Ready, Set, RUN!

Yesterday I took the kids to the Museum of Nature and Science and left the stroller behind... Hank is really growing up. While I prefer him safely strapped in the stroller, he is ready to run. We chased followed him all over the museum.
The mars sand station is a great place to let the kids get all dirty and let the museum clean up after them.
In the discovery zone Kaitlin did some painting.
They uncovered dinosaur bones.
Do you think the museum would loan these to me? Maybe then she would put her listening ears on!
Hank loved running all over the wildlife exhibits. He refused to pause for a picture.
What size dinosaur are you?
Finally a place where they kids can monkey around.
Monkey see,
Monkey do!
After a morning of running around the museum, little buddy was so tuckered out that I had to wake him up after a three hour nap. Maybe leaving the stroller behind wasn't such a bad idea after all.


I took the four monkeys bowling yesterday and struck out.
Hailey racked up 3 spares!
Karlie racked up a spare and a strike!
The granny bowl worked well for Karlie.
Even little Kaitlin racked up a strike. Her ball would ever so slowly creep down the lane and knock down most of the pins.
This was my bowling partner. Half the time he was running out to the oiled lane and I would have to chuck the ball to grab him. If he wasn't trying to roll himself down the lane, he was pressing the reset button. Once he hit it right after I let the ball rip and the gate came down just in time to create a huge smack! That got the managers attention. Great. Thankfully it didn't break the gate, just turned mama red for a few rounds. After that display, the group next to me asked me if they were all mine. Love that.
I would like to blame my embarrassing loss on Hank, but he only bowled a few pins with me. Kaitlin got the first strike but Karlie made her last one. Mom forgot on the last round if you get a spare then you get another turn. So Karlie's score should be at least 10 points higher. Yes, I can bowl a 96 with the bumpers up and my young children can all do better. Strike!


When Max got to work and all the lights were out, he began to wonder. As he walked passed the clinics and they too were closed, he realized that Monday was a holiday since Christmas was on Saturday. So after working a little, he came home and we went swimming at the recreation center. The kids had a ball. Now that half of them can swim, we could all do the slides together. Maybe not having a baby isn't so bad after all. Maybe...
Karlie Splash!
Kaitlin and Max Splash!
Hailey Splash!
Hank Splash!
Hank loved the slides and wanted to go again and again. The kids are like fish and could swim all day.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!


Silent Night

Today was a nice day of just hanging out together and enjoying all that Christmas has to offer.
We made cookies for Santa.
We got dressed up and attended a family style Christmas Eve service. It is the first time we have had all the kids in church with us. It was a beautiful moment that pulled at my heart strings as we held each other and sang Silent Night. It was the most beautiful song as we all praised the night He came.
For dinner we had crab legs, lobster, artichokes and pasta with a cheese cream sauce. Yep, doing our best to gain 10 pounds in December.
I always give the kids new PJ for Christmas. The theme this year was dogs. I was just sure old Daisy was going to go to the promise land and we would have a puppy for Christmas. However, Daisy must be part cat because she has nine lives and just keeps on going. Max's shirt says Alpha Male, mine says Leader of the Pack, and Hailey's says Rare Breed. I think the family PJs is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.
Max read the story of Jesus' birth. Look closely at the girls. You can see they are captivated. Maybe next year we will read from the kid Bible.
Before bed we checked Norad to see where Santa was. The girls were delighted to see that Santa had already been to their cousins' house in London! They couldn't wait to go to bed.
We put out the cookies and milk for Santa and some reindeer food. With visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the elves will be busy burning the midnight oil! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Trains, Skates and Santa

Yesterday we went to the outdoor mall that has Hank's favorite train. He calls this the Nana Fun Train because she took him on it while we were in Paris. He always asks to ride it every time we drive by the mall.
He was quivering with excitement. He finally got to ride the train!
While my mom took Kaitlin and Hank on the train, I took the big girls ice skating.
Karlie thought she was the next Michelle Kwan and kept trying to do turns and skate backwards (with many epic falls along the way). On our way home she asked if she could take ice skating lessons. Great.
Hailey was a bit more cautious but was thrilled that she didn't fall the way she had the last time we went. They both wanted to keep skating but Hank was turning blue and shivering, so it was time to sit with Santa.
Hank told Santa he wanted a lightsaber.
Kaitlin told him she wanted princess stuff. When I was tucking her in last night she said, "Mom, Santa hasn't read my letter yet. He didn't know what I wanted. But I bet he will read it tonight!"
Oh! It is so close! I think I am the one quivering with excitement now! Less than 48 hours until the day I wait the whole year for! Yippee!!

