Sunday, January 18, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Club

If you're going to have a kids' book club about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory you simply must have some candy.  And really, the more candy, the better.  We decided to have a movie party for this book club.  I have never before done a movie as part of book club-- since it's a club about books, not movies.  But this is one case where I feel the movie is at least as good as the book, if not better.  We watched the older, musical version because the new one with Johnny Depp is creepy.  It could be argued that the older movie is creepy too, but not as creepy.
This is how I got them to take such a nice picture  (see previous picture).  I told them to save up all their crazy eyes and tongues sticking out and bunny ears for a super awesome crazy picture.  They didn't disappoint.
And then they were very cooperative, lining up youngest to oldest to pick out their candy treat and bag of popcorn.  Better than a movie theater!
I am pleased to report that there were no tears regarding who got what candy.  That's more impressive that it might seem.  This could potentially have been worse than a kids' gift exchange.
I knew the nerds would go fast.
Normally, my older girls do not join in the kids' book club festivities.  They've moved beyond.   I suppose a movie in the middle of the day and candy and popcorn was enough to pull them back to their book club roots.
This man-child was not to be lured away from the task at hand-- school work.  He was, however, interested in the candy.  Which candy I said he could have if he at least let me take his picture.
And Peter as Baby Cupid has nothing whatsoever to do with the book or book club, but we thought him pretty cute.
Later in the week we tended a little baby who is couple of months younger than Peter.  It was fun to have a little taste of having twins for a few hours.  A few hours is really all I think I need-- too rich for everyday.   

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Adventures of the 4 CrazyCruisers

Abe here.  Last week I went on a week-long cruise with our 3 oldest children, and what an UNFORGETTABLE experience it was!!!
(Also, it might take you a week to get through all of the pictures I've posted, no apology here....just fair warning)
Elinor, Bethany, Clark and I on the BEAUTIFUL beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!!  This is maybe my favorite group pic from the trip.
Our trip started by driving down to Las Vegas and staying one night.  Betsy posted a few other Vegas pics in a previous blog, but here are Beth and Els enjoying some outdoor pool time in January!

Our hotel room # was 222.....and we thought that was a good sign/omen for the adventures that lay before us.
We made it to Long Beach, CA, with some time to spare before boarding started for the cruise so Clark suggested we check out the beach!
After boarding (which took quite awhile) and getting settled in our cabin, it was time for our first, of MANY, very nice meals in the main dining hall.  There we met Joseph, our very nice waiter for the week.
Monday (Jan. 5th) was our first full day on board Carnival's The Miracle and it was a "day at sea" as we traveled south to Mexico.  The greatest memory I will take from this trip was simply holding hands with one or both of my two beautiful oldest daughters SO MUCH!!!
 Elinor and I on one of our many daddy-daughter dates during the week!!
There was 24-Hour Unlimited ICE CREAM!!
Abraham Jolley & Clark Abraham showing off black polos for dinner Monday night.
A nice view of our ship late that evening.
One very cool aspect of the cruise was the youth activity programs that Elinor, Clark and especially Bethany enjoyed participating in.  DodgeBall at almost midnight!!
Tuesday we arrived at Cabo San Lucas, at the very southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. We actually saw a whale and some dolphins as we neared shore.
Playing some mini-golf right before going ashore at Cabo.
The Winder Farms gang took 2 big passenger vans to a snorkeling beach.  (Check out Clark's head peering from the floor at the back.)
The Fox kids were privileged to ride in the very back of the van.  They LOVED it!!
Here is the whole Winder group at Santa Maria beach at Cabo.
The snorkeling was wonderful even if the visibility wasn't the best due to it being a bit overcast and windy.
I'm grateful Clark, Beth & Els are such strong swimmers.  Accordingly, they quickly became snorkeling experts.
Bethany going snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean!
The Foxes chasing The Fishes.
Elinor LOVED investigating the tide pools in the rocks near the beach and she even collected several beach critters including a sea urchin and sea snail she brought home as pets.
One last pic before leaving this very fun day at the beach.
Wednesday morning we docked in Puerto Vallarta and immediately grabbed a taxi to the Zoo.  In America, I believe all zoos have signs that say DO NOT FEED the animals. Well......
In Mexico, they hand you a bag of food to specifically go feed all the animals!!  It was HILARIOUSLY FUN!!
I had just told Beth that Llamas can spit on you.
After the Zoo, we shopped for souvenirs and then it was off to the beach again. We went from a very secluded beach in Cabo the day before to a completely jam-packed beach at Puerto Vallarta.  Both wonderfully fun!!
Els & Beth soakin' up the sun.
And more swimming.
A group of performers came by looking for tips and put on quite a show for us. 
We were completely wiped by Wednesday's end.  Consequently, we slept WAY IN Thursday morning (it being a day at sea) and I didn't take a single picture until that evening when I went to the extra-nice restaurant on board with several of the Winder group.
This was our cabin for the 4 of us.  We REALLY got to know one another last week!
  This last shot was taken right before our final dinner on Friday.  Thursday and Friday were 2 of the LAZIEST days of my life as we sailed back to Long Beach......so lazy I hardly took any pictures.  
  On Saturday, I was so glad to get home, give Betsy a big hug and kiss and see the Little Rascals again!!  But I'll ALWAYS treasure this probably once in a lifetime chance with my three oldest!!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Captain Cannon Meets Capain Awesome

