Archive for June, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes!

June 30, 2009

Just 24 hours ago the house was full with Clay visiting for a few days before he leaves for deployment (again), my brother visiting, 8 of our 9 kiddos and a couple of their friends thrown in for good measure.  This morning I wake up to Clay having gone back to Fort Lewis to catch the plane to head overseas, my brother having hit the road for home and I’m down to 6 kiddos in the house.  Two of my girls took the opportunity for a free ride to N. Cal. with their uncle and packed their bags.  They’ve arrived safely at Gramma and Papa’s and will spend a couple of weeks visiting with family.  

So, now that all the busyness of life has slowed down a little, it’s back to the regular grind.  I’ll load up the remaining kiddos and head to the world’s largest commissary  (it’s their claim) to do the 2-week stock up and take JJ and Arianna to look for their bday gifts.  They both have really specific things in mind which means price comparing and a little leg work on my part.  

Clay is actually headed out to begin this deployment.  He leaves Fort Lewis and will have a stop in DC, which is really great because Kateri’s there for a portion of the summer and will be able to meet up with him before he’s overseas.  It’s always amazing to me the way things work out!  This means he will have been able to have one final visit with each of the kids before going.  

Happy Tuesday~

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A Full Summer Day

June 29, 2009

1 dad home before deployment

1 visiting uncle

1 lawnmower

1 weed whacker

One 15-passenger van

14 people

1 birthday

2 trips to the beach

16 hot dogs 

8 grilled chicken breasts

2 salmon steaks

3 bags of asparagus risotto

2 lbs of broccoli

1 ice cream, birthday cake

2 half gallons of ice cream

2 loads of after-dinner dishes

15 teenagers playing soccer in the street after dark

1 movie

1 late-night round of fresh squeezed lemonade

1 queen-sized inflatable mattress

4 extra people, sleeping, scattered throughout my house

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This is what yesterday looked like at the Lang house.  This morning I’m moving through a quiet house, full of sleeping people and picking up the remnants of what the girls found to do after I’d already gone to bed.  I turned off the movie that had been playing all night, wiped up the stickiness from the lemonade they’d made and started load 3 of the dishes from last night. 

I love summer!

Have a great day~

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A Lil Surprise

June 25, 2009

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned while living the life of a military spouse, it’s that surprises are par for the course.  You really never know exactly what’s going to happen, even when the plans are laid out before you.  

We are one month into this year-long deployment and Clay’s 3 week’s of training in Washington got stretched out a little bit and he’s not actually heading overseas until the last day of this month.  HOWEVER, training has ended and he’s left with a few extra days on his hands.  He’s decided to spend them here.  Yup….as I type, he’s on a plane, heading home for a few days.  Kateri (who’s not home for the summer) and JJ, both know, but the other kids will all wake to a surprise visit from Daddy!  

I’m taking full advantage of this and have my “honey-do” list all prepared.  It’s surprising how many things can pop up in only a month’s time.  Yes, being in military housing means that many, many things are taken care of with a phone call, but there are always those little things that can’t get done until Dad gets home.  So, he will be kept busy!  ;-)

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Good night~

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Too Funny Not To Share!

June 23, 2009

This morning I’m rushing Max through the morning routine, because he tends to lollygag through everything, refusing to stay on task.  So, as I was fixing his hair, I was giving him a M.O.M. speech about staying on task and getting with the program.  

He looks at me and says, “I don’t like this program! Where’s the remote?”

All I could do was laugh and give him a big hug.  

Kids!  Gotta love ‘em!

Have a great day~

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Our Weekend and Full Summer Days

June 23, 2009

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We are back from our weekend away.  The van is unpacked.  The laundry is washed and folded and we’re on day 2 of Vacation Bible School.  Whew!  

The weekend was great!  It was in a beautiful place on Mt. Palomar.  We all enjoyed being surrounded by nature.  At one point Max was MIA and we found him laying on the ground under some trees. He was just enjoying being outdoors and the quiet of nature (it was a little scary to have him missing though!). The kids were able to hike, swim, enjoy archery, flag football, soccer, volleyball, shooting at the range, playing in dirt and being surrounded by people who were willing to lend a hand if and when needed.  One family, in particular, really helped me out by welcoming my kids along on their family’s activities.  I was able to steal away for about 1/2 an hour, at one point and sat in the sun, watching a hawk.  Beautiful!  This was a weekend through our church, so on top of it all, we were able to spend time tying all the beauty that surrounded us, to God and all he’s laid before us.  It was a great weekend.  Though, I must admit that it was tiring for me.  

