August 31, 2011

The Wedding

Our friend, David, finally had enough of the bachelor life and decided to get married. We couldn't have been happier for him.

Our vacation plans were put into motion last New Year's Eve when we received the phone call that Dave was engaged. We knew the wedding was to be in Chicago, and we knew that both of our families were on the route to Chicago, so the whole trip worked out beautifully.

Adrian and I have had to drive through Chicago numerous times, but have never really had the chance to explore the sights together. Basically, our time in Chicago has been spent trying to navigate the toll roads and traffic. So, we thought this would be a great opportunity to do a few fun things with the children since we were going to be there a few days.
Always sounds good in theory, right?

Well, we didn't end up with as much free time as we had thought, which was okay. Friday night was spent eating pizza. Saturday morning and early afternoon were spent ironing the piles upon piles of church clothes that had gotten seriously wrinkled on the trip. Adrian did the ironing, and I'm sure it felt like a sweat shop to him. Eight children times 3 pairs of nice clothes each, plus another pile for ourselves.... well, it took all morning just to get ready for the weekend. But, at least we had our chores done, just in time to head to the church for the rehearsal.



Adrian was the officiant. It was pretty exciting to watch Dave and Carrie go through the rehearsal... well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. Wedding rehearsals aren't a ball of fun, but they eventually made it through the service a few times and were ready to head to the dinner.



We ate at Harry Carey's Steak House. It was a fun place to go to. The children had no idea who Harry Carey was, so Adrian gave them a quick history lesson. If you quiz them about it, there response will probably be something like this, "He was an announcer for the Chicago Cubs. He drank too much beer during the games. He liked to say Holy Cow."



The food was tremendous. I ordered the pork chops. I didn't read the menu carefully enough, because I thought there was only one pork chop, but then my plate came out with two on it, plus mashed potatoes and green beans. I was stuffed.



And then, out came the dessert. Baseballs. What else would they serve at Harry Carey's?
Inside was chocolate cake topped with a layer of chocolate mousse, which was then dipped a few times in white chocolate to make it look like a baseball, placed on a bed of coconut dyed green. They were supremely rich, and I don't know if anyone actually was able to finish dessert. But it was fun trying!



There was a Justin Verlander jersey there on display, and so the boys had to have a picture with it. Go Tigers!



This picture didn't come out perfect, but I still love it. The children took home a few pairs of Harry Carey glasses, and they posed with a bust of Harry himself! I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Holy Cow!" since then.

The next day was the wedding. It was also Sunday. So, we attended church in the morning, rushed back to the hotel, ate a quick snack, got ready for the wedding and rushed out the door. In the middle of all that, Adrian's parents were on their way to meet us at the wedding, but had a few difficulties of their own in making it there on time. When all was said and done, it was a hectic afternoon! But, we made it on time, with a few minutes to spare. 
The wedding itself was beautiful. They had the Vespers service with the Rite of Holy Matrimony. It was wonderful to attend a wedding where the focus was on the confession of Jesus Christ as our Savior. 

Afterwards, we headed out the church doors to attend the reception, which was also beautiful. 


Upon our arrival, we were greeted with a buffet of appetizers. There was a vast assortment of cheese and crackers, with trays of warm appetizers being passed around. The children found a spot (right at the main entrance to the ball room!) to make their own. They all sat right down and didn't waste any time snacking on the appetizers and chugging down the Shirley Temple drinks made for them by the bartender. 



When the bride and groom arrived, we were seated in the Ball Room. They had a string quartet playing during the meal, which was lovely and the flowers were stunning.



Every table had a different floral arrangement, but this is what our table looked like. Do you see the pads of butter molded into roses? Well, I thought they were mints at first. I ate one, only to discover it was butter. That, I believe, is a testament that I come from a small town where every wedding has cream cheese mints molded into roses... not pads of butter. You would've made the same mistake, right?



Somehow, I was seated next to these two monkeys. They were actually pretty well behaved and were happy to be at Dave's wedding as well.




This was our dinner menu. The reception was not only beautiful, but we ate a ton of food. I'm not kidding. Soup, salad, an entree with chicken and steak, plus specialty desserts (chocolate dipped strawberries, tartlets, gelato, mini chocolate pianos, cream puffs shaped like swans, etc.) and then a champagne toast with wedding cake! ( I didn't get a picture of the toast either, which I wish I would have. Adrian was hilarious!)
But wait, there's more....



Just as the sugar high was wearing off, they rolled out Coldstone Creamery, where you could make your own ice cream sundae. Maggie and Peter were in heaven. In the background, if you look closely, you can see Annie and Ben totally knocked out and sleeping on the floor. I'm telling you, it was a great wedding reception.

As we were headed out the door, they rolled in another buffet, full of "Midnight Snack" items, which included all of the food you'd find at a Chicago Cubs game. Pretzels, Popcorn, Cracker Jacks, Nachos.... I didn't get any pictures of that, probably because I was either stuffing myself with food again or rubbing my tummy and groaning about heartburn. Or, maybe both.

