Friday, December 28, 2007

The Rest of the Day

Once they got over the shock of the Barbies, they went on to open the rest of their gifts, which they were very happy with. Lots of Transformers, lots of Thomas, some Legos, some books and DVDs. The oldest 4 got shirts with Lego Star Wars on them, that was a popular gift.

jacob and micah

4 happy boys

happy noah

tired but happy

Christmas Morning

After getting to bed around 4 AM (I was up wrapping, but to be honest, I wasn't moving too fast. I interrupted myself a lot, to read, or change the CD, or have a piece of candy LOL), the kids got up around 7. Actually, Samuel woke up at 5, because the baby was stirring. Instead of ignoring him like usual, he got him out of bed and started playing with him. He says he didn't know it was so early LOL. Chris got them both back to sleep and then they were the last ones up for breakfast.

Christmas morning breakfast here is just candy. I have tried making something special, but the boys have no interest in putting off presents. This year they ate the second gingerbread house. Keep in mind that we made it over a week ago, and that Levi is very sneaky. Here is what the house looked like when I served it:

The back
house back
Not too bad, just a few candies missing here and there...

The front

house front
Well well, notice how the gumdrop windows are gone? LOL

They enjoyed the house anyway, along with candy canes and Hershey's kisses.

This year is the first year we've done stockings for the boys. We don't teach them that Santa is real, so there wasn't a point, especially since we didn't have a fireplace. This year, since we put the tree up downstairs, stockings made sense. I bought cheap ones and put candy in. We also added a surprise...

Eager to open

What the heck???!!!
what the heck

Oh yes, those are Barbies! LOL See how the 13 yo has fallen completely over? I think that was an allergic reaction LOL. The boys had been acting pretty badly the last few days, and very much as if they were entitled to their gifts. We thought this variation on coal could be a teachable moment LOL

Worse Than Coal
Worse Than Coal

Scenes of Christmas

These are from Christmas Eve, before I wrapped any presents.

Advent Calendar

log cabin scene



Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Cards, Round 2

Ok, we tried it again tonight. I used a slightly different camera, and played around with settings a lot. I didn't really find any settings I liked. Basically, flash indoors = evil; no flash indoors = grainy and/or blurry LOL. I think I should have given up on the white t-shirts. They threw the lighting off too much. But in the end, this is what I have:

2007 card 2

I didn't have to cut and paste this time, I only adjusted for red-eye. Pretty impressive, huh? lol To make up for that, though, I spent *forever* playing with photoshop, adjusting the brightness and color. Ugh.

I like both of the pictures about equally, for different reasons; so I just put copies of each in the cards. I guess people will think I'm egotistical for thinking they want 2 pictures of my kids LOL.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cards, Round 1

Chris came home reasonably early tonight (around 7, which is only early because lately he's been having to work until 10 or 11) and helped me round up the boys and throw them in front of the tree for pictures. It was almost 8 before we actually got started, so a bit late for the younger ones. I didn't really get any great pictures. I wanted the tree to look lit, so I didn't use a flash. My camera can take low light pictures, but you have to stand reeeaaaallly still LOL. And none of the boys can move. Yeah, right. Good luck. Well, after almost 50 shots, they were tired of standing in one spot and Jacob was just plain tired. I let them go, promising that if I couldn't photoshop a good picture tonight, they'd be called down for round 2 tomorrow. Here's what I came up with:

christmas card

I had to cut and paste a smiling Jacob and a standing-still Levi. I don't think it came out too bad, though it doesn't look as good printed out on paper as it does on screen. It looks bright, but it prints darker. I'll let Chris decide if he likes it enough or if he's up for another go tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gingerbread House, Version 2

We let the boys eat the gingerbread house last weekend. Yum, it was good. Since they did so well decorating it, I bought a second kit for the younger ones to make. I didn't realize what a nice job the older kids did until I saw the result from the 3, 5, and 7 year olds! No symmetry, no color patterns, heck, the two halves of the roof don't even match! But they had a great time with it, and they love how it looks. We're saving this one for Christmas morning.