Yesterday we were in full swing of being back home.  Three of the littler kids started a week-long Vacation Bible School and we have some friends visiting from out of town.  Although summer can be exhausting with the demands of keeping the kids busy, I love that the schedule is open and all ours.  Last night we had the freedom to plan dinner with friends and not have to worry about getting everyone in bed on time or if their homework was done.  Yes, it’s all very tiring, but we get to CHOOSE to be tired.  

Summertime around here also means birthdays.  We have 5 summer birthdays!  JJ celebrated his 17th bday while we were on our trip and we have Arianna’s 14th coming up in a few days.  Time for M.O.M. to do a little bday shopping and get ready to enjoy some cake.  I’m a little floored with how these years are flying by and how we have some many teens!  

I hope you’re each getting into the routine of summer and enjoying it as much as we are!

Have a great day~

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Packing These Kiddos For the Weekend

June 19, 2009

I’ve spent the last 2 days preparing for a weekend get away with the kids.  Yesterday was load after load of laundry to make sure that anything we would need to pack would be clean, folded and waiting.  So this morning I started stressing the actual packing list.  27 pair of socks, check! 27 pair of underwear, check!  9 bathing suits, check! 9 toothbrushes, check! Diapers, check! Sleeping bag, check! Shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, hair dryer, wash cloths, toothpaste…….check! 

Now that everything’s tucked and folded into bags, I’ve realized that there are MANY things that have to be done before we actually start driving up the mountain.  Uh, the van needs gas. The library movies need to be returned, one child’s shoes need to be retrieved from a friend’s house, etc. etc. So, as I listen to the bickering between my teens in the front room, I realize it’s time to get out of here.  

No phone, no internet, no housework for the next couple of days.  

We’re off!

Have a great weekend~

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And Today’s Challenging M.O.M. Moment Is……

June 18, 2009

The flooded bathroom because of an overflowing toilet.  This is where I have to be thankful.  Yes, thankful!  Thankful that I’m in military housing and simply had to throw towels down, shut the door and pick up the phone.  They were here in  20 minutes.  The culprit….an apple.  And apple?!  Of all the things I thought he’d find….an apple?!  I’m pretty sure one of the kids must’ve grabbed an apple, taken a few bites, told me they were done with it and I must’ve said, “no, you took it, you’ve gotta eat it”.  So off to the bathroom to flush the evidence.  

~sigh~ 

M.O.M. is thankful for the ease of housing maintenance and challenged by this first week of summer.  

Have a great day~

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I Am an ANGRY M.O.M!!!!!

June 16, 2009

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What you see above is the scene I came home to after a morning at the dentist with one of the kiddos.  I was informed that white out had been used to draw on the table AND the wall.  With much scrubbing the table is now clean but the wall….the WALL!  The newly painted, beautiful wall?!  It’s not coming off.  I’m so angry!  You know what?!  It’s not that I’m even angry about the stupid wall.  Yes, that can be fixed with the extra paint that’s in the garage.  I’m angry that Max has been up to all these antics.  Ok, the cereal bowl was cute, but what’s going on in his lil head these days?  

~Big breath~

I know the end of the school year was tough for him and I know he is missing Clay.  I know these things.  I know children act out in different ways, but it’s starting to get to me.  I make sure he gets phone time and even face time with Dad, via Skype. I’m giving him lots of hugs and kisses and trying to ask “why?” when he’s doing something naughty.  I guess all I can do is ride it out and hope that being home for the summer and the influence of his big brothers will be enough to pull him out of this time.  

Ugh!  

I think today it’s all of you that need to wish ME the great day~

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You’ve Gotta Love Kids!

June 15, 2009

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When I was sweeping the floor I noticed something under the table.  Hmmm…..look at that!  Max’s bowl of cereal that he didn’t wait for help with and poured apple juice on because he didn’t know there was more milk.  I told him that he needed to eat it anyway.  Well, he outsmarted me and I found it hidden under the table.

Can’t punish a kiddo for ingenuity!  

Have a great day~

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The End of a Crazy School Year

June 13, 2009

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Yesterday was the very last day of school for this 08-09 school year.  

What a year!  

Seriously, it’s been a year of schooling unlike any other for our family. Last summer I made the decision to pull my 4 kids from the private school that we had been in for 8 years.  The decision was HARD but had many reasons behind it.  One of the kids wasn’t going to be able to go back because of some math challenges, so I pulled everyone.  What a whirlwind path that set us on!  I started the year by enrolling the two 7th grade girls in a homeschool program that had them on campus a couple of days a week for spanish, computers and science.  I enrolled the 2 boys in the local public school.  By November we had one of the 7th graders back at the Catholic school and the other enrolled in the local middle school.  After Christmas break both boys went back to the Catholic school.  And finally, after Easter break, the other 7th grader went back to the Catholic school.  The child with math challenges worked REALLY hard and ended the year with a C. With all the changes and challenges, I’m so proud of how well all of the kids did this year.  It was all crazy, but it was a “live and learn” situation.  I learned that you get what you pay for and that we can not match the level of education that the kids were used to at the Catholic school.  I also saw, very quickly, that there was so much more that they were getting from that environment.  There’s a sense of self-respect and accountability that is maintained by learning in a faith-based school.  

