Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With A Whisper

Scott called from the ED a few moments ago, asking if there was anything I need him to bring home tonight. My answer was a simple "Nope," but in my head I was thinking, "Why?" I'd completely forgotten in is New Year's Eve.

The oldest seven kiddos are already in bed and Elias is enjoying his Baby Einstein Time behind me (weeps for everything else anyway, so why not?) I've honestly never been much into the New Year's thing anyway, but there is something little alarming about forgetting entirely, isn't there? Or am just comfortable enough in my own skin to not even pretend to care anymore?

I love New Year's Day -- traditional Kraut and Pork meal, games, laughter, family. But the whole staying up until midnight just to watch the clock move has never really been a big deal. I do love First Night Annapolis, but I haven't been to that since I was pregnant with Tucker and I was so tired for the next few days that I questioned my sanity for even going at all. (Although, the Shakespeare Players that night were so great!) Nope, I'm more of a go to sleep normal and wake up the next morning normal kind of gal.

On Facebook, everyone was posting their well-wishes and excitement over parties. I just can't get into it. Perhaps if Scott were a bigger New Year's guy it would be different. But, let's face it - he's usually working New Year's Eve, so we almost never spend it together. In fact, the last First Night Annapolis I went to, I took Shelby while Dawson and Isabelle stayed with my folks and Scott was working. It's just not our thing.

So, while everyone else is ringing in the new year with shouts of joy and sips of champagne, I'll be curled up under my electric blanket, fast asleep.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas, Rutherford Style

The Sunday before Thanksgiving, we traveled to Sherlund Tree Farm in order to tag our Christmas tree. Ryan. Laura, & dad D went along and we had so much fun tromping through the woods. Tucker found the tree this year, and we captured his victorious tagging-of-the-tree moment. We've learned that pictures are the best memory device we have in a family of 10!

I love winter. It is by far my favorite season. We had a great snowstorm last weekend, just in time for a white Christmas (although the snow was a little dirty by the time Christmas actually got here.) I took turns taking the children with me on errands and we made a point to walk through the snow whenever we could, just to hear it crunching. I adore that sound, and I would miss it terribly if we do ever move away from the snow. I keep angling for a family relocation to New England, but I am constantly over-ruled. I'm sure that 5 years will find me someplace where snow freaks out everyone around us and the entire world shuts down because of a flake or two. Bummer.

Christmas was fantastic. We had all the traditional trappings with one glaring exception - no cookies. We just never got around to making the cookies. We chopped down our tree, wrote our newsletter, decorated the house, did some caroling, the girls went to the Nutcracker, played tons of games, read gobs of books, laughed A LOT, visited Santa, had some parties, on and on and on . . . But we never did bake those cookies. I am so very thankful we had friends who love us enough to take pity on the sufferings of eight children without Christmas cookies and delivered some to our door. And they were really yummy. And I mean were quite literally - they are completely gone. The locusts disguised as Rutherfords descended.

After the last few Christmas's rushing to be everything to everyone, it was so wonderful to just sit back this year and say such phrases as "Sure, that sounds great. Have fun without us!" or "Hmm, we can come for a couple of hours, but then we're heading home." No pressure, no guilt. When the Shirey family called last minute to let us know of a fun trip to Santa, we were actually able to go. Years past, we would have been too booked to last-minute a trip on December 23. But we went and had a great time walking through an outdoor light display and visiting with the Jolly-Elf Himself. I really found our "no thankyous" quite freeing this year. Why did it take us 15 Christmas tries to finally find the balance between doing it all and doing nothing?

And Christmas itself was smaller this year. Rather than quantity, we went for quality and the difference was amazing. The gifts were enjoyed immediately. Rather than being overwhelmed, post breakfast found each of the kids engrossed in their own pursuits. Shelby working with her new guitar. Dawson pouring over his Lego book. Isabelle painting on her new canvas boards. Tucker practicing his Cuda board in the hallway. Keats & Aidan flying their Backyardigains around on dragons while clomping in their new cowboy boots. Abigail pushing her Baby-No-Name around in her new doll-stroller while wearing sunglasses. Elias gnawing on his organic terry teether. And the happy sounds were coming from all directions.

"Mom - I just made the perfect shade of purple!"

"Mom - listen to this chord! I just learned it on the internet!

BANG!! followed by severe wall rattling. "I'm alright! Just lost my balance for a minute! No worries!"

"Hey- there is a pattern here for making the Sphinx! I can't wait to give that a go."

"Coo, coo, gurgle." followed by big grins when anyone caught Elias's eye.

"Wait for me, Pa-ba-lo!" shouts Keats/Tyrone. Clomp-clomp-clomp.

"Hurry moose! Hey - what's your name again?" Aidan breaks character to ask. "I'll ask mom." clomp-clomp-clomp. "Mom says you're Tyrone. Hurry, Tyrone!"

"Baby-No-Name is coming! Watch out or I'll run you down on accident!"

This was the first year in many that we have slept at home, in our own beds. What a difference! No packing for 10. No keeping everything straight. No trying to get everyone calmed down in their new environment to get some sleep. No dozens of trips back upstairs to remind everyone to be quiet and go to sleep. And, when we all woke up - everyone was well rested, making for a much more pleasant Christmas morning experience. Personally, I didn't feel the need to lunge for the coffee pot and start chewing beans while waiting for the brew like I usually do.

Ryan & I tend to be the traditonalists in our family. But, even I have to admit, our break from tradition this year was really nice. Sure, we did most of the stuff we usually do. But it was those few no's that made all the difference. And, the crazy thing is that the first "No thank you" was inexplicably tough. But each one that followed got easier and easier. By the time we got to Christmas Eve, I was possibly enjoying saying no a little too much. And because there was a balance this year, none of us have felt the Annual-Christmas Let-Down, which is worth celebrating in and of itself!

So now, I am going to place clothes in the dryer (since laundry never takes a vacation), lay a fire in the grate, and cuddle with my boy while he's still young enough to enjoy it. Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Zoom -- Was That Thanksgiving I just Passed?

It is actually Wednesday - the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, to be precise. Really? Where did that week go? Ryan and Laura were here, we spent extra time with Jenna, Aaron, Sadie and even a day with Trinity and Sam. Thanksgiving was a nice, casual day with all our favorite people - Chip and Kathy, Alex, Dylan, the Marshalls, the Dubachs and Dubachs, and us. It really didn't feel like it flew by, but before we knew it, we were having one last brunch with Laura before she caught the plane to go to her folks house. Too fast.

