planes.php

You will be asked on a daily basis to assess the awesome-ness of teeny biceps.    

… and sometimes elbows (the younger ones tend to forget which part of their arm is the muscle).

Advice: 

NEVER be to busy and ALWAYS be impressed.  It might encourage more frequent assessment requests but when it comes to being a mom to boys, it’s impossible to over-compliment the muscles. 

I’m a firm believer of building my kids up and  if that means I have to oooh and aaahhh over sweet , scrawny little arms all day, you better believe I’ll do it.

Today is one of those days of total contentment.  A day when I wouldn’t trade in my “mommy-card” for all the money in the world.  A day when I delight in picking Hubby’s socks off the floor and hum a little tune while I tackle the permanent mountain of laundry piled high next to the washer machine.  Have you had one of these days before?

They don’t come often enough for me, I’m ashamed to admit.  Contentment doesn’t come from my surroundings, for those are the same as they were yesterday.  Instead, it is truly a matter of the heart.  It’s a choice I don’t make everyday… every moment… every breath.  And I fail miserably most days.  For some reason I’d much rather wallow in a current pity-party or allow the stress of keeping all my “hats” balanced perfectly on my head to take over and consume me. 

Today was not perfect by any means.  My whiney child was still whining.  My boys were still rowdy and out of control at times.  My chore fairy still refused to show up for work.  My family still demanded to be fed.  The dog still needs exercise and attention.   And homeschooling is still starting on Monday.

***AAAAHHHHCCKKKKK!!!***  Slow….deep….breathing….

But today, I choose contentment over strife and stress.  I choose to delight in the little things… those things that often go unnoticed or under-appreciated because I’m to caught up in something else.  I choose to take a deep breath when the stress of a moment threatens to wash over me like a tidal wave and instead of capsizing under it, I choose to smile and go start a tickle-fest or pillow fight in the living room.

Why today, you may ask?  I’d love to say it was just something I chose to do on my own.  But I’m afraid not.  Rather, it is a result of an increasing number of tragedies that has rocked the people around me in one way or another.  Sons who have died unexpectedly… families wiped out in car crashes… sweet little babies who are terminally ill… buses from my own university involved in head-on collisions… the list goes on it seems.  Sometimes I wonder if it is a sign that the devastation of this earth is closer.  That maybe the coming of my sweet Savior and Lord is just around the corner.  While I know that is true because each moment that passes brings us closer to that day, I also wonder if it’s more a result of us all being more connected through technology.  When something bad happens to a friend of a friend or co-worker, we read it on Facebook or Twitter when a year or so ago, we might not have ever heard the news. 

Whatever the reason is, the tragedies and heartaches have caused me to stop in my tracks and turn to look at those who surround me on a daily basis.  And I mean, really look… and appreciate.

Life is a gift.

Tomorrow is not promised.

And I am blessed.

Well, maybe not silence (after all, there are still 4 young munchkins wrestling, chasing and taunting each other) but it’s quieter for sure.  We just said goodbye to our Thanksgiving guests… all 12 of them.  Our sister and her family came to stay last week for Thanksgiving and our family looks forward to their visit every year.  In case you were wondering, of the 12, 10 of them were kids.  Yep. You read that right.  We had 14 children running in and out of the house for 5 days and it was GLORIOUS!  It seems every year, the minor spats and falling outs between the cousins get less and less.  This year I’m not sure we even had any.  If we did, they were very quiet and very short-lived. 

When you have that many young ones visiting (in a very small house to boot), you really just have to go with the flow.  You have to realize there will be chaos and noise.  And some moments, words like chaos and noise don’t even come close to describing situation.  But you ride the wave, go with the flow and absorb every moment of it.  Because you realize, soon enough, the sleeping bags will be packed up, the mountain of shoes by the door will disappear, the once over-flowing food in the kitchen will be all eaten up and the windows will no longer shake from the constant comings and goings through the slamming doors. 

And it will be quiet.