Lesson learned! ( I supposed I should add this to the Learning Lessons Series) Next year I will have 6 kiddos at the school, 2 8th graders, a 4th grader, a 1st grader and 2 preschoolers.  I will also be there everyday as an aide in the 4 yr. old preschool class that Gabi is not in.  Wow!  7 of us in one place everyday!  

Well, here’s to the end of a crazy, but successful school year and to the beginning of summer! 

Have a great day~

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I DO Believe I’ve Created a Monster!

June 10, 2009

Potty-training……

Well, I’ve been down this road 8 times and I’ve always started right around each kiddos second birthday.  Last year, as Luke-Xavier’s second birthday was approaching, I decided to wait a little while since Clay had just deployed and I knew that it wasn’t the best time to try to introduce any other life changing events.  So, I waited.  Then summer came and we were busy running around and I thought, “well, I’ll just go through the summer and we’ll worry about potty-training when everyone’s back in school”.  Then school started and I found myself homeschooling two 7th graders and I thought, “well it’s certainly not a good time to worry about potty-training!  Maybe after Clay gets back from deployment and we’re into the holidays….”  And so it went with one “reason” after another until yesterday when I thought, “ok, we HAVE GOT TO GET THIS DONE”!  Not only has his 3rd birthday come and gone, but he’s going to preschool in the Fall and he MUST be potty-trained to be there.  So my mind started working on strategy (I’m a little out of practice).

The other night when he was in the bath, he started to pee and stopped himself and I put him on the pot and he finished there.  Hmmmm….not bad!  So, I know he’s got some control over the whole thing.  Hmmm…..how to motivate him?

Ah Ha!!!!! M&M’s!  I remembered the old trick of giving an M&M (or other small treat) every time a trip to the bathroom is successful.  So, I told him we were going to go to the store to buy a bag and he quickly reminded me of the successful pee episode of the other night and that I owed him ONE M&M.  Who was I to argue with memory, math or motivation?!  One bag of potty-training motivators was purchased and ONE colorful candy was dispensed into a eagerly waiting hand.  

But today!  Oh today!  He gets it!  Man does he EVER get it!  He’s come to me saying he’s gotta go, several times.  So, off with the diaper and a boost onto the potty and he sits there until he makes himself go.  Then he excitedly puts his little hand out for the ONE M&M.  This last time, he was so determined that he spent 20 minutes sitting there, insisting he had to go.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I found something that was gonna work and work fast, but this kid has the patience of a saint!  

So, let’s hope he stays motivated and that it’s quick and easy!  I’d love to make my next shopping trip without purchasing another box of diapers!  

I’ll let you know!

Have a great day (and an M&M!)~

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JumpStart.com Give-Away Winner……

June 9, 2009

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Congratulations to Mia, whose Granny (Granny Annie-cute, huh?!) was the 3rd emailer for our give-away!  Mia will be receiving a free, 3-month membership to JumpStart.com.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Have a great day~

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A Mommy of Many® Review-JumpStart.com and a Chance to Win!

June 8, 2009

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My 4 youngest kiddos and I recently had the opportunity to try out a new website by the makers of Jump Start educational software, JumpStart.com.  I was excited to check it out because we’ve been buying and using the Jump Start series of CD’s since our older kiddos were young.  Maddi (who’s almost 13) saw what we were doing and said, “I remember Jump Start!  I loved those games”.  After I registered each of the 4 kiddos who are in the target age range for the site (3-10ys) I had them come to the computer one at a time to introduce the site.  As M.O.M., I was looking for the ease of use for the kids, the educational properties of the site and how it would hold their attention.  There’s nothing I hate more than having the kids discover a website that they like but that’s not easy for them to use.  I don’t have the time to keep running to the computer to fix whatever they’ve messed up or to click them back to the page they want to be on.

Tristan, who is 9 1/2, went first.  I showed him the site, we listened to the introduction (which is attention grabbing!) and he got started.  He loved it from the beginning!  He remembered Frankie (one of the main characters) from using our Jump Start CDs.  The hour flew by and when his timer went off and he knew that it was one of the other kids turns, he asked if he could continue on another computer (the answer was “no”. ).  He’s gone back to the site with enthusiasm several times.  The site is still being built and more areas that are targeted at the older kids will be added, but he enjoyed what was available.

