More Christmas…

Mark’s parents traveled up the week after Christmas to help with yet another project, celebrate Liam’s birthday, and celebrate Christmas with us.  It was a busy but fun few days to say the least.

Papa’s always got room for one more in his lap!
 Patiently waiting to open the gift!
Gift time!
And this book catches us up on our Trusty series!  Josiah was really excited despite the expression.
Papa and Grandmere gave Ceili Rain a book where they are reading prayers and scripture to her.  It’s awesome to have but a little eerie when I walk down the hall and hear their voices coming from her room.  She definitely treasures this book though.
If you don’t have a smencil you must not a be a kid!  All the boys enjoyed this special treat!  They are basically pencils that smell…and they are nice smells too!
Bryant likes to ham it up for the camera.

Christmas with a Bunch of Characters

Christmas day, we got up late, as usual, ate breakfast, and then had time to open stockings before church.  And might I say, we all enjoyed attending church on Christmas day…what a way to celebrate Christ’s birthday!

 Our tradition is candy and dvds or books for stockings.  Mark gets peanut M&Ms and I get the chocolate turtles.  Everyone was super excited about their videos this year.

After our church worship, we snacked like crazy at church and then headed home.  Since we were full on sweets we waited to each lunch and some opted to change back into pjs and we opened gifts.

 It’s a bunch of Characters train!
Yay!  They let me tear paper!  And then he’d say, “Tash?  Tash?”

The kids do a sibling shop every Christmas.  I purchase items at cheap discount prices and then we set them up in our bedroom.  They draw names and can come in and select toys for who’s name they’ve drawn.  When they get older we’ll let them actually go to a store to buy them but for now, this works.  A couple of years ago, we made a trip to the big box store the week following Halloween and I found costumes for $1.50 and less!  So, I snagged the good ones that weren’t demonic and this year they were the hit!  Ninja and viking costumes were what was bought!
The boys got small gifts since they got a brand new room.  They were thrilled none the less.
 Pilgrim’s progress, we start ’em early.
Believe it or not, these were the first set of wooden ABC blocks we’ve ever gotten.  My kids are so deprived.  Ginger (the dog) has even left her mark on a few.
 If I had moved it a little to the right, this would have been a really funny picture!
Mark was faking the surprise.  I have no idea what I bought him but he had told me he wanted it and since he had gotten his gift at the end of October, I felt bad that he didn’t have anything to open, so I got it for him.  But, being that we share email addresses, he knew what I had gotten.  I got him though.  I knew what I had gotten too, so there.

How to Fit Five Boys in One Room

Welll, this was an issue we started discussing as soon as we found out Seven was really Malachi.  So, I went to trusty Pinterest to gather my thoughts all in one place.  We started with these ideas:

Source: fabric.com via Abbie on Pinterest

Fabric sample

Source: fabric.com via Abbie on Pinterest

Another fabric sample.

And an idea for beds to include this:

And this:

Our decorating and color ideas came from this bedding that we already had:

Source: target.com via Abbie on Pinterest

But before any of that could work in a room with five boys, we had to paint…and before we totally took the room apart, we remember pictures!

Sorry about the spots, not sure what was up with the camera.

Totally ignore that disheveled looking closet, the curtains for it will be coming later.  Ugh, I cringe when I look at that.  It does look much better now but still not fun to see every time you come in a room.

Before all the painting started, Mark and Granddaddy put their heads together to come up with bunk bed plans.  Granddaddy got the wood and cut it and even pre-drilled the frame and delivered it on Piano Recital day (cause he rocks).

I’m tempted to stop here and make ya’ll all wait until tomorrow to see what took place but then I think someone would come up with the cyber version of rotten tomatoes to throw at me so I won’t!

And this started…

Mark and I realized about an hour into bunk bed building night that two people, one of whom was in her third trimester were not really adequate enough to hold up these sturdy pieces of wood to build two levels.  So, reinforcements were called in by way of a neighbor down the street (he always comes to help…we really are wondering why he hasn’t ran away far far from here now).  So, thanks, S for helping with the project!

Not going to show the finished project yet…I had some art up my sleeve to do as well as a bit of refinishing.  And while I worked on canvasses, three very sad looking male faces appeared and requested ever so sweetly to paint one.  I couldn’t resist those big blue and brown eyes so an afternoon of painting commenced on their very own canvasses.

Not sure how we didn’t get a picture of Josiah in action, but he was there painting his square too.
And, when we visited Granddaddy Thanksgiving weekend, he showed us a chest of drawers he had picked up for $35!  No kidding.  Solid wood.  Just needed to be painted.  For those that don’t know, my parents are pickers on the side.  They have a booth at an antique mall where they sale their finds.  But this, this I was not going to let get away and gladly accepted it!
It had those missing drawers, I just had already taken them off to get the hardware off so Mark could sand it.

So ya’ll want to see the finished product huh???

