Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birthday Surprises

The kids’ party was the weekend before their actual birthday, but that was not the end of the festivities!  We had more surprise up our sleeves!
We went to VBS that morning (at Farragut where my amazing friend Michelle was in charge this year.  Every year I am blown away by what they do for VBS there!  It is quite an impressive production!)  So we had a big fun morning there, where I’m certain they told everyone they met that it was their birthday and they were FIVE!
Then Happy Meals for lunch!
Then a NAP to rest up for the BIG AFTERNOON SURPRISE!
Someone’s coming to see you for your birthday!  Who could it be? 
The kids guessed that it might be Bud and KayKay, but the cousins were totally unexpected!
It was a short visit.  They arrived Monday afternoon and left Wednesday morning, but it was a blast!
The girls, playing with mermaids
The boys, building with Legos
A story worth noting: Tuesday night after dinner, we all settled into the living room to watch the kids’ birthday slideshow.  While we were watching, it began to rain outside and got quite windy.  I happened to look out the front door just in time to watch the tree in our front yard bend almost over to the ground!
I yelled to Jim in the playroom that maybe we should check the weather, about the same time that he yelled something very similar to us in the living room because he had noticed the trees in the back yard.  About that time the electricity went off and Jim sent us all to take cover in the bathroom.
Now, our guest bathroom is not that big, in case you’re wondering.  At least, not when you cram in six small children and two-four adults, depending on whether the menfolk are in there or not!
Luckily, there were enough flashlights for every child to have one!
Also, luckily, the tornadic activity that occurred in Knoxville that evening did not happen near enough to our house to cause us any problems AND the loads and loads of trees that went down all over the neighborhood also did no damage to our house.  So we were safe!
We all waited around for awhile for the power to come back on so we could finish the slideshow, but it never did.  Eventually, Bud and company went ahead and left to go back to their hotel (our guest room is now a kids’ room.  One more change that happened this summer).  They had a terrible time getting to it though!  The downed trees blocked their way!
That was June 21, by the way! If you live in Knoxville, you probably lost your power that night too!
Oh, well!  It gave us a little unusual excitement!  And it was a great visit!  We wish they could have stayed longer!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Big Five! Finally!

Woohoo!  I’m finally blogging about the kids’ birthday!  (Thank you, David, for the yummy birthday cookies!)
Really, it doesn’t seem possible.  They’re still my babies!  They shouldn’t be about to start KINDERGARTEN!!  They don’t let babies into kindergarten, do they?
But, alas.  They aren’t babies anymore.  They are five.  They pick out their own clothes and dress themselves and brush their own teeth and buckle their own seatbelts. 
They are great big five-year-old kids.
And THAT, my friends, is worth celebrating!
We had big plans this year for the kids’ birthday party, involving lots of outdoor water fun and an overnight campout with the Indy cousins…but it didn’t quite work out the way we’d hoped.
Because it rained.  And rained.  And rained.
Oh, well.  We made the best of it!  Luckily little kids are perfectly content to just play with toys when there are extra kids around, so JonZReaTom and guests basically just ran around the house and played, and occasionally stopped for presents or cake!
The day started out well, with sunshine and pancakes!
Then it was time to make a camping cake!  After picking bits and pieces from several other camping cake examples from Coolest Birthday Cakes and Family Fun, I came up with this:
It’s no professional job, but I was pretty proud of it!  I loved the idea to use the candles for the campfire, and I LOVED the way the pine trees turned out.  (The recipe is on the above-mentioned Family Fun site).  The Bronco was Jim's addition along with its rock wall.  No campout is complete without the Bronco!
Putting the kids on the cake was all my idea.  I’m pretty proud of that too!
We are now well-armed with both Nerf guns and Star Wars light sabers.  Luckily, the light sabers got a better reception from Reagan than the guns did.  Perhaps because there were no other little girls opening up princess dolls at the same time!
Reagan enjoying a tea party with Kennedy and Cousin Avery
I wish I had taken better pictures.  It was hard because the kids were constantly changing activities, and our house is not that big, so it was a little crowded with so many people in out of the rain!  Oh, well!
It did eventually stop raining, and we were able to move to the backyard to grill out and pretend we couldn’t see how muddy the kids were getting.
Mud puddles!
And even though it was wet outside, we decided to pitch the tents and camp anyway!  The kids just really had their hearts set on it! 
In our pajamas with Cousin Avery, waiting for bedtime and enjoying some of our presents
(We won’t discuss the lightning storm that flared up in the middle of the night and sent us all inside)
So even though the day didn’t turn out the way we hoped, it was still a great day!  We got to hang out with friends (our friends AND the kids’) and family (We’re especially grateful to PawPaw and NeNe and Clay and family for coming in from out-of-town to spend this special day!), enjoy some great food, and have a lot of fun!
Happy birthday to my little superheroes!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

