Thursday, December 11, 2008

What It's Like to Have 5 Kids

This last weekend, we were lucky enough to have our niece Eva and nephew Jude come stay with us for a couple of nights. I love when they come to stay with us because it gives us another excuse to do things like (a) skip out on the laundry and (b) let the dishes languish while we go (i) out to breakfast and (ii) do cool stuffs around town.

For this weekend, our big excursion was to the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. We recently bought an annual family membership and were able to get our money's worth by taking all five kids in one trip. Of course, Rodney's behemoth came in super handy as we could fit all 7 of us in one car. We even got sooooo lucky and found parking right outside so we didn't have to walk too far in the cold. :)

At the Academy of Sciences, we enjoyed the green display, where we read up on how much waste people produce and how much carbon offsets we need to purchase just to become carbon neutral. Truly interesting information and such a fun way to "brainwash" the kids about treating the Earth with kindness. Graeme's favourite part of this display was the T-Rex skeleton right next to all this green goodness.

We also checked out the new Steinhart Aquarium, where we got to see Ethan's favourite Leafy Sea Dragons, sea nettles, some really huge fish, and a huge display of Philippine coral reefs and fish (with loads of fish we'd never seen before). We also got to spend some time in the Rainforest display, where butterflies and birds flew freely, and where we got to see a ton of lizards, chameleons, and frogs. We didn't get a chance to check out penguins, the Planetarium, and a lot of other things so there will definitely have to be a follow up trip.

Some photos from the day...

Leafy Sea Dragon:

Ethan, Jude and Eva at the rainforest:

Graeme checking out some amphibians:

Xavier, Rodney, Jude, Eva, and Ethan outside the rainforest and surrounded by aquarium (NOTE: Graeme wouldn't join in any of the group photos - what a snob - hahahaha!):

The kids at a statue of Beethoven outside the Academy of Sciences:

Enjoying the sunset at the end of the day, at Sunset Beach in San Francisco:

So, what is it like having 5 kids? Well, we don't really know since we only had 5 kids for two days, but we do know that you need a bigger car and more cash to spend at the gift store. Besides that, though, there is a ton of laughter and silliness in between the times you are haranguing the kids and that makes it all so worth it.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Xavier Update

So much happens when you are not paying attention...

Xavier's been in daycare for nearly four weeks now and has adjusted like a pro. Despite one super bad day where he only drank one ounce of milk and tortured his teachers with all-day tears and wailing, he is doing very well. Every day I get to pick up a super happy baby who is constantly nuzzling his teachers and smiling at the other babies. It's hard to not spend every waking moment with him, but it really makes me feel so much better knowing that he is so happy at Papillon.

New skills and things:

* Rolling Over: I am trying to not let this kid grow up too fast since he is our last baby, but he is growing up anyway despite my best efforts. :) At any rate, I busted him rolling over when I set him down on the floor at my dad's house when we were there on the 28th. Now we really can't leave the little bugger unguarded.

* Solid Food: I don't really know how anyone can call extremely ground up food "solid," but it is what it is. We started Xavier on rice cereal at 5 months and he took to it, finally. Then we moved on to green peas - wish I'd gotten on video the strange faces he was making. Last night, we tried sweet potatoes for the first time and he loved them so much that he ate two jars of it. Rodney, who abhors sweet potatoes, was a little disgusted. Hahahahaha!

* Brothers: Xavier is fascinated with his brothers and they are enthralled by him. I am glad that we are a family of silly people and we spend a lot of time laughing together. I hope this never ever changes.

Love to you all - can you believe Halloween is just around the corner?!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Graemesaurus Rex Turns 4

This past weekend, we celebrated Graeme's 4th birthday. All in all, he really had a great birthday this year, with celebrating that just seemed to go on and on and on - the joys of having your birthday on a Friday, I suppose. His main birthday theme was "Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs!" For some reason, however, we managed to get birthday cakes that had anything but... Funny how that works out sometimes. :)

On Friday, September 12, his actual birthday, we brought a cupcake cake with a dragon design into school for him and his friends at Papillon Preschool. The cake was a hit with all the kids, teachers, and even mommy (who couldn't help but have one - I mean, look at how yummy it looks!). Graeme also loved that he got the first piece - too cute!

We also went out to dinner that night, dining at the oh-so-fancy Red Robin. It was a stop we had to make because they are one of the restaurants that get all the waiters together to sing the birthday celebrant a long and racuous birthday song. In all our past visits to Red Robin, someone's always had a birthday and when the singing started, Graeme would always call to us to "clap your hands." He gets so excited and happy for birthday celebrations - even when they're not for him - he is so cool! For the dinner, Uncle Manolete, Aunt Alison, Eva, and Jude joined us, which was a real treat for Graeme, as these are nearly all of his favourite neighbours right now. When the time came for his birthday song to be sung, he was just so pleased!