As you enter you can see that beat up dresser all done.  Mark did add the knob to the door.  We kept the solid wood sturdy big dresser we already had and got rid of (well, it’s sitting in the schoolroom right now) the beat up smaller dresser.  We took the knobs off of that dresser and put them on here.  I already had the fabric for the boys’ beds and we had plenty of paint leftover from painting the previous dressers.  So, total cost was $35 for the dresser!  That’s my spaceship canvas that I freehand drew from looking at the pattern on the boys’ crib.

Bryant helped with the photo tour and please ignore any toys, this was prior to clean up time.  This is Josiah and Liam’s bunks.

And this is Bryant’s and Ace’s.  See the sweet little head peeking out.  Bryant got his mattress this past weekend and has transitioned pretty well to his big boy bed. (This is the part where I don’t admit that we tried to give up paci but Mark nor I could stand the screaming so he still has that and it’s probably a big part of the transitioning well.  Yeah, it’s going bye bye before Malachi is born though.)

 We put gutter bookshelves on the footboard of each bed and a push light (which is battery operated and they have to buy the batteries…some of them are already in need).  At the headboard we put their name canvasses that I did with their life verses on them.  Have I shown those yet?

My other canvas that I made…freehand…yay me.

This was the boys’ artwork.  I thought it turned out really well.  In an effort to control the art, I did sketch off the ship they wanted and outlined it and they did the rest.  I resisted any desire to control how they did it but I did limit their color choices to what we were using in the room.  Really, I did!  The end of the legs of Liam’s ship is fire coming out.  And my control of Bry’s hand was mainly to keep the paint on the canvas not  on the house or me.

Verdict:
I was kind of bummed that we didn’t get to do the beds L-shaped.  When we put them in the L-shape, there was no room to put two dressers and a crib so we had to think and rethink.  My dad and Mark wanted to make sure they were sturdy enough for, well, boys.  And that meant using a bit bulkier wood.  But ya’ll, these things will last for a long time!  We also had to factor in that the beds were tall enough to hit the fan.  Mark willingly volunteered to chop off a bit to make it work but we came up with this configuration and it worked.  I’m really happy with how it all turned out and the curtains on the beds are a super hit! This room was a month long project and every time the boys woke up it was kind of like Christmas.  They spent four days sleeping in the living room (on the sleeper sofa) and so they were truly surprised each time they awoke to find their room a little different.  It was a great treat for them and I’m so excited that they love it.

Now, I realize this is a long post, so next time we do a big project, should I just post as we go or wait until it’s done?  I love waiting so everyone could definitely see the finishing touches.  Sometimes I forget to post the finished product when I post as we go.

Our Attempt at Cool Pics

Tracy Carr (aka Aunt Tracy) met up with us in between our stops across the Southeast and did pictures for us for Christmas cards.  She also got some maternity pics and a few great candid shots.  I was so excited about these pictures!  She gets more and more better with each time.  We giver her lots of practice too!

Merry Christmas from a Bunch of Characters!
 Yep, this is our family…everybody running everywhere!
A great looking bunch of siblings if I do say so myself!
Note the tongue action on Ace!
Never one to miss out on a swinging good time.  One of the reasons Mark needs to win “Daddy of the Year!”

Check it out…Ceili Rain and Bryant know where their bellies are!  Except Ceili Rain thinks there is a baby in hers.

 She’s growing up too fast!

Probably one of my most favorite pictures of Ace.  He’s getting to be a young man.  Sniff, sniff.

Spanish moss and a toddler…what could be better.

These are my most favorite maternity pics.

And this is us making fun of all those “professional” maternity pictures where the mom to be looks like she hates the idea of a baby much less being a mom…seriously…it’s pretty awesome..smile moms!

Dramatic, no?

Christmas Celebration Part 1

After the American Girl blast, we enjoyed a fun Christmas time with Abbie’s family.

Ace taught Bryant how to smile for the camera.
Bryant just loved the “horsies.”
Granddaddy’s lap was always full of children.

And then gift time came!

There is a Ceili Rain in there somewhere.

Hands down she was the cutest.  We started a new tradition last year where the kids all open one gift at a time.  That way, they can all see what each other got and get properly excited about it.  Ceili Rain would open a gift and ohh and ahh and then ask to see each of the other kids gifts and then exclaim, “Oh my goodness!”

Bryant enjoyed his toys but playing with Ceili Rain’s bracelets was also a plus.
Little ballerina princess.  She loved her tutu and tiara.
Uncle J is serious about some present opening!
Sorry, Yaya but it looked like you were super serious about something!

Zhu zhu pets all around.  Each of the kids got one and battle armor to go with it.  These are fun little rat/hamsters!  No, really, they are!