1 House, 12 Adults, 10 Children (age 5 and under), and 6 Dogs

Doesn’t that sound like fun?
For Memorial Day weekend, we went to visit our friends John and Sue, the parents of our good friend Matthew, at their thankfully-quite-large mountaintop cabin and take part in a get-together that used to happen fairly often before we all had children and spread our homes all over the world.  (We also went here and one other time that I can’t find a post for)
It was a jam-packed weekend, full of fun, catching up with old friends, and the joy of watching the next generation play together.
To give us all a break from a very full house, we went one day to Tweetsie Railroad, an amusement park in North Carolina geared mostly toward younger children.  It was PERFECT for our crew of kids and they LOVED it!
Thomas on the carousel
Cousin Avery, Zachary, Thomas, and Cousin Tyler on the boat ride
Thomas and Reagan on the rocket ride
Matthew and son Andy relaxing in the shade
Unfortunately for me, one of the early rides we went on was the Tilt-a-Whirl, a ride I will never go on again FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!  I should have known better and never ridden it in the first place!  BUT I THOUGHT I WOULD BE OKAY!  Most of my problems in the past have come from waiting in long slow-moving lines in the heat, so that I was sick before I even got on the ride.  This time, it wasn’t that hot and the line was super-short!  I thought I could do it.
I couldn’t.
Here, look at pictures of other happy adults riding with happy children!
Aunt Carey and Uncle Clay with Cousin Tyler and joathan
Jim with Reagan and Thomas
I rode it one time.  And apparently turned genuinely green.  I managed to not throw up, but was pretty much useless for the next hour or more while I tried to overcome my nausea.  There was a lot of sitting still with my eyes closed while whispering to the kids to please not touch me and motioning to Jim to please stop asking me questions.
Stupid Tilt-a-Whirl.
Anyway, I eventually got over it and was able to enjoy the rest of my time.  In addition to the rides, there were also shows, a music one and a magic one.  We watched both, and the kids even got to participate in the magic show!
For the big finale, the poor magician ended up with every kid in the audience on stage, all of them asking for keys because a couple of kids were asked to hold keys and then every other kid wanted one too.  It must happen pretty often because the magician handed out keys to all of them and didn’t want them back.  It was great!
Daddy with Reagan and Thomas
Reagan, Zachary, Jonathan, Andy, and Thomas
One of the highlights was the train!  An actual working steam engine that pulled a line of open cars around the park!  During the ride, we got to see re-enactments of a bank robbery, cowboy shoot-out, and Indian attack.  By the time we stopped at the fort, the train had been taken over by cowboy bandits who held us for hostage!  Jonathan actually turned to me and asked if the bandits were going to shoot us!  I assured him it was all pretend!  Then the cavalry came to our rescue and we returned to the station where the “bandits” handed out bullet casings to all the kids!
The whole gang, minus most of the dogs
It was a wild few days, but SO much fun!  Many, many thanks to John and Sue for allowing us all to descend upon their house and create mass chaos!
Oh, and big thanks to Carrie too for being so great at entertaining the kids and for inviting the Pirate Fairies to visit!  So fun!
Next up, JUNE!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What’s in a Name?

