And so it comes down to this.

Christmas night 2010

And again I find myself sitting here in the glow of the Christmas tree in my velour jumpsuit that I seem to purchase for myself each year, but convince Dean he bought it for me. I've had this glazed over, sleep deprived smile on my face since Thursday, River looks concerned..

The presents are all unwrapped, the stuffed garbage sacks overflowing in the backroom, (somehow we missed garbage day this week - the worst possible week of the year to miss garbage day.)

The kids are a little shaky from the sugar rush, as they go through each other's pile of loot.

It's been a good day.

Kids getting surprised;

or kids getting exactly what they wanted,

after thinking that I didn't hear them tell me what they wanted six or seven times a day for the last three weeks.

And yet I find myself sitting here still wanting more.

Not more presents,
Not more shopping,
Not more numbers on the to-do list

Just more time to enjoy it all.
More taking it easy with the kids,
More time for sentimental, homemade gifts,
More time to share with those who don't have as much.

Sometimes I feel guilty about having so much.

Christmas morning I took a picture of the tree with all the presents underneath before the mayhem started.

I looked at Dean and he said "we did good."

We both have questioned many times how our parents did it.
How did they make Christmas magical for us as kids each and every year?

Now the burden opportunity is ours.

I knew it was just a matter of hours before we would be cleaning it all up,
searching for lost race track parts and accounting for all the money spent.

I ask myself, 'now what's my focus?'
For a good month and a half all I have thought about is typical Christmas this and that.

Now the beloved Christmas lights outside are being neglected.
Now the movie Elf has been replaced by newer, less Christmassy movies.
The "biggest sale of the year" ad on the bathroom floor that once grabbed my attention now seems pointless.

A few days ago, an sweet older lady at a store checkout gave me some advice when I mentioned that I wasn't finished with my Christmas shopping yet. She said not to worry, that all children want for Christmas is peace, and the love of their family at Christmas time.

Yeah, I guess...

But tell that to my teenagers fist bumping over their new iPods.

I hope you had a wonderful day.



My kids are sick.

So far this week, three four out of my seven kids have used the "throw up bucket."

We have a "throw up bucket" in our house, much to my husband's annoyance.

He thinks a "throw up bucket" should not exist in our home.

He thinks that the kids should be able to sense when something is wrong
and hightail it to the toilet.

He thinks that a "throw up bucket" creates lazy kids.

He has never cleaned throw up out of the carpet in the middle of the night.

He does not get a vote.

Therefore we have a "throw-up" bucket.

The other night Kal was sick and called dibs on the bucket saying...
"I get the bucket after Wade!"

My theory is that I prefer the kids to stay where they are and have an area of containment rather than have them run for the bathroom and be sick in their room, the hall, my room, back in the hall and then all over the bathroom. (yes, I speak from experience.)

I am not squeamish,
my mom once told me not to worry about getting dirty,
that anything will wash off your hands.

And I have a small confession;

Besides the "heaving"....I like having sick kids.

There I said it.

Nothing serious, not swine flu or strep throat or pneumonia...of course.

Just the 24 hour bug where we declare a sick day and my kids are on the couch, just out of the bath,with sleepy eyes, a warm forehead, sipping Sprite and are content to just lay there holding "buckety".

It makes me feel needed.
(in a non-"mom, I need a science project...
mom, I need some clean socks"...kind of way.)

I enjoy having an excuse for a backed up laundry pile and enjoy having a reason to lay curled up on the couch and hold them while we watch Spongebob together.

I'm just asking for it, aren't I.

The other day, Thanksgiving day in fact...

Just as I was in panic mode trying to get dinner ready,

Lauren called to me from my room.

"Mom, come here...fast!"  That last word made me run.

I ran up the stairs to find her bracing herself in my dooryway standing awkwardly and looking down at her foot.

A big shard of glass was sticking out.  My knees buckled as I said..."what in the world..?!"

As we helped Lauren to her bed she explained that she was walking by a bag on the floor
not knowing it had a broken glass frame in it and for some reason...decided to kick it.

The glass went in the bottom of her foot, through her toes and out the top.

After a few minutes of excitement and waiting for Dean to get home,
It was decided to take Lauren to the Emergency room.

So after a little reassuring hug to River who was crying harder than Lauren,

Dean swooped Lauren up in his arms and carried her out to the car.