We finally waddled outside to say goodnight to the Bride and Groom. It was a beautiful, beautiful wedding and we couldn't be happier for Dave and Carrie.
We were honored to be there to celebrate with them and wish them many years of happiness together.


August 30, 2011

CHICAGO!

The second leg of our vacation brought us to the windy city of Chicago.
Chicago was actually the reason for this whole vacation, as our good friend Dave was getting married there.

So, we packed up the van and headed out of Iowa into Illinois.


We stopped at quite a few rest areas, mainly due to me. I think this is the only trip that I've had to yell out, before the children, "I need to stop at the next bathroom!" Regardless, it was also helpful for us all to get out and stretch our legs a little bit. One of the rest areas we stopped at in Illinois had this cool teeter totter that fit all of the children on it.

Due to the many stops along the way from Iowa to Chicago, we didn't arrive to our hotel until close to dinner time. We called up our good friend Dave and asked him where we should meet him for some Chicago style pizza. He said, "Giordano's", and we said "Yay!"


This might just be the best pizza joint in the whole world. It was soooo good.




The children were excited to be there as well. They were hungry, so we gave them crayons to eat before the pizza arrived. Not really, Annie just likes to chew on crayons. You should see all of the crayons at our house with bite marks out of them. 


Here is the groom-to-be, Dave, with Than. Adrian joked with Dave that this was his "Bachelor's Party". The children took that to heart and when we returned home from vacation they announced to our friends and neighbors that they attended a bachelor party in Chicago. I had a little explaining to do...



This was one of our cheese pizzas. It was so cheesy and saucy and cheesy. It's making me hungry right now looking at it. Ben ate three pieces! He ate more than any of us and I don't really know how he did it.  


Here are the guys saying goodnight for the evening. Dave had a big weekend to get ready for and we still had to get settled into our hotel room. But, at least we had full bellies and a little bit of leftover pizza to take home with us!



By the time we arrived at the hotel, the children were ready for bed. We had a pretty awesome hotel room suite, complete with a kitchenette, living room, two bedrooms, and three televisions! The kids thought that was pretty awesome.
But, it was time for bed and the cartoons had to wait for the next day. We had a full weekend of wedding festivities ahead of us!

August 29, 2011

VA-CA-TION

Was anyone concerned that I had fallen off the face of the earth?
Well, I didn't exactly do that, but we did travel to Iowa.... (my apologies to my small town friends and family, I couldn't help myself).

We have been on vacation. It was much needed. However, I don't really recommend traveling 3500 miles in a 15 passenger van with 8 kids when you are 8 months pregnant. That part of the vacation was not fun. But, our time out of the van was great and I can't wait to show you some of what we did!

The first part of our trip was to visit my family in Iowa. We stayed with my mom, whom I'm sure was exhausted by our visit. We can be a lot to take all at once, especially when we come cruising into the farm at 1:00am. But, she was a good sport and a gracious hostess.



The children had a blast playing outside on the farm and finding all sorts of creatures. There were plenty of fuzzy caterpillars to capture and the children even found Frog and Toad! Unfortunately, for Frog and Toad, they were captured quite a bit. I'm sure it was traumatic for them.
The children were also fascinated by the crickets, the grasshoppers, and the lightening bugs. The only insects that the children didn't really care for were the mosquitoes.



Grandma has a horse on her farm right now. It's name was Susie. The children thought that was pretty funny.





Adrian played lots of baseball and kickball with the children, and there was a fair amount of hula-hooping going on as well. Even Uncle Roger came out to play a game or two of kickball with the kids.




We went to the park and played on the playground, we went swimming at the pool, and we took naps.


Grandma had lots of birds on her farm. Sparrows and Barn Swallows that would dive bomb at your head if they felt threatened. We felt like it was time to help Grandma out and try to rid her of some of those nuisance birds.



So we borrowed one of Grandma's pellet guns and headed to Wal-Mart for one of our own. There you have it.... two little boys in heaven because they have pellet guns and the go ahead to shoot birds.



The children did take a Hunter's Safety class this year, so they knew how to safely handle a gun. And, we also had target practice. Susie ended up being a pretty good shot. I wasn't too shabby myself...



By the end of our visit, the birds had vanished. Mission accomplished.



We had the chance to visit Aunt Sue's store in Dunlap, IA. Main Street Cakes and Gifts. They have the absolute best cinnamon rolls and pecan rolls in Western Iowa. If you have the chance, stop in for breakfast some time. They also have the best cakes, cupcakes, pies, and candy you're ever going to find on that side of Iowa. Not that I'm biased or anything.
Ben found a sock monkey that was as big as he was! Too bad our van was stuffed to the gills, or we might have ended up taking it with us.





We went to Aunt Sue's house later for ice cream where the children hung on their cousin Matt and tackled Uncle Mark. We went for a walk around the lake and called it a day.

It was a great visit in Iowa. The weather was absolutely gorgeous the whole time we were there.
The days went by quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to get in the van again and travel to Chicago, our next vacation destination.


