Monday, June 25, 2012

Crazy 'thinking' week

There was LOTS of thinking and debating and weighing options and praying and thinking some more going on this week about what we are going to do as far as our living situation and Nathan's job.  We haven't figured it out completely but have decided for the time being to move HOME and have Nathan continue to work in Chicago during the week for awhile longer.  We are so absolutely excited to leave here (the hotel, I mean....well, yeah, and Chicago bc of the city but I am very sad to be leaving our good friends that we've made :( 

And our kids can have beds to sleep in...

Caedmon sleeping on the couch cushions and covering up with a towel.  Yes, we make due with what we have :)
Last Thursday we swung by Pastor Scotts to pick up a key for church so we could bring the kids there to play while we had some time to "think" and talk about our plans....or lack thereof.  While we were getting the key, Scott asked Nathan if he'd come help with the landscaping in his yard again and of course Nathan said yes!   Nathan got there about 10am and worked til about 5ish.  The kids and I came around lunch time and hung out the rest of the day as well.  Everyone kept exclaiming how hard of a worker Nathan was and we all agreed it was because of his farm upbringing (and being able to get out of the hotel!)

We had one last birthday party to attend before leaving (our 4th in about a month!)...our friends' son Chase turned 3 and another friends' son Gavin turned 4.  The kids had fun playing and of course the ice cream buffet was a huge hit!

Sunday was church and my last lifegroup :(  Right when we start really connecting with people, we leave.  But thus is our life on the road...which will be (hopefully) coming to an end soon!!!

Lifegroup guys....(L) Josh, Paul (holding Evelyn), Jason (holding baby Caedmon...yes, another kids named Caedmon AND spelled the same!), Dan, and Nathan
Two of the most photogenic people I know...Steph and Paul with Evelyn...we will miss you!  Thank you for letting us do laundry at your home :)
We have some exciting this happening once we are home too!  Nathan's youngest brother Jonathan and his family (wife and 5 kids) are going to live with us for awhile!  They are making the transition from Texas back up to MN so they will be living with us while they look for a place to call home.  The kids will love playing with their cousins and I'm sure being home won't be boring at all!! :)

Another SUPER exciting this for us, esp bc we feel like we've been waiting FOREVER, is that we are going to get chickens right away!!!  I can't wait.  Seriously, so excited!!  Kinda nervous though seeing how Nathan will be in Chicago for most of the week (working 4-10s so he'll probably be traveling back every other wknd or so) so I'll have to be the one in charge of the chickens!  I've never raised chickens before....ducks, yes...chickens, no.  But chickens are kinda like ducks, right?  Except that we usually got 6 or so ducks growing up and I'm thinking we'll get between 25-50 chickens.  But no better way to learn quickly than hands-on learning, right?!

Jaeger sittin' in a bumbo for the first time :)
4 months

Tiernan lost his second front tooth!

Jaeger talking with Pastor Scott again

 We told Ariella we might be moving and she went in her drawer, grabbed a handfull of clothes and said "I'm ready to go!"

Keep following along as our excitment is FAR from over.  Hopefully this will be the start of a new chapter in our lives, but not one bit less exciting :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Father's Day 2012

So Sunday was Father's day....and we didn't have any plans...

We went to church and during the service our pastor was telling the congregation about how he was working in his yard removing this big stump and joked that if anyone wanted to spend father's day helping him, they were more than welcome.  Well, when most people were chuckling, Nathan and I were like 'that sounds like fun!'  So after the service we caught pastor right as he was getting into his car and asked him if he really did want help. "I would love help!" was his reply.  Great!  See you in a couple hours!

Meanwhile, there's a family at church who is apart of our lifegroup who we just met a couple weeks ago.  They have a 6 yr old girl and 1.5 yr old boy.  We decided we wanted to be a blessing to them so asked if they had any lunch plans.  They didnt, so we asked if we could treat them to lunch.  They accepted!  We went to Portillos....a place known for their hot dogs and italian beef.  Most of us just had hamburgers, which were good too!  It was very busy...guess that was the pick for most fathers :)

After lunch we swung by the hotel, fed the baby, changed clothes, grabbed our suits and were off to Pastor's house!  Nathan got right to work digging out that stump for him.  After he was done, Pastor Scott said that he did it in about 15 mins where it would have taken him all day!  After about a half hr or so, the family we took out for lunch stopped by too and started helping as well!  Then once Scott's son jumped in, they actually had several hands workin' and got quite a bit accomplished.  Taking 8 inches of soil off a large area in order to pour concrete is no small task though.  Lots of work left!