Seeing Lauren like that, with tears in her eyes...a little scared and vulnerable, reminded me of when she was just a little girl. So small, helpless and dependant on me.

I kind of enjoyed it.

Every once in a while I enjoy being nurse Roberts to tame, docile children.
Come on now...all you moms out there...I can't be the only one who feels this way.

Gulp. Maybe I am.

Who's the sicko now, you ask?

(And yes, I took pictures so I could blog about it later. Yep, definitely a sicko.)


Life as we know it.

With the birth of my new nephew just last week, 
I have been thinking of how quickly life (as you know it) changes.

One minute your worn out, anxious, exhausted body literally can't take another second of being pregnant;

the next minute you are here... (yep, life as you know it is over)

                                                                (*This is my new nephew Cash, isn't he Heavenly?)

The reality of life is this;

About eight minutes later, you are here...

                                                      (This is my Kal when he was a sweet, curious, loveable one year old.)

And a blink of an eye after that...you are here...

                                                             (My Wade, fists ready, on his first day of pre-school. )

And (just a warning) about thirty seconds after that...you are here...

                                (This is my Brett as a tormenting...impossible, big, bad fifteen year old.)

Yes, my little baby boy who I was so fond of as I would hold him on the flat of my forearm, is now bigger than me, quicker and cooler than me and I now find myself telling him to stop acting like a child.

So he acts like a teenager instead.

And when he does...

Dean and I scratch our heads (Dean scratches his own..I scratch mine)

And we say...Life as we know it is over.

And then there is this little guy...

Dean walks in the door everyday from work,
and demands to know what I have done all day.

(Just kidding).

Some days all I have to do is point to my little garbage disposal on the floor and whimper a little, then Dean gives me a sympathetic look as he runs out to buy me flowers.

Canyon is now crawling.  Everywhere.

I get nothing done.

...behind the couch, trapped under my computer desk, tipping over the garbage can,
into the bathroom, dangling himself dangerously close to the stairs and eating anything in his path.

His crawl is more of an "Army crawl" gathering items under his belly as he goes.

When Canyon discovers something -

he stops...(thrilled with his find)

 ingests...then moves on.

Life as we know it is over. 

It doesn't help that Quincy (Canyon's partner in crime) thinks everything is her baby,
and every baby has a name,
and every baby needs a blanket (wipes),
and every baby deserves a place in the living room.

The problem seems to be; that with seven kids...there is no "life" as we know it.
That might be either really beautiful, or really pathetic.

I have posted this video before. It's worth re-posting.
Canyon loves to watch it, I think for inspiration.


Disneyland On the Cheap

When Dean and I decided to take our kids to Disneyland this fall
a friend of mine naturally asked,
"How do you afford to take all your kids to Disneyland?"

Dean had been laying awake at night wondering the same thing.

Then I said "Don't worry honey, I am so cheap!
and he said with a smirk "um......."
and I said "don't even go there...I meant thrifty, I am thrifty!"

I am the girl who returns over-ripe oranges to Walmart, smuggles more than one Laffy Taffy at Maceys, hasn't paid for a babysitter since 2001, and re-uses dental floss.
(just kidding about that last one.)

So, here's how we did it.
Mind you, this whole post is written with a little tongue in cheap....
er, I mean tongue in cheek.

How we did Disneyland (Southern California) On the Cheap: 

$ - Start by getting the kids on board. 
Help them earn money for their own spending money.
You'd be surprised how many people fork over cash when you have your kids dress in rags, with messed up hair and hold a sign that says "Will work for Disneyland souvenir money."

$-  Establish a buddy system.
That way if anyone gets lost, you can find comfort knowing they are with their buddy. It really puts your mind at ease, and you will able to enjoy the rest of your day. Just figure they'll show up at the car at the end of the night.

$- Go with another cheap couple. My brother Wes and his wife Tammy were the perfect duo for our cheap trip. They were as like-minded as were in our quest for pinching pennies. We found ourselves trying to out-cheap eachother. It also helps when the kids ask for this or that, we were able to blame the other family...("Sorry River, we can't buy that $12.00 churro - we would have to buy one for everyone too.")  Also, Tammy was an easy one to sucker into going on the Teacups ride with the kids.

