Art and stuff

We went to the Nelson-Atkins art museum today. First time since we’ve lived here, because it always takes me awhile to get around to doing the good stuff a place has to offer. I’ve been once before, as a kid, but I remember basically nothing from that visit beyond the giant sculptures outside.

We didn’t stay long because you know, KIDS. But at least Kalena is interested in going back!

I’m sure Lydia would like to go back too, but she’s a little harder to keep track of than Kalena. Will was pouting because he wanted to be playing Minecraft, and Daniel was mad that we wouldn’t let him touch everything. But Daniel peeled up outside when he found some dirt to play in/throw at people.

Temporary insanity

Something about the Christmas season makes me believe that I’m crafty. I’m not, particularly, but I get it in my head that I should be doing a whole bunch of Fun! Awesome! Christmas crafts with the kids. Last year I picked up some stuff at after-Christmas clearance sales to make ornaments. The clear ball type that you put stuff in. I was so pleased with myself for remembering to put away the craft stuff separate from the Christmas decorations (first time I’ve remembered that.) Anyway, I got all the stuff out last week for some fun ornament making with the kids!

First kind I was planning on having them do were these little kits I bought (uh, a long time ago) that make your ornament light up different colors with an LED light. Fun yeah? Except then I read the directions and turns out you need a soldering iron. Do you have a soldering iron? We do NOT. So next! Next I had little trees & deer & fluff to make winter scenes. But the type of ornaments I bought were the kind where you put stuff in through the top, instead of the kind that come apart into halves. Aaaaaand none of my cute stuff fit through the top. Okay, the fluff did but that’s not really enough for a winter scene. I *DID* manage to get a tiny bottle brush tree through the top (with a lot of shoving) but not with the base on, so then they just fell over. Despite my best efforts with pliers & tweezers & various kind of glue it was all just a hot mess.

In the end the kids filled a some with pompoms and tinsel and glitter. Then Lydia broke a couple, because no craft session is complete without broken stuff. Will this teach me a lesson? Probably not. I’ll still come up with some “great” idea next year, I’m sure.

I don’t do this during the rest of the year! The rest of the year I know my limitations! ­čśé But THIS episode of shenanigans won’t even keep me from doing more crafts before Christmas! I still have cranberries and marshmallows to string, since that has gone so well in past years. Or something. Anyway. I plead temporary Christmas insanity. That’s a thing, right?


I remember stringing cranberries and marshmallows for our Christmas tree growing up, and thinking it was SO fun. (I also remember we tried stringing popcorn one year and it was just ridiculously frustrating. Cranberries and marshmallows don’t break into a million pieces when you put a needle through them.) Anyway, this was one tradition I knew I wanted to continue with my kids. Two years ago I decided at least Kalena and Will were old enough to try it. (Have I written about this? Possibly I have. Too lazy to check.) They thought it was fun for about 3 minutes and then left me alone to finish a garland that would be long enough for our tree. Which was fine, except that then I forgot to actually put it ON the tree. (Garland doesn’t go on after the ornaments. That’s the rules.) But I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I hung it on our banister! And Lydia proceeded to eat it every chance she got.

I was undeterred though, and last year I bought the stuff to string cranberries and marshmallows again. The kids had much more stamina last year, and we ended up with a nice garland. Except I inadvertently ruined this project before it even started. For reasons unknown, when I bought the cranberries and brought them home, I put them in the freezer. (Seriously. No idea what I was doing.) So we were stringing FROZEN cranberries, which was fine-ish, but as they thawed they just leaked red juice EVERYWHERE. Fortunately, we realized this before we put it on the tree. But last year’s garland ended up decorating only the inside of the trash can.

Now APPARENTLY I am a glutton for punishment because I bough the stuff to do it again this year! (Turns out I still think it’s fun.) I also bought myself this ornament, for all the happy garland-making memories I have.

Anyway, wish me luck with this year!