We used to have Thanksgiving and then the next day we pulled all the Christmas bins and boxes from the attic and started festooning the house. Not this year. We told the kids we needed at least a week in between Thanksgiving and decorating. Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas. I love the lights, the coziness, the smell of the fresh-cut tree, the cold. But this year has just been too fast. I think both Scott and I knew we needed a week in between to simply slow down how fast it feels everything is going. I know it won't really slow down the time, but it is helping mentally to ease the pace.

I often wonder if we are the only ones who feel this rush of time, or if we are simply two out of many. Shelby will be 14 in just 3 short months. Yet I remember so clearly feeling her moving inside me before she was born. Does my mother look at my 36 year old self and feel the same?

Ahh, Elias's swing needs to be reset again. Another 5 minutes are gone. Just like that.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, Oh Friday, Where Have You Gone?

Seriously? I'm checking out the clock on the computer and realizing it's minutes from Midnight. Where did the day go? Okay - fine, I know it ticked by second by second into minute by minute into hour by hour. I'm good at math -- I get it. But where did the day go? It feels like just moments ago I was opening my eyes. And here it is, ridiculously late and I am seriously needing to get some sleep but I just can't bring myself to admit it's time to go to bed!

Of course, we had a great day and got so much accomplished. Of course I feel good about the items crossed off our list, and I love that I managed to do our day without yelling once. I didn't even raise my voice other than to call over the noise of all the other people in our house today. (At least, I don't think I did. Hmm.) Regardless, it was a good day. But it went by so fast!

What exactly determines a fast day verses a slow day? On days when I am sick and all I need is for the day to tick by with alacrity, it creeeeeeeeeeeeeeepppppppppps along slowly while I glance at the clock every few seconds. Then, other days, it seems that every time I glance at the clock, I've spent hours. How does that happen?

Perhaps it is because of the clocks. Do they meet together the night before and determine ahead of time how our time will go? Do they huddle up, yelling at the microwave to detach it's big butt and get into the meeting pronto before somebody comes downstairs and they all get caught? Perhaps my watch is the ringleader, since he is the one with me all the time.

"I'm telling you guys - she's getting cocky. I just know she thinks she's got everything under control. It's time to throw her a curve."

"Oh, no," says the school room clock. "There is so much in their day. Let's give them a break. Slow down and make sure there's plenty of time to get it all done."

"Actually - that would be nice," the microwave concurs. "They all visit me more when the day is dragging. Something about slowing down time makes them eat a lot more."

"Now boys," sighs the patient stop watch. "I've been around the block with this crowd and I'm telling you, they need to be rushed. Timing them is the only thing to get some of those kids to move!"

"What are you talking about!" screams the watch favored by Dawson. "The kid never stops! I don't know how he gets any math done -- he is just go, go go!" A closer inspection of Dawson's watch reveals a whirring that shouldn't be occurring. Perhaps his assessment can't quite be trusted - the kid might have made him go a little crazy.

"Listen, gang. I'm with her all the time. I'm telling you - she feels too good. Like she can handle anything these days. It's time to shake it up." My watch, the traitor, is bent on my sanity's destruction.

"Well, if you think that's wise . . . I guess I should trust you. I'm only the lowly toothbrush-timing clock, anyway. I just think it's really great of you guys to include me. I know I'm an upstairs clock and all and that you really don't have to invite me to these meetings since I really only count twice a day, and let's face it with some of these kids it's only once a day and I'm not really sure they are even looking at me then, so I guess I'm not really important enough --"

"Are you kidding me?" the microwave sighs. "I didn't rip myself off the wall to come over here to listen to your ridiculous whining. Keep it up and we uninvite you. Again."

"OKAY! I'm telling you - it's time." My watch is getting impatient. He's certain he is hearing little feet moving above his head. And evil grin creeps across his face. "Do you hear that? Kids are up. She won't sleep well. It's always more effective when we speed things up and she is tired. She really respects us clocks then. She really feels our power."

"Well, if you're sure . . ." the timer is in on it, but trying to sound hesitant. She doesn't like to come across too evil. After all, one drop on the tile floor and she'll be in the trash can like her Uncle - the first timer to try and subdue our crew. And, to be honest, she isn't convinced he was simply dropped.

"Okay - so we're agreed." The footsteps above are getting louder - definitely a Rutherford out of bed. My watch is in a hurry to close the meeting. "We shave off 15 minutes from every hour tomorrow. Do it when she isn't looking, but make sure it isn't all at once or she'll notice. She may be tired but she isn't stupid."

"Okay, okay." The other clocks agree and quickly return to their posts.

And thus, my day flies by and no matter how efficient I think we're being, we are no match for the clocks. Where did their power come from anyway?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ewww - Tuesday as Monday

Scott has one of the only set schedules at the hospital. And whenever he considers transferring to a new floor, he always ends up staying put because of the Monday - Friday night gig he's lined up. So, we actually have a set weekend, although for us it's Sunday and Monday. So, Tuesday is our version of Monday. And what a Monday it was. Blech.

We spent Sunday morning worshipping with Kainos 101, snagged lunch, and then headed over to Cedar Crest College to watch dear Carrie Moore in a play, The Goddesses, Part 1. Definitely a great inspiration to watch if you're female. Definitely a kick in the pants if you're male. Afterwards, Carrie arranged a tour of the theater and then took us on a tour of the campus. It was fantastic. We made it home to eat Sloppy Joe's out of the crockpot and then after putting the littles to bed, Scott read aloud while Shelby, Dawson, Isabelle, Tucker and I urged him to keep going until we finished the book around 10 pm.

Monday was a pretty casual Monday for us. Dad taught Scott and Dawson how to change the oil on Big Red (pinching pennies everywhere!) and I learned how to change an air filter. Calc 3?no problem. Combustion engine? completely lost. Then I went to the eye doctor and Dawson took Scott and my dad to the movies to watch "A Christmas Carol." All three raved. Jenna was in town with Sadie so we all stayed together to visit, and before I knew it it was 5:30 and we were just leaving my parents. Of course, the fact that Tucker took a marker to the neighbor's trash can, white vinyl fence, siding, and basketball hoop emblazoning each with a bold "TUCKER" didn't help us leave any faster, either. (We tried everything to clean it off, but in the end, the fence is still signed. The neighbors won't let us fix it, either.) The kids got up in bed, exhausted after the late night and day of hard playing/bike riding outside and Scott and I watched TiVo while eating a pizza. Yum. He took a brief nap while I folded laundry with Elias. Scott left for work (night shift) and I went to bed.

