Friday, January 28, 2011

The Family Closet: 8 Weeks Later

(Note the crib on the far right and the storage bin on the far left of the picture.)

So far, so good!  I have to say that I love, love, love the family closet!

8 weeks later it is still organized and I've worked out most of the kinks.  One of my biggest challenges was processing all the laundry after half the fam returned from Ireland.  I was concerned that so much laundry would expose some serious flaws in the functioning of the FC.  But I'm happy to say that I jumped over that hurdle without difficulty.

Some things that have needed fine tuning?

  • The littlest guy goes to bed before any of the other children.  The FC is housed in his room.  This means that I have to let the other kids know that I'm putting him to bed so that they can get their jammies out of his room before he goes to sleep.  Oops . . . I am not good at this!  So Plan B is for me to select a pair of pjs for each kid as I'm putting him to bed.  Oops . . . well I am slowly getting better at this.  We still have another year or more of him sleeping in that room so hopefully we'll all get better at managing the pj thing.
  • The littlest guy also naps.  A lot.  Which means that I can't put clothes away when he's sleeping.  (Which was when I used to spend time on laundry.)  So I have had to rearrange my laundry rhythms but once I got in the groove this was no longer an issue.  
  • I need to slowly replace the disposable pans that I am using as bins.  They are fine but they won't still be intact a year from now so when I see a sale on bins I will start replacing them a few at a time. 
There have also been some unexpected benefits:
  • Packing for trips is so much easier because everything is in one place!  Each kid can pretty much pack his/her own suitcase because they can see everything they own and can easily access their clothing.  In addition, we can all be in the FC at the same time so I can quickly oversee the packing and help those who might need to be reminded to pack clean underwear.
  • Wardrobe Management is so much easier because I can quickly move clothing that is too small to the top shelf (or right into a box for the Salvation Army) and since I'm storing the clothing that is too big in storage bins, I can just grab a bin and quickly "shop" for clothes that might fit.  (Prior to this I'd have to go to the basement, find the right bin and then bring it upstairs, sort through it and then take it back to the basement.  Times FIVE.  I cannot tell you how much time this saves me to have the too big clothing right in the FC!)
Two thumbs-up for the Family Closet!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby Toys


This little guy rarely plays with baby toys.  He would rather empty the pantry, stack measuring cups or peel the garlic in the garlic saver.

Yesterday he pulled out the mini muffin pans and then went over to the pantry and was motioning for me to open the door.  Turns out he wanted paper liners for the pans.  He had watched his sisters making cupcakes a few days earlier (yes, a lot of baking goes on around here) and I guess he wanted to try it out for himself.
However, his curiosity turned to despair when he realized that he didn't have any batter to put into the pans.

When he throws a fit he looks just like his oldest sister did when she was his age.  It's a nice trip down memory lane to see him this way because it serves as a reminder that despite her toddler tantrums, my daughter has turned into a delightful girl.  So I know there is hope for this crying kid.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cookie Monster

I wasn't joking when I said he was spoiled rotten. 

The girls were making cookies a few minutes ago.  I walked into the kitchen to check on them and this is what I found.









He was licking the bowl wholeheartedly.









But at least he's willing to share.









With anyone!









And when he couldn't get enough he stuck his head into the bowl to get some more.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Spoiled Rotten


This little guy gets whatever he wants from his older siblings.  The beater used to be the most coveted item in the kitchen when it was covered in cookie dough.  Now no one fights over it; they just hand it right to him.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Day

Or more specifically, Ice Day.  Whatever the reason, I am thrilled to have a 4 day weekend!

The oldest LanganLass kicked off the morning by making breakfast for us.  She has Cooking/Family & Consumer Science this marking period and one of her assignments was to make a meal AND clean-up afterwards.  She made french toast for us on Sunday morning and then again today.  She is a great chef and I am looking forward to her future endeavors in the kitchen.