Some quiet is nice. 

But too much of it isn’t. 

Especially when you sit and edit photos like this:

and this:

and you know that more than likely, these precious lil month old pair of feet will be crawling around the floor and getting into all kinds of trouble, next time you see them.   I had the privilege of taking some baby photos of my new nephew while he visited.  He was super easy to photograph! Even with 13 other kids running all around us (and getting in the shots), he happily stared out the window and quickly feel asleep!  We didn’t even get any outfit changes done, he fell asleep so quickly!  But that was okay.  It was a bigger priority to get sleeping pics than lots of outfit changes and poses.  As I looked back at his photos, I realized I definitely have a thing for baby feet.  Half my pictures were feet!  I could seriously post at least four more great feet photos… but I figured that might be a bit much for the rest of ya’ll.  For some of you, I realize feet shots just bring back bad memories of older brothers and stinky feet or ingrown toenails.  Or the king of all toe jam attacks. 

Did you know that my daughter (remember, she was my first baby so cut me some slack when you read this story) had super sweaty feet as a baby?  It’s true.  She could soak through socks like nobody’s business (and it probably isn’t but I’m going to share it with you anyway).  I use to worry that she’d be plagued with sweaty, stinky feet as a young woman and I’d imagine all the great lengths she’d have to go to, in order to keep her feet problem a secret.  I imagine the havoc it might cause to her dating life.  Strange isn’t it?  Mothers are great at worry.  If I were to have listed them all, they’d have ranged from the super paranoid to the silly and unnecessary.  The foot worry was obviously the latter… you just can’t tell a new mom that though.  Nope.  To do that would probably cause great bodily harm.  Human mamas are very similar to bear mamas… and a NEW human mama is far worse.  Kinda like a mama bear on steroids… or crack…

I apologize for the randomness of this post.  I blame it on the Claritin.  Yes, it’s another windy day here at the Runningamuck neighborhood and I’m high on allergy meds.   My thoughts are as scattered as the leaves outside.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. 

I promise to “sober” when I write my next post.

Or at least that’s my cop-out cry when the dirt and clutter is screaming at me from every corner of the house. 

We have family coming to stay with us for the week of Thanksgiving.  My sweet, sweet, sister-in-law is coming with her hubby and wonderful children.  We look forward to this visit every year and when it was in jeopardy of not happening this year, I went into a tail-spin of panic.  BUT things got worked out, God worked marvelously and we are all looking forward to the fun their visit always brings. 

But along with a visit from anyone, comes the mad dash of extra cleaning that needs to be done the week before.  Some might argue (NEVER me of course, I just know someone, somewhere might pick this bone) that why bother doing extra cleaning when you have a van load of kids coming to visit and that the all the extra foot traffic will only get your house MORE dirty?  Well, in this case, my house is just plain, long overdue for a thorough cleaning and for anyone to see it in it’s current state, even my sweet sis-in-law, is downright embarrasing.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I do my best to keep a clean house… and a tidy one for the most part.  The kids all have daily chores to help out (even the 3-year-old) and we pick up and sweep a few times every day.  Yes, I said A FEW TIMES.  And yes, it gets very old, very quickly.  But alas, it must be done at least until someone tells us that wading through filth and clutter up to our kneesView Image on a constant basis is actually GOOD for our health.  Or until we win the lottery and I can pay for a full-time maid (heck, I’d take a part-time one!).  Or until I locate the ever evasive Cleaning Fairy and chain her to the inside of my house.  I don’t know whose house she visits but it sure ain’t mine!  I dream about her sometimes…. usually on the nights leading up to a big cleaning project, like today.  Maybe I hope it’s like Kevin Costner’s baseball movie, “If I dream it, she will come”. 

Oh wait.  I don’t think that’s what Kevin hears the whispery voice call to him while he’s out daydreaming in the corn field.  Dang it!