While the guys worked, where do you think the kids were??  In the hot tub, of course!!  I mean, where else would you be on a 90 degree day?!  Haha... Hot water, in the sun, in 90 degree weather.  Doesn't sound too appealing to me, but the kids LOVED it!!  They are so gracious to let the kids use it.  So with the hubby working hard and the kids occupied, I went to Sams club with the other wife and picked up some stuff for supper.  We brought some meat over to grill burgers so I just had to get some picnic-type sides and we were set!

We finished supper shortly before 8pm and called it a day.  So thankful to have found such an awesome church family.  the bridge church!!

Nathan digging hard to get that stump out!

There's some more help!

Kids hanging out in the hot tub  (yeah, my little girl doesn't have a shirt on. first time I've let her do that but we don't have a suit for her and it was hot out)

Pastor Scott with Jaeger...he holds him any chance he can!

Fire Dept

Before I tell you about our Father's Day, let me tell you about our excitement a couple weeks ago with the fire alarm.....

So apparently our room has been having problems with notifing the front desk that our fire alarm is going off when it isn't and that people are calling 911 when they are not.  Yeah, it's great fun.

So my phone in the room rings.  I pick it up.  "This is the front desk, are you alright?" Um...yeah, pretty sure I'm fine, why?  "Well, your fire alarm is going off."  Um...nope, pretty sure it's not.  "Well, open your windows and make sure to keep your room well ventilated when you're cooking."  Yeah, thanks, but I'm not cooking.

Couple days later....Ring ring....yeah, exact same conversation.

A day or two after that....ring ring...I pick up the phone "Lemme guess, this is the front desk, and no, I am not cooking, and yes we are fine."  Oh, good, but someone dialed 911 from your room and we were just calling to make sure you're fine.  What?!  Nope, sorry, wrong room.  We were ALL in the kitchen cutting up strawberries and my kids don't even know where the phone is in this room.  We have it tucked back behind Jaeger's bed and they'd have to crawl across our bed and get in a little corner to reach it and they have no interest in it anyway.  PLUS, you'd have to dial 9 first then 911 so I can guarantee you my kids didn't call 9-9-1-1.  "Well, we have to send the police up to your room just to make sure you are fine."  WHAT?!  NO ONE CALLED!!!  But whatever, if it makes you feel better.... So a couple mins later...knock the door to nice front desk guy Eric and a Chicago policeman.  "Everything ok?....Uh...yeah...that's what I just told ya..."

So I called the manager later in the day to have a little conversation with her about checking the wiring in my room to the front desk.  Someone ELSE prob called 911 and is DYING in their room while they insist that I called.  They even tried to say that it was no big deal and that it happens all the time when people try to dial out bc you have to dial 9 and then 1 before the area code...I'm like I DIDN'T USE the phone, nor have I ever used the phone!!

So that brings me to our next (and biggest) incident.  During the night...yes, 3:30am..we were jolted out of bed by the sound of the fire alarm.  The ear-piercing, head-exploding, so-loud-you-think-it's-going-to-make-you-deaf fire alarm.  We instantly think it's our alarm since we've had that history of the mysterious alarm so right away I get a towel and wave it back and forth by the alarm trying to make it go off.  Then after I realize which alarm is going off, (not the smoke detector, the actually alarm on the wall), I open our door to find that the hallway alarms are going off as well.  I call the front desk (bc that's what the instructions on our door say to do) and of course no one answers.  Tiernan is crying...which stopped soon...and Nathan has his hands over Jaegers ears.  The other kids put a pillow over their head and went back to sleep :)  I put on my flip flops and head downstairs to see what's going on and if we actually need to evacuate. 

As I'm making my way to the stairwell, people start slowly coming out of their room and heading downstairs as well.  No one knows what's going on.  Then I hear the sirens.  Firetrucks fill the parking lot and fireman start fairly quickly heading inside.  I look down the hallway and notice smoke.  Then I learned that someone was cooking and apparently started a fire.  He put out the fire before fireman arrived but it caused lots of smoke.  Most people were evacuating the hotel who were already downstairs.  I asked a fireman if we need to get outside and he said "for now, yeah".  I told him that I have children upstairs and asked that if I should go get them.  he asked if someone was with them, I said my husband, and he said that I could just go back up there and wait since they were almost done, they just needed to bring the machine in to get all the smoke out.