August 4, 2011

Spare Time

When we were in college, there was a bar in town called "Spare Time". We used to frequent it. In fact, Adrian's apartment was just across the alley from the joint, so it wasn't hard to find your way there. There also weren't too many bars in town. I think there were three, if I remember correctly, so the choices were slim.
Regardless, this post has nothing to do with that bar, other than the name, "Spare Time". Just couldn't resist talking about it...


I have a few things that drive me crazy. People who make rude comments about our family size, people who make rude comments to Pastor's, people who make rude comments in general. It's irritating to me. I think there are enough things in this world to worry about and get worked up about... do we really need to compound it all by being rude to each other?

One comment that really gets my goat is when I hear some people ask stay-at-home mom's the question, "What do you do in your spare time?" or "How do you spend your spare time?" I'm pretty sure that this age-old comment also gets the goat of clergy. Or, maybe just of anyone in life in general. And, I'm not talking here about the innocent question. I'm talking about the question that is more biting. More accusatory than inquisitive. Have you ever heard this from someone?

My first response is, of course, to answer sarcastically. 
"Oh, do you mean the spare time that I have between precisely 9pm and 7am? Well, I prefer to spend that time resting peacefully. But, on occasion, I am called upon to clean up vomit, help children find the bathroom,  let the dog or cat outside, maybe do a load of laundry (if I'm cleaning up vomit), nurse a baby, or change a diaper. What about you? Do you like to do any of those things too?"

Of course, that's not what they want to know. They want to know about all that wonderful, free, relaxing time that you have at home because you are, of course, at home.
I can sum it up in one answer. Nothing.

Because, there isn't such a thing as free time. Laundry, dishes, school work, cleaning, diapers, cooking, disciplining, more laundry, more dishes, more cooking.... That's the day. Add in  planning a menu, weeding the garden, going grocery shopping and other errands and you have my life in a nutshell.
Why else do you think I started this blog? For fun? No... simply so that I could sit down for a few minutes a day! Sheesh.....
Really, I don't always work that hard. I screw around as much as anyone and procrastinate about things. Like packing for vacation. Which is why I'm on the computer instead... 

Of course, I like to pretend that there are all sorts of things I like to do in all that spare time that I have. Just check my facebook page. I think it reads something like, "Reading, hiking, scrapbooking, listening to the birds sing, watching the leaves change colors, etc..."

Now, I think for clergy it's a bit more complicated. They aren't busy with children and housework, but they still have to deal with people. Whether it be lending a listening ear to someone who happens to pop into their office or someone who is a total stranger off the street. They are counselors to people who are seeking advice, and that's information that they won't ever share with you... they'll just let you keep thinking they don't do anything. They attend to others who are in the hospital, and sometimes there are quite a few at one time. So, it's not unlikely for Pastor's to make several hospital visits in one day. They take care of small things at church and big things at church. They also need time to read and study so that they can continue to teach their parishioners. And, for most of them, they still have their own family to attend to as well. Clergy are busy, but you might just not be able to see it all the time. Just like anyone else in life.

But, what about the people who ask this question? Isn't it fair to ask them what they do in their spare time? Do they ask the working mom the same question? Probably. Because I have a feeling these people think everyone on earth are more lazy than they are.


So, the next time you might be tempted to ask someone, anyone... I don't care who it is...it could even be a homeless person, the question, "So, what do you do in your spare time?" in a real, non-nice-like fashion, be prepared for a real, non-nice-like answer. Because, most people these days are busy. And, although it may seem unimportant to you, it might be really important for them. Try not to be rude. Try to remember that, at times, we are all a bit lazy in our intentions. It's called, "Being a sinful, human being". Trust me, there's no escaping it.

Now, since I've had this little rant of mine, you want to know what I'm going to do next? I'm going to go take a nap and then wake up and eat some chocolate cake. Because I'm at home and I can do that if I want to.
Booyah.

Until next time....

August 3, 2011

All-Star Baseball

Honestly, I shouldn't even be posting about this. Because, I have really no idea of what I am writing about... other than the fact that Sam, Nathanael, and Ben participated in it. Or, at least Sam showed up for it. More details on that later.



Adrian took the three oldest boys last Saturday to the Legends for Youth Kids Clinic presented by Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.
Sam and Than went last year and had a pretty good time. This year, Ben was old enough to participate.



Saturday was a real hot day, as you can tell from this guy guzzling down the water.
The clinic was hosted at the Coca-Cola All-Star Park in Lakewood, Colorado. It's only a mile or so away from our house and a pretty sweet baseball field for little boys to play on.



The boys were divided into their age groups and then they started doing drills.




Doesn't Ben look like a natural out there? He was pretty geeked to be able to participate this year with his older brothers. Or, at least one older brother.
Sam went out on the field that morning, only to turn around and get sick. Thankfully, there was a nice MLB intern out on the field that was there to help him as he puked. I'm sure that wasn't listed in her job description, but she was right there nonetheless. 


One of the boys friends, Andrew, was also there to participate in the clinic. Don't these boys just look like All-Star players?

The guys had a great time and even got a few signatures from some of the retired MLB players. I'm sure we'll be back next year!