Large Family Traveling

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So we’re thinking about a vacation and we might be completely insane for even attempting it. Four kiddos 6 and under…just the logistics gets my heart racing. In 12 short years our oldest will be off to college (hopefully somewhere close) and starting his adult life; his brothers will be following closely right after. We haven’t taken a vacation in 6 years!!! Well we technically took a small one last year to Lake of the Ozarks, but it wasn’t necessarily a destination vacation. It was just to try things out and it was only a couple hours drive from home. It wasn’t perfect and Michael ended up having a seizure and spending a week in the hospital afterwards (that’s a blog post in itself), but the boys…they LOVED it. After that adventure, we swore off vacationing, but recently we started thinking about it. Even though it is stressful at times with the planning and logistics, we know the memories will be worth it and as I mentioned the boys are growing up way too fast. There are so many places we know the boys would enjoy going to like Jamestown Settlement. And these would be educational, fun and memorable experiences.

So we are hoping to try a vacation with a small plane ride in early summer. We are praying everyone will be healthy and seizure free this time around! And hopefully after we tackle this we’ll be more comfortable with future vacations to experience with the boys. We are still looking for tips on large family traveling…just the logistics overwhelm me. So if you have tips you’d like to share, we’d love to hear them!

  • Any tips for the airport and plane ride? I don’t plan on packing a lot of toys as I feel that’s just one more thing I’ll have to keep track of. Plus I think the newness of experiencing the airport and being on a plane will be distracting. So probably just an activity book or something. Oh and gum for the ear popping??? At least so I’ve heard. We might be “that” family on the plane with four screaming kiddos :/
  • Our biggest concern are carseats. The idea of lugging 4 carseats to the airport is not the most appealing especially since all the boys are still in full-size ones, not little boosters. I’ve heard horror stories of the carseats to rent at the car rental places (either they don’t any or they’re just disgustingly dirty). I found a couple companies that rent baby equipment and will meet you at the car rental place. Supposedly all the items are cleaned and sanitized. They won’t install them for you due to liability, but this seems to be the best option. We’re not looking forward to having to install 4 carseats because they truly are a pain, but they’re a necessity. This is really one of my biggest stress factors.
  • Driving vs Flying. I see pros and cons to each. Flying is costly, plus there’s the carseat and stroller issue, but you get to your destination faster allowing you more time there. Driving gives you the flexibility to have all the carseats and baby gear in place, but then there’s the hours of driving with 4 young kiddos. I’d love to hear large families’ experiences with both.
  • Lodging. We’re also learning that in most cases when we travel, we’ll have to stay in a more condo-like setting. Most hotels only allow 4 guests per room. But we’d also need to do be able to do laundry and having a kitchen will allow us to have breakfast and other meals in instead of going out 3 times a day for 6 people which would add up fast.
  • Travel Times. When are the best times to travel? Ideally we would like to travel during the non-summer months.

I’m sure I missed plenty of other things, but these are items I’m already fretting about. So any and all tips and tricks and information is welcomed! Please share!

7 Quick Takes – Lent 2015

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We seem to have a tradition around our household to start off Lent with crosses. This week the boys ushered in Lent by suffering through a virus (we just got them all better from another virus a couple weeks ago). The boys spent a couple days with fevers and slight coughs and runny noses, but they all seem to be on the mend now. It was actually really peaceful around here as the boys literally just slept most of the day and night.

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Michael and I attended Ash Wednesday Mass and brought some ashes back home to the boys since they stayed home sick. They all enjoyed receiving the ashes, except Levi…he refused. The boys looked pretty cute rockin their ashes. Noah and Eli gave me their best attempt to smile…poor boys :( Isaac was pretty proud to show off his ashes on his first Ash Wednesday (he didn’t have the virus yet).

Ash Wednesday with sickly boys

I saw this on Twitter…gave me a good laugh, especially since my ashes looked nothing like a cross..ha!