So as I made my way back upstairs (with the alarm STILL piercing my ears), I asked another fireman in the stairwell when they were going to shut off the alarm.  He turned to me and said "I hope, like, NOW!"  Apparently he was sick of it too :)  So I made it back to the room, told Nathan it wasn't a big deal, and then picked up Jaeger and brought him with me to the stairwell.  It was the only place that didn't have alarms in it.  I just held him and we hung out there, with another family with kids, until the alarm was shut off.  Once they FINALLY stopped, we went back to the room and tried to fall back asleep, which was kinda hard to do since it was now 4:30 and our alarm goes off at 5:30....Hopefully there will be NO more alarms!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trying to catch up... I realize that I have been really bad about posting...sigh...and the thing that is so frustrating is that I want to do so much more!!  I've been looking back at my blog, specifically the year 2010, and saw that I posted a lot! almost every day!  By the way, that year is probably the most fun to read...well, for me anyway...the year that we moved across the country and lived in our camper.  The reason that I've been reading 2010 is because that's the year I'm on with making my books.  Yeah...kinda behind...  Each year (or it was each year and now it's whenever I can) I put my blog into a digital scrapbook of sorts so I have it in a hard copy.  It's an awesome treasure to us and the kids LOVE looking back at the pictures.  I use and love them.  Super simple, very customizable, just easy to use....which I need.  I don't have time to figure stuff out! :)

So anyway...What's been going on here?  Well, besides realizing that I've become horrible at taking pictures (I always forget), we've mostly been just hanging out, figuring out how to make life work without trying to kill each other.  Really.  It's not that having 7 people living in a hotel room is not enough space (I'm kinda be sarcastic) but night time is a night mare.  Even if we had just one room, closet, whatever, that we could put the kids in, shut the lights off and close the door, it would be so much better.  For all the kids to settle down, quit touching/jumping on/kicking/tickling/rolling on each other and relax long enough for them to fall asleep, is pretty near impossible.  And Nathan and I have pretty much kissed our evenings goodbye since we have to have all the lights off in order for the kids to fall the time they do, we've been lying in the dark with the hum of the fan for quite awhile and most times will fall asleep ourselves.  Many nights we seperate the kids with one on the couch, one in the corner laying on the couch cushions, and then one on the floor on each side of our bed.  This way they can't easily see eachother OR touch each other.  But we have realized that if we just let the kids stay up (quietly if at all possible) then it is much easier to get them to fall asleep.  For some strange reason, we just HAPPENED to be blessed (ahem) with NO children that require a lot of sleep! :P

On to the next topic....  :)  Which is another reason why it's hard to blog this far apart....I can't remember what I've blogged about!  So, sorry if you've heard any of this before...I just never learn...

Legos, legos. legos.... Since legos are pretty much the only toy we let the kids bring here, we have legos everywhere in this room.  I have tried with all my might to keep them seperated in their own box since they are 'sets', but they end up taking their sets apart and mixing them all up.  I spent three. whole. days. putting lego sets together so I could make sure each set has all the pieces.  Then I put them up high and each kids could play with only one set at a time.  That last until today when Tiernan took them all down....sigh...  But I think I salvaged them and most sets are together.  I know I need to learn to just chill but seriously that's enough to drive me batty.

Wouldn't this be enough to drive you batty?!

I was going to talk about how we've been trying to decide if this is what we should be doing right now and how we long to be done with all this craziness and settle down, but it's bed time and since the whole room is pitch black except the computer screen, my eyes are starting to not want to focus.  I also have to post about our second trip back home!  I really do plan on coming back to blog land soon...for now I'll leave you with a few more pics!

 See that tiny spec of a thing that Caedmon is holding (love his face in this pic!)...that is the crayon that he was using..and continued to use until it was just a small spec.  He is our artist!

All lined up for church!  This is what they do every time it's time to go, squeeze in the door frame.

Beautiful, beautiful blanket of clouds over Des Plaines during a storm that was just to our north.

The kids' pics they drew for Eric..the man at the front desk. He gave the kids a couple goodie bags so the kids drew him a thank you picture. Brayan drew pirates, Tiernan drew a pic of Eric (although Eric in real life is not blue...he's more of a Mexican brown :), Caedmon drew superheros (Hulk, Iron man, and 'the thing') and not pictured was Ariella's drawing--well, mom's drawing of 3 stick princesses, of which she colored their dresses pink and their crowns purple. They really love Eric and can't wait to say Hi (or Hola) to him when we go to and from our van. He's been speaking to the kids in Spanish, which they love and it's actually expanded their Spanish vocab pretty significantly! I didn't even plan on doing a foriegn language this year but it's turns out that we have!