This morning started out pretty great. I came down with Elias and we played for about 15 minutes before he went to sleep in his swing. I did morning chores and finished up around the time Aidan came down. We snuggled up together to read the book, "One Morning in Maine" by Robert McCloskey. (Aidan chose to sit in Abigail's car seat, which we had brought in the night before to clean once we discovered her diaper had really, really leaked. Anyway, it was reassembled and waiting for Scott to return home with the van and Aidan decided that it was the perfect place to sit and read. I, myself, prefer the couch.) Eventually, we were joined by Tucker and then Keats. Abigail was let out of her prison (er, uh . . . I mean crib with a net over it to keep her in one place) shortly afterwards and eventually the older three trickled down. And that's when it started to change.

I say the older three came down, but really I should clarify that it was the nasty, grouchy, crabby versions of Shelby and Dawson and the "I'm too tired to really do anything" Isabelle. Their attitudes were more contagious than the Swine Flu, and eventually all 8 kiddos were in a mutiny.

"I'm hungry."

"Where's my milk?"

"I want my jeans - are they clean yet?"

"Do we seriously have to do school today?"


"Mom - he won't give me back my bear!"

"Mom - that isn't even his bear!"

"Stop touching me!"

"Eww! You're breath stinks! Go brush your teeth, you swamp monster!"

"I can't find my hairbrush - who took my hairbrush??"

"Why can't I dump the Lego bin yet? I want to!"

"Where's dad - he would say yes." (For the record - no, he wouldn't.)

"Abigail smells bad!"

"GROSS!!! Elias threw up all over me!"

"Who put my hairbrush in the diaper pail?"


Ahh, the sweet sounds of a cheerful family working together to accomplish a day filled with ambitious, yet completely attainable, plans.

Order was actually restored relatively quickly, but the damage was done. My peaceful mood shattered, I never really got back into the groove of the day. Sure, we got just about everything done on the goal list, but it sure wasn't smooth. It truly reminded me of the Manic Mondays of my teen years - trying to get back into the swing of doing *blech* when I had had such a great weekend.

Time heals all wounds, right? Perhaps one night of sleep will reset all our attitudes for tomorrow. Let's hear it for Wednesday/Tuesday!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peanut, Peanut Butter

Do you remember that song from childhood? It was a ridiculously long song about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich which you could make even more ridiculous by adding more and more to your sandwich for long car trip amusement. You know - back before the days of PSP and portable DVD players. Quite frankly - even back before the cassette-tape walkman! You have to remember those car rides!! Dull as dirt and no-seatbelt laws, so your parents had to find something to keep you sitting down. Of course - I look at the seatbelt/car-seat insanity of today and fondly recall the days of clown-car stuffing that would happen to take everyone in the neighborhood for an ice-cream cone in one car to save on gas. But I digress.

So anyway, the chorus went: "Peanut, Peanut Butter . . . and Jelly (sung using a super-deep voice)" and repeated. I have had it stuck in my head all day. And I mean literally ALL DAY. See, we finally ran out of our All-Natural-Just-Peanuts-and-Sea-Salt-Made-Here-Ourselves peanut butter so we broke open the tub of honey roasted peanuts we've been hoarding for this moment. The moment we were going to try making our own peanut butter.

Now, my friend Kelly is my favorite hippie. Behind Kel would be Elle, also a lovable hippie. But I have learned that I am actually considered to be pretty hippie myself. I don't really think of myself that way, but I guess I can see their point since I had told both Kelly and Elle that I was planning to try making our own peanut butter and they both sounded . . . well, surprised. I guess we are pretty indoctrinated that all chicken is born cellophane wrapped on styrofoam and all peanut butter arrives in little plastic tubs marked with a number 1 inside the recycling triangle on the bottom.

But, I grind our own wheat and that's not too tough. I make our own cleaners, and several people now use my recipes to clean their own homes. We buy raw milk and I now make both our own yogurt and our own keifer. Why should peanut butter be too hard?

Well, it wasn't. I poured 3 cups at a time into our food processor, turned the blade on, waited 3 minutes, and Voila! Creamy, delicious peanut butter. For $6.49, I made 7 cups/4.5 pounds of natural peanut butter. And the real test was to try it on Tucker, who loathes natural peanut butter. (He is a real big fan of the Skippy variety.) And after one bite, Tucker passed me back the spoon and said, "Please, mom, may I have some more?" ala Oliver. Success!

Next on our hippie list? Making our own clothes detergent. I love my Charlies Soap, but I would love not having to order my giant 5 gallon bucket every year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to Normal

A week without Scott simply made for a very interesting week here at home. Last night, our final night before his return home, found Shelby, Dawson, Tucker, & I heating up marshmallows in the microwave to watch them blow up, painting the final parts of our projects, and watching the Eagles game -- all until 10:45 pm. We have definitely not been keeping Rutherford hours. Even so, I didn't make it awake long enough to know the Eagles were beaten. And by those dratted Cowboys, too. Just salt in the wound.

Our goals for this week are definitely simple. Doctors appointments (in a family this size, someone always has an appointment!), school work (including Physics and Astronomy), daily chores, and catching up on reading/resting since we did little of either while Scott was gone. Simple plans, but I know they will encompass a lot of hours.

It is difficult, occasionally, to see where all of the effort goes when there is so little to physically see after a week. I mean, I can look at the log to see how much school the kids actually did, but it isn't as obvious as, say, painting a step-stool. I can see the finished stool every time I go into the kitchen as a very visable reminder of a goal set and accomplished. I think the struggle that comes with raising kids and homeschooling is that you don't really see the progress for days , weeks, or sometimes even months. You know they are being taught since you're the one doing it, but you aren't always sure how much they "got it." And the confirmation of learning always comes at times you least expect it. Such as hearing the six-year-old announce: "I feel quite aggravated that the velocity of this car is so held back by friction." Double-take huh? I thought you were just coloring while we studied!

And, so, we will begin a more normal week. Back to bedtime around 8 pm for everyone, back to daily naps for Abigail, back to finding the joy in the small accomplishments that make up our days and weeks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Missing Piece

Boy, are we ready for Monday! Scott has been in Nashville since last Sunday. Well, he left us last Sunday. He didn't make it to Nashville until Monday. Until he has surgery to clear a blocked nasal passage, his ENT has grounded him. So off he and Chip went on a glorious roadtrip while I stayed home and manned the troops.