$- Befriend a local. Tammy's Uncle (a long-time San Diego resident) gave us the inside scoop on all things California. The kids fell in love with Uncle Ernie, he was amazing. He insisted that we all sit in the "Soak Zones" - best seats in the house he claimed. He was Right. We were close enough to the action to see the "help me " look in Shamu's eyes.  
$- Cheap beauty. - Allow the girls do their own hair, far away from the critical eye of the seventh grade. (ok that doesn't have anything to do with anything, but I just think this is a funny picture.)

$- Go off the beaten path. If you are willing to cross this crazy high, scary bridge like we did...you will find yourself in a quaint little neighborhood where you can invade someone's private beach house backyard and just hang out. If anyone questions your right to be there, just pretend to be hillbilly tourists from Utah and that you are too naive to know better.     
It works.

I hope Tom Hanks didn't mind.

$- Arrive early..stay late. We always get the most out of the park during the early and late hours. Dean and I have two very different ideas of "arrive early." Mine is before noon - His is before they open. Somehow we compromised.

                                                    Staying at the parks late is the thing to do.

We practically had the whole place to ourselves.
 I wondered why no one was on the Grizzly River Run at 11:00 pm.
Then, as a wall of water splashed up and over my head and poured down my back
 I figured it all out.

$- Bring yer own. We brought everything from rain ponchos to food and snacks, water bottles to strollers, cameras, hoodies, toys, and games. We enjoyed so many activities we otherwise wouldn't have because we were wearing rain ponchos.
Call us whimps, that's ok...many strangers in line did just that.   

$- Cheap Food. We took full advantage of the free continental breakfast. I mean FULL advantage. We found that if we could force feed the kids breakfast and then stifle the hunger pangs of our little'ns with granola bars, fruit snacks, Jolly Ranchers and peanut M&M's, we only needed to eat out once a day.

$- Go for the Cheap Thrills. Just letting the kids run around and just be kids is one of the best things about being on vacation. 
See, kids will be kids.
(Wes and Dean getting all excited about the new Twilight apparel line)

There is something thrilling about holding a starfish
 in your hand or petting a sting ray, or feeding a dolphin.

The thrill of plunging down a waterfall. 

For me the biggest thrill was the large Mickey Mouse swinging Ferris Wheel.
Dean had to do some serious talking to get me to go on the Ferris Wheel again.
I tell you...It's the scariest ride of all for me.  
At this point Quincy is sensing my aprehension.
Maybe this is why....
The second time around we handed out the
...pardon my french, "barf bags."

$- Free Things! Contrary to what most people say...there are free things to be had at the amusement parks. I guess "free" isn't always free when you consider the price of admission.  

Free trick-or-treating at Sea World.


Free head massages and 3-D glasses at Universal

 Free face painting and tortillas at Disneyland

And of course ...free..ahem, "barf bags!  boo yeah!

$- Spend a day at the beach. We didn't, and I wish we would've. On our way out of town, almost as an afterthought we stopped at the beach. We spent just about an hour there and told the kids as we arrived that they could only get their feet wet. See how they respect us? Sure enough our little troop plunged themselves in the water the minute their feet hit the sand and had a blast. No tickets, no crowds, no debit card, no toys, no keep arms and legs in at all times.
Just surf and sand.   

$- Fill em up cheap. We found that In-n-Out Burger
was the best way to fill up our hungry crew. 
Cheap food...a lot of it. Yes, we all have a love affair with the place.

(this is what we call foreshadowing)  I was saying "Hey, take it easy there Wade."
The food is so good. But sometimes it goes in...then out.
...for all to see on the San Bernadino freeway. Poor guy.

I realize the title of this Blog post "Disneyland on the Cheap" is an Oxymoron
I mislead you dear reader.
Trying to be cheap
while at a place that screams commercialism is a crazy desire.
However, a great time was had by all in a relatively affordable way.

Thinking back on those wonderful days in Southern California
I think of the cheap food, the cheap hotels, the cheap thrills and 
I say to myself..
it was all worth it, darn it. 

Speaking of cheap thrills.
Frankenstein just wouldn't let go.....

and yes I did go back for more.

I am sending him a friend request on facebook.


(a two minute video of the girl who needs to be everything)       So far my hobby has been micro-managing my kids and as rewardi...