You have to be resoureful when drying clothes in a hotel room....yes, little people can be very good weights for little undies so they don't blow off the heater :)

I happened to find a bunch of toys in a misc box at a garage sale that the lady gave to me for $2. Pretty much kept the kids busy all day...and then some.

 Caedmon and Ariella walking around the path at the park.  They actually walked like this for quite awhile.  So I know deep down they really do love eachother :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

My REAL food Challenge!

So here was my challenge to myself this past week or so...Eat only REAL foods and very minimally processed foods (if any) with 5 ingredients or less, while ON a (fairly tight) budget.  This is usually how we eat anyway so not much changed except just being a little more aware of the things we do buy and making sure it stays within my guidelines.  AND I spent way less money....

What were my  guidelines exactly?

Most of all we bought organic when possible, used farm fresh meats, and LOTS of fruits and veggies!!

1) No refined or processed sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, or any added sugar to any already packaged anything--only natural like honey, pure maple syrup, and liquid stevia and in limited quanities)

2) No white flours or grains (all whole wheat),

3) And if anything was in a container of some sorts that it had 5 ingredients or less (if it happened to be 6 bc the fresh salsa contained more veggies than 5 or 1 ingredient was water on a true natural product, I didn't beat myself up...),

4) And those 5 ingredients could not include any artifical colors, no high fructose corn syrup(obviously since it goes against rule #1), nothing that I couldn't pronounce or that had more than 12 letters to it's name (cuz usually all those are bad).

 Only exception is that when we are invited to someone's house and graciously given food, we will eat it and not let our food choices come before our relationships.  And since that doesn't happen too often anyway, not a big deal.

And the budget??...I wanted to stay around $150 for the week.  We are a family of 7 (6 of us eating food)...but those 6 all eat like adults.  And if you know my kids, you know that's true! :)

My total?  $136.83  Under budget!!  (And get this...I looked up what our "allowance" would be in the state of illinois if we were on a full food stamp program...$263 per week!!!!  That is RIDICULOUS!!!  We ate REAL nutritous food, fed a family of 7, for HALF of the allowance for food stamps!!!

Where did I shop?  3 places....Majority from Trader Joe's.  Some from Target (what I couldn't find at TJs), and then a few things at Sams Club.  (And since we don't have a source for good meat yet, the 2# of burger I used was bought from home which we got from our farmer so technically that wasn't out of the budget but it cost us $4/lb totalling $8 so even if you added that to the total, I was still under budget! :)

So what did I make?  Well here is my menu...Breakfast first line, lunch second, supper third, and snack in parenthesis. 

(Nathan's lunches usually consisted of left-overs, sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and/or yogurt)

Oatmeal, raisins/milk, fruit
PB bread, yogurt, smoothies, apples
Warm bean dip/chips

pancakes, fruit
grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches, veggies/dip
pizza at friends house
(hard boiled eggs)

French toast, bananas
Beach--meat sandwiches, trail mix (almonds, pistasios, cherries), raisins and grapes
Cheese/crackers, veggies (too burnt and tired to make anything else!)

Fried eggs on toast, apples/bananas
Buttered noodles, strawberry/yogurt dip with apples
Taco salad, guacamole/chips

Oatmeal, raisins/milk, fruit
Buttered bread, applesauce, carrots, orange smoothie
Creamy crock chicken & rice, steamed brocolli

Smoothies, toast, fruit
Leftover chicken & rice, veggies
Salmon pieces, spaghetti, green salad/sunflower seeds
(crackers, cheese, almonds)

Oatmeal, raisins/milk, fruit
Bean & cheese burritoes wrapped in cabbage, veggies/dip
Baked potatoes with fixings
(almonds, cheese)

And actually I have enough left to do today's menu too....

Oatmeal with milk, fruit (was going to be scambled eggs but 4 outta 4 votes was oatmeal)
Peachberry slushies, veggies/dip, buttered bread, almonds
Hamburger stroganoff, cooked cabbage
(frozen blueberries & strawberries)

So there ya have it.  If I can do this living in a hotel, with 5 kids, no oven, no dishwasher and only 2 burners on my stove, you can do it too!!  I challenge you!