We've had fun, though, and managed to get heaps done. The main project we didn't do was paint our new front door, install the deadbolt, and put the trim down along the base. We did, however, manage to winterize the air conditioner, clean the backyard and prep it for winter, clean the bird feeders and fill them for winter, paint our dining room benches, begin painting the rocking horse for Saie's birthday (finishing it tomorrow), keep niecey Sadie for 3 days, clean the installed carpet on the stairs, cull more stuff out for our third garage sale this morning, have friends over Friday night until midnight, completed building our Trebuchet, watch a couple of movies, get to the library, play outside A LOT while the weather has been great, go to a football game (pee-wee league, nothing too exciting), keep up with the laundry, meals, & daily chores, do school EVERY DAY, run a couple of errands, took Elias to the doctor, wrestled with the insurance company over adding Elias, had our cable repaired in order to have our TV, internet, & phone service restored (eep!), get to the dairy to buy our milk, harvest some produce, . . .

My evil plot was to keep all of us so productive that we:

1 - Didn't have time to really miss Scott
2 - Were out of our routine enough that we didn't miss Scott
3 - Were so tired by the end of the day we collapsed into bed and fell asleep before we could miss Scott.

It mostly worked. Of course, as I type this, I'm forced to admit we just miss Scott. Life is good. With Scott, it's great.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of Those Days

Doesn't Elias have wonderfully precise aim? While trying to calm him, I found that laying on my back while rocking him on my legs seemed to do the trick. I would lower my legs and then raise them again, playing a wacky sort of peek-a-boo. It worked beautifully right until I became the primary target. Eeewww.

Ahhh, the bliss of a relatively silent home. I say relatively since I can hear the hum of the computer, the steady click of the baby-swing, the whirring of the super-fast front-load washer spinning the clothes out, the dishwasher's steady swish-swosh, and an occasional snore drifting down the stairs. Scott is at work, Elias has exhausted himself screaming, and I am simply waiting for the washer to beep so I can throw clothes into the dryer. I should be doing something productive such as reading a mind-enriching book. Or actually attempting to complete Elias's baby sampler (which is still only 1/4 of the way finished.) Or assembling some of his baby scrapbook. Or any number of things besides sitting here doing practically nothing. But it's been one of those days.

You know the kind - where no matter how valiant your efforts, you just can't seem to get caught up? And no matter how hard you try to remain calm, you feel the overwhelmed bug slowly creeping up your spine? We made out the "what we still need for Halloween" list, and it is reallllly long. When will that get done this week? And I confirmed the kid's eye appointments today -- has it truly been a year already? We started school back up after a week off for Mimi & Popi's visit -- that made for a rough day. And then we had my niece, Sadie Sue, here. I love having her here, but I always feel like such a lousy Aunt when we can't just play the day away. I gave in and ordered Pizza for dinner - another resolution shattered. And after dinner tonight I felt like I needed three more sets of arms to keep up with all the bodies with greasy pizza hands. And Scott is leaving for a week long trip this Sunday -- YIKES!

I am thinking it was exactly in response to days such as this that Unisom was invented. Hmm. Can I take that while nursing?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Extremes, Abigail Style

How could this face ever look anything but sweet?

Here's a sampling of our almost daily view . . .

. . . at the ball game . . .

. . . eating donuts . . .
. . . enjoying some ice-cream . . .

. . . YUM!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Weeper

Sweet Elias. That's what we call him. Sweet Elias. And he is. Right up until sometime between 6 and 7 each and every night. That's when the screaming begins. And the screaming is really, really loud. And there isn't too much any of us can do about it. Isabelle can get him to stop, but at some point, we have to let her go to bed. So, eventually it's just me and The Weeper, hanging out downstairs. There isn't much I can do - reading is impossible, blogging just this little bit has been crazy tough, and forget following a plot line when you can't hear the dialogue of a movie. So, I settle for practically memorized movies as I bounce our newest bundle around.

At least it only lasts for three hours, right?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Rutherford Monday

5:30 am - nurse Elias. Realize he is now wide awake and prepare to get up. Remember that Scott is home on Mondays. Wake Scott up, hand over Elias, and go back to sleep.

8:30 am - awake again to Abigail's giggles. Meet she and Isabelle on the landing and head down together. Kiss Scott good morning and then pass kisses & hugs all around.

8:32 am - Snag first and only cup of coffee of the day.

8:35 am - proceed to take vitamins with a large glass of milk to ward off the inevitable nausea if taken with anything else.

8:40 am - Sit down with Scott to draw up plans for the day. Eat a bowl of Kashi while we chat.

8:50 am - Shoo everyone upstairs to get dressed and /or grab shoes.

9:00 am - nurse Elias while supervising the kiddos folding/putting away laundry & beginning another load. Scott calls & finally sets up Shelby's email account. She chooses the name apollo96. Inevitable discussion on God v. gods follows.

9:30 am - get dressed. Borrow Shelby's shoes.

9:40 am - begin loading van.

10:00 am - Head out:

1. Drive to eye doctor to have Tucker's glasses tightened. Again. Add note on To Do list to purchase tools to tighten & adjust Tucker's glasses ourselves.

2. Drive to Mom & Dad's house to pick up Kainos checks to deliver to Chip.

3. Return home to get cooler clothes for Elias since his screaming in the van has caused him to puddle.

4. Go to Wawa gas station to pull $30 from their no-fee ATM.

5. Go to Metro bank and proceed to open 7 checking accounts for the kiddos. Read 10 books, get $10. We've had this done since June. The deadline for opening the accounts is Sept. 30. Use the $30 plus cash in Scott's wallet to add $5 to each account.

6. While at the bank, load kids in car when 15 minutes from completion of accounts. Nurse Elias. Change Elias.

7. Scott drops myself and all the children except Tucker at Target. I put Elias in the Moby Wrap and we head inside. Dawson & Abigail are using their Birthday Gift Cards from Mimi & Popi. This will take awhile.

8. Scott & Tucker drop Kainos checks at Chip's house then go bowling together, since Tucker earned a privilege of a "Date With Dad."

9. Meanwhile, back at Target, Dawson agonizes over his choices, but eventually settles on a Nerf machine gun and a blow up Yugio punching bag. What lost out? A Count Dukoo Light Saber, a Nerf Sword, Walkie Talkies, a Laser Trip-Wire, a Star Wars Nerf blaster, & some freaky looking plastic character. Abigail knows she wants a baby doll and we spend 30 minutes in the baby aisle selecting. Anything which makes noise due to motion is absolutely out. She finally chooses a baby that quite realistically drinks from a bottle. The noise is pretty muted, so it passed the test. She also gets a stroller. We head over to cameras so Shelby can browse. She is really hinting her camera needs upgrading . . .

