Happy Birthday Boys (lots of pictures if you hate to read)!

Within 5 days I get to celebrate ( run around like a crazy person) Dustin's birthday, Nate's birthday and Halloween. That is why I am now sitting in the middle of a pile of 6 loads of laundry that didn't get done until today.

To kick off birthday week we had a Cake Off on Sunday. Boys vs. Girls. I won't tell you who won, but I'll give you a huge hint -- I mentioned the fact that there were winners and losers. We tried really hard to let the kids do the decorating, so this is how they turned out.
Nate and Dustin made a red velvet and homemade cream cheese haunted house. The girls and I made stacked brownies with store-bought cream cheese frosting in between covered in chocolate sauce. Then we had the Krassow's over for FHE as our guest judges.

We played Dustin's birthday low-key this year. He worked all day and I had extra kids, so I picked us up some lunch and made dinner. For his present we got him Scotland Yard -- an old school game if anyone actually remembers it. Luckily the new version comes with a super cool hat. Dustin may have had Luke on his team, but Sadie, Nate, Ellie and I caught Mr. X. We also woke up to a lovely toilet papered house and oreo-ed car. If only the treats had been edible!!! Next year boys!

I don't like to go over-board on birthday presents. Probably from watching my poor birthday-obsessed sister be disappointed every year. I figure we should start them off with really low expectations and then anything they get from other people will be fantastic.

Now to Nater-taters. Along with it being his birthday week, Nate got to be Star Student at BOTH pre-schools this week so we got Carmel from Miss Becky, plus all the extra stuff -- treats, poster, pictures, favorite books and toys from Miss Lisa and two Halloween parties. PHEWBlack Spiderman for one and Red for the other. I guess it pays to have a reversible costume.

Nate had his birthday party last night and for the first year EVER, I was actually cold by the time it was over. It was Super Hero themed and if you forgot -- my brother-in-law made capes for everyone. PLUS EXTRAS! He is my hero. They came in an AWESOME package this week (that will have to be it's own blog because the packages have been so much fun) and all the boys looked so cute.

Daven, Joe, Nate, Jackson, Dane, Conner and Trevor
Sorry Brady's not in there, Casey, he wasn't up for a picture.
Then I let them turn around and show me their Super Hero poses.

I had them go through a Super Hero training course (including silly string-ing the bad guy, jumping over Sadie's doll house in a single bound, and lots of cheering and High 5-ing), pop balloon bombs and gather their Super Hero rings.
Ellie and a girlfriend played the part of bad guys. They did such a great job I may hire them out for other parties. You know, make a little extra money on the side. . .

All night long I tied and re-tied capes. "I want to be Batman!" "I want to be Superman." Thank you SO SO much Kyle and Kathleen!!! They loved them. I also loved this picture of all the boys hovering around the birthday presents. Little kids are the BEST! Maybe just Nate's friends, but they are all so much fun. I love those guys.

As soon as we got rid of the last kid, we headed home and Dustin (who was at Mutual during the party) went and picked up Luke from Karen's (THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH KAREN) and we ran over to the Poulson's for their annual Pumpkin Carving Party. Ellie came home with a witch, Nate chose Batman and Sadie came home with handfuls of candy corn.

And so that's what we've been doing this week! One last event: HALLOWEEN. . . like we need more sugar.


Wanda Witch

First off: You probably *were* invited. We hand delivered invites, mailed some and then e-mailed some, so I apologize if you felt slighted, but I promise, you were on the list!!! I'm pretty sure I ended up in a few people's spam filter. I definitely learned a lesson, but it's hard when you're throwing an ANONYMOUS Halloween party to ask people if they got their invite.

Secondly: What the heck is Wanda Witch? My friend Sarah called me about a month ago to see if I would be interested in throwing a Halloween party. It's sort of an Amazing Race style party where you follow rhyming clues all over the place and finally end up at the party. See here for more info: I'm SO glad she asked me to host it with her because I LOVE this sort of thing and I had way too much fun.
We spent a month coming up with fun locations that are sort of spooky at night, rhyming clues, invites, even set up an anonymous e-mail account for RSVPs and communicating with our guests, setting up teams, trying to accuse other people of throwing the party as to avoid suspicion, running away from friends at Target when we were out buying cauldrons, bats and other such supplies, rhyming my heart out, and finally hiding the clues (thanks Sarah and Steve for doing the hard part all by yourself since Dustin was on a plane home from St. Louis).

