DC February 2016

The pace of life with five kids often leaves us scratching our heads over how we get from season to season so quickly.  We love going to visit Grandpa M up in the greater DC area, but with a birthday party this weekend, a swim meet the next, dance recital rehearsals, football games and the like, we often realize that months have gone by without us being able to take our chaos north.

Last year in February we decided to remedy that situation, even though we were going to have less than 36 hours to visit.  Traffic was a beast and we arrived late Friday evening...thankfully Grandpa held dinner for us.

Saturday morning looked a lot like what Saturday mornings usually look like when we're there.  A big breakfast with lots of side antics supplied by the kids.  (With encouragement from the grown ups...)

Grandpa has lots of fun old fashioned toys including walking robots, fire breathing dinosaurs and balancing birds.  And then there were the whoopee cushions, but we'll not talk about those...

Saturday we all took off to explore the Udvar Hazy Space Museum Annex.  So many cool planes and things to look at, but of course the highlight is the Space Shuttle Discovery!

not a bad looking group of M family folks

and of course we had to show ms. bethany was there...the girls just love her!
Our original plan was to spend the day on Sunday (which just happened to be Valentine's Day) at the zoo as my little China nationals wanted to see the recently born baby panda.

And then we woke up to temperatures in the teens with a high expected right at 20.

I suspect "normal" people would have just stayed home continuing to use Uncle Josh as a climbing gym.  But of course we're not what you would call "normal"...

So we layered and then bundled up and headed out.

Sometimes I think they enjoy the metro ride as much as the destinations!

yes, we were sitting in the reserved handicap seating.
remember those temps?
we were the only folks on the entire train...
While you don't have to worry about parking when you metro in to the city, there is this slight disadvantage of having to walk from the nearest metro stop.  By the time we got to the zoo entrance, everyone was frozen enough to agree to a quick photo stop.

Seriously, I think the smiles were frozen on their faces...

Kylie was in the middle of a big research project on the snowy leopard and so she was super excited to visit them at the zoo.

Except that it was super cold so we found a sign in their habitat instead of the actual leopards...

Thankfully the panda house is enclosed and warm and we didn't have to worry about them being off exhibit.

The wind had picked up when we stepped back outside so an executive decision was made to visit the large mammal house and the ape house and then cut our losses and run.

My boy was enthralled with pachyderm poop.
What is it about boys and poop anyway?

Thankfully at least one of my kids liked the elephant itself better than what it left behind!

There is something about gorillas that is so very fascinating.

On the way back to the metro stop we had to go searching for the painted panda.

Hopefully next time we are in town the fence will be gone and we can better recreate the picture from 2008.  We're just gonna need our friends from Indy to go back with us...

All too soon it was time to load up in the van and head back south.  We had a snow make up day the next day.  As luck would have it though, it began snowing on our way back and school ended up being cancelled again.  At least we had good memories of a great weekend to keep us warm!


PacMan and M&Ms

What do PacMan and M&Ms have in common?  

Well, besides being two of the iconic things of my generation growing up, they were our family Halloween costumes for 2016.  

Usually for Halloween we just order pizza or scarf down leftovers before we go for candy collection, but this year I was feeling a bit guilty for not making a bigger deal over our October birthdays.  So I decided to surprise my kids with a fun themed dinner.  Veggie skeleton, sloppy joe Jack-o-Lantern pie and Mummy dogs were on the menu.

And of course our trick-or-treating friends were also on calendar!

Ky and Darbs have been dressing as a pair for several years now.  Darby's mom outdid herself with these adorable costumes!

As for me...well, we did a little "costume recycling" this year.  After all, we weren't even living in our own home for the months of October, November and most of December...

Thankfully four of our kids didn't mind the recycle, we had been in another neighborhood last year and so our friends in the Hollow didn't get to see our PacMan family in person.

Last year.

This year.

 Any questions?

Our team of seven kids took in an impressive haul of candy.

Could have been partly because our sweet neighbors were happy to see my crew and just kept handing over the good stuff.

When their energy levels finally gave out and we headed back to the house, there was the annual "great candy swap."

And rumor has it that Mama may have snitched one or two favorites.

I'll never tell...


Laser Maze Daze

Typically there is enough hubbub going on in our house that no one has time to sit around and twiddle their thumbs.   But, even so, every now and then I'll hear the cry, "I'm bored..."

This particular July morning our kids were over going the pool.  They didn't want to go for a hike or bike ride because it was too hot. It was a holiday week so most of their friends were out of town.  Add that it was about a month into summer break, and they were starting to irritate each other just a bit.

Ian and I were lingering over our Saturday morning brunch with another cup of coffee when the dreaded chorus of, "I'm bored" began to echo through the halls.

One kiddo disappeared with a book, but the other four began to chant in unison.

Enter the "I'm Bored" jar.

If you have lots of littles at home and you don't have this tool at your fingertips, you should.  Google or Pinterst search for one.  It will offer another strategy to keep your sanity on days it feels like you're otherwise losing it.
You're welcome.
The appointed child reached into the jar and pulled out, "Make an obstacle course with string in your hallway."

And so they did.

And then when they decided that their created laser maze wasn't creative enough...

...they added a snack to the challenge.

Because life is a bowl of cherries.  At our house anyway...


the M family takes Rehoboth Beach...

The Bay Area.  NoVa.  NC's Triangle.  Northern NM.

The extended M family spans from coast to coast and the times we've all been able to be together have been too few and much too far between.

Trying to synchronize schedules for five households has proved in the past to be quite difficult and we've only managed to pull it off a few times over the holidays.  But then Grandpa M bought a house in Rehoboth Beach, DE and having a destination to travel to in the summertime made things a bit easier.

When there is a beach involved, you can almost always count on the M clan to show up.

even Lucy had a great time playing in the surf

The kids really enjoyed spending time getting to know their Aunt Rachel again as it had been several years since we'd seen her.

And when we weren't playing in the surf or chatting with siblings/aunts/uncles/grandparents we were snacking.

see the Doritos in the corners of his mouth?
 What is it about the beach that makes us hungry ALL. THE. TIME?

A long day at the beach was followed with a delicious meal (either cooked in home or out for seafood along the Dewey Beach main thoroughfare) and then we'd either head to Funland on the boardwalk to ride rides or tune into the Olympics while learning a few new games on Aunt Sylvia's iPad.

Finally we'd all traipse off to our beds...which was somewhat of a feat, there were 16 of us...and sleep hard.  Then the next day would bring a "rinse & repeat cycle."



Searching for seashells or rocks for Lucy.

Finally it would be back to the house, shower, eat dinner and then head to the boardwalk.

On our last night we splurged big time.

Kohr Bros custard.

Salt water taffy from Dolles.

Fresh cut fries from Thrasher's.

photo taken just after we devoured the evidence of our boardwalk fries
 And lots of time earning and then redeeming game tickets at Funland.

It was a bit crowded with 16 in Grandpa's beach house...and Nicholas will bring our total up to 17 for the summer of 2017.  But we can't wait to go back and hang out with some of our favorite people in one of our favorite places!