My Real Life cleaning list

I decided I should write a more realist cleaning list after all those Pinterest list shenanigans. Here are some things my Real Life cleaning list would include: 

  • Use a long stick to scoop the stuff out from behind the headboard of the guest bed. (Our guest bed is in our basement/playroom. Daniel loves to drop stuff back there.)
  • Pick up hardened macaroni noodles off the stairs. Try not to think about how long it’s been since we had macaroni. 
  • Rewash the load of clothes in the washer. Hope I don’t forget about it a 2nd (uh, or 3rd) time.
  • Wipe toothpaste off various surfaces in the kids’ bathroom. This is beyond regular bathroom cleaning and includes places like the light switch, the step stool, the baseboards, and the inside or drawers. 
  • Pick up 800 pairs (ish) of shoes from the living room. Wonder how the kids can own SO many shoes but can’t ever find ANY OF THEM.
  • Put a pillowcase on Will’s pillow and/or a sheet on Daniel’s crib. Apparently these boys are anti-bed-linens. 
  • Put 1 million kids cups in the sink. The dishwasher is already running (OF COURSE) and these cups seem to spontaneously generate. 
  • Scrub doorknob/light switch/railing/table edge within reach of the babies high chairs. Consider using a screw driver to chisel that crap off.
  • Move all basement furniture to get to toys underneath. Wonder how the K from the foam alphabet can STILL BE MISSING.
  • Go room to room picking up and throwing away toys that are broken/missing pieces/have bites take out of them.
  • Clear papers off the bookshelves/mantle/windowsill. All stuff I put there to “deal with when I had more time”
  • Create at LEAST one load of laundry from clothing outside of bedrooms. (Forget laundry baskets. Those might as well not exist.)
  • Clear expired coupons out of the coupon drawer. Yay! Empty drawer! 
  • Pick up shreds of paper. It’s like magic indoor snow. Courtesy of Daniel. 

I’m sure there are more, but that’s all I’ve got for now. What’s on your list?

Road tripping

Back at the beginning of June I took all 4 kids and we went to hang out with some friends in Illinois. And I was going to write about it right after we got back, except within hours of our arrival home we got hit with a stomach bug which felled us one by one over the course of two weeks. (It was a LONG TWO WEEKS.)

Anyway, we started out first thing in the morning, and Kalena and Will were SO EXCITED to leave that they got in the car before we’d even finished loading it. I told them to hop back out so they could go to the bathroom before we left, and as they did I noticed that Will didn’t have any shoes on. I said, “Will! You have to wear shoes! Go get your shoes on and go to the bathroom before you get back in the car.” I thought what a good thing it was that I’d made them get out, because GAH. You have to have shoes! (You see where this is going right?)

About an hour in (to a 6 hour drive) Kalena asked if she could take her shoes off. I said sure, and that I was surprised she hadn’t taken them off already. And then Will said, “I don’t have to take my shoes off, because I already wasn’t wearing any!” I said, “What do you mean you weren’t wearing any??” And he responded that he hadn’t been able to┬áfind them when he went back in the house. Y’all. There was a lot of yelling. And much internal swearing. And then there was a 40 min detour to the nearest walmart to buy him some flip flops. I wouldn’t have even bothered (since we were staying at a friend’s house) but I KNEW we were going to have to stop and get out on the way there! 4 hours maybe we could have managed, but 6? Nope. (He literally only wore them for our road trip stops. When we were packing up to leave he couldn’t find his shoes (SURPRISE SURPRISE) and I discovered they were STILL IN THE CAR.)

So. Fun trip, but next time I’ll remember to CHECK WILL’S FEET.


Y’all. I went on vacation. Like a real, actual vacation. And it was the first time since 2007 that I’ve been away from the kids and not pregnant. (With the exception of one overnight work trip where I had to pump. So totally doesn’t count.) Anyway, it was awesome.

The whole point of the trip was that my mom needed to pick up some things that her mother left for her. My mom’s sister had the boxes in California, but turns out we don’t drive out to California all that often. Like, ever. So this trip was planned specifically to drive out there and pick this stuff up. Obviously we also planned lots of visiting with family, and Disneyland, because no trip to southern California is complete without Disneyland. Anyway, since ROAD TRIP! was part of the whole deal, I flew from Kansas City to Denver, where my sisters picked me up (almost 2 hours late after some plane shenanigans in KC) and we continued in Kari’s awesome minivan. We drove to Grand Junction, had lunch and picked up my mom and then drove another 6 hours to St George Utah where we spent the night. That was Sunday, and we figured by staying the night on Sunday we’d miss all the Las Vegas back to California weekend traffic. Except, HA! That now lasts through Monday apparently. My cousins were not at all surprised that we hit traffic on Monday. We stopped in Barstow (I think?) for lunch, along with everybody else in the entire world. Seriously, a whole troop of boy scouts were in line at the same time.