Friday night an e-mail went out at 6 pm letting everyone know the starting point for the game: Tumbleweed Park. My team (the blue team) met at Casey and Scott (our team leaders) house before we headed over for some treats. Yes, the team bonding made our team that much awesomer! When we drove down to the park it was so fun to see all the cars starting to arrive and people scoping the other teams out (part of the fun is you don't even know who else is invited). We had 36 people playing and I was impressed with how many teams dressed in their colors even.

The starting clue directed people to meet at a bridge and "look up" meaning the next clues directing everyone to their cauldrons was in the trees. People were climbing trees and taking off -- the competitiveness was evident from the get go. The worst part was that I *knew* exactly where everyone's cauldrons were, but I had to act like I had no clue, so Dustin and I took off in the complete opposite direction.

Some of the stops along the way:
*Barnes and Noble where you had to find a book with your clue. Casey reading our next clue.

*We found this little archway down by the San Marcos Hotel and the clue was in between two palm trees on the other side.
*El Zocolo where Dustin had to take a shot of spicy salsa

* The Janda's backyard -- they had NO clue. I had talked Kyle into hiding the clues floating in their pool. She even called her kids multiple times and I'm so proud that they acted clueless.
* The Train Museum. That place is so spooky and deserted at night plus it had a huge ditch to hide the clues in so people had to climb down. So sorry for the poor team that thought the clue directed them to a port-a-potty.

* The field by our house where we hid pumpkins

* Canyon Oaks park where we ran into 2 other teams all digging for one clue which directed us up along the canal.(Brenda -- I think your camera lens needs some cleaning!)

I think I lost my pants a few times hopping in and out of the back of the van. Also, despite the fact that I knew there would be running and mud, I still wore flip flops.
*And the final clue had the house number for Sarah's house where my team arrived #1!! GO BLUE!
Some of the party-goers. It was so fun to hear about how they figured things out, or where they got lost. . . but a huge bummer for the few clues that were misplaced :( Sorry guys. I definitely learned a few things for next year.
Just realized that there were a lot of shaved-head guys at this party.
The green team was our biggest competition. Unfortunately they smack-talked the witches a little too much before the party so their cauldron and pumpkin were a little bit harder to find than everyone else's.
Susan deserves an award for being pregnant and running around all over Chandler.
Sweet white team. One of the clues talks about "2nd from the end and South ten paces, looking down into wide open spaces. . ." It meant the 2nd parking stall, but they went with the second train and I guess a port-a-potty was ten paces South. Poor Michelle had to go in and look into "wide open spaces."
Orange team was definitely competitive, their book wasn't there and the manager that swore she would get them their clue was missing :(

I had so much fun and I'm already excited to do it again next year. We ARE doing it again, right Sarah?? That gives me 365 days to scope out even less-known places with harder to figure out clues! Of course everyone will know it's us so we'll have to spice it up some. The website has some fun ideas.

I will need a good few months before I can rhyme again! Thanks everyone who played. You made it so fun!

Side note: Today is officially the start of my 30 days till 30. I was stressing out all week about what I was going to do on the first day but instead I decided that the BIG event for today would be: RECOVER! Between Dustin being out of town all week, swine flu, strep throat, 4 kids at home 24 hours a day in quarantine, throwing a Halloween party, prepping my craft for Super Saturday, soccer, two birthday parties plus Dustin and Nate's birthdays and Halloween next week, this almost-30 year old body needed to lay low today.


Pic-tahs for my Sis-tah

Random pictures: See how sweet he is -- he even smiles when he feels icky. If only he would EAT!! And GO PHILLIES! The onesie is one of 3 from my Phillie Phanatic nephews. I thought we'd better put one on for good luck!! I'm so awesome because I knew it was a home game tonight, unlike my sister who insisted it was away.

