Thursday, July 6, 2017

Birthday Season 2017: Patrick is 10!

In hindsight, it's funny really.

Baby Matthew was born on Monday. We came home from the hospital on Tuesday night. Wednesday is blurry. Real, real blurry. Thursday was prolly part of the same blur.

That's when Pete looked at me and said, "You know Patrick's birthday's on Tuesday, right?"


I don't kid with this "Birthday Season" title. Check it--

First, it's Matthew's. One week later, it's Patrick's. Two weeks later, it's James'. Three weeks later, it's Elliott's.

Did I mention that three of four birthdays occur in May, the single, most insane month to have three kids and a husband in four different schools? And I just had a baby. And my van wouldn't start while I was picking up Patrick's big gift. And after I got the van jumped and got it into the fix-it shop, they accidentally flattened the back end while towing another car. And then Patrick got sick, got sick again and then missed school on his birthday, which happened to double as the big field trip day.

As a result, I was wildly sleep-deprived, the van needed a new battery and bumper, and Patrick never got out of his PJs.

Hap-py birth-day to you, hap-py birth-day tooo yooooou...

We made the most of it.

Smile big and convincingly, Paddy--

Better. (I mean, balloons are the best medicine.)

Without further ado (and because I have no other photos), the big present was: a French horn! (I know we seem like the weirdest gift-givers, but this was his actual instrument of choice after calling it quits on a few years of piano. I daresay, we make oddly musical children. At least, so far.)

Just one quick lesson from Elliott on how to hold it...

...and he was making toots!

One moment later, he was able to achieve Optimal French Horn Face!

We had his dinner wish (Sbarro pizza--not kidding) and readied our singing voices.

So, kid, how does it feel turning a decade under such happycrappy circumstances?

Eh. Dessert's in your immediate future. And there's always next year!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Birthday Season 2017: Matthew is 0!

You guys. Stuff has happened. And before more stuff happens, I'm going to blog about Birthday Season 2017. ('Twas a doozy!)

Here goes. With next to no Space, we made another Scully. (See what I did there?)

All indications were that I'd be pregnant forever...

...but heck if that kid didn't come out!

I could write a whole, long post about how we went into Dublin Methodist Hospital for a scheduled induction the morning of May 8 and how the kindly nurses had no earthly idea who I was or why we'd be there with overnight bags and hopes of no longer being pregnant, but that sounds boring. Suffice it to say Pete and I must've been convincing because LOOK what I did just a few short hours later--

(I may look sweet and motherly here, but this photo is actually badassery. I delivered drug-free! Just because!)

Pedro, ever the loyal Worthington rep, got to relish in my hard work.

Look at that hair! And all those bracelets and anklets! Mr. Matthew Henry, the baby my doc said I had less than a one percent chance of conceiving, was born at 4:08 p.m., weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 22.5 inches long.

He was unimpressed by the dinky hospital bed and dumb duck blanket.

Grammy, who lovingly raised the boys in our two-day absence, brought the big boys in to meet their new brother that evening.

Precious photo ops abounded...

...but YOU KNOW this shot is my all-time favorite.

While we got rid of most every single thing helpful in raising babies, we kept this! All four boys have come home from the hospital in this very outfit!

We couldn't wait to get out of the hospital (because we thought we'd sleep better at home--hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!), but this parting shot captures our sprawling accommodations.

But first! The obligatory look-how-ridiculously-small-you-are-in-your-carseat shot--

Here's where I'll tell you we settled into a peaceful routine at home, but you know that's a big ol' lie. Sleep deprivation is hard core. Getting breastfeeding established (even when you've done it before) can be tortuous. Realizing (over the course of many days and weeks) that we actually have four kids...going in four different four different nuts.

But we'll only remember the snuggles, right?

We're keeping him.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

November 1 means one thing to me: blogging day!

First, the punkins. Quick! Everybody gather 'round Patrick's cat pumpkin that's rapidly melting into the porch!

Astute observers might note the mold and rot and ridiculous state of our jack-o-lanterns that are a mere one week old. Or extra-observant readers might see that tiny fourth gourd... Have I mentioned were adding another Scully?!???!??