Apparently quite a bit!
Today at VBS we learned about how Jesus has a name, that he received his name from God, and that it means “God saves.” 
Jesus’ name is special and we all have special names too.  As part of the theme of the day, one of the activities the kids did was find out what their names mean.  Apparently God secretly influenced the naming of my children because they are quite appropriate, one in particular!
I admit that what the kids’ names mean is not something Jim and I considered when we picked the names.  We both liked the name Reagan and chose three more presidential names to go with it.  (For the full story, read HERE.)
Little did we know…
Zachary means “remembered by God” as in “God remembers Zachary every day and protects him from incurring the complete wrath of his parents who are driven absolutely bonkers by his whining and constant car noises.”
Jonathan means “gift of God” and fits him perfectly.  God knew how rough it would be sometimes to raise quads, but at least He took pity on us and gave us Jonathan who often makes the rough times just a little bit easier.
Thomas means “twin”!!!!!  How cool is that?!?  Not only does it make sense because he’s a multiple, but also because according to JIM’S ENTIRE FAMILY Thomas is practically a clone of his daddy.  Daddy’s little twin!
Reagan.  If you thought the other names made sense, wait til you hear this one!  Reagan means “little queen”!  Are you kidding me?  It’s like we waited until after she had been around a couple of years and then chose the exact name that matched her personality!
Coincidence?  Oh, no, no!  God knew exactly what He was doing when He picked these names and put them in our heads!
What about you?  Does your name fit you perfectly?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Different and Wonderful

This year for Mother’s Day, Jim wanted to do something out of the ordinary, something different from the usual take-mom-out-to-dinner standby, so he planned a picnic lunch after church.
But it wasn’t just any picnic lunch!
We picked up sandwiches at Subway after church and rove out to Norris Dam State Park where there is a beautiful park area and easy walking trails.  We enjoyed a lovely lunch in a shady spot, and then took some time to make pictures, taking advantage of the scenic backdrop!
Conveniently, these are also the outfits we didn’t get pictures of when the kids wore them on Easter!
After pictures, we went for a little walk.  (We changed our shoes first!) If you’ve never been out to Norris Dam, it’s a really pretty park.  There a picnic area, trails, campsites, fishing, boating on norris lake, etc.  We chose a really easy, mostly shaded walking trail, but I believe there are more challenging trails there too.
bridge pic edit
By the end of our walk we were a little hot and a lot thirsty, but we had such a good time!  It was so beautiful there!  I can’t wait to go again sometime when the weather cools off!
Big thanks to my sweet husband for making Mother’s Day so special! 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Because Indianapolis Needs More Quads

Jim’s brother and his family have recently moved to Indianapolis, so we went to see them over Easter weekend and check the city out.  If it hadn’t been our first trip there, I would have tried to organize some double quad madness with the Murray Crew, but I just didn’t have it in me for this trip.  Hopefully, we can pull that off on a future visit!  Not sure how Reagan will like it with four MORE boys, though!
Anyway, we had a blast in Indy!  They have the most amazing children’s museum there!  Check it out!
There were Transformers!
And vehicles you could actually drive!
And dinosaurs!
And Barbie!  A whole exhibit dedicated to Barbie!
And spaceships!
And windows to peek through!
And trains!
And most importantly, family to have loads ad loads of fun with!

And that barely touches the surface of that museum!  We were there for HOURS and still didn’t see everything!
We also had fun at a nearby playground!  Jim got some GREAT pictures!
Make way for ducklings!

Cousin Avery
DSC_0789DSC_0788mad X 4edit
Mad faces!
All the cousins! (from the top and left to right) Tyler, Zachary, Reagan, Jonathan, Thomas, Avery
We also took the kids bowling for the first time!
And even with all of this, we still managed to find some time to just hang out at the house and enjoy each other’s company!
Okay, and grade some papers.  A teacher’s job is never done!
Unfortunately, the one thing we didn’t do was get pretty all-dressed-up-for-Easter pictures.  Partly because of the rush we were in to get to such a large crew to church on time that morning and partly because of the POURING RAIN and partly because we had to leave right after lunch to head back to Knoxville.  Oh, well.  We still had a GREAT time!  Thanks so much guys for letting us come!  Love you!