My kitchen counter. I have a notebook to keep track of what I've given to each kid and when. My brain can't hold all that.

What Ellie did when we were all sick last week. I admit I had an idea of what I wanted her to paint, but I'm so happy with what she did all on her own. That's 100% Ellie there.
Nate's feeling all better and off to school today. HOORAY! We love each other, but I think it's good for everyone to have a little break from each other. His awesome Get-Better gift from my parents and sister. Can you believe he's going to be FIVE next week?

Still sick, but still so cute. I wish I had those dimples!!!


Well, this is fun AKA Why you should get your H1N1 flu shot

Let's start this off by highlighting my own idiocy: About 2 weeks ago I was sitting outside with my neighbors enjoying the gorgeous fall weather (only 90 degrees) and watching the kids play while we enjoyed a relaxing fall break. Somehow Swine Flu came up and I made some MORONIC statement like, "I hope we get it right now since it's break and we're already home and then I don't have to worry about getting the shot." Yep, I'm that much of a glutton for punishment. And because I'm so spoiled rotten and I always get what I wish for. . .

Tuesday Nate came home from Pre-school and when I touched him I realized he was warm. Really warm. Then came the cough. Luckily my sweet Pediatrician called me back at 6 pm at night to have him come in the next morning. They swabbed him and sure enough it came back positive for strain A of the flu -- otherwise known as. . . the swine flu.

Came home with his tamiflu and immediately banished him to his room, however the swine flu is so freakishly contagious that within the next 5 days every single member of our family came down with it. Except for Ellie, because she is superhuman. Her only kryptonite is strep. Ellie could survive the Bubonic Plague with her immune system. I guess that's the not-so-fun part of having a large family -- by the time you all cycle through the germs, you're need another month to recuperate.

The crazy thing is, it has been different for every one of us. I had the cough and a fever for a few days and then Friday I spent the entire day passed out in my bed with a 104 fever, feeling like I was going to freeze to death and alternating between passing out in a sleep coma and agreeing to let the kids do things that I would then take no responsibility for -- like taking a bubble bath. By Saturday afternoon my fever was gone and I decided to spend my new found energy cleaning the bathroom, doing dishes, washing and folding 4 loads of laundry and all the other crap that littered my house from 4 days of doing nothing. Bad idea. I am now WIPED OUT. So today I will spend wasting time on the internet like normal sick people do as I alternate between being cold and sweating through my clothes. And my house has already reverted to disaster status, but I honestly have no energy to move.

Dustin's bad day was yesterday and I swear Nate and Sadie never had a bad day. Nate wanted to lay down for one day. ONE DAY! Now all he has is a little cough but boundless energy and Sadie has a slight cough left over and barely had a fever for more than a day. She has had her typical sickness paranoia though. If you've never seen Sadie sick, be glad because she FREAKS out about everything. I think she slept with me a few times on Friday, but I can't be sure because the only thing I really remember is the few hours that Dustin made me take care of Luke while HE WORKED. I felt like making him do some laundry or something Saturday when he was shivering, but I'm nice. Instead I passive-aggressively decided to just write about it on the internet.

The sad part is that Luke is now sick. I thought he might make it through, but he started coming down with a fever yesterday and it was up to 102 by this morning. My poor baby is so sick and so sad. I'm heart broken for him. I'm just hoping his will pass quickly like Nate and Sadie's and not linger long.


Skills Assessment

Last week we started noticing that Luke trying to roll to his side. You all know how it goes with each successive child. . . Luke will probably start walking and we won't notice for a week. I was showing the kids how I put a little toy to his side and he would try so hard to get it. So close! Look at all that focus on his face.

After a little pep talk from the big kids
He was ready to go at it again.
Everything is better with a cheering section


TA DA!!!

This lead to much rejoicing in the land.

After some celebration, do it all again.

And this is the part where I admit that I'm really pretty upset that he can roll over. I want him to still be sleeping on my chest. I can't believe how fast they grow up and I want to savor every little minute. Pretty soon he'll be making messes and talking back!! I'm going to miss having a sweet little baby around. Luckily for me, Dustin's youngest brother and his wife haven't even started having kids yet, and my sister and sister-on-law are gestating as I type.