So before I bore you to death (TOO LATE!) with details of the trip, how about some pictures?

Seriously you guys. I love Disneyland. And we do it all “wrong” but it’s my favorite. (Wrong meaning, no plans, no reservations anywhere, and we don’t watch any of the shows. Also I wore flip flops which most┬ápeople think is crazy.)



We met Tinkerbell because we didn’t know if Pixie Hollow was a ride or what. (New since the last time we were there.) Apparently it’s where you meet fairies. Also, let me stop here to say that the shirt I’m wearing there? SO comfortable. We went to Ross the day before Disneyland (what, you don’t drive across the country and go to the same stores you have in your hometown?) and I bought that and 2 pairs of cute shoes. ANYWAY. Us with Tinkerbell.



And I just had to include this because it’s the best picture of Kari ever in the history of the universe.




And no pictures of the family or friends we visited, because I didn’t ask.

I flew home from California instead of driving back, which was good, except it all fell apart at the end because APPARENTLY I left a dome light on in the civic when I parked it at the airport, so Brian had to bring all the kids and come get me anyway. And we couldn’t even get the car jump started, so we had to buy a new car battery and go back again the next day. With all the kids. SO FUN!

Family photos

Family pictures!┬áWe do them…periodically. Generally at least once a year for Christmas cards. However, we’ve only done them in a studio twice. Once when Will was new (like, 4 days old) and once when Daniel was new (a few weeks.) Other than that we’ve done them at family reunions, because my aunt takes excellent pictures. Evidence from our session this summer:



Or had a local friend take them, because she also takes excellent pictures. Evidence from last year’s Christmas card:


Sadly, she’s no longer a local friend since we moved ­čśŽ

So I’m curious: how often do you get professional family pictures? Do you do studio pictures of just your kids? We did that once, way back when Will was about 1. I’m good about taking the individual kids in for regular pictures, but not all the kids together. Thinking about it now I may just be sort of “professional photo phobic” because we didn’t even have a professional photographer at our wedding. (Granted, backyard wedding doesn’t really scream: big money on pictures, but anyway.) Now you tell me!



Alright, Halloween post time. We did most of our Halloween stuff on Wednesday, a scavenger hunt at the local museum, followed by dinner and trunk-or-treating at church. And, for the first time in years, Brian and I also dressed up! (I think last time we wore costumes Will was a baby.) This was mostly out of a desire on my part to not get out of my yoga pants. I thought, hmmmm, what could I dress up as that would need black pants and not require anything I don’t have already in the house? And the answer to that question was: black cat. Brian has a set of scrubs from way back when I had my c-section with Kalena so boom, easy costume there. Anyway, everyone knows the real point of the Halloween blog post is to see pictures of the kids in costume, so HERE YOU GO!

These first two are actually from Halloween. We went to a trick-or-treat thing at one of the malls here. Probably won’t do that again. It was PACKED, so lots of just waiting in line. Also, a ridiculous number of people carrying around babies to trick-or-treat. Babies in costume are adorable! Yes! Dress them up! But listen- if your kid can’t walk? THEY DON’T NEED ANY CANDY. (We did NOT pick up candy for our stroller babies. They were just there to be cute.)


We (okay *I*) forgot most of Will’s costume. I realized about halfway there. So he was just Nigel Marven, regular zoologist.



This one is from Wednesday: tuckered out little lion!


And look! Our whole family! I considered cropping this, but I kinda like having the giant T-Rex skeleton in there.



Here is, sadly, the best picture of Will’s whole costume that I got. It’s one of those costumes that looks like you’re riding on dinosaur and as soon as I brought it home he told me he wanted to be Nigel Marven. Nigel Marven is a zoologist, and acts as a “time traveling zoologist” on Will’s very favorite show “Chased By Dinosaurs.” So he was Nigel Marven riding a dinosaur. (Except on Halloween when he was just Nigel Marven.) Anyway. Kalena, as you can see, was Glinda again. And she was OH SO PLEASED that people here recognized her as Glinda. Last year everyone thought she was a princess or a fairy and she was quite disappointed.