Here is Graeme enjoying his birthday dessert, after getting serenaded for his birthday, and then opening up one of his birthday presents, a new "Little Einsteins" DVD.

On Saturday, we had Graeme's "real" birthday party, returning to Lemos Farm to celebrate with ponies, farm animals, trains, and bouncy houses. All the kids had a blast with the pony and train rides and trolling around the farm and Graeme had a blast being the center of attention with all his friends. For his birthday cake this time, he selected the "Madagascar" theme - this is one of his favourite movies of all time. :) All in all, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather, and a good time was had by all.

The New School Year

First day of school is always exciting - new clothes, new school supplies, old friends, and loads of catching up from summer vacation. Summer vacation rocked this year because I got to be home; Ethan didn't even need to go into summer camp at all and he just loved that. Now that summer is done, though, reality hits and this year we have three boys going into new classes.

- Ethan is in the 5th grade, the big man on campus, and he'll be going in to middle school next Fall;
- Graeme is in his last year of preschool, looking forward to graduation next August and starting kindergarten at "Ethan's school"; and
- Xavier is in his first year of daycare, just starting out his school career.

Some photos from all the firsts...

Graeme on his first day in the Pre-K class; like big brother Ethan at his school, he is also one of the big men on campus at Papillon Preschool. He is working on letters, numbers, and writing to get ready for kindergarten. He really loves school so much and now directs me daily about when to fetch him from school, which is "after snack and after playground" unless we have swimming lessons. It will be a sad, sad day when the time comes to move from Papillon. He loves it there so much! And just a quick update on swimming lessons, Graeme is really getting the hang of it and is even really enjoying going underwater. One last note about this photo -- notice the lump on Graeme's forehead. He fell into our wooden rocking chair, head first, and gave us a big scare and himself a bruise that lasted about 2 weeks. He's a total boy!

Ethan on his first day as a 5th grader at Foster City School. Jude and Eva are also in this photo - they all go to the same school. Aren't they all just too cool for school?! Ethan is continuing to take piano lessons and he has gotten SO good at playing and he can read music as though he's always known how to :). He's also taking Spanish classes right now, nothing he's too excited about, but he'll grow to appreciate learning a second language eventually. His hair continues to grow, but he's showing signs of wanting a change. He told me just recently that he's ready to cut about 2 inches off.

No photo of Xavier at school yet, but he's adjusted amazingly well for having been there for only 2 days. He is drinking out of the bottle like a pro and just having a happy time with his new teachers.

We've got amazing boys and we are so proud of them all!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Life with Ethan

I'm still amazed that Ethan is already 10 years old. It makes me proud because he's growing up to be such a great person. It also freaks me out, to tell the truth, because of how quickly these first 10 years have seemed to pass. I can almost feel the next 10 passing just as fast and I dread it. It makes me want to hold him and the other two boys so much closer, to memorize all the moments we share (even the seemingly inconsequential ones) so I can bring them to mind later on in life, to write everything down, to commit to memory all their expressions (facial and verbal), just to keep everything close to me so that I never forget any of it ever. I look at Graeme, who's turning 4 this Friday, and I know that him reaching 10 is going to get here just as quick. There is a happiness and a sadness to children growing up that just can't be helped, I guess. And I think that therein lies the reason for grandchildren. Hahahaha!

Some recent photos of Ethan on his trusty scooter at the park this past week I want to share. He's had his hair long for so long now that I can't really remember the last time he let us cut it short. It might be two years or so now. I wonder how long he'll let it get. I'm trying to convince him to grow it really long then to donate his locks to "Locks of Love" when he's ready for a shorter look.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Life with Xavier

Xavier just turned 4 months old. This signals my return to work in about a week, which I am dreading, but that is an entirely different story. :) At any rate, Xavier's been really keen on using his legs lately, wanting to "stand" more often than not so we bought him a play center to allow him more freedom and exercise and he loves it!

Went to the park for a spell last weekend and put Xavier in a swing for the first time. He looked really cute but silly in it so we have to memorialize it with photographs...

Life with Graeme

Sometimes it takes a lot of time to put Graeme to bed. He gets up with all sorts of reasons to not be in bed sleeping - he's thirsty, he has to hug mommy goodnight, he has to kiss the baby, etc. Last night, he came up with the best reason so far...

Graeme: I can't sleep.
Daddy: What's wrong?
Graeme: I can't sleep so good because my eyes are in the way.
Daddy and mommy snicker to themselves quietly.
Graeme: And my ear.
Daddy: Why your ear?
Graeme: Because I want you.