The littlest LanganLad is busying himself with anything and everything.   After he played with some toys he moved on to emptying the pantry.  Fortunately he can only reach the bottom shelf so he can't get into much.










Not to be outdone by her older sister, LanganLass2 is making cookies for us today.  It's really nice that the girls are old enough to start making things for me to eat!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Passing the Time










Winter seems to pass by so v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.  The trampoline is covered with snow making bouncing impossible.  It gets dark around 5PM so playing outside is not really an option either.  What to do?  Swim, of course!











Friday, January 14, 2011

Changing the World One Net at a Time

Silly Boys!









Background
A few months ago I donated to a campaign to provide nets to families in Uganda to help prevent malaria.  More than a million people die each year from malaria and most of them are under age 5.  So I donated 5 nets because I have 5 children and felt that I would want someone to do the same for my children if I were living in an impoverished country.

Today
I just read an update about the nets reaching their destination and it is truly heartwarming.  You can read the letter from the director here (scroll down, the first part is about Vietnam) but in case you want the Cliff Notes version:

  • 600 mosquito nets have been hand-delivered in 4 different villages
  • 3 of those villages (Munyolwe, Kisango and Njagala Bwami) now have nets covering 99% of the people living there
  • We’re already receiving reports from some of the earlier net distributions that malaria cases have dropped significantly
Fast Forward
In a few weeks I should receive GPS coordinates showing me exactly where the 5 nets I donated have been delivered.  I'm so excited to find out where the families are that I'm helping!  I'll keep you posted on the GPS info when I receive it.

PS:  The above pic has nothing to do with this posting but pics make postings more fun and interesting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bold Boy

The Irish use the word bold in place of the word bad.  But bold can also mean that someone is acting out in a way that shows little regard for consequences.

This photo (taken with the iPod so the quality is terrible) embodies the meaning of bold.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Celebrity Status

LanganLad2 lost a tooth yesterday at school.









This immediately catapulted him to celebrity status amongst the Kindergarten population.

His tooth was loose yesterday morning and he asked me to pack him a snack that would help his tooth to fall out.  We discussed possible snacks:  carrots, apples, pretzels, bagels.  He settled on an apple.

Good choice!  His tooth fell out during snack time at school.  He got to go to the nurse and get a little box to hold the tooth until he could put it safely beneath his pillow.









He is still basking in the notoriety of being the "first one in my class to lose a tooth at school".

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crazy Calendar













October was a crazy month around here.  We had an obligation every single day.  Every item on the above calendar represents some sort of obligation.  However, the calendar does not include work, church or scheduled exercise so you can imagine how crazy it must have been if you factor in those as well!  I remember feeling stressed and exhausted and overwhelmed and wanting desperately for the month to end.  I remember promising myself that I wouldn't let us get so over-scheduled again.

I am keeping this calendar as a reminder of what an over-scheduled family looks like on paper.  I am vowing to not do this again.

Below is my January 2011 calendar.  So far, so good.
One of these days I may do a posting about the colors and symbols on our family calendar and what they mean.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Big Boy

He's not a baby anymore.  Walking, talking, cute as can be.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Family Closet Revisited

An unintended consequence of the Family Closet:












This LanganLad can finally see all his clothing, now that we are using the Family Closet.  Thus, he has insisted on wearing the above outfit to church.  Every Sunday.  Blue and white striped seersucker pants with a lobster print, short-sleeved button down shirt.

The first day he dressed in this outfit, he wet down his hair and was looking at himself in the mirror, admiring himself for choosing an outfit, getting dressed AND brushing his own hair.  He smiled and said, "I look handsome."

As much as I dislike this outfit, I just could not force him to change after hearing that comment!  So off we went, to church, in DECEMBER, wearing an outfit that is really suited for June.  I figured he'd wear it once and that would be it.