10. I give Scott a quick call to ask a question to learn he's walking into Target already. I tell him where we are and shortly the 10 of us are reunited. Abigail begins whimpering that she can't hold her baby right in the box. We help her get her arms underneath and she is content rocking her baby with the box completely obscuring her from the outside world.

11. Elias begins to stir, so the camera browsing ends and we head to check out. Run into a neighbor whose youngest just began school. Find out they've been trying to have a baby for a couple years and she tears up. Wish I could do more.

12. We rip all the toys out of their packaging in the parking lot and run by the community recycling center. Drop off our paper recycling plus the new packaging. Hope everything works okay.

13. Go to the library. Take advantage of Get the Card Month and upgrade our dog-eared, beat-up library cards free-of-charge. Return the 50 books we checked out last week. Choose more books while I nurse Elias. Tucker selects a Pokemon Cartoon for his "Choose Next Family Movie" privilege. I bite my tongue to keep from saying "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!" out loud.

14. Go to Giant to pick up Pesto for a last minute dinner change. Realize grapes are on sale for $.97/pound. Buy 20 pounds. Also get bananas, hotdogs (BOGO), decaf Chai tea (my new fav), organic marshmallow fluff (YUM!), chicken breasts (on sale $1.87/lb) and pesto. Scott calls at checkout to find out why it's taking so long to simply buy Pesto. I try to hedge my answer before he finally says: "THIS IS WHY I RUN IN!!!" Teasing, but also a little sincere.

15. Go home and begin making dinner. Let the kids attack the grapes. Scott takes over dinner so I can nurse Elias. Send the girls to get mail since we forgot to pick it up all last week. Dawson takes out trash. Tucker puts laundry into the dryer. Explain to Abigail the stroller is for baby dolls while making her get out of it.

16. Boys start watching Pokemon movie. I avoid the living room.

17. The girls return with an envelope marked "Perishable" and a tote bag full of mail. Realize the perishable is the Ants we ordered for Keats & Aidan's birthday Ant Farm. Open them up and find all but one dead. Wonder how long they've been in the mailbox. Obviouslly too long. Get out To Do list & cross off note to call Uncle Milton to find out why we don't have ants yet. Add new note to reorder ants from Uncle Milton.

18. Quickly go through mail and set aside 5 true pieces & dump the rest into our was-empty-but-now-is-half-full paper recycling bin. Start washing a load of diapers.

19. Eat favorite dinner - Aunt Laura's Chicken Pesto -- very casually. Scott & I chat with the girls at the table and the boys trickle in to grab a bowl to eat in the living room while watching the movie. Nurse Elias.

20. Loading dishes I glance at the calendar. Realize we have the kid's flu shots at 5:30. It's 4:30. Call for Scott to let him know. Decide he'll take the kids still needing shots (Dawson through Aidan) & I'll stay home with Shelby, Abigail & Elias.

21. Flurry of finding shoes, putting on shoes, getting in the car, explaining to a weeping Abigail why she isn't going (received her shot at her well check), reassure Aidan it will hurt but it's important, and kiss Scott goodbye. They pull out by 5:00.

22. Shelby & I start the end of day chores. Nurse Elias. Play with Abigail. She names her new baby "Baby No Name." Set up Shelby's mailbox on the computer & sign her up for Facebook.

7:00 pm - the rest of the crew returns with ice-cream, the traditional "I'm proud of your courage while getting a shot" reward.

7:45 pm - Abigail goes up with Shleby for a bath to wash off her crazy chocolate face, Dawson & Tucker help Keats & Aidan get into their pjs, Isabelle helps clean up from ice-cream.

8:15 pm - tuck in Abigail, Keats, & Aidan. Settle Dawson, Isabelle, & Tucker in living room watching a TiVo-ed "Jonas" so Scott & I can chat with Shelby. Let her know that we've decided against the People to People Australia trip for this summer, but that we realize she's old enough to do more than she currently is doing. She cries about Australia, but gets excited about staffing Camp, taking photography classes at the community college, being allowed to cook one major meal (she loooooooooves cooking) per week, making a trip to Cali to spend time with Aunt Laura & Uncle Ryan -- basically, to choose some of her dreams and we'll see what we can do. Nurse Elias.

8:45 pm - gather in the living room to say prayers as a family and the oldest four head up to bed. Just before going up, Dawson's face crumples in pain and he begins crying. We ask what's wrong & he complains that his throat hurts really bad. Ask why he's waited so long to say anything. Check his temp - 101, and his throat -- possible white spots. He gargles salt water & then goes up to bed. Shelby finished the "Jonas" she started earlier before going to bed.

9:00 pm - Scott & I finish tidying up the living room and sit down to watch Monday Night Football. Realize we forgot to work on the Trebuchet Scott is building for our Physics studies this year.

9:45 pm - Head up to bed. Nurse Elias, hoping he'll fall asleep before Scott leaves. Nope.

10:15 pm - Scott heads down to make coffee for the night & grab a fluffernutter sandwich. (I'm forgiven for the extended shopping at Giant.)

10:30 pm - Scott leaves for night shift. I keep watching football. Nurse Elias.

11:00 pm - Elias falls asleep. Tuck him into bassinet & crash into bed. Sleeping within moments.

Sept. 29 5:30 am - check ESPN for the score from the game. Cowboys won. Drat.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

To Market We Go

We managed to make it to the farmers market yesterday for the first time since Elias' birth. And how did it go? Just a little bit chaotic. Our location has changed, which is great for the market itself because we are now much more visible. But bad for a bunch of running boys since we are no longer at the edge of the pavement which is buffered by grass & towering weeds, both of which invite exploration. Instead, we find ourselves up by the main entrance to the shopping complex, surrounded by cars.

The market is our five-month long service project. We help run a stand which sells home made goods including bread, pies, cookies, jams, jellies, salsa, pot-holders . . . Our family provides 30 loaves of fresh wheat bread and between 6 - 12 pints of Isabelle's famous salsa. (Our house smells simply amazing on Fridays!) Everything is donated and all of the money raised each week goes to a different charity, mostly local. Yesterday, we supported Camp Manatawny's bathhouse project. Manatawny is an incredible camp I have been a part of since I was 14 and now our entire family is involved with, and we loved the opportunity to help in such a concrete way. Seriously - check them out:

I have no idea what we raised, but it was great to be among the other vendors again and greeting customers, many of which are repeats and were happy to finally meet Elias. We were only there for 2 hours, but I think that was a good start!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's been a long time

Today, September 24, finds our home drastically changed.