Happy Halloween! (5 days ago.)

Aspen Grove

This month should be the perfect time to get back into blogging because hey! We just got back from vacation! We had our annual family reunion this year at Aspen Grove, a family camp in Utah. Normally I favor Arwen’s terminology of calling any trip with children a “family trip” and only trips without kids are “vacations” but this trip was definitely more of a┬ávacation even with all the kids. (We had 52 people from my dad’s family attend, 24 of those people are under age 10.) We actually went to Aspen Grove twice when I was a kid and I remember it being fun, but until coming back as a parent I didn’t realize just how set up for families and kids this place is. For starters, in the dining hall (all meals are cafeteria style) there’s a high chair at every table and a tray under each highchair to catch dropped food. There’s a “kids food” section with a child friendly version of dinner entrees, plus stuff to make PB&J at any meal, and even a selection of baby food. You can ask for a pitcher of milk or juice to take back to your room. (You’re also welcome to take food back to your room for anyone who isn’t feeling well.) The kids are split into age groups and have activities from 9-12 and 1:30 to 4:30 every day. This includes babies! Well, okay, babies don’t have any activities, but you can drop them off in the baby room and the counselors call or text you if they need you. So: kids busy all day without me, no cooking or clean up (but without restaurant hassle!), and we stayed in houses clearly designed for families (separate rooms for kids!) AND because everything is at camp, no loading everyone up and driving anywhere! Definitely vacation.

Unfortunately for me this trip made it clear just how much of a mama’s girl Lydia is. She hated the infant room and I felt bad leaving her there when she was crying (although they would have kept her if I wanted.) so I spent more time with the baby than I had planned. All our other kids LOVED going to their groups though. Especially Daniel who basically thought it was the best thing ever. Lots of other 2 year olds cried when getting dropped off, Daniel couldn’t have been happier.

Anyway, while all the kids were busy we also got to do lots of fun things. Brian rocked the high ropes course, we had fun in a pottery class, he made an awesome wood pen, I glazed some ceramics, there was ping pong and foosball and badminton and paintball and all kinds of good stuff. Aaaaand I’d planned on posting pictures of all that but apparently wordpress is in a bad mood today because I can’t upload anything. So! I’ll save them for another post.




Back to the catching up! I haven’t posted about Easter yet, so here you go! (I KNOW you’ve been sitting around waiting to see Easter pictures of my kids.)

First of all, some pictures from the Kansas City Down Syndrome Guild Easter event. They served donuts from Krispy Kreme and bagels from Panera (so basically my favorite breakfast EVER.) And I heard from one of the volunteers that Krispy Kreme delivered twice as many donuts as ordered for no extra charge. In case you needed ANOTHER reason to love them.

The Easter Bunny was there:

DSCN7602 DSCN7611

Kalena was excited to see him, and Daniel was VERY curious about the giant bunny. Will was scared, so he stuck with me.

There was also a balloon animal guy.



Kalena asked for a bunny, because hey! Easter!



Will asked for a crocodile. OBVIOUSLY.

This Easter thing was the first big Down syndrome thing we’ve been to here. Most of the stuff we go to is just our county, not all of KC. And those events are usually for certain age groups, so we go to the ones for families with kids with Ds who are under five, or whatever. Anyway, it was lots of fun.

Back to Easter stuff at home. Of course we did some egg dying.





We let them each dye 6 eggs. Makes me appreciate my mom for letting my sisters and I each dye a dozen (at our request.) Because MAN three dozen hardboiled eggs would be a lot to eat.

The Easter Bunny brought and hid baskets with candy and a book in each. (No basket for Lydia. And I ate most of┬áDaniel’s candy.) Then after church Brian hid the eggs the kids had dyed. Now, last but not least, dressed up for church pictures!





Look! Everyone made it into the pictures! Even though you can barely see Will because he insisted on holding Daniel and they’re basically the same size. Ah, kids.