Notice how the snowman decided to play Santa? LOL

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baby's First Christmas

When my first baby was born, my mom started a tradition of buying a Baby's First Christmas ornament for him. She bought one for each grandchild, up until the year she died. That year I took up the tradition and have added an ornament for each new baby. I never realized how hard it was to choose a good ornament. The year Levi was born was the year we didn't decorate for Christmas, we didn't even put up a tree, so I never got around to getting him an ornament. I had to go online and find a site that sold past year ornaments.

This year is Jacob's first Christmas, and so I began the search for a new ornament. Each year it seems harder to find one, but I suppose that is because I am so picky. I'd like the ornaments each to make a good set together, but not to be too much alike. That is very hard. I found a cute stork ornament, but I bought a stork for Levi, so I didn't want to have another. Each of the ornaments is a ceramic animal with a toy or stocking, so I didn't want a glass ball with writing on it, and I didn't want a flat disk or star. Of course, the ornament also has to just appeal to me.

Finally I found a cute Boyds Bear ornament. The bear is plush, but Boyds has a special meaning for me, because my mom used to collect the bears. Today the ornament arrived in the mail, and I am a bit disappointed. It is bigger than I expected, and the bear is not at all poseable, which it said in the description that he would be. However, when I showed it to Jacob he got a huge smile on his face; so I guess it will do. :-)

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Here is the bear on the tree with the other boys' ornaments:
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The stack of blocks is 1994, the baby bootie is 1996, the bear hugging a christmas stocking is 1998, the mouse in the nutshell cradle is 2000, the bunny in the blue knit stocking is 2002, the stork carrying the baby is 2004, and the bear in the blanket sling is 2007. You can see how it is a bit bigger than the others. Still, it is cute :-)

Friday, December 07, 2007


We got our first accumulating snow fall on Wednesday. The boys couldn't wait to go out in it. Unfortunately, we were short one pair of snow pants, so Samuel couldn't go out. It turns out that he and Caleb are wearing the same size, but I only had one pair in each size. He got to have his turn in the snow yesterday while Caleb stayed inside. I did go out last night and buy a second pair, so next time he won't have to wait.




Noah too

Monday, December 03, 2007

7 Santas

We decorated our tree last night. Once again, you can tell the boys did their share, lol. This is a new ornament that my sister bought for us last year. She bought it before Jacob was born, so she couldn't add his name yet. I wrote it in just before I put it up. It isn't often you find anything with 7 boys on it!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007


In the spirit of Christmas, this year I decided to try out a gingerbread house kit. I was afraid that it would be frustrating, if the icing didn't really hold up the house well; but it wasn't very expensive and I knew the boys would have fun.

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The kit came with pre-made walls and roof, so we skipped the hardest part. It also came with bags of candy and 2 bags of special icing. I put up the structure and helped with the icing, since the bags were hard to squeeze and it mattered if we were accurate in order for the house to stay up. I let the boys put on all the candy.

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It was starting to look pretty good, even before we were finished.

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I'm not sure how I'll keep them from eating it too soon!

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We are all very pleased with the result!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


We had a great time down at my sister's house. We drove down in the morning and got there just after lunch. Instead of a full lunch, I brought along tons of snacks to munch while dinner was cooking. It was a great idea, the kids and the guys loved it. My sisters, busy with the turkey and the pies, didn't really get to eat much of it.

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I put the snacks out on the screened porch, which was perfect because the weather was so warm. It was over 70! The kids even played outside for a while.

Even with all the snacks, we were still hungry enough for a big dinner, and it turned out great! I wish I had gotten better pictures, but I was too busy to take them, so these are the best I could do. Mostly I walked around thinking "Oh, this would be a great picture!" but by the time I got back with my camera, the moment was gone.

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The kids sat at a table in the kitchen.

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The only person missing was Jenny, who sat at the kids' table to help. I guess she was up helping, LOL

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This is only half of the adult table, everyone sat down and started eating before I could get the other half. I was only missing Chris and Chuck (and Jacob). Troyer and Alex got to sit at the big table!