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I don’t normally decorate or do any traditions during Lent mainly because Lent always seems to sneak up on me, but this year we did add a purple sash on our main crucifix and the boys excitedly helped me make a crown of thorns centerpiece. For every act of penance and/or sacrifice we make, we remove a thorn. The boys have really taken to this activity and look forward to removing the thorns each day.

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Part of our Lenten experience this year, we’re making it a point to eat fish each Friday. We’re not big seafood eaters around here, so we usually eat other meatless dishes on Fridays during Lent, like mac and cheese or spaghetti with marinara. Eli is the only one who loves all seafood – calamari, shrimp, etc. So we’re making it a point to enjoy fish Fridays like traditional Catholics before us. Here’s hoping we grow to like fish :)

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This Lent we’re also hoping to attend a Latin Mass. Michael was able to attend one last weekend and he loved it. I knew he would, as he loves all things traditional. The plan was for Michael and I to go this week, but life happened with sick kiddos…hopefully next week. But we’d like to take the boys at some point as well to experience it.

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High Altar at Old St. Patrick Oratory

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As family we decided to give up all desserts/sweets and chips. I honestly thought the boys were going to go bonkers over this, but they really took it well. They’ve been watching me like a hawk as my biggest guilty pleasure is pop. I’m hoping if I get through Lent, I can just be done with pop forever. Why does it taste soooo good?!?

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Funny quotes of week:

Me: “You boys don’t know how to take advantage of a good nap. That’s all Mama looks forward to everyday.”

Noah: “Well when you get to Heaven, God will have a room just for you to nap in all day.”

Me: “We can only hope :)”


Eli: “I feel better! Now I can touch Isaac.”

 

 

Thanks to Kelly from This Ain’t the Lyceum for hosting!

7 Quick Takes – Day in the Life

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I hate clutter. I hate disorganization. So how does this happen time and time again?!? My counters look like this way too often and it drives me crazy. Our counter just becomes a dumping ground throughout the day. I’m working hard to break the cycle because I loathe the visual clutter, don’t even get me started on the playroom (probably why I rarely go down there) or the schoolroom.

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This looks much better…

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But it’s almost a full-time job keeping it that way!

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Noah lost his first front tooth!!! He’s growing up so fast…all the boys are…sigh!

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Noah loves making lunch…peanut butter sandwiches! He does it all by himself and even cleans up. I could get used to this :)

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So far moving Isaac into his own room has been an awesome change, granted it’s only been a few nights, but I’m hoping it continues. I’m only having to nurse him once or twice in the middle of the night. He still wakes up 3-5 times but only for a few minutes before he soothes himself back to sleep. I thought he’d be crying for 30 minutes at a time, but that hasn’t been the case. I apparently have been the problem, hindering him from just figuring out how to go to sleep on his own. You’d think I’d never done this before. I’m just grateful we are getting a better night’s sleep.

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Playroom paint job…the project that will never get finished. I’m going on week 4 and still haven’t cut in all along the ceiling. I’m close, but then have to do the same along the baseboards. I’m hoping a couple more weeks and I’ll have this project done! My OCD self can’t handle the unfinished projects, especially when you can visually see the mess the walls are. I have to tell myself little progress is progress, I’ll get there, even if it’s painfully slow! Plus, I’m anxious to just reconfigure all the rooms in the house. Part of my need to streamline, declutter and get organized around here.

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Wishing everyone a Happy St. Valentine’s Day on Saturday. We’ve been reading about St. Valentine during Catechism. The boys have a had a great time making Valentines for loved ones. I love seeing how excited they get. They love crafts…I really need to get better about doing them…it just always creates such a mess. But I know it’s good for them and they’re the happiest little peeps when they’re crafting :) And let’s remember that St. Valentine’s Day isn’t a Hallmark holiday, it really is the feast of a wonderful saint.

Happy Feast of St. Valentine!

Happy Feast of St. Valentine!