Anyway.  I decided that for this week, we (meaning the kids and I.  Me giving 762% and the kids giving 28%) will tackle one room each day and just clean the beejeezeses out of it.  In case you didn’t realize it, today is Monday.  That means that today was our first room.

We picked the boy’s room.  For no particular reason, except for the fact that three handsome, dirty, sweet, smelly, loving but incredibly gross boys call it their very own.  And if we didn’t tackle it first, it might not ever be done in time.  Of course there was the usual, cleaning baseboards and windowsills, washing not only the sheets but also the comforters and mattress pads, sorting through toys, tossing broken ones and making a pile of unused ones for the next garage sale and dusting blinds

View ImageCan I just take a moment and say that dusting is my least favorite job to do?  And within that dusting category, blinds rate the absolute worst thing to have to do?  That’s saying it’s the bottom of the very bottom for me.  I’d rather let the boys attempt to cut my hair. 

Almost.

This is a picture from my nightmares.  No one should have to dust after the age of 25  75.  I’m pretty sure my eyes will be too bad to even see the dust by then, so who cares?  But in my nightmares, I’m still dusting….

 

On top of such delightful tasks, we also rearranged the beds and toys a bit (we’re always fighting for more room) and also cleaned out the unused extras from the top of the closet and either tossed them or put them in the garage sale pile.  I also had the joy of scrubbing walls.  Do you know boys’ feet are always dirty?  They sure seem to be.  My boys shower every night (helps keep the beds clean, a pet peeve of mine.  Dirty, crummy sheets that is.  Ewww, gag! I just grossed myself out typing that!  Apparently I can’t write it without imagining it) and I know they put their feet on the wall sometimes while they are in bed – after showering.  So why are the light blue walls covered with a nasty dark film of dirt in the areas above the beds?  How is that possible exactly? 

Well, it was there.  And I had to scrub it.  But there were worse things to scrub off.  Stuff that required the total extent of my elbow grease.  It’s too gross to even write down but it might possibly rhyme with “oogers” and start with a “b”.  Did you know it turns into cement immediately when it comes in contact with a wall?  It does.  Supposedly the guilty persons are no longer in the throes of this habit.  So I’ve given them strict instructions that now that the wall is clean, ANYTHING that shows up on the wall will be henceforth proclaimed as NEW and therefore punishable.  And let me tell you, I’m still dreaming up the consequence.  It sure ain’t gonna be fun and it sure ain’t gonna be pretty.

It’s lunch/nap time now and I’m exhausted.  I can’t put the kids down for their quiet time/nap time because the sheets and blankets are still in the washer and dryer (and after taking a real close gander at the walls before cleaning, I’m not letting those feet near a mattress that doesn’t have protection).  My allergies are roaring (WHY didn’t I think to take a Claritin before I started?! WHY??!!) and I’ve tweaked my back.  Apparently that’s what happens when you use up every ounce of elbow grease on the walls…

And that’s why I still beg and plead that house cleaning might indeed, one day, be the death of me.   Now I’m off to try and dream the Cleaning Fairy to my house before I have to tackle the next room tomorrow.View Image

** I would like to point out.  The kids did a great job helping.  I had help vacuuming and dusting and scrubbing walls.  And of course, they were the ones who had to dig through toys and sort them out.  It’s just that sometimes, their elbow grease just isn’t enough.  But we’re working on it and their elbow muscles are all in training. **

** not my picture here but goodness gracious, isn’t she adorable?!!

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This week’s challenge is for “completely candid” shots.  I don’t know about other moms but having three boys and a very animated daughter, well, the hard part is NOT getting a candid sometimes. 

Apple Brothers email

This picture is one of my all-time favorites.  The boys were just hanging out, munching on their morning apple snack.  I love Monkey’s laughing face and Tiger’s somewhat melancholy look, the dirty bottoms of feet, the animal cups and the skinned up knees.  Just seems to ooze boyhood and brothers to me.  I realize the bottoms of feet are usually a no-no in photography but I think this picture proves it’s not a hard and fast rule… sometimes the bottoms of feet can reveal the charm of the moment.