At any rate, let's get back to the important stuff. I made my veggie pumpkin for our annual dine-with-neighbors-before-the-sugar-rush-in-some-brave-soul's-garage party. NOW the holiday may officially begin!

And now the really, really important stuff. The costumes!

First up, Elliott, who first insisted he was far too old and mature to Trick-or-Treat. I asked if he'd like to stab me directly in the heart, but the question had no effect. Then, he got invited to a costume party, and look who wanted to un-stab ol' Mom!

So, here's Elliott, a true tough guy. A soldier, who's obviously a little battered and bruised.

Ripped shirt (because, duh, battle), a black eye, a bleeding lip and last-minute dog tags that really complete the look, I think.

The gun was important because, if at all possible, his every costume idea includes a gun. Now take a good look because this is the point where Elliott disappeared to a friend's house for pizza and Trick-or-Treating into the this-is-work-NOT-fun, 600-pieces-of-candy range. (Also, he'll be mad at me for not getting an accurate number into this post. My apologies. Please follow-up directly with him for the final candy count.)

Next up, Detective Patrick!

I gave the child a little direction, and heck if he didn't nail it on photo No. 2!

I mean... I just lowered the camera and said, "We're done here."

Plastic magnifying glass aside, IS HE NOT a nine-year-old Humphrey Bogart??!

Inspiration came right from the hat. Even though I asked if he wanted to be Jason Mraz several times, he seemed lukewarm on the idea. So! A detective (in fancy clothes and a borrowed Ladies' medium trench coat) was born! And, ToT-ing with his best bud commenced--

So that leaves us with one guy: Woody! Just LOOK how well trained my boys are! Even at age 4, James is serious and acutely aware he must hold his bucket at the proper angle.

How'd we do with THIS inspiration?? We kinda knocked it outta the park, I'll just say it.

It's all in the details, right? As my generous neighbor asked, "Is that our baby cow costume??" (Repurposed! That's flattering, right?!)

You don't want to know how long I spent thinking about and trying to get these spurs just right. Yes, he's basically wearing felt leg warmers because I didn't feel like buying cowboy boots for two hours of wear. But the spurs! How I LOVED the spurs! Those are clips from our bags of coffee with two glow-in-the-dark stars Liquid Nails-glued on!

Aaaaaaand they survived *almost* to the end of our driveway. Sigh!

Remember when I said how serious and well-trained my boys are? Well, THIS is what happens when he thinks he's done with Mom's photo shoot, steps outside and notices his reflection in the glass door. Cowboy faces, maybe?

Luckily, his bestest buddy, Wonder Woman, arrived and snapped him back into the important task at-hand!

These two were no-nonsense!

Occasionally, they mixed up when they were supposed to say "Trick-or-Treat!" and "Fanks!" And pretty consistently, they stood directly in front of out-swinging doors. But these are silly little details! They did great and had a blast!

Wonder Woman even collected donations for UNICEF, which was wonderful and selfless, but also left a fading (and spur-less) Woody to rest in between houses...

But ya know what cures low blood sugar levels, dontchya? The discovery of candy bracelets, that's what! Yummmmmmmm!

And then Detective Paddy returned with his weirdo friend who would trade the world for all the Almond Joys. (Coconut! Blech!) They made an unbelievable journey, I'd estimate two miles from our house, to the one family they KNEW hands out full-size candy bars. Ded-i-cation, people!

Counting, sorting and trading are all part of the expected series of events. But when this mysterious, inflatable dinosaur showed up, it made me remember why I love Halloween: ANYTHING is possible!

Another one in the books! Happy Halloween 2016 from our soon-to-be family of SIX!!! :O

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Oh, Canada! (and some other places)

Family vacations are like childbirth.

In the middle of it, you wonder what you were thinking, how painful it can possibly be and if you can just fast-forward to the end. Afterward, you're all, "It was magical!" and "Were there any bad parts? I can't remember!"

With that intro, I'll launch into our family vacation recap! We covered a lot of ground, so stick with me. (It's mostly photos. You're gonna do great!)