Elias, baby number eight, joined us on August 13. Of course, in true Rutherford tradition, he felt the need to find out for himself just what all the fuss about the NICU is, so he arranged for a nine-day stay. His was by far the most calm of the NICU visits, but it still made for some interesting juggling as Scott and I managed our seven healthy ones at home and our precious new one in the hospital. And, unlike past NICU visits, this one was done almost entirely on our own, without the help we have always been so blessed by in the past.

However, he is home and a very pudgy 6-weeks old today. Although, on a phone message today in my lack-of-sleep state, I insisted that he was actually 6 months old. Ahhh, why is it my vocabulary is what goes once I become tired? He is currently sleeping in his swing, although noises are starting to waft over from his direction, so my time may be limited here.

And, I no longer have Nox to blame all of the items gone wrong in my day. He was, sadly, struck by a car shortly before Elias was born. Shelby spied his poor body on her way to worship and begged Scott to stop the car. Scott called me to let me know, since I was home with a feverish Abigail, that Nox had died and he had moved his body to the side of the road until after worship. Now, I understand that he is a pet and I certainly wasn't a big fan of his, but this just wasn't the right answer. And I didn't hesitate to let Scott know I didn't agree with the choice. He quickly amended his position, turned our 15-passenger van around, and came back for Nox.

I should state that we were experiencing one of the most torrential rainstorms of our summer that day. I think it would be safe to say that Scott received his second shower of the day.

Scott brought Shelby, Dawson, and Tucker home with Nox (Isabelle was at Camp Manatawny) and we sat around in mourning while waiting for Scott to return home from worship with the twins. Once he did come home, Scott (being the amazing man he is) proceeded to dig the perfect grave site for Nox. First, he dug up Nox's favorite place to lay when he was in the front yard - a large spreading of Spring Snow -- and then dug a 3 foot deep hole underneath. After the funeral service, the children threw flowers on top of Nox's towel draped body and then helped to spread the dirt back over him. Finally, Scott replaced the plant where it had been originally. Shelby placed a granite marker next to the plant and Dawson and I weeded the front flower bed so Nox was in a tidy place. Scott returned to the shower to wash off the sweat which was literally dripping from his body.

And now, I need to update the children's school logs as well as force my body into some much needed Pilates moves. Here's hoping it isn't months before the next posting . . .

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nox Update

Well, as usual, this time of year is crazy, crazy, crazy.  Between homeschooling end-of-the-year paperwork, Scott's schedule at work, he and Shelby prepping to work Camp Sonshine at Manatawny, and trying to get every project in the house done before I hit my third trimester, we have had NO TIME.  Add into that Shelby's stepped-up activity in the Youth Group and we are going to be lucky to find an evening within the next two weeks in order for Scott and I to watch the new Star Trek before it leaves the theaters.  Sigh.

So, anyway - we have finally reached a peace treaty with Nox.  He no longer pees on things in the house and we allow him to go outside whenever he wants.  We put him on the monthly flea and tick prevention and he is an altogether different cat.   I am actually starting to like him. He's still not my fav, but definitely better than he was.

I am going back to my day of lounging.  We finally managed to get all the school portfolios assembled and ready to be evaluated, and I'm beat.  So we have taken the last two crazy cold & rainy days to sit around and just watch movies.  I know, I know - not very intellectually stimulating, but it has been really nice to not be thinking.  About anything.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bah - He Came Back

Nox returned.  After only a few short days away, he was discovered sitting on a window ledge at the front of the house. Tucker received hero status for finding Nox and the crazy creature again received enough treats to feed every cat at the pound.

But, before you despair over my lot in life with this cat, he may have just pushed too far today. After spending a total of 90 minutes chasing Nox outside (Shelby began logging it as a school project), which is where he dashed literally every time someone had the temerity to go outside and enjoy the day, the kids are less than enthralled with the cat. As Shelby sighed about his caterwauling to get out and turned the volume up on her computer math program again, she asked me if there really is a farm nearby that would take Nox. Of course, I urged her to really pray about whether or not she wanted to relocate Nox before making such a decision (while hiding my inward glee) since I felt strongly that this would be the correct "mother position" to take.  But that was before dinner.

During dinner, Nox came into the living room and climbed onto our basket of blankets and left his customary deposit -- urine. (Yes - these are the same blankets he chose to demonstrate his displeasure on during an earlier incident.) An unsuspecting Keats grabbed a blanket to wrap up in and immediately shrieked. As of bedtime, everyone in the house agreed that Nox needs to move to a farm somewhere where he can run in and out without the danger of catfights (our backyard) or being run over (parking lot in the front) before one of us kills him. Even Keats was disgruntled about needing another bath and his favorite jammies having to be washed.

So, we'll see what happens in the end. In true Carpe Diem form, I called Scott at the hospital immediately and told him to start putting the word out that a charming, orange tabby cat is in need of a loving family with plenty of room to roam.  Perhaps he can manage to convince a medicated patient that Nox is the perfect companion.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hmmm - Am I Sad?

It seems, that during all of the hub-bub of dad's surgery today and the ins and outs of multiple kids, we may have lost Nox.  

To be fair, the wonderful woman who agreed to watch our children and Sadie, my niece, brought her third-trimester-pregnant-self along with her four kids over to our house so I could be at the hospital.  So she was here with 12 children and a cat who is determined to thwart every attempt at remaining housebound which we have contrived.  I did go out for about an hour tonight once things quieted down enough that I realized I was missing Nox to investigate the bushes and shake his Kitty Treats container like a mad-woman.  And when I say "missing Nox," I certainly don't mean that I longed for his company.  Rather, it finally dawned on my awareness that he was not under my feet tripping me as I tried to move around and complete some tasks before going up to bed.

And so, I must admit that I'm not certain I'm sad he's not here tonight.  Obviously, this dashes my Mother of the Year award again this year.  But, let's face it, the cat and I have never been on great terms.  Perhaps he'll realize I'm not terribly upset by his absence and be waiting on the front step to be let in in the morning.  Now that would be classic Nox.

Dad is Back

In the hospital, that is.  After feeling dizzy and falling, dad wound up back in the SICU once a major brain hemorage was discovered during a precautionary CAT scan.  Yikes.  He did have brain surgery today and they actually burred holes into his skull to release the fluid and relieve the pressure.  The next big step will be waiting for dad's brain to fill back into the skull, and then the doctors will begin discussions to allow him to come home.  The surgeons were surprised at the thickness of his skull . . .  None of us were terribly surprised.

