Virginia is for Lovers. . . and baldies

We're home safe and sound -- I even managed to restock the fridge, finish up the laundry, unpack and get everyone over jet lag in one day. Poor Dustin flew to from San Francisco to Virginia Saturday morning, flew back to Arizona Sunday night and woke up at 4:30 Monday morning to head back out to California again, so he is excused from all chores.

Before I get started on this -- I should mention that this is really really looooong. It will make up for my lack luster posting lately. OK, warning over. .

We left for our 12 day adventure with the promise of rain and came home to Spring (and weeds and a very dusty car)! So what did we do for 12 days?

My sister blessed this adorable doll while we were out there. I had fun taking my sister out shopping for a new outfit for the blessing but I will never go to Tyson's Corner on a rainy Saturday afternoon again. I felt like it was the day after Thanksgiving with all the crowds. And look at that cute hat Miss Olivia has on -- her dad crocheted it! FOR REALS!
He also stayed up to the wee hours putting together a Lego castle for Nate while we there too.

There was also lots of cousin time. We were too busy playing to take any pictures. Or sleep. My parents had SIX of them on the floor of their room for 2 nights. I wish I had a picture of that.

My kids were amazed by the squirrels. At one point Nate informed me that he had seen a skunk, but it was still just a squirrel. I couldn't get them to understand how common squirrels are no matter how many times we saw them.

My sister borrowed my Au Pair. She tried to steal her, but I insisted that cute thing come home with us. Too bad I couldn't steal the baby while I was at it, but I'm afraid we wouldn't have been able to fit her in the car.
Best baby holder/entertainer/carrier/kisser ever!

We doted on Livy and Aunt Lola entertained us all (Kathleen and I were solo for much of the adventure -- nothing like 2 tired single moms with a flair for drama to make things exciting!)

This big red chair is the coveted seat in my parent's house. It is the only comfy place in the kitchen/breakfast nook area and NO ONE is allowed to eat in it. Unless you are my dad's sister Sally or Luke. Somehow my kids still managed to cover it in dirty hand prints and crumbs.

Monday was a crazy day where we spent the entire day with family for my Dad's award. Sadly, no picture. It did begin with a buffet of fruit, cookies, brownies and end with mangoes and sticky rice at a Thai restaurant - so we'll call it good.

Nate also was gifted a glove, some balls and TWO bats from his cousins who are more than thrilled that Nate may share their love for baseball. He proceeded to take it to the park to practice. After 10 minutes of attempting to throw the balls in the air AND swing at them at the same time, he resorted to hitting the balls using the bat like a golf club.

Lots of outings with all the kids and lots of crazy Virginia driving for me (oh how I love Arizona roads which are straight and we drive fast and don't have stop lights every .2 miles). There may have been an insane sister melt down on our way to Target where Kathleen realized she didn't remember how to get there, we didn't have the GPS or our phones and I started freaking out because we had no idea where we were. I'll let Kathleen blog that one -- I'm sure it will be hilarious.

The Tylers! Our neighbors moved to Virginia Beach about 9 months ago. I think Luke was about 6 weeks old when they moved. Look at that handsome head of hair. . . He may need a haircut (ha ha ha). They drove up for the weekend. We dragged them out in DC rush hour and promptly got them lost (this time using the GPS). Luckily for us Noah knows how to use a GPS and got us to Frying Pan Park in one piece.To make up for the poor directions, I took them to Five Guys for their first time EVER (yes, I ate there TWICE in 7 days. If only they had a place here. . . like Mesa. . .).

We learned Sadie is terrified of horses. Quite possibly my favorite picture from the entire trip. It still makes me laugh no matter how many time I look at it.

Jill and Noah even had my oldest three over to their hotel for a massive sleep over Friday night. Best neighbors EVER (unless Casey is offering to have them all over tonight??) !!
Saturday Dustin was finally back so we celebrated with a big breakfast and headed down to DC for the day. Noah wanted to start off at Arlington Cemetery and I am so glad we did. I've never been before and it is so peaceful and powerful there. The kids even stood still and remained quiet for the entire changing of the guard. We lucked out with front row seats for them.