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Great blog posts and video by Matt Fradd on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomena.  Really shows how broken our society is – that millions of people thought this book was a great read and that anyone wants to see the movie and even consider it a romance. I don’t get it. Women deserve better – time to raise the bar!

 

Thanks to Kelly from This Ain’t the Lyceum for hosting!

Isaac is 7 Months Old

If there’s a common theme on this blog it is that of sleep deprivation!The lack of sleep around has been brutal! Isaac has out done himself especially this past month. I hate complaining about it because I wouldn’t trade all the sleep in the world for my boys but it definitely hurts…seriously. Noah wasn’t a great sleeper, but Eli and Levi were a breath of fresh air when it came to sleep, so it seemed every baby that came along sleeping seemed to get easier, but apparently there’s a reset on number 4. Lately Isaac has been on an hour to 2 hour sleep schedule at night and after he nurses just wants to be held. Yes, I’m about to go out of flippin’ mind!!! My eyes literally burn from the lack of sleep, along with just being exhausted. I really need to be better about letting him cry it out a bit for the sake of my sanity and Michael’s. He has been teething, as you can actually see his little tooth coming in now, but I’ve seen saying that he’s been teething for months now. He needs to learn to self-soothe. I know, really it’s my fault…spoiled!

Part of the problem is that he doesn’t have his own nursery, so that may need to change. The other boys had a nursery and it was hardly ever used, Isaac doesn’t have one and seems like he would benefit from his own space…well at least his parents would anyways :) Just when you think you have things figured out, you realize you really don’t.

Other than that, he’s still as cute as can be – smiley and loves to laugh. He’s pretty good at keeping himself entertained with random toys and will ravage paper any chance he can get. He can roll, scoot and/or drag himself across a room in 2 seconds flat! So when he starts crawling, I’m really going to be busy!

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I mean seriously, how can such a cute, little, snuggly babe cause so much sleep deprivation?!?

Milestones:

  • Trying to crawl; he’s almost got the form down…he’ll be crawling way too soon.
  • Loving table foods…he devoured roast and mashed potatoes one evening, I couldn’t feed him fast enough.
  • Sitting in booster chair at meal time.
  • First tooth coming in!
  • Recognizes the sound of his name.
  • Will reach out to you to be picked up.

Happy 7 Months, Isaac!

7 Quick Takes – Happy Birthday, Eli

My 7 Quick Takes this week is dedicated to Eli since today is his 5th birthday! Thanks to Kelly from This Ain’t the Lyceum for hosting!

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Today is my sweet Eli’s 5th birthday! We’re celebrating motocross style since that’s what he loves these days! We had a family dinner at a local Chinese restaurant as Eli’s favorite dish is honey chicken and then we cut into a 4-layer motocross chocolate chip layer cake that I made. It’s the first time I made it…always risky, but it thankfully it turned out pretty tasty.

Happy 5th birthday, Eli!

Happy 5th birthday, Eli!

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Eli was in need of a new bike, so when I saw one that looked like a motocross and in blue, I knew it would be perfect for him. It’s a little big, but hopefully by summer he’ll grow into it. The matching skeleton gloves and goggles from your Papa and Halmoni make the look complete!

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We all went ice skating this afternoon, including Aunt Kim. Something we haven’t done since Baby Isaac was born. Eli was having a blast, going around the rink super fast with Daddy until he crashed and his cheek hit the ice :( He was pretty much done after that! Noah did well navigating out there on his own…slow and steady. Levi got to experience the ice for the first time today. He really wasn’t feeling it and spent it on the bench with me. In a couple weeks, Noah and Eli will take an ice skating class and if that goes well, we might sign them up for a hockey camp this summer.

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You share a birthday with your Papa and our family friend, Ann. Lots of celebrating to be had!

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Chinese restaurant fun. It sure was busy there tonight, but we had a great time celebrating birthdays and eating delicious Chinese!