Who are we to argue?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bootie Family

One of the things we like to do is make up names for the boys. Okay, by "we" I really mean that I probably started it and everyone else has adopted it. Ethan doesn't care much for his new name but the one he got is actually my favourite one - I'd probably use it as my DJ name if I could actually play records well enough to be a DJ. :) Graeme LOVES playing the renaming game but hasn't quite mastered the fine art just yet. Often, he insists that my name is "Jonko" or "Bonk" but he can't make it stick because (1) he doesn't remember these names from day to day and (2) I don't accept having a simple name when we've come up with such winners for them. I know, I know, this all smacks of future therapy sessions for the boys and I say, "So what?" After all, we haven't been saving money for their college education, we've been saving money for therapy. Hahahahaha!

So let me introduce you to our three boys...

Sheik Djerboudi

Shay Shay Shabouti

Stinky Buttowski

I wonder now if I inherited this "renaming disease" from my granddad, who came up with a funky nickname for each of his grandkids.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Swimming Lessons

Graeme started swimming lessons this week, on Tuesday to be exact. Here is a kid who loves being in water but is quite afraid of going past the second step in any pool. Its a healthy fear, especially since he can't swim, but one we want him to now let go so that he can get his inner fish out.

There was a dunking during the first class, which led to tears and begging for mom to take him from the pool, but he was a trooper and stayed through. So, with one class under his belt, his willingness to be in the pool is now if-fy, but we hope that his tolerance for the water and being dunked gets better and better as the weeks pass. Fingers are crossed...

Graeme laughing it up during swim class.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Summer Fake-ation

Okay, so it was a real vacation, just a really short one... Technically, this was Xavier's first vacation ever so it was an important weekend to memorialize, even if he didn't realize it or could really care less. :)

Rodney and I took the boys in the "Behemoth" (my pet name for his new Mazda RX9 monster gas guzzler - hehehe!) to Santa Cruz and Monterey. We drove down to Santa Cruz on Saturday morning and headed on out to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We spent the day taking in the beach, a few rides, and greasy food galore.

The weather was perfect and we were all beat by the time 6pm rolled around so we happily headed back to our room at the local Super 8 Motel (we roll in style!) and slowly got ready for dinner out. We ate at Riva's on the wharf; the wharf was cool, but the food was really just okay.

The next morning, we had breakfast on Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz before the hour-long drive to Monterey, where we spent the day at the aquarium. There were a ton of people milling about Monterey - the horror of vacations during the summer, especially over the weekend - but we had a really great time seeing and learning about all the fish and sea creatures on display. The boys really enjoyed themselves. As an extra treat, we got a chance to sample Bubba Gump's and found their Cajun peel and eat shrimp to be sooooo yummy. Even Ethan kept asking for more (if Ethan likes it so much he asks for seconds, you know it's GOOOOOOD!). :)

I am so lucky to have the summer off with the boys and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I know am blessed to have the opportunity to take short vacations like these with family. I love my boys - I really do!

I hope you are all enjoying the summer as much, if not more, than we are. Our love to everyone and we hope to see you all real soon!

Graeme on the beach; hanging out in underwear.

Ethan spent his beach time chasing and jumping from the surf.

Me and the boys strolling down the Boardwalk.

The boys posing together after dinner on the wharf.

Rodney and the kids at the otter exhibit.

Marissa, Graeme, and Ethan at the otter exhibit.

Two of our pearls.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

How hard is it to get 3 boys to smile for the camera at once?

Pretty me. :) I'm not looking forward to getting the holiday photos taken so I may just leave that to professionals...

I'm posting some recent pictures of the kids and one of me and Graeme (posting this last one only because I'm rarely in photos and this one was pretty cute of the two of us and I want to memorialize it, egomaniac that I am)...

Not much has gone on lately, not that I can remember anyway. Hahahaha! The summer is winding down and so is my maternity leave. I am feeling a sort of panic about that. I wish I could stay home for another 3 months with Xavier and the boys. It has been such fun being home with Ethan for summer vacation. We laze around all day, but it's just a great time spending our days together. Lately, we've been letting Graeme play hooky from school and we go for walks, eat out, watch movies, and do pretty much nothing all day. Today, I spoiled the boys with homemade pancakes, mac n' cheese, and homemade mango lassi. Yummmmmmm...

Last Tuesday, I dragged Rodney to go see Lisa Williams with me. Most people will probably not know who she is and I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that my ulterior motive for going had to do with my mom (who I miss and think about every single day). For that motive, the trek was unsuccesful, but it was still really cool to see Lisa in action. She has a really great personality and was really amazing with what she does.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Much Love to All,