The kids were AMAZING the entire day as we walked them all over -- at least 4.5 miles. We also did the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War memorial, ice cream by the reflecting poolThen up to the World War II memorial. Hooray for ARIZONA!!!up to the Washington Monument and finally a late lunch at the Museum of American History where Ellie and I loved the First Ladies exhibit the most. After that we decided to be done and hoped the Metro home.

And last but not least -- the last great event, and probably the most memorable of all. . . when Luke became bald. See! LITERALLY BALD! Where to start the story. . .

My parents offered to watch Luke for us on Saturday so he could be spared of a crazy day in the sun and get some naps. They also had hair appointments with their crazy Thai hair dresser. My parents have been seeing Sherri for over 10 years, so to say we know and love her is an understatement. They were planning on taking Luke to show him off at the salon and I mentioned that maybe they could ask Sherri to give him a quick buzz while he was there. BUZZ.

So my mom is off getting the color washed out of her hair and my dad is in the chair when he asks Sherri if she'll do Luke's hair really quick. Well next thing he knows, she's zipped right up his head and there is a ginormous bald spot. I guess my mom just about flipped when she turned the corner and saw it. I saw this via text message:
The only words were: I wasn't there. My kids cried and sobbed. It's funny because I *know* he is bald, but still every time I go to get him up from a nap or see him for the first time in awhile I still gasp.

It definitely feels lonely and quiet being back at home without everyone. I was just thinking today that making food for *just* the 5 of us feels pointless. But I'm sure once I actually get some sleep in me I'll realize it's not all that quiet and lonesome.


Why no updates?

We're traveling again. This time to Virginia with the 4 kids. Dustin was here for the weekend and now he's back to work. I've been here for 5 days so far and it has been really wild and crazy.

Random numbers:
  • People who slept here this weekend: 16
  • Times we changed sleeping arrangements: 5
  • Days it has rained: 4
  • Naps Luke has missed: 3
  • Naps Sadie has taken: 1
  • Eggs consumed: 40
  • Baby blessing
  • Missionary farewell
  • Dad's Award ceremony
Places visited
  • Air and Space Museum (my dad took Nate and Sadie)
  • Art Museum (my mom and Ellie)
  • The gym (apparently the Lifetime here is way cooler than our Lifetime at home)
  • Thai Restaurant (twice)
  • 5 Guys ( 18 of us -- just as good as I remember)
  • Dunkin' Donuts (Nate met a policeman)
  • The Grocery store (3 times and counting)
  • The park (the weather was actually gorgeous the first day we were here)
  • Target (for sleeping bags to fit all the kids for the massive sleep over on my parents floor)
  • Tyson's (on a rainy Saturday -- I could not believe how crazy it was)
  • 1 Grandma
  • 1 Grandpa
  • 4 Aunts (Amy & Kathleen plus my Aunts Ruthie and Sally)
  • 3 Uncles (Tommy & Kyle plus my Uncle Rich)
  • 4 little cousins (Zach, Matt and Ali)
  • 4 of my cousins (Beth, Tommy, Eric and Alex)
  • lots of friends
When we're bored:
  • Baking cookies
  • Writing plays
  • Cooties and Don't Break the Ice
  • Lego building
  • Babushka Doll playing
This morning everyone is back to work and school. It was so quiet that the big kids slept in until almost 9 (could have been a result of exhaustion as well) so Luke and I just cuddled in the big red chair and watched TV. It's not even 10 and I'm already lonesome for all the craziness of having everyone under one roof. And eyeing what's left of my Dad's GINORMOUS cake from yesterday.



So yeah, pretty sure you don't want to hear any excuses why I haven't blogged. Instead I'll jump right in.