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I really noticed today that Eli is super sensitive. Immediately this morning, he didn’t like the attention of it being his birthday. This made me a bit sad because I wanted him to be all excited about his special day, but he didn’t want anything to do with it and just shut down repeatedly. Everything from saying happy birthday to him and showing him his dessert table with his special cake. He had lots of meltdowns today; it was really exhausting. I guess I’m so used to Noah and Levi loving the attention of their birthdays that I didn’t know how to deal with it. I should be the most understanding because I don’t like being the center of attention, so I should get it and obviously he’s getting this from me. It really showed at dinner when we were singing Happy Birthday to him – he didn’t even want to look at the cake or blow out the candles, up to that point he was perfectly fine. Enjoying the food and the company, so I think it’s definitely the attention of having all eyes on him that he doesn’t like. And for whatever reason that makes me a bit sad, I’m not even sure why. Overall, he had a great day though. He loved eating the cookie I made him and gave us all big hugs and said he had a great birthday. Next year, I’ll know to really keep it low key though.

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Grandparents from Wichita are coming this weekend too. So more celebrating. Eli’s birthday always seems to have multiple celebrations. A hike is planned and another birthday dinner. You know how to have a birthday, Eli :)

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Happy 5th Bithday, Eli

Dear Eli,

You’re 5 today! And you seriously grew over the last week and half; you look so much older.

You’re a gentle soul; you show great empathy for others and overall you’re the most sensitive out of the brothers. This can be demonstrated by a burst of tears just by me looking at you when you know you’ve done something wrong. You’re the moral compass among your brothers. As you boys get older, I can see you being the one talking Noah out of something that he shouldn’t be doing, yet you going along with him because he’s your brother and even though he shouldn’t be doing it, you want to be there in case something happens…you’re that brother :)

You’re quick to let your brothers know that they’re committing a sin as well, although lately you’ve been going through an ornery streak of your own. Doing little things to ruffle the feathers of your brothers.

You’re a great brother and you love making baby Isaac laugh.

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So far there isn’t a sport you don’t like playing – hockey, football, baseball, soccer – and you’re really good at all of them! You love race cars and motocross. You especially love scaring your mama when you try to reenact motocross stunts and crashes on your bike on the driveway!

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You take your school work seriously, and complete your work with great pride.

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Besides being excited about motocross, you’ve taken an interest in all things bones. Maybe you have a future in orthopedics.

Eli as a skeleton on Halloween

Eli as a skeleton on Halloween

You went as far as bringing back deer bones from a recent hiking excursion and then keeping them in our backyard. :/

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Eli, I’m so blessed to be your mommy! Everyday you bring me so much joy – you still give hugs and kisses and tell me how beautiful I am (even when I’m just in sweats and look like a mess).

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Happy 5th birthday, Eli! We love you!

Eli’s Favorites:
Color: Blue
Food: Honey Chicken, seafood (shrimp and calamari, especially) and buttered popcorn
Activity: Playing outside, motocross, hiking, painting
Sport: Loves it all
TV Show: Wild Kratts
Favorite Place to Go: Hotels
Dessert: Mint Ice Cream and Mint Chocolate

Happy birthday, my sweet Eli :)

Happy 5th birthday, my sweet Eli :)

7 Quick Takes – Birthday Forgetfulness

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It’s been a whirlwind of week. All four boys have been sick with a cold, we’re finally on the tailend of it now, so I hope. We’ve been lucky that this has been our first sickness this winter. We were sick more during the summer it seems. Michael has it as well, so we’re hoping I can stay healthy, at least until everyone else gets better. That way they can all take care of me when I’m down :) It’s always tough when the kiddos are sick. When one gets it, you just know everyone else is going to and it’s not going to be fun, plus they just look plain miserable. It makes exhausting days even more exhausting. Needless to say we’ve been watching lots of Scooby-Doo Pirates Ahoy.