First, we drove straight from Columbus, Ohio to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario. If you don't know this little gem of a town, look. it. up. We LOVE it! The quaint downtown is akin to our hometown of Worthington or our old college town in Granville. And the flowers! Incredible.

We found kid utopia: an ice cream shop with walls of games and puzzles!

And then, there's the wine.

So very happy to selfie (a verb? sure.) in front of a pile of wine barrels...

I mean, even the tasting bars are pretty!

Napa Valley is not always practical, but THIS? A short drive from Ohio?? We'll take it!

Day 2 started with misery, a driving rain. What to do? Why not head to the Falls right then?? It was a genius move that allowed us to basically walk onto the boat ride (which I'll forever call Maid of the Mist, even though it seems to be called Hornblower now).

Five-person selfies are hard. Do we really need everyone's head??

Luckily, a kind tourist took pity on us and offered to take a few steps back for this shot--

You'd never guess it by that photo, but James was wholly unsure of "Angry Falls," as he calls them. When we first told him about going on this boat ride, he offered to stay home while we went. With a lot of reassurance, he agreed and did great!

Here are our super-convincingly happy campers, enjoying the short wait in the rain--

For the life of me, I *cannot* understand the people who take their cameras out on the boat. (You get pretty dang drenched while you head closer-than-seems-safe to Niagara Falls...) So, here we are--survivors!--just after the boat returned to the dock!

On the walk back to the car, we passed Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Why no, I had no desire to pay their admission price, BUT the tallest man and his chair were right there, outside the ticket counter! How could we NOT do a quick comparison?? (Also, does Patrick think tall equals old???)

Although there are 3,000 additional tourist traps to be discovered on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, we decided we were all set. We headed to Toronto!

We stayed right by the airport, so watching the planes take off and land was an activity all on its own! So was the red wine at breakfast...

We tried and tried to figure out the best way to explore the city with kids, and guess what. Toronto's subway is magical! We parked for free and then paid $12 for an all-day family subway pass! Smiles all around!

Like good tourists, we made our very first stop the CN Tower. Then, I looked at wait times and cost, and I tried to talk everyone out of it. It half-worked.

James and Patrick were DYING to ride the glass elevators and look out over the impressive city expanse. So, Pete took one for the team, making the ascent to "an idiot's height," as I believe he measured it. (Wikipedia says it's a 1,815.4 ft concrete communications and observation tower. I think Pete said the same thing in fewer words.)

Poor Pedro hates heights... So, while he tried not to puke and was unable to take photos..., I got to take Elliott into the awesome aquarium right next door!

How cool was this moving walkway that carved a tunnel underneath the giant tank?!?

"Elliott! Sharks! Look *a little bit* scared!" Done. (He's so accommodating!)

Some kids' climb-through thing that looked cool for small, non-claustrophobic people--

Nemo! We found Nemo! (I know it looks like we're standing in front of TV, but this was a cylinder we climbed into, so we're technically in the middle of this tank!)

I still feel kinda bad about how we divvied up. Elliott and I totally won!

When the five of us reconvened, it was time to explore the city further. We decided Chinatown for lunch was a must! Off we set--excited, speed-walking, appreciating a cool city where old and new blend effortlessly...

...until we got to block #3. We don't make walkers, apparently. "Show me City Exhaustion!"

We stopped to rehydrate and check out this "living wall." A whole wall of plants filtering the air and tied directly into the HVAC system! Cool, right? Look how impressed they were--

Figh. Nuh. Lee.

We ate at some hole in the wall. I couldn't tell you the name, and we'd never find it again. I was so excited that everyone was doing so well and was trying new foods that I snapped a quick photo of my giant index finger and our meals. So! Take my word for it.

Next up, the Art Gallery of Ontario!

"Look, boys! Look at this woman in this famous painting and make her face!"

That's it.

The entrance to AGO has the most amazing swirling ramp. The boys ran up and down it an obnoxious number of times. (Just LOOK at this enthusiasm!)

Here's where I'll tell you we didn't even go through the incredible gallery that features more than 80,000 pieces. (Stooopid kids.) But! The gift shop gave me tons to take in and this lovely sentiment--

To be fair, I should say: my man, Patrick, just might end up in some kind of visual arts. He likes to take photos and notice the things others walk right by. Case-in-point: a perfect sky reflected in a mirror-walled building! Awesome.