Here, since I managed to avoid having my picture taken, you can pretend:
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After dinner we sat down and watched Ratatouille (I'm guessing on that spelling) before going back for dessert.

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We ended up staying until past 9, even though I had planned to leave around 7:30. Part of the reason for that was that Levi had an accident and we had to wash his pants - Oops! It gave me more time to chat with my sisters, though. We even got the fifes out and jammed a little. We both need a lot of practice! Our lips and cheeks are not what they used to be LOL.

On Friday morning I met with a friend from church and we went out to lunch. I think it is the first time I have ever gone out with a girlfriend without any kids and had a few hours just chatting and eating. It was so nice. That afternoon we went over to MIL's for a left-over dinner. She had done the big dinner the day before for Chris' sisters and BILs, and FIL left to go up to his hunting camp at 5:30 am Friday morning, so it was just for us, but she really wanted to see us. The food was pretty good, but it was weird to be the only ones there eating. Chris' sister did drop in for a while to say hi, which was nice.

On Saturday my dad came up just after lunch and came to see the boys. I met him at his hotel in the evening with 3 of the boys (Troyer, Noah, and Micah) and we went out to eat. We had a nice time, even though it was COLD! And poor dad, he's too spoiled by the Florida weather, he was freezing! He left for home Sunday morning at 7 am when it was 23, and when he got home he made sure to let us know that it was 68 even at 11 pm LOL He was very glad to be home in the warmth. I admit to being very slightly jealous of that.

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The boys wanted Grandpa to open his Christmas present while he was here so they could all see it.

All in all, though it was busier than I'd like, it turned out to be a very nice holiday. Now on to Christmas!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Boys

Some more pictures, because nothing is really going on here, just getting ready for Thanksgiving. We'll be going down to my sister's for the day, then going to MIL's on Friday for her leftovers. On Saturday my dad will be up visiting for the day, and staying overnight at a hotel just the one night. The boys are really excited about seeing him, because they haven't seen him in over 2 years.

Jacob getting up from a nap:
time to get me up!

Jacob playing at his toybox; he's learned how to lean against the side on his tummy so he can use both hands to play
I love my toys!

You know I'm cute!

Me too!

Caleb has spent several days creating log cabin scenes. This is one of his earlier buildings:
it needs a new roof!

Troyer and Noah ready to head off to a Pathfinder event:
get that smelly kid off my back!

I don't have any pictures of Samuel, because he always tries to hide when I get the camera out. He says he doesn't hate having his picture taken, and yet he always runs when I try ... I'll catch him sooner or later!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Another View of Fall

Woo hoo! Levi is using the bathroom consistently now. He loves these pants!

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Fall Colors

It's cold out today, but the clear air means some beautiful colors. Here are some right out my front door:

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These are some mums that, despite my black thumb, bloom alongside my front steps each fall.

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This is a red maple, more of a bush than a tree, so I guess it is a dwarf or something. The contrast between the red leaves and the blue sky is even better in person. The sky is bluer and the leaves are redder. I guess I don't have a good enough camera to capture it well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

How Cool Is This????

This is a small clip of my fife and drum corps, The Morris County Militia, marching at a muster in my hometown in 1977. I was only in the Little Corps then, so I am not in this video, but my sister is! It made me cry to watch it; our corps was National Champs, definitely something to be proud of, and we were! I miss it a lot.

A note about the video, it was converted from a Super 8 film with no sound, the sound was added from the Corps' album. (yes, we had a record!) My sister and I are still trying to find out who posted this clip on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Feeling Blah

Not much going on here, I don't really have anything new to post, so I thought I'd just share a picture of Jacob enjoying a banana :-)

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

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We don't usually do much for Halloween; I buy a few pumpkins and put them out on the front steps, uncarved. This year the boys convinced me to carve them. I think they came out pretty good for my first try at pumpkin carving! The boys had fun passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


My experience over the last few days has me annoyed enough to earn a blog post. Let me share it with you....