I was going to write about Hawaii, but I figure I'd better give the kids some blog-time first. Last week was the first (and last) week of the month where I actually took care of my kids every single day. Can you believe it? Today Nate and Sadie are bored out of their mind because for an entire month they were playing with someone, running out to buy something for a trip, or hanging out with their grandparents. Apparently staying and home and doing laundry doesn't qualify for excitement. But if you're bored, it means you just need a nap, right??

Ellie lost another tooth. The tooth fairy forgot TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Good thing Ellie is the kindest, most loving person on the earth and totally understood. The first time I blamed it on having book club at my house. I said the Tooth Fairy must have come and seen people and decided to come back the next day. The second time we pulled the whole, "Are you sure you looked hard enough?" routine. You know where you go in to look and magically the dollar is there.She had fun with my parents being here. Probably because they spoil her with things like pedicures and new shoes. They also took her Wendy's for lunch at school one day and she got to take her cousin's "Flat Zach" to school.She's doing gymnastics right now and gearing up for her 8th birthday next month and baptism in May. Her favorite things at the moment are clothes. And shoes. I got a Garnett Hill for Kids catalog in the mail and let me tell you, she has expensive taste. Also, the two of us have completely different ideas of what we think she should wear. Other than her expensive shopping habit, she's just an easy girl to be around and the only one of my kids who would even talk to me on the phone when we were in Hawaii.

Nate is so ready for Kindergarten. I'm pretty sure I bore him on a regular basis, but I love having him home with me. He was a real struggle for a few years of his life and now I feel like just when we've come to an understanding he's going to leave me all day.

He is completely lego obsessed and when he's not playing with his friends, he's terrorizing Sadie. I think she is going to have a hard time than I am when he's gone next year. This morning while I was trying to get Ellie off to school he was chasing her around like Frankenstein. She actually enjoys that for some odd reason.
When my parents were here they took him on his special date to the Lego Store. While he was there he custom made some of those Lego figures and brought home some for himself and also a pack of girls that he made for Sadie. My parents bought Sadie some girl Legos and he'll spend hours making things for her.

Tomorrow is the first day of T-ball practice. Dustin bought him a glove and ball this weekend and he's so excited.

How does someone even begin to explain Sadie? She keeps me entertained, that's for sure. She got her first pedicure and started her first extracurricular activity (gymnastics) this month.
Right now she really wants me to buy her some "Holly Pockets." I told her when she cleaned up the play room all by herself I'd take her right out and buy some. Well it's been a few days and I'm not concerned that I'll ever have to make good on my promise. She's always coming to me with a better idea. "How about I go get ready to go the store and you clean the playroom and then we'll buy Holly Pockets? That's a good plan!" Nate and Ellie even went in and cleaned up about half the stuff because they're just that sweet and she's still not even close to her beloved Polly Pockets.

Her favorite things in the world are oranges and books. Probably in that exact order. I'm always finding books and orange peels all over the house. She also likes to sneak into the pantry, close the door and eat all of Luke's baby snacks.

Right now, Luke is driving me crazy. It may be because he keeps crawling over to get the computer while I'm typing, but more likely because he is teething and a great big grump. He's not sleeping very well and just generally miserable. Poor guy. I'd feel sorrier for him if he didn't grin so big anytime he gets what he wants.

He's drinking out a sippy cup, eating cheerioes and easy mac n'cheese (thanks Avery) and all sort of 9 month fun. Every time he starts to get up on his knees, I wish I could shove him back down and tell him to stay small forever. I'm going to trip him when he starts trying to walk.
In his spare time he likes to empty every single baby toy out of the basket. He doesn't actually want to play with them, just dump and run. His favorite toy is anything he can't have -- Nate's Lego magazines, our computers and cords, Dustin's blackberry, whatever book I'm trying to read, Ellie's jewelry . . . If I would let him chew on cardboard all day he would be content to sit still.

Alright, Ellie's home so it's time to start homework and get dinner cooking!