Know what else? An infusion of sugar is sometimes the only way to appease exhausted kids.

Time to get back on the subway, you say?? Hoo-ray! And just LOOK at our stop!

We tried to make the most of our adventures in rotating hotels. That meant different things to different people. To James, who insisted I take this photo because he liked the first one so much, it meant wine with every meal.

Hotel pool time was more fun than Annoying Mom Asking for Uh-nother Photo.

It was good we let the children get some energy out at the pool because we set out for Niagara just after this swim. Our 55-minute drive ended up taking more than three hours! When we finally pulled off the QEW to avoid minivan peepee accidents, we learned the reason for the nutso traffic. Ready?

"Cherries," the nice old lady at Tim Hortons explained.

"Are you serious?"

She insisted she was, and then we started noticing a crazy number of Pick Your Own Cherries signs lining the roads. Say what?! Canadians are weird and need more hobbies.  

Anyway, on our way back to Niagara-on-the-Lake (it was basically on the way home!), we stopped at more wineries! Zippity-do!

Turns out Elliott was none to pleased we were back at our winery hangouts. He protested by finding a bench and reading. (THAT'll teach us!) So, two lucky boys got to go wine tasting with us!

...but smiles only last so long when you're not imbibing...

Sorry, boys. Totally leaving soon.

But! Before we did, we had a bucket list item to check off for Elliott. Our middle-aged 11-year-old wanted one thing: a gourmet dinner!

We emailed ahead and found a place that was OK with 1. kids and 2. the possibility that two kids would want nothing to do with the gourmet fare. Here, Patrick and James work on stickers and eat cheese pizza and noodles-- 

On the other end of the spectrum, Elliott tried things like quail and shrimp ceviche and bison short ribs. Amazing! He didn't love it all, but he did try it all, and that's really why we were there. (The tapas presentation was perfect because we could all sample a bunch of wildly different things without huge commitments. Such fun!)

When we stepped into the lobby to get a family photo to mark the occasion, I had to check Elliott's shoes for lifts. (I'm 5'8", people, and I keep looking shorter and shorter in these family portraits. It's RUDE, right?)

The next morning, we said farewell to our Canadian fun, crossed the border and set out for a stop in Jamestown, New York. I took not a single photo..., but we stopped at Pete's great-aunt and uncle's place. Mary Lou and Jim opened their home to us and made a ridiculous spread for our lunch. (They either heard we were eaters or thought we have 300 kids, I think.) We got to meet some family for the first time and enjoy stories from all our varied lives. It was such a lovely stop!

To further break up the drive, guess where we stopped next. A little place called Erie, PA!

We checked into our hotel and hit Waldameer, an awesome little amusement park that's like stepping back in time.

 The Ferris Wheel overlooks Lake Erie! (Shocking information.)

James was a hilarious mashup of super excited and paralyzed with fear. We kept trying to talk him out of screaming and crying, assuring him the ride was almost over, and that he'd be OK.

All Patrick really wanted to do was this coaster, the Ravine Flyer II, which crosses over a road. Twice. Who thinks of these things? Erie people be crazy!

He's shooting. And SO happy. Kiddie Land was his speed!

I MUST go back and find the photo we have of Elliott and Patrick, right around this same age, on this very boat ride. It was surreal to see James recreate it!

Maybe the best part was that Pete's cousin, Erin, (and her kid guides, Kyla and Owen) joined us to make the evening complete. We had SO much fun with our Waldameer guides!

Oh, and THIS ride was definitely one where James yelled, "I DON'T LIKE THIS ANYMORE" right in the middle. Ha!

Remember when I said we made the most of our hotel stays? Well, when the tub is large enough to fit multiples, you get 'em in there together! (I only briefly tried to convince Elliott to get in there, too.) I mean, it wasn't like anyone was even sweaty or ice cream-covered enough to justify getting clean, but it was fun all the same.

In the end, we all got to go home! To our own glorious beds! And our own rooms! Yaaaaaaay for family vacations!