Let's start on Sunday, when I had 3 of the boys out in our Escort for a quick trip to WalMart. Of course the local police have nothing better to do than harrass a mother with a car full of kids because she has a brake light out. Chris has known about this brake light for almost a month, but has chosen not to do anything about it because our car is junk and he doesn't want to put any more money into it. So I got pulled over and written up with a warning for the light. Luckily the 8 mo was in a good mood and so not screaming his head off while we sat at the side of the road.

I got a postcard from the officer to have filled out once the light is fixed. I could either take it to a garage, who would fill out their section, and then I would mail in the proof that it is fixed, or Chris could fix it himself and then I would drive the car to the police station myself where they would sign off on the card. Last night after work, Chris found a spare bulb in the glove compartment and replaces the light. It took him less than 20 minutes to fix the light. (please note that the reason Chris didn't want to fix the light is that he didnt' want to spend money, and in the end, he did not because the spare was already in the glove compartment!)

I was going out on an errand last night, so I figured I'd stop at a police station while I was out and take care of the card. I had to call around to find a station because I have no idea where any of them are around here. In the 2 1/2 years I've lived here, I haven't needed to find one. So is there a number on the card? Nope. I got out the phone book and tried to find police stations. Not as easy as it sounds. I called the station in the biggest town around here, figuring they could tell me where the closest one to me is. After being given a second number to call, then being put on hold and then being told they'd have an officer call me back (like duh, don't the Police themselves know where the durn station is????), I tried another station, who told me where the station is in my town (finally!). BUT they close at 5 or maybe even 4:30. Great, it was 6 pm. So that means I had to drive the car to the station during business hours, which is when, guess what?, while Chris is at work! DUH. How am I supposed to drive the 5 pass car to a police station to have it checked if I have 8 people to drive around????? Well, I arranged to have the baby napping so the 13 yo can be in charge of him and the 7 yo, and put the 11 and 9 yo on warning to behave themselves while I went out, and dragged out the 5 yo and the 3 yo. I am uncomfortable leaving so many home alone with the oldest being only 13, but there you go, what other choice did I have?

I found the local police station, which was not very far at all, and got the kids out to go inside. The 3 yo absolutely did NOT want to go inside. Sigh. It took over 5 min to convince him to go in. Luckily I didn't have to wait to talk to someone, and the officer there came out right away and checked my light. He stamped my card, and then handed it back! What? I still have to mail it in because it was issued from a different region. UGH.

Well, it is a postcard, so I figure I'll stop at the post office on the way home, and pay for a postcard stamp, because the 3 yo wants to go to the post office. So I get the kids out and walk up to the post office, and guess what? Yup, the 3 yo does not want to go inside. A very nice man was trying to hold the door for us and 3 yo was just lying on the ground refusing to go in. Finally I just picked him up by his shirt and dragged him across the doorway and dropped him on the mat inside the door. (I'd already had a rough morning with him) So up to the counter I go, and tell the postal worker that I'd like to buy a postcard stamp. He looks at the card and says Nope, it's an oversized card and takes full postage. ARRRRGGGHHHH I should have just gone home and stuck it in the mailbox! And why the heck doesn't it have prepaid postage on it anyway? And why can't I just turn it in to any department? And why did the original officer, who had nothing better to do on Sunday than harrass obviously threatening-looking, dangerously-driving moms-on-their-way-to-WalMart-with-cars-full-of-kids, not tell said mother which station to go to? In fact, he told me I could go to ANY station. Not true, it turns out. What a day. And of course, it's all Chris' fault ;-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just some ideas, Ty, for when our turn comes...

Sometimes I like to wonder, if Extreme Makeover Home Edition chose us for a new home, what themes would they pick for my children? I realize that the designers and producers probably have more to consider than just the likes and dislikes of the kids in each famliy. They have to think about what kinds of things they can get donated, and if there is a way to involve a celebrity who is willing to come on the show. I also know that with 7 kids, it is not going to happen that they would build me an 8 bedroom house; so some of the boys would be sharing rooms. But, if I could dream without restrictions, each room would become a peek into my sons' personalities.