Lunar Eclipse Winter Solstice Party

I couldn't help but have a party to celebrate the overlap of the Lunar Eclipse and the Winter Solstice. It is a once in a lifetime event after all. The last time this happened was in 1638 and NASA doesn't even know when the next time this celestial event will occur! I can always use an excuse to throw a party!
Hailey learned to make these charming snowflakes from her girlfriend. The day before the party Karlie and Hailey constructed beautiful snowflakes to decorate the house. A great craft for kids over 6. I did not have to supervise at all and they turned out wonderful. Here is a tutorial on how to make them. We lit the house with candles and christmas lights with the lights turned down to symbolize the light emerging from the longest night.
For dinner we honored the pagan traditions for the winter solstice and ate a hearty lamb stew with Guinness. It is a fabulous stew. I altered this recipe to make it a little less dense and less expensive. Six pounds of lamb would make this a serious stew for the belly and the budget. Even with my alterations, it is not a figure friendly stew. But I think it is worth it for special occasions. It is best made a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. I served it in bread bowls.

Winter Solstice Stew

  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound lamb for stew cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 4 cups diced carrots
  • 2 large onions, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup red wine

  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.
  2. Put lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in large mixing bowl. Toss to coat meat evenly. Brown meat in frying pan with bacon fat.
  3. Place meat into stock pot (leave 1/4 cup of fat in frying pan). Add the garlic and yellow onion and saute till onion begins to become golden. Deglaze frying pan with 1/2 cup beef broth and add the garlic-onion mixture to the stock pot with bacon pieces, beef stock, and sugar. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Add carrots, onions, potatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and wine to pot. Reduce heat, and simmer covered for 45 minutes until vegetables are tender.
I made a chocolate "Moon Cake" with cream cheese frosting because the stew and Guinness were not enough calories.

We invited our good friends to spend the night. The kids enjoyed hot chocolate and watching Polar Express while the adults enjoyed some drinks of their own and a chance to catch up without too many interruptions.
The girls did their nails and got dressed up for the event.
We made popcorn bird feeders to welcome the birds back after the shortest day of the year.
They made good halos.
And a crown for Caesar!
Apparently they are good boy feeders too. :)
At least one made it out for the birds.

We had a fabulous night of movies, hot tubing, star gazing, moon looking (even though the actual eclipse occurred at 1 am that morning) and enjoying the company of good friends and yummy food! Thankfully these times with family and friends are not a once in a lifetime celebration. The holidays provide many opportunities to gather and rejoice together through celestial events, the celebration of His birth, and the coming New Year. Happy Holidays!

Zoo Lights

Last night we made our annual trip to the Denver Zoo for the Zoo Lights. It is always a magical night as you walk through the zoo with hundreds of thousands of lights twinkling all around.
The favorite part of the zoo for the kids is the carousel. They giggled with delight as we went round and round. I have officially become one of those weird, old people that get sentimental around carousels. As I looked at their beaming faces with sounds of Christmas music in the background, I felt that familiar lump in my throat and my eyes begin to burn. It is truly a wonderful time in my life right now and watching the kids full of excitement and joy, well, it just puts me over the top.
Luckily, my emotional moment was abruptly ended as the carousel began to go round and another old person feeling kicked in, dizziness. As I kid I use to kart wheel from point A to point B, but now a little round and round on the merry go round and I just about fall down.
Karlie usually wants the elephant and Hailey always wants the zebra.
She rode "Jockey" position the whole ride. :)
The next big event was the train, which was Hank's favorite part.
Then it was time for the inevitable, I have to pee. Of course we were on the completely opposite side of the bathrooms and young kids wait until the very last minute to tell you. We raced as fast as we could to the giraffe house, where the bathrooms were.
The zoo currently has 3 baby giraffes. They are entirely too cute and were an unexpecteda perk to our urgent rush to the bathroom. After the pee break, it was time for the hot coco and cookies we brought. We had just got everyone all set on the bench with their burning hot coco when Kaitlin accidental dropped hers on Karlie's lap! Luckily she had a blanket and scarf that caught most of it. As I saw it fall on her, I considered ripping her pants off to prevent the boiling hot coco from burning her leg. I grabbed her pants and tired to pull them away from her as fast as I could. I could tell from her cry that it was not going to be a burn, just hot and upsetting. The hot coco moment was over as Karlie was now freezing in her wet pants. It was time to go home.

You can always count on a blip in the road with four kids. :) It is never going to be quite how you planned or imagined. Sometimes for worse, but most often for better. In 10 years, we wont remember the spill, just the charming night at the zoo.