Give Thanks

I picked this up at HobLob last week. Can't wait to take down my Trick-or-Treat ornament on my wreath and put this up there instead.

Awhile back I was teaching my Sunday School class and one of the points the lesson made was that sometimes we can fast in gratitude. So that's what I'm doing today. Every time I think about how hungry I am, I am so grateful that this is a feeling I only experience once a month instead of daily.

Sadie is probably my favorite prayer-giver in our house right now. Her prayers seem to go on and on forever, but I love all the little things she's grateful for. Things like her" house, the play room, stuff, that Lukers can eat well, Uncle Kyles and Aunt Lolas. . .." It's so sweet and reminder to count ALL of our blessings. Even the little ones.

So here's some little blessings in our house this Sunday.

Nate's new slippers. I took the big kids out to do some winter clothes shopping seeing as it's now 86 degrees out. BRRRR! We needed some long sleeved clothes! Nate picked out these slippers and I had to give in to his adorable pleading.

Luke's first taste of rice cereal. Now that he's 4 months, we get to start on the solids. I can't believe in a few short months he'll be eating Puffs!! I hate that he is growing up so fast, but then I have to sit back and be grateful he's GROWING!!! This is surprising because I like to scrunch him into a little ball and cuddle him as often as possible. The "You Never Let Me Sleep Enough at Church" look. Too many pass offs between Dustin and me as we juggle him between callings and taking Sadie to the bathroom.

I'm grateful for toys littering my halls because that means my house is full of children.
I tried explaining to Sadie that she has to get used to be tickled, pinched, squeezed, kissed. . . because she's just too funny and cute to resist.

And last of all -- little helpers. I'm so lucky they still want to spend time with me no matter what I'm doing. Even if I'm just going to the store, they beg to come along. They help me do the laundry, put on my make up, brush my teeth, put on lotion, Sunday baking. . . Today we made butterscotch pecan cookies and sugar cookies. I'm not sure there are any left because every time I turn around Sadie has another cookie. Off to the freezer they go!

What's something you're grateful for??


Oh to be loved

On Sunday, Luke turned the big 0-4 months. We spent the entire day at the Ashtons watching Conference, eating way too much good food, letting the kids play and making hair bows. I did eat some lemon cake and monkey bread and orange rolls and dinner rolls. . . so maybe that can count as a little celebration.

Monday happened to be the first day of Fall break and so I decided to enjoy my first lazy morning by scheduling an 8:30 am well-check. GENIUS!! Everything went great. Nate only cried for a minute or two when Luke got his shots, and Luke cried even less. What a great big brother.

Weight wise, he was 14 pounds, 6.5 ounces and "on the verge of the 50th percentile." I'm sure to most, it's not a big deal, but I was so excited that he's doing so well since he was once upon a time below the 5th percentile. We're almost average here people!!! He really is getting to be such a sweet chunky monkey. But not in an obscene way that would horrify my sister who hates fat babies. I should also mention that she is pregnant, so she will probably give birth to a mini-giant because life is funny like that. Especially when it comes to things you think/say about other people's children.

At four months Luke has now been sleeping 9-10 straight at night for 2 months and he can finally handle his GERD well enough to lay down when he's sleeping (I had him sitting up for awhile). He loves to grab his feet and try to suck on his fingers and thumbs and grab at his dangling toys. He coos and talks to us for hours and loves to smile, but every time we make him laugh the poor thing gets hiccups.

He is so spoiled. We sit around and stare at him all day and say things like, "Isn't he the cutest baby ever?" or "Could there be a more perfect baby?" He is definitely doted on. I think we may all get fat from the amount of time we just sit and love all over him. The kids still fight over who gets to hold him or sit next to him and if I put him on the floor, he is never alone.

The other night I was getting Nate ready for bed and this is what I came back to. I think every little guy needs some big sisters to shower him with love and affection. As Sadie says, "Luke, you're the best baby ever!!!!"