Here is what I envision:

Jacob: Well, he's only 8 months old, so he'd just get a really cool nursery. Still too little to have any preferences.

Levi: All dogs. He LOVES puppies. At one year old, one of his first words was Voof, which is what he said when asked what his stuffed puppy's name was. However, since his older brother would also have a dog theme (see Samuel), maybe they would go with Thomas the Tank Engine. As boy #6, you can just imagine how much Thomas stuff this boy has. Toys, cups, clothes, even underwear. EMHE would probably go with this theme, since the merchandising angle would be easier.

Micah: A tough one, because at 5 he has a lot of interests, but no one true love. He likes Spiderman, and Legos, pirates, and puppies, and pretty much anything his older brothers like. I think though, that he would end up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles room. All of the boys love the Turtles, but the merchandising aspect again would win this one for him.

Caleb: I guess he would end up sharing a room with Micah, because his interests are pretty much the same. Not that he wants to share with a younger brother, LOL. He would be in heaven to share with an older brother, but of course they are just as disinterested in sharing with him as he is in sharing with Micah or Levi. Caleb does like outside sports (though not organized team type sports) so maybe they would pick a bike theme or something.

Samuel: Not even a challenge to come up with this one. Dalmations. One white-with-black-spots room, with dogs everywhere. He already has a nice collection, and would love to have it expanded.

Noah: Another tough call here. They could go with Legos, Bionicles in particular, or maybe Alpha Team (though merchandising-wise that wouldn't work, as Lego is not currently producing any Alpha Team sets). He likes Star Wars, and also the Ninja Turtles. But he also loves computer games so maybe they would give him the ultimate game room, with a PSP and a Wii and an awesome computer set up. Of course, I would not want him to have this room, as we'd never see him ever again, he'd be sucked in to the games and never leave the room, LOL.

Troyer: This one was the toughest of all. Not because he doesn't like anything but because he likes so many things. They could do a Muppet room, to house his Kermit collection. They could do a Herbie/Volkswagen room to house his Herbie/VW collection. He has a collection of rabbits, and he loves cats. He loves Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford. But I think, since he is 13, they would try to focus on his future and what he may want to be when he grows up. I think he would get the ultimate cartoonist/animator room. He loves to sit and draw all day, coming up with new cartoon superheros and ideas for new movies. He spends more time watching the extras on DVDs than on the actual movie. He loves all things animated. When the tv is not on, he reads Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County and Peanuts and any other comic strip books we have, and then he gets out his pad of paper and draws his ideas for new strips. So he should get a room based on that. Shelves of comic books, murals of super heros, a computer with software for creating animation. But it wouldn't hurt if the featured celebrity for our episode were Kermit the Frog. :-)

What rooms do you think EMHE should do for your kids?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Ups and Downs

This past month has been pretty busy. I went out to visit Aimee for the weekend, and then 2 weeks later she came out to visit me. The cousins all had a great time getting together, and Aimee and I had fun too. We both agreed that the drive is a killer, though! We were really lucky with the weather, as well. It has been unseasonably warm up until this week. It was almost 80 last Monday! While that is fun to enjoy the warmth, and great not having to turn on the heat yet, I was starting to look forward to putting away the shorts. This week the temps have dropped to seasonable 60s, and I don't mind a bit. We might be able to get away with keeping the heat off until next Thurs, which is November! Woohoo.

Jacob turned 8 months old on Monday, and in honor of that, he decided to climb the stairs. You have to understand here, that he is never allowed near them, because they are unsafe for babies. There is no way to gate them, and there is a cast iron railing which has spaces perfectly fitted for babies to fall right through. We know this because the summer after we first moved here, Levi was only 8 mos old and he fell through. Luckily they are split with a landing half way down, so he really only fell the height of a half flight, or about 4 feet, but still. Yikes. He was fine, but it was scary. So, no playing near the stairs for children who can't walk them yet. Well, last week, Jacob was playing downstairs, and I was allowing him to explore a bit. He went right over to the stairs, but I was behind him so I let him go. Wouldn't you know it, he just took a look at them and went right up! He didn't falter or almost fall. Sheesh! So one more milestone crossed for him. I wish I had a picture to post, but I didn't have a camera at the time, and we haven't let him try again since.