My sweet sick boys :(

My sweet sick boys :(

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I attended a photography class last weekend. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for the longest time and finally just did it. I always find an excuse to not do things like this, i.e. there’s no time, it’s not a good time, etc. I let my nerves get the best of me; I just get worked up over stuff like that for no good reason. My only regret…not taking this class 6 years ago. Seriously, Linda, get it together. I learned so much and it was refreshing to get out of the house to do something for myself. To actually take up a hobby…such a foreign concept for me! Our instructor was the owner of his own photography company and he had over 25 years experience. You could tell he had a passion for photography. It was an awesome class! I haven’t had a chance to use any of the new skills yet, but hoping to soon, before I forget them all. Below are some practice shots I took during the class.

Working the blurry background concept

Working the blurry background

Check out the stop action

Check out the stop action

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Embarrassing fact: I can’t remember the boys’ birthdays! The birth year is usually what really trips me up, but apparently it’s the days too. I was at the pediatrician’s office with Isaac and I had to make a follow up appointment. I think I had Eli’s birthday on my mind as I had to make an appointment for him too. They asked for Isaac’s date of birth, the one I just birthed 6 months ago, and my mind just went blank. I thought for what seemed like an eternity and said July 6. Nope. Then I said maybe it’s July 5th. Nope! I think I had the 5th and 6th on the brain since Eli’s is the 6th of February, although sometimes I mix that up with my dad’s birthday which is February 5th. Then I had to explain that I have 4 children and I’m severely sleep deprived, in which she proceeded to just look him up by name and asked, “Is it the 10th?” Yes! July 10th!!! Yea, I’m that mom! This happens way too often and it’s really so embarrassing. I’m truly SO EMBARRASSED!!!

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Theology 101. I love having Catechism with the boys. The have great insight and always ask the most thought-provoking questions. Recently, we’ve been discussing the miracles Jesus performed, which led to the fact that He could perform these miracles because He is God. And this led to the Holy Trinity because Noah was getting perplexed that we have God the Father and God the Son, therefore he concluded we have two gods. I really am doing my best over here not to raise heretics and pagans :) We had the most in-depth discussion over the Holy Trinity being three distinct persons within one God, which we’ve discussed in the past, but the boys were being real sticklers on this subject. I was so ready for bed after discussion and my head wanted to explode! On the bright side, it was pretty good theological discussion for a 6 and soon-to-be 5 year old. Days like that I wish I could just call up Dr. Scott Hahn or something.

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Why do the simplest projects in our house always end up like this?!?

Uneven shelf :/

Uneven shelf :/

I’ve been wanting this little shelf hung in my garage for weeks, probably months, we finally get around to it and of course it’s uneven! There’s no simple project in this household.

But we finally got it right :)

Even shelf :)

Even shelf :)

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Who would’ve thought Isaac’s first time swinging outside would be on January 28th in the middle of winter?!? We’ve been blessed to have a mild week here and we’ve taken full advantage of it, even with sick kiddos. We’re back to cold now though, supposed to be a wintery mix this weekend.

Isaac's first time swinging

Isaac’s first time swinging

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For not having house projects ever go right, I sure like to do them, well at least attempt to anyways. So I’m taking on painting our playroom which is in the basement. I actually like to paint. I do not like picking a color because I can never decide. A swatch on the wall looks so different compared to the whole wall being painted. I don’t care for the prep work, but I do enjoy the actual painting and seeing the results afterwards. It literally took me 2 weeks to even get to Home Depot to get the paint and supplies. The walls have been prepped and patched, so now just to paint!

Playroom Mess

Playroom Mess

Noah went along with me to get the supplies where he found a falcon and had to carry it all around the store. He was pretty disappointed that I wouldn’t buy it for him, but I thought $15 for a hollow, plastic falcon was a little high. Such is life.

Noah with beloved falcon that we had to leave behind. And yes, he's still obsessed with camo.

Noah with beloved falcon that we had to leave behind. And yes, he’s still obsessed with camo.

And some Isaac cuteness…

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Thanks to Kelly from This Ain’t the Lyceum for hosting!