I owe a big thank you to my sister-in-law, Melissa.  She is a children's literature expert whose advice I sought for recommendations on books for Cannon.  She gave many wonderful suggestions, several of which we checked out from the library yesterday.  I was looking for something funny that he wouldn't be able to put down.  Man, oh man! Did Melissa deliver!
Cannon and Faith both stayed up late last night reading-- sometimes aloud, sometimes silently-- on my bed while I folded clothes.  As a mom of seven, the sound of silence can be golden.  But do you know what's even better than silence?  The sound of children turning book pages.  It was a deliriously happy moment for me.
By this morning he had completed the first two.  As of writing this, he is almost done with the third Captain Awesome book.  Winner, winner!  I asked to take his picture with his books.  Then it got funny.  Have I ever mentioned how entertaining this boy is?
Energizer bunny comes to mind.
The Energizer Bunny with a flair for the dramatic.
I should mention that it is delightful to listen to him read, because not only can he easily decipher the words, but he totally understands the characters and emotions, so listening to him read is like listening to a really great audio book.
And F-U-N-N-Y! 
The good news is that when he finishes #3, we have a whole tote full of more recommended selections.  Yippee! 

The Sick Little Rascals

This will definitely affect the contest of fun. 
Colds and coughs have kept us home bound and unable to do most of the fun activities we had planned while Abe and the big kids were away.  George was coughing so much yesterday I took him and Peter to the doctor.  George got a prescription for an inhaler-- like Clark, I think he has cold induced asthma. 
Even so, we have had a very wonderful time together and we've made our own fun at home.  Before Faith came down with sickness today, she created "Baby Care" yesterday.  Her rates were very reasonable and her business was very professional (note the walkie-talkie).
I have missed my big girls helping out with Peter, but Faith as definitely done her share of helping this week.
I have found that Peter really likes the backpack.  I can get all sorts of things done while I tote him around-- namely, making meals.  But here's the great thing about it for me--- Peter gives me head and neck massages.  See below.
It really is quite relaxing.
We spent lots of time reading books and watching movies.  When the big kids are home and we're doing school and business as usual, I really try to make time to still read aloud to the little kids, but it can be challenging.  I think what I have enjoyed most this week is the time to do whatever we feel like doing.  
With the bigger kids around, understandably, we need to take our school work more seriously.  And with so many different schedules, we need to run a fairly tight ship to get everything done and get people where they need to be.  We can't just do whatever we feel like each day.  This week has been like traveling back in time to when Clark, Bethany, and Elinor were young and Faith was a baby.-- only I get to have all the experience of having already raised little kids.  I have been so relaxed and patient and I have enjoyed being able to really enjoy these little ones.   I can't wait to hear all about the cruise and The Crazy Cruisers adventures, but this week has been priceless to me.