Another big milestone this month is that Levi is potty training. He has been sort-of trying all summer, but really he wasn't interested. Just this week he has been successful at keeping his pants dry, and hasn't had any accidents. I've been rewarding him with candy for using the potty, because at first he was holding it all in until bedtime when we'd put a diaper on him, and then filling it. Ick. Now, he eagerly goes to the bathroom, so he can come back and beg for candy. Woohoo, finally a kid the food bribe works on! LOL

On the down side for this month, Chris has hardly been home. He has been playing Fall Ball, which is a 2 month extension of the softball season at work. He asked and I told him it would be ok as long as he could still take the boys to Pathfinders on Tuesday nights. Since the boys only have meetings 2x a month, he wouldn't really be missing very many games. It also worked out that he could either drop them off on the way to a game, or pick them up and bring them to a game most of the time. He has only missed one game. I am happy to let him play, as it is a chance for him to get out and not think about work for a bit; but it does keep him away from home more. This week he has also been told he has to start working mandatory unpaid overtime. Since he is salaried, it is kind of understood that he would have some work to do after hours that wouldn't officially get paid for. Luckily for him, he hands in a timesheet each week, for the purposes of billing clients, so most of the time, he gets the extra hours back in time off. Well, it seems the projects he's working on have run out of budget, but the managers have all promised the work would still get done anyway, so they are making him work LOTS of hours to get it done, and he can't charge any of that time to the clients. Ugh. So, all added up I just haven't seen much of him at all. He has been able to bring some work home with him, but I have to keep the kids away so he can actually do it. He has been going in really early in the morning, too. But between the work and the stress of the work, he is really tired, and so whenever he's not working, he's sleeping.

Meanwhile, the weather is getting colder and dreary with some rain and less sunlight, and the boys are getting tired of school. They have been stir crazy the last few days, stuck inside because of the rain. Their running and screaming and bickering and chasing and crying are driving me nuts. WHY can't they get along??? WHY are they always at each other's throats?

This week a lot of bloggers have been posting pictures of Fall, with foliage shots, and pictures of pumpkin patches, and pretty mums at their front doors. I am so jealous. I wish I were a better homemaker and decorator, though I admit I have no where to store seasonal decorations. This year I've been seeing such pretty dishes too. I am not one to care about switching out my dishes (again, where would I store the ones I wasn't using?) but I sure wish I had a house worth decorating. I wish I had kids who actually wanted to go to a pumpkin patch and enjoy a corn maze. No, my kids whine and complain so much it just isn't worth it trying to go. And it's not worth trying to decorate because Chris would just complain or make wisecracks about the clutter. It's just not worth making an effort for myself when those around me are going to ruin the pleasure of it.

All this to say, I am starting to get depressed. I hate being discontent and unhappy. I know I don't really have anything to truly complain about, and lots to be happy about. But there it is. I can feel it sucking me in, and all I want to do is sleep for a week. Of course, that is not possible and so I eat to stay awake, and so I grow bigger and bigger each week, which also depresses me. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Overdue Post

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Last month was my dh's and my 15th anniversary. Woo hoo! Some days it seems much longer than that, and others it seems like much shorter. Over all we've made it through a lot of rough patches and right now we're in a good place. I've told him, there's no one else I can even imagine being married to, or who would want to be married to me! LOL

Our special day 15 years ago:

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Happy Anniversary Chris!

Friday, October 05, 2007

More Pictures

After we got back from our trip, Troyer wanted to open his presents. We waited until Monday night so that Chris could watch him open them. Not sure why, because he usually isn't interested in what the boys get, but he said if he didn't watch them be opened, he'd never know what he got at all. Hmm, probably true! lol

opening presents

here's a group shot, they are all in there! Not the best, but they are not usually all in a space close enough to be in one picture lol
hurry up and take the picture Mom!

Here's a shot of Jacob's toothy grin. You can see 6, but there are now 8 teeth in there!
pearly whites