In this case that’s dirt.  

Go over to I ♥ Faces for more great candid photos.  Enjoy!

Have I mentioned I love I ♥  Faces?  In case you missed it last week, I DO!  We’re talking head over heels folks. 

This week’s challenge is Sharing Our Summer Stories Through Photos.  The one I’m sharing is of the kids playing with the hose in the backyard… go figure.  It’s cheap, it’s cool, it’s exercise and it keeps the mess outdoors.  Needless to say, we do it a lot.   Plus, there’s an extra level of fun because Lucy, our 8 month old Boxer, just LOVES water.  As we discovered on this particular day, she loves stealing sunbathing spots too.

The younger boys were the hardest hit.  She just couldn’t leave their laid-out towels alone.  She’d soak in the water and then dart over to claim a sun-warmed towel.  The boys tried their best to move her.  When that didn’t work, they tried to move the towel out from under her…

Stealing Towels 1 email

They quickly gave up that idea.  They tried sharing the towel next….

Stealing Towels 2 email

When the smell of wet puppy got to overwhelming, they abandoned the fight altogether and opted for other, non-towel activities.  Lucy grandstanded the victory just a tad

Towel is Stolen email

The non-towel activities included:  Mom’s sunglasses and, what we fondly refer to as, The Circus Bike…

Circus Bike email

Photographing Lucy’s tongue… (some of the shots were group efforts)

Lucy Bear email

Looking glamorous and very NOT wet…

Who Is This Girl soft email

And rubbing the Towel Stealer’s wet belly…

Towel Stealing email

View Image Today was another milestone… the kind that catches you off guard and takes a minute to sink in but the ton of bricks come crashing out of the sky none the less.

Lil Blue doesn’t need a step-stool anymore.  I watched today as he stretched up on his tippy toes and washed his hands at the bathroom sink.  This event followed very closely on the heels of him being able to get up on and down off the toilet without his trusty little red side kick.

At first I was excited.  No more step stool carrying through the house from one bathroom to the next.  Hooray!  No more stubbed Mama-toes during midnight bathroom trips in the dark. Hooray!  No more precious floor space used up by our stout four-legged companion.  Hooray! 

But then I heard the faint roaring sound from above… like the distant roar of an approaching earthquake.   It’s the dreaded sound of time marching on.  It’s always there, in the background.  We just usually drown out the sound with our business.  Keep moving, keep moving, keep moving… only, we can never move faster than Time.  Sometimes the roar of Time is disguised by the cheering and clapping around you as monumental event is applauded and rewarded.  It’s even been known to go crashing by in our absence. Ever miss a child’s first step because of work?  Or a first book ever read because of vacation?  ‘Nough said.

View ImageToday I wanted to desperately to jam the lifetime supply of cotton balls from the nearby bathroom cupboard (does anyone else have the same bag of cotton balls that they bought 5  years ago?!) into my ears to drown out the rumbling of Time.  If I don’t hear it, does it mean it’s moving?  No more step-stool means no more chubby little feet stepping up for a little boost of height.  No more half-naked (or all naked as the case may be) 2 year old noisily dragging the stool through the house just so he can “use your baffroom Mom”.  

No more help from mom.

Now, that’s not totally true of course.  But it’s how Time makes me feel today.  I’m being phased out.  It’s a good thing. 

But it’s a sad thing.

So while I add the step-stool to the garage sale mountain pile, I’ll relish one of my few last bathroom mom-duties…

…. reaching the soap for him.

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The girls and I had the baking bug today but it was just too hot to fire up the ol oven.  So we decided to decorate marshmallows instead.  All you need are some melting wafers (party or craft stores, about $2.50 for 1 lb bag), lollipop sticks, sprinkles and of course, marshmallows. 

It was the perfect fix.  No oven heat and the girls still got to dip, taste, dab, taste, spread, taste, sprinkle and taste to their little hearts’ delight.

Towel Stealing email

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