Oh no.  Every.  Week.  Sometimes he gets really creative and wears an orange/white/purple/turquoise striped long-sleeved shirt underneath.  Or he changes it up with some crazy socks.  One Sunday, he had the pants on backwards and the shirt buttoned crooked.  I should have made him change.

But I didn't.  Because we were late.  And because my husband was in Ireland so I was trying to get three squirmy boys out of the house by 8:40AM.  And because I went to the gym early that morning, to burn off some Christmas calories, so I was running late myself.  And then I remembered that I don't even know his Sunday school teacher (my husband drops off the older boys while I drop-off the baby) so I wouldn't really have to be embarrassed by his outfit.  And I figured that it wouldn't really matter in the long run if he went to church in summer clothing -- on backwards -- buttoned crookedly.  He was happy.

As they say, God looks on the heart, not at the clothing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snowmen

Sledding at the park.

An Irish Christmas

My husband took the girls to Ireland for the week between Christmas and New Year's.  They had a really great time visiting with family and friends while they were there.  My husband will be headed over again during Spring Break but with the boys (although not the baby) because the boys really want to go fishing with Grandad and April is a much better time for fishing than December.

Cousins:  my nephew (14) and niece (12) from London; my girls; my nieces (5) and (3) from Dublin.










Cosy Cousins:  a sleepover for the girls.










A family hike (with some of my husband's cousins) "out the country" where my husband grew-up, in the western part of Ireland.










A typical Irish day:  cold, gray, wet.













More girl-time for the cousins.










Walking The Prom.  An Irish tradition:  start the new year off by walking the length of the Promenade in Salt Hill.  When you get to the end, you kick the wall.  (I'm not sure why you are supposed to kick the wall.)  After my girls "walked the prom" they called Grannie to come pick them up so that they wouldn't have to walk home.










The Whole Gang.  My apologies to my sister-in-law for posting a pic of her when her eyes were closed.










Slainte!  (That's Gaelic for "Cheers!")

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Pics

Yes, the camera was in Ireland.  And I'm finally getting to posting the Christmas pics.  Better late than never, I suppose.

This first pic is one of the kids waiting for the ok to run into the playroom to open gifts.  Waiting for what?  For Grampy to come downstairs.












LanganLad2 opening his box of Lucky Charms.  It still makes me giggle to think about how much excitement and anticipation is generated by a $3 box of cereal.










Here's the oldest LanganLass opening her iPod Touch.  She wanted one so very badly.  I knew she'd be looking for a tiny package under the tree so I wrapped it (3x) and then put it in a pair of her sneakers (which are brand new but she doesn't wear them) and THEN I put the sneakers into a Sketchers shoebox and then wrapped the shoebox.
As soon as she entered the room, I saw her surveying her pile for something that looked like an iPod.  And her shoulders slumped when she didn't see one.

The shoebox was probably the third gift she grabbed.  She opened it and rolled her eyes and said, "Sneakers?  Really?"  And then she opened the box and with utter annoyance said, "These are MY shoes!  WHY did you wrap them up?!"  My husband told her to try the shoes on and she said, "Dad.  Come on!  You KNOW they fit me!  WHY do I have to try them on??"  He coaxed her so she grabbed a shoe -- the one without the iPod inside -- and tried it on and said, "See?  It fits."  I told her to try on the other and by this time she was thoroughly annoyed with us.  She grabbed the other shoe and shoved her foot in and then realized there was something inside.  She pulled out the iPod (wrapped), rolling her eyes, still not realizing what was in her hand.  She started to unwrap it.  Complaining all the while about how many times I had wrapped it.  It wasn't until she had unwrapped 2 layers of paper that she realized she might be holding an iPod.  And then she started shrieking and of course we have this all on video to enjoy for years to come.

Here's oldest LanganLad carrying ALL of his gifts at once.  He kept exclaiming, "This is the Best Christmas EVER!!!"










Here are the four oldest children opening a Wii.  Yes, I know we are late to the game, but as I said when I started this post, better late than never.