There might be a heart surgery in his future in order to replace the mechanical valve in his heart with a biological one.  But, his primary heart surgeon is off enjoying a family vacation in Peru, so we will have to wait on that information.

In the meantime, his life just got realllllllly boring.  Not exercise other than gentle walking and he is to avoid clumsy moments.  This should be fun to watch!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Admission of Failure

For only the second time in the history of our marriage, Scott and I regret to announce we will not be sending out 2008 Christmas cards this year. Now, I realize that you are chuckling over the fact that I still call them Christmas cards even though we've passed Christmas, New Year's, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day and are already slurping Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds.  And, yes, I haven't sent a Christmas card on time since the twins began walking.  And yes, I know I blame them for everything. But I hate the thought of failure. And for me not to send a card is an utter failure.

So, please, don't die before next year's card can be sent or I will really feel terrible. And since I already had the photos ready and the newsletter printed, I will include the 2008 edition with our 2009 cards. But since our cards are still safely wrapped in their plastic prison, I feel I have no other choice but to concede defeat. If I haven't even gotten them unwrapped yet, what hope is there?

Yes, we are alive. Yes, we all had wonderful experiences to share. Yes, we thought of everyone not getting our cards as their cards began pouring in. And, yes, I feel like a turd.

Such is life within the Rutherford 9 from time to time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nox Made My List

Okay.  Truly, he has never really left my list of things about my life I would simplify in an instant. A nice fur rug in front of the fireplace or a pair of warm mittens perhaps?  I'm not a violent person, but this cat SO MAKES ME CRAZY!  And I think that after I explain this morning, no one will sympathize with the ball of orange fur that takes up space in our home.

Things here have been a little unconventional.  Between my 10-day stomach flu accompanied by Shelby's broken finger,  Abigail's current batch of infections (double ears, double eyes, nose, and chest -- eeewww) and Dad's car accident and subsequent hospital stay sandwiched in between, Nox has not received the world's best care. He has been feed and watered, although I'll admit that it's not been his daily preference of fresh water.  Dawson has done reasonably well keeping the litter box cleaned out even though it isn't nearly as "sparkling" as when Scott or I do it.  But, seriously.  Given everything which has been happening, I think we did a pretty good job balancing people with the cat.

Nox disagrees.

So, this morning, he came into the living room with his nose in the air and his tail puffed in irritation.  He proceeded to a pile of blankets Keats and Aidan had made in the middle of the living room floor.  (They like to practice flying and the blankets provide a relatively soft landing.) Nox climbed on the top of the pile, shifted his weight and made enough noise to ensure we were all looking at him.  Then Nox, the creature who should be honoring us for his very cush life, PEED RIGHT THERE!  RIGHT THERE!!!!  On top of a pile of human blankets used to help us stay warm!  And don't think that I don't know just how intentional this act was. I could see it in his beady little eyes.

We all just stared.  What else could we do?  Pick him up mid-urination and carry him to a more appropriate venue?  Then we would have to clean blankets, the floor, probably a wall or two, not to mention how ever many people he managed to aim at along the way.  So there we stand, completely helpless as the cat decides that our lives for the past three weeks have not been interesting enough.  What a turd.

Of course, the children all still think the cat hung the moon.  They fussed over his sufferings and made sure he had extra treats today, since obviously Nox is feeling neglected.   Oh please. Perhaps the next time he investigates the fireplace when I am preparing to light a fire I won't be quite so quick to shoo His Honor out of the path of impending danger.  Then he'll know. Don't mess with me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just Living

Some fun recent moments:

Dawson and Isabelle had a crazy Kung-Fu style wrestle-fest in the living room for about 30 minutes.  How nobody got injured is beyond my knowledge, but they sure had fun!

Shortly after Scott was awakend this afternoon, Keats took it upon himself to steal upstairs and announce:  "I'm not allowed to eat bananas because you asked mom for banana bread. Humph." He promptly left the room.

Abigail, who has been dealing with a terrible respiratory/sinus infection, hates having her face cleaned off.  After finishing one de-boogering episode, she grabbed the cloth, threw it on the floor, stomped on it, and then walked away as fast as she could.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott and I had the dreadful task every parent faces at least once - trying to find the diaper that was apparently stinking up our bedroom.  We looked everywhere and did find one in the trash in the bathroom.  We proclaimed victory and assumed it was over.  Nope. Turns out, that creature which awoke me at 5:30 am so many writings ago -- died.  In the wall.  There isn't much we can do other than wait for the decay process to pass the smelly stage.  It should only be one week more.  Eww.

Tucker lost his first tooth today.  It's been loose for a while and very loose for over a week.  But today, Dawson turned too quick and accidentally popped Tucker's mouth with his elbow.  Tucker started to cry and then stopped almost immediately with a "Hey!"  He fished around in his mouth for a second and then produced his finally out tooth!  This one was a first for our family.

Aidan, who has been having nightmares, came in to my room last night where I was reading with the TV on a news channel for company.  He plopped in bed, sat there for a moment, and then said, "Obviously you are not watching.  Please change the channel."

Shelby, who has taken to reading with abandon this year (yippie!) came down exhausted one recent morning.  When I asked her what had her so tired, she responded, "If people would quit writing such good books, I would sleep a lot better.  Do we keep any bad books laying around the house?"  

Dawson, who is our resident handy-man, asked me if there was anything which needed repairs around the house.  I had let him know I didn't know of any, but I would keep my eyes open.  Sure enough, we discovered a loose bolt on a chair and Dawson tightened it pretty quick.  He walked through the dining room and kitchen and actually found quite a few loose or missing screws, all of which he took care of.  Then he came to me and said (quite seriously): "Mom.  I really think you need to ton down your activity.  Most of the loose screws are on stuff you use a lot."  Huh.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Update on Tacy's Dad

For those of you who aren't aware, Tacy's dad was involved in a car accident on Tuesday.  He hit some black ice, lost control of the car, and hit a tree.  He was driving a friend's Envoy, which we are fairly certain is totaled.  Both airbags deployed (fracturing 3 ribs) and the driver's seat returned to it's "memory" position for the regular driver, who is several inches shorter than dad.  The result was dad's head plowing into the roof of the car, resulting in a concussion and brain hemorrhaging.  Due to the blood thinners he is on to protect his artificial heart valve, once dad begins bleeding, he does so for a long time.  After being seen in the Trauma Center at the Reading Hospital, he was admitted into the Surgical Intensive Care (SICU).  He was given Blood Products (Plasma followed by Platelets) in order to quickly thicken his blood and Vitamin K in order to counteract his Cumidin (blood thinner).  He had both a NEurologist (monitoring his brain) and a Cardiologist (monitoring his heart) working with his primary Trauma Doctor in order to chose the best course of action for dad.