Max (6 yrs) couldn’t wait for his turn (I think that he couldn’t believe I was ASKING him to sit at the computer for an hour)!  I sat with him, just as I had with Tristan and went through the login and the introduction.  He jumped right into the site, creating a “jumpee” which is a character that the kids create by adding different clothing, shoes, hair and skin tone.  Then they get to name it.  Max’s became something super boyish like “Max Volcano Lizard” or something like that.  He had no problems navigating through the site and made his way through the different “lands” collecting coins and “Jump Stars”.  The coins can be used to purchase new looks for the “jumpee” the kids create (math anyone?!). He loved the site and has asked to go back to it everyday since he was introduced to it.

Onto Gabi (4 yrs) and her turn.  She had come in and watched a little of the time that the boys were on the site, so she was getting a feel for it as they had their turns.  But I sat her down and went through the login and the introduction.  She was excited to create and dress her “jumpee”!  I think she spent a good deal of time being entertained by changing it’s clothes and hair.  I sat with her for most of her turn but didn’t have to help her navigate at all.  She understood the concept of using the map if she wanted to find a new place to go.  There was one area in particular, that had a big slide, that she loved (Storyland?).  I will admit that she was done playing before her hour was up.  She spent about 35 minutes on the site and then said she was done.  She’s asked to go back to the site each day since her first visit and has spent about that same amount of time on each visit.  She especially loves her “jumpeez” blue ponytails and pink ribbon!

Finally Luke-Xavier (3 yrs) got to have his turn.  I knew I’d have to sit with him to help him get the feel of the site and to do anything but just click from place to place.  We logged in, listened to the introduction and went to designing a “jumpee”.  He really didn’t care what it looked like as long as it was a boy (he had seen Gabi’s and didn’t want “a girl one”).  We spent about 15 minutes on the site and he enjoyed seeing each of the places to go and listening to the description of each place and what to do, but he didn’t really “play” any of the games.  If he were to get on the site, it would definitely need to be with guidance from myself or one of the older kids.  But, he has also asked to go back to the site, each day since his first visit.

All-in-all I’d have to say that the site is attention grabbing and well put together.  It’s still under construction and new and exciting places for the kids to visit are on their way but there’s plenty to keep them entertained as is.  I had to find the educational value in the site because it’s not overt.  The kids definitely don’t feel like they’re playing educational games when they’re having fun moving through each land, collecting coins and earning “Jump Stars”.  I’d say it was best for Max and Tristan because they could really understand the concept and goal of each game where Gabi and Luke-Xavier were just happy to see the exciting graphics and hear the excitement in the announcer’s voice.  All 4 kids will continue to use the site.  There is a portion of it that can be used for free but to get the full use of the site, you do have to register and pay.

BUT……you can WIN a FREE membership for your child by being the 3rd person to email me at Jen@MommyofMany.com with “Jump Start” in the subject line.

Good luck!  I hope you check out the site with your kiddos and enjoy!

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Words of Wisdom From One of My Teens

June 7, 2009

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This afternoon I was driving Mariah to a friend’s house so that they could go swimming.  As I was driving she was going her make-up.  I said, “you’re putting on make-up to go swimming?”  Her response-”Mom, in this messed up world, smeared make-up is better than no make-up at all.”

It was a little window into what these girls face and was all too true!

Have a great day~

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M.O.M. Training, Courtesy of Gabi

June 5, 2009

Yesterday I was sitting at coffee with a friend and Gabi and Luke-Xavier and Gabi started this conversation-

Gabi-I’m going to be better when I’m a mom

Me-a better mom than me?

Gabi-yes

Me-what are you going to do that I’m not doing so well?

Gabi-I’m going to be nicer

Me-How?

Gabi-I’ll take my kids anywhere they want to go

Me-Oh.  What if it’s dinnertime and your kids want to go to the movies?

Gabi-then I’ll take them to the movies.  

Me-what about dinner?

Gabi-There’s popcorn there.  I’ll buy popcorn.  That’s how it’ll go. (when she said “that’s how it’ll go”, it was all I could do to keep from laughing!)

Me-ok.

My friend-What if 2 of your kids want to go to 2 places at the same time?

Gabi-I’ll take one to where they want and then the other where they want to go.

My friend-No, they want to go at the SAME time.  They don’t want to have one go first.  One wants to go to the movies and one wants to go to the beach.

Gabi-Then I’ll take them home!

I knew right then that she’ll do just fine!

Have a great day~

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