To Lake Michigan

  Do a post, Dawn! But I don't have time! Do a post, Dawn! But I'm too tired! Do a post, Dawn! I just don't feel like it. Do a post, Dawn! Nathan doesn't want me on the computer right now. Do a post, Dawn! I have too much to write about and not enough time to write it. Do a post, Dawn!! That has been the conversation swirling around in my head the last couple weeks. I think about it alot and hardly do anything about it. So today I'm just going to 'do a post, Dawn!'

Part of the reason why I haven't blogged is that I'm kind of in a slump and it's been hard to get out of. I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting a little discouraged with not being able to find a rental, thus having to come to the realization that we might be in the hotel for months, maybe years? I think I'm still trying to adjust to city life, hotel life, and life with a newborn again. So maybe it's just time to suck it up, take a "happy pill" (aka placenta pill...more on that later ;) and deal with it, right?? Baby is down for morning nap, and yogurts already in the crock maybe today's my turning point... :)

This past Sunday it was nearly 100 degrees out, 97 to be exact, and Nathan thought that it would be a great day to go to the beach! At first I was against it. Reasons-- 1) didn't want to drive to downtown Chicago, 2) out of the 8 million people that live here, I was pretty sure that 7,900,000 of them would be at the beach also and didn't want to deal with people, 3) we don't have a towel here or chairs to sit on, 4) packing for 7 people to go to the beach takes time, and 5) I don't really like sitting outside when it's 100 degrees out. But after some time I agreed.

I needed to go to the dollar store and find some sand toys and to Target to buy sunscreen and a beach towel. I didn't know how I was going to do that PLUS pack a lunch, get the kids suits, clothes, etc packed...but my husband so graciously said "I'll get everything ready and you can run to the stores quick. When you get back, we'll be ready to go!" Perfect...ANY time he offers to get kids ready and for me to go to store by myself, I'm all over that! Once I got back, we got everyone loaded up and headed East towards Lake Michigan. As it turns out, the same street we live on goes all the way directly to the beach! ends at the beach. The street ends in a parking lot and that parking lot is for the beach....we didn't get lost! cool is that?!

Ariella (no, she isn't carrying a gallon of ice cream...although that would of been super yummy on this hot day!...we were using the buckets that we had:) and, yes, she is filthy!
**Kiss**....Nathan looks way too excited :)
So we got there about 10:45, put $5 in the meter for 5 hours of parking, and headed to the sand. There weren't very many people there to begin with...just some sprinkled here and there, but after a couple hours, they started to pour in! We were going to meet so friends there and since they came during the busy time, they drove around for over 20 minutes looking for parking and had to park a few MILES away and walk! the heat, while holding their 1 yr old and all their stuff. (poor guys!) They finally found us and set up their towel next to ours.

Building a sand castle
Jaeger chillin' in the stroller...which didn't last long. He was actually fairly crabby bc ALL he wanted to do was nurse and fall asleep!
After awhile, he FINALLY gave in and fell asleep. It was nice with the noise at the beach that no one (besides us) could hear him crying :) He still doesn't take his nuk--notice it next to him--but I still try. This time he stuck his thumb in his mouth and soothed himself...yay!!
With the shade of the cooler top and his ltitle stroller, he kept nice and cool (or at least not hot)
Can't even get away from advertisements at the beach!! This was a plane fly over with a banner flying behind...
Playing in the water
With the breeze coming off the lake, it was much cooler there, only about 80 degrees but the sun was HOT! Nathan put some sunscreen on his shoulders and on the boys' shoulders. After about an hour and a half, we realized it'd prob be a good idea to put some sunscreen all over his back and the boys' back. At that time I realized that he didn't put any on Ariella to begin with, so I slathered some on her too. Well, by the time we got back (we left about 3:45), we were FRIED!!! Ya know when you're at the beach it doesn't seem like too big of deal and then you get home and think 'what have i done?!'...yeah, that was the case with us. We were as red as lobsters! We looked fake bc we were so red. My face, back, shoulders, legs, and feet were so burnt; Nathan's back got toasted, and the boys' backs and Ariella's shoulders were pretty bad too.

Oops! nathan obviously didn't completely cover Brayan's face with sunscreen...
Ouch!! Nathan's red back...Mine was half like this too (bc of my suit) and so was my face...and I'm not posting pics of that :P
It is now Friday and my back still hurts to the touch, although I can finally wear clothes without major discomfort. I even missed playgroup on Tuesday bc I couldn't wear my bra and a normal shirt, it hurt THAT bad! Now it's just starting to itch like crazy...ugh. Major lesson learned...put sunscreen ALL over BEFORE you start playing at the beach!! (And don't sit out there for 5 hours when you're pasty white!)