Dad came home from the SICU yesterday (Friday).  He looks good, but is still very sore (ribs) and very tired.

They have decided to readmit dad on Wednesday for one week in order to begin administering blood thinners where they can also monitor his brain activity.  This way, they will know immediately if his brain begins to bleed again after they start thinning his blood.  They will be giving him both oral Cumidin (which takes a while to build up to the correct levels in his system) and IV Heparin (which begins to act more quickly.)  This decision was a compromise between the Cardiologist's and Neurologist's wishes as well as addressing mom's concern that he not be at home when the blood thinners were begun since she will have no way to determine if pressure is building on the brain.  We were told that they signs to watch for regarding brain pressure were:  general confusion and words being used incorrectly -- all symptoms which have been present since dad's lengthy heart surgery in November, 2003.

Dad will be going to floor R3, which is not as carefully observed as an ICU floor, but has a better nurse to patient ratio (1:6) than a regular floor.  It is what is known as a "step-down" unit.  They also have all the moitoring systems on this floor as they have on the ICU floors.  He will be allowed to have regular visitors, including the grandchildren, he will have more privacy, and a personal bathroom -- all pluses over the ICU floor.

Dad was diagnosed as Diabetic on Friday morning.  Apparently, it was written into his charts on Thursday, but he didn't learn about it until he received his diabetic breakfast Friday morning.  He was sent home on insulin in order to help get his sugar levels back to normal ranges following the accident.  (Trauma of any sort will cause sugar levels in the body to climb.  This, on top of his already high levels is why they want him on insulin.)  The eventual goal is to wean him off insulin and manage his Diabetes with diet and exercise.  

Please, don't hesitate to call/email Scott & I with questions or requests for updates.  We are only too happy to keep everyone up-to date.  Obviously, mom is a little busy caring for dad.  Dad does love to have phone calls (such a people guy) so don't heistate to call him.  If he's tired, he'll let you know.

And, as always, prayers are very appreciated!



Thursday, January 1, 2009

Holiday Happenings

Well, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Above is a picture of four of the children on the day we finally decorated.  Next is dear Abigail, (sitting with my sister, Jenna) opening her first Christmas gift.  Sure, she was around for last Christmas, but what 4 month old is really aware of the Holiday madness?

All in all, it was an amazing holiday.  Ryan and Laura, two of my favorite people on the entire planet, were able to fly out for an entire week.  I can't imagine how hard it must have been for them to truly get away, especially since they both brought work with them.  But they made our Christmas so much better just by being here, let alone all the fun we actually managed to have.  I'm not certain Laura knew what a crazy game playing family she was joining, but I appreciate her cheerful acceptance! 

Christmas Eve found 21 of us planning on bunking at Castle Dubach.  Our family alone brings 9 people.  But the Marshall 5:  Aaron, Jenna, Trinity, Sammie, & Sadie brought  along Aaron's oldest daughter, Nastasia, her boyfriend, Chris, and Aaron's mother, Lois, so they were actually the Marshall 8!  Include in there Ryan & Laura and Dad & Mom,  you have 21 people cozying up in a 3 bedroom house.  It wasn't too tough, though. 

 Jenna, Aaron, & Sadie all bunked in Ryan & Laura's room while Abigail's cold had her sleeping in Dad & Mom's room  (to minimize her waking up others as well as her being woken up!)  

The other younger children slept together in the office, which was literally wall-to-wall sleeping bags.  Shelby was quite the trooper, offering to sleep next to a very nervous Sammie.  
Tucker was thrilled to be able sleep whisper-distance from Trinity.  (He considers Trinity the best gift he ever received!)

Meanwhile, Ryan, Laura, Scott & I had wall-to-wall air mattresses in the living room, Chris was given an air mattress in the dining room (we did move the table against the wall for him), and both Lois and Nastasia had the couch in the family room.  Of course, in typical Dubach fashion, the couch was the coveted spot since it was near the fireplace and the tree.  It was quite the sacrifice for Ryan to give up such an opportunity for some of the Marshall family comfort.

Oh - and Sally-dog joined us as well.  Would she count as a person?

Considering the level of excitement and the close proximity to other whisperers in the office room, I was fairly impressed that I only had to make a dozen trips upstairs through out the night to ask the children to be quiet.  Our Shelby, Dawson, & Isabelle woke-up to stay at about 3:45 am, and we had made a commitment to try not to start Christmas morning before 6:00 am.  I was proud of how well they managed to stay quiet, even though I know the desire to bolt downstairs was killing them!

Christmas morning was definitely crazier this year.  In order to bring some calm to the chaos, Laura & Ryan played Santa, delivering gifts to the children corralled in the middle of the family room.  We stationed trash bags around the perimeter for adults to help keep the trash separate from the treasure.  What ensued was literally 90 minutes of the children opening their gifts.  Occasionally, an adult opened a package, but mostly we were assisting all the little ones.   In fact, Scotty and I didn't really open our gifts until well after the children were done and breakfast was served.  It felt strange to see a pile of gifts waiting -- not because I was so anxious to get them open, but rather because I know how much I enjoy watching someone open a well-chosen gift, and here we were, virtually ignoring everyone's kindness!  But, all of those children needed to eat, and then there was the inevitable battery installation, the searching through the trash for that crucial piece, the encouraging of patience as one of the kids desperately wants to try someone else's gift, helping to assemble one of the many "some assembly required" items, . . . you know.  The usual Christmas dance. 

In the end , though, we finally opened our gifts to find that we received the Trebuchet which we desperately wanted.  Scott's parents, my parent's, and Brittany & Daniel (Scott's sister and husband) all pooled their resources to give it to our family.  It will take some time to assemble, but we can't wait to start launching things.  Of course, Scott's mom is concerned about the twins loading Abigail into the launcher, but I'm sure she's just being overly concerned.  At least - thats what I'm hoping.

Scott took quite the nap, as he had his vacation for the evening revoked due to high census at the hospital and I enjoyed just watching all the "cousining" rallying around me.  We headed home shortly after dinner as the children were all beginning to show signs of a very long day after a very short night.  Once the kids were all nestled and snug in their beds, I think we remaining adults played games around our table.  But, to be perfectly honest, I was exhausted and I truly can't remember what we did until Scott went to work.  I have a faint recollection of giggling.