I know there's a smudge on the lens, but I can't tell you how much I love this photo.  This is the kind of wonderfulness that happens when we have nowhere to go.  Love those kinds of evenings.  Daddy gets home from work, and sits in a chair, and memories happen.  <3
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Sundays around here revolve around football.  It wasn't always this way, but since the kids have become fans of the game, I am completely outnumbered.  If you can't beat 'em ... get into the game too!

So after the big Steelers game every week, we head on over to the local bowling alley that has always treated us well.  They either give us free shoes, or an hourly rate ... very inexpensive fun for this big family.  Things have gotten very competitive, in such a fun way, because one is not necessarily better because one is older.  Seems like the person who did well last time won't necessarily get the best score this week.  There is lots of laughter and lots of ribbing, and these kids are getting the hang of graciously winning, and graciously losing.  Matt is still not so good on the losing part, but since that doesn't happen that often I don't have so much to worry about there.  ; )

We usually eat out once in a weekend, and it's usually Sunday.  Tonight we had dinner out with my parents.  The kids think it's SUCH a treat to see them, and the little ones really enjoy showing off their latest accomplishments such as winking or whistiling.  I've got great parents, and always enjoy spending a little time with them.  LIfe is good.
 
 

This place was amazing!

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Family photo in front of Really Fast Car.


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She did it!


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So did the Shrunken Head Girl.


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Flying on a jet plane.


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Sitting in a jet engine!


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Running the submarine.


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Clowning around.


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This is so Elena -- helping Owen.


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LEGOS!
 
 

We met up with friends one of the days in Chicago, but unfortunately didn't manage to get a photo with all of us.  If you notice an extra kid in some of the photos, you're not imagining it!

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Illicit photo in a race car.


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Matt's new passion -- racing go-carts.  He won!

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Speed Racer & kids.


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Rainforest Cafe.


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Noelle and Jordan


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REAL FISH!
 
 

The Lincoln Park Zoo was beautiful and FREE!  (I hate it that modern culture makes me see 'Linkin Park' in my head ... grrr!)

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Family photo taken with our "ancestors" in the background - the zebras!


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Blue Lagoon.


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Reindeer!


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Me and my 'twins'


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Little kids.


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Buncha' monkeys.


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Taken by one of the little kids.


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Hatchlings
 
 

Our 4 days in Chicago were exhausting and fun, the highlight being the beach for me, of course.  It was surprisingly aqua-colored and clean, and for a moment I could pretend I was back in Hilton Head.  Is that wrong, fantasizing about one vacation when you are on another?

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Braving the cold water together.

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Braving the deep, cold water together.


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Cutie patootie.


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Points if you can find the "that's so Matt" part of this photo.

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OK, I'm very sorry for the eyeball scars on this one, but I just had to document it because it was just so unbelievable.  This was the one bad thing about the beach -- families that lack etiquette.  She is -- you guessed it -- cleaning and clipping his toenails on the beach!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Quick, grab the barf bag!  Ugh!
 
 


  • Well, now that the rain has finally excused itself, I am like a kid at Christmas looking forward to the pool and sun, sun, sun.  No sun = depressed spirits around here, so I’m definitely not the only one.
 

  • We are going to Chicago at the end of the week, and everyone is so excited about it.  Long weekend away, a new city … what’s not to love?  Please let me know if you’re a Chicago expert, and tell us what we MUST see while we are there.
 

  • I’ve got another recession challenge coming your way.  Matt and I had a night out at Dee Felice’s Café the other night, and since I was getting dressed up I was sure to put together another $20 outfit.  Otherwise, who knows when I would get around to it.
 

  • Julia made a delicious Coconut cake this weekend, complete with a complicated icing.  It involved cream of tartar and egg whites … need I say more?  It actually didn’t turn out so well at first, so Matt jumped in and helped her make her mistake into a totally different kind of frosting.  The results were wonderful, and she is quite proud of herself. (And so was Matt, who is quite the cook when he does it.)  Ahhh … I love having older kids in the house!
 

  • Last night was THE fireworks party of our subdivision.  Apparently this happens annually.  Lots of money, lots of grown up little boys getting their kicks (including my hubby), and lots of new faces.  We met a few nice people who are our neighbors, some who were not (relatives of the party-throwers), and everyone dutifully gave their unoriginal but still amusing reaction to the fact that we have SEVEN KIDS!!!!  (Raise your eyebrows, drop your jaw, and step back … there, now you’ve got it down.)
 

  • My new bookshelves are still not up.  I may tackle them today, and then I’ll put up some photos.  Organized office = peace of mind.
 

  • Catch ya’ later!

 
 

Following is a lesson in the difference between boys and girls that I'm just now learning, since it took me so long to have boys.  I just LOVE little boys.


Owen
: Mom, an I gonna die? (pointing to himself)
Me: Well, we're all going to die someday, but you'll probably be old.
Owen: But if I ate five sugars, will I die?
Me: No.  Sugar can make you sick if you eat too much, but you're not going to die.  Why?  Who told you that?  Where did you hear about it?
Owen:  Nowhere.  I just went in the pantry and I stealed some sugar, and I want to know if I'n gonna die.
Me: You did?  Can you show me?
Owen:  Sure.  Here.  An' I sweeped all these crumbs away so you wouldn't see them.

Now, in my experience, most girls wouldn't be quiiiiite this forthright.  They have so many good qualities, but in this particular category (that being "candor"), there probably would have been a lot more song and dance.  Makes me want to hug my big sweetie, because he so much the same way about admitting his faults.  He's just a grown up little boy.  There really are so many good things about guys, aren't there?

 
 

For those of you who don’t know, my husband temporarily lost his mind and booked us a last minute vacation to Hilton Head, SC!  The girls and I are all afraid to talk about the strange changes that have come over this man, because it might jinx it, and he might regain his sanity.  J
 

The trip, which we covered in 2 days, was a breeze.  The DVD players helped … we’ve never had them before on a long drive.  The whole way down we were watching the thermometer in our car go higher and higher, and though it didn’t get quiiiiite as warm as we had been expecting, we adjusted our expectations and found that it was not so hard to appreciate the high 60’s and mid 70’s. (Although it did reach 78 on my birthday.  Not many people get to go to the beach on their birthday!).  It’s not swimming weather, but that has turned out to be a blessing … Matt is already talking about more future trips to warmer climes so that we can really, really enjoy what our beautiful country has to offer.

 
The first couple of days were a little bit of an adjustment, because my sweetie kept thinking we needed to be cleaning, passing room inspections (I kid you not), and other such things.  He is still doing laundry like a madman, but we are grateful for that since we didn’t pack enough warm clothes.  After a couple of days he’s really gotten the hang of this relaxing thing, and we are so proud of him!  We have been having so much fun.  Today we are going for more bike rides in the neighborhood.  Hooray!

 
I can’t tell you how many times we have talked about how depressed we will be to return to Ohio.  Matt has remarked how he is quickly losing his love for the old homestead.  All it took was getting him here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He’s still talking about it in a 5 or 10 year plan … my goal is to move that number down a little.  J