Birthday Celebration, American Girl Style

I’ll say, at least, this one of the most memorable birthdays for Zoe.  Back in August, we talked about going to the American Girl store for her birthday.  She loved the idea and quickly agreed to save up her money to help in purchasing a doll.  She worked hard too.  She watched every penny she spent and made sure she had enough to help with the doll purchase.  So, December was the month.  Ge, Grandmere, Aunt Yaya and cousin J all traveled from the ends of the earth (okay, from a few hours away), to converge on The American Girl Store and eat brunch at the Bistro.  Let me just say, that this place is every little girl’s (and big girl’s) dream!  We were all in doll heaven and couldn’t get over looking at all the sweet things.  Ceili Rain’s eyes were as big as saucers when we walked in.  Aunt Yaya asked her if she wanted to look at something and she slowly shook her head yes.  When she asked her what she just shrugged her shoulders…there was so much to see.

Cinnamon mini muffins…yummy.  Ceili Rain enjoyed eating the butter too.

 Cousin J and Zoe modeling their “hats!”
 Zoe with Marie-Grace her new doll.

 Marie-Grace with her best friend Cecile on display.  I loved Cecile’s curly hair and her beautiful dresses!

They shrunk!
The mall also had a carasoul which was spotted pretty quickly from the parking lot.

Of course, the girls had to ride.
Aren’t these the prettiest girls!
After a trip to the American Girl store we celebrated with the boys with cake at Ge’s house.  Zoe also had a fun filled day on her actual birthday too!

Her request for cake this year was a chocolate-vanilla swirl cheesecake.  I also made chocolate whipped topping for it too!  It was super yummy which is why I didn’t take a picture of it.

Energy Burner

A sure fire way to get my kids to burn off excess energy is to go to gymnastics.  There is a local gym that offers homeschool classes twice a month.  The kids love it and usually rush to finish school on gymnastics days.  This month, they had a “Snowflake Show-off” which meant we got to sit down front and center and watch the kids do their thing!

Ceili Rain, Bryant, and Josiah enjoyed the show.  Josiah’s old enough to participate but gymnastics is not his thing.

They all received medals at the end.

Okay, so the Olympics is not in our future, but it sure is fun for them and they definitely sleep well after gymnastics.

Piano Man…and Woman

In between travels, Zoe and Ace had their first official piano recital with their teacher Mrs. T.  They’ve been taking for the past two years and have done really well.  We just recently figured out that Ace can play a bit by ear.  Zoe was teaching herself “The First Noel” and Ace heard her playing it and picked up on several different measures too.  That thrills this non-musically talented mama to no end.  This coming year we’ll add Liam to the lessons and Mark will start teaching Ace percussion as well.  He’s wanted to learn to play drums for quite some time and we have a live-in instructor so my house will be full of endless musical noise!

Excuse the spots.  I have no idea what was on our new camera lens.

Ge & Granddaddy made the trek up to hear them play (and deliver the wood for the boys’ beds…don’t worry, I’m getting there).

On to December

The first part of December we were able to gather at Grandmere and Papa’s house with Mark’s brother and his family.  That’s right, six adults (two of whom were pregnant), and thirteen children together again.  Thanks to a lot of organizing on Grandmere’s part, the chaos was kept to a minimum.  It was a great, if not short, visit too!  We celebrated Grandmere’s birthday and had a piano recital all packed into three days.

The zipline was a big hit.
Zoe and Cousin O enjoyed decorating Grandmere’s cake.  Liam requested that we put butterflies on it.
Bryant loved hugging on Cousin K’s neck.
Ceili Rain and Cousin TJ were best buds most of the weekend.  They shared a common interest in the baby doll!
We ventured out to eat after our piano recital.  The buffet was a hit.  But the dessert bar, well, the kids loved it!
Ice cream with all the fixings…yep, that’s good.
Awaiting her marshmallow because we always roast marshmallows at Papa’s house!
Yes!  Marshmallows!
Again with the cousin lovin’ for Ceili Rain.  This time it’s Cousin G.
Everyone enjoyed our visit from Uncle D, Grandmere’s brother. 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving weekend, we traveled to Granddaddy and Ge’s house.  Along with staying out all night with Ge and Aunt Yaya, we stuffed my face silly, laughed at the kids having a blast and celebrated Christmas with my aunt and my cousins and their children.  We had a wonderful, relaxing trip!  Let the eye candy begin!  My kids are too adorable not to post a ton of pictures from this trip.

The cafe was a success…I believe this was turkey made by my lovely niece and Zoe.  At one point, they had to fire Liam.
Aunt Yaya got in prime tickling time with all the kids.
It’s safe to say that Ceili Rain was snuggled and loved by everyone including her big cousin!
Definitely enjoyed being a princess.
Toenails and fingernails were primed and painted.  I love seeing my children and their cousins having such a good time!
Bryant enjoyed all the dogs including the ones that were not real.
Granddaddy got a big box that quickly turned into a hiding place, a house, and other things.
How many cousins can fit into a box?
Present time.  Always a treat!
One of my cousin’s kids.  He’s just like his dad!