Once again, it has been too long since my last post (I told you I wasn't good at journals, right?), So, this will be a quick summary, and I intend to follow up with some details and pictures.
So, the 20-24 of October was pretty average but we kept busy getting ready for Ruth and her kids to arrive. I knew that it would be hard to get out and do anything once I was a mother-to-seven-kids-under-7 for 5 whole days (actually Sam turned 7 a couple of months ago, but it sounds cooler to say 7-under-7), and we weren't sure how long they would be staying, so I tried to pack all of the errands/meetings/etc. into the week before.
So, that Thursday was crazy busy, and Ruth and her kids arrived on Friday. It was great to see them, and we enjoyed visiting with her. On Saturday we had a Super-Saturday activity in the morning. Ruth came to help me with the massive project I had signed up for, and we took the 6 younger kids and put them in the nursery. Sam and Nate did "manly" stuff - they went to the dump and Home Depot and mowed the lawn. Then we ran home and dumped off the kids and I drove Ruth to the airport (with no kids, because I was going straight to the church for meetings after I dropped her off). A whole hour to visit with my sister with no kids interrupting, it was great! Nate did a great job watching all 7 kids and putting them to bed while I went to a bunch of meetings (including our first trek council meeting, which was great) and chaperoned a Stake Halloween Dance.
On Sunday Nate had early meetings, so I knew that I was on my own getting everybody ready and off to church. Luckily we have late church this year (1:00 PM), so I had plenty of time. I started early and got the older 5 bathed while the babies napped. The girls got cute matching hairdos (I will post pics). We managed to get there EARLY and even survived Sacrament meeting! It helped that it was the Primary Program. Samuel and Isaac did a great job on their parts and sang the songs well. But, Isaac's friend Jaren stole the show. He was the cutest little sunbeam singing his heart out. He was so loud and funny. We were all laughing so hard. Our bishop's wife was sitting next to him and she couldn't keep a straight face.
The next three days went pretty well. We stayed home and I just tried to keep the mess from getting too out of control. We played with play dough, made cards for Ruth and Andrew, and got our Halloween costumes ready. On Tuesday night we went to the ward Trunk-or-Treat (actually our ward calls it the "Fall Festival" and the first hour is a carnival in the gym). Everybody had a good time, and the kids were very polite. They each got to eat one treat and we put the rest into a huge bowl (when you have 5 kids trick-or-treating you get way too much candy). On Tuesday Samuel only had a half-day of school, and I was watching Anna for most of the day, so I had 8-kids-under-8 underfoot. It was a L-O-N-G day. And a stinky day. In every sense of the word. But, as they all do, it came to an end and the next day was great. Ruth got home, I took my final (my-last-final-exam-of-my-undergraduate-career, that final). It is such a nice feeling to have it over and done. Actually, if I failed it then it isn't over and done, so here's hoping :)
That Friday was Halloween. As the room mother I was in charge of Samuel's school party. Nate had a meeting in the morning and was then home for the rest of the day, so he stayed home with the 4 youngest kids and Ruth and I took Isaac and Noah in for the Halloween parade and party. It turned out great - we had good treats and played bingo for prizes. The kids and the teacher thought that my meager attempt at decorating was cute and I left feeling like an okay room mother. Samuel said the kids all loved it. That night we did the normal trick-or-treating (with a little bit of extra fun - thanks Emma), and everybody had a good time. This year I told our kids that we weren't buying new costumes - we have plenty of dress-ups so there were options for all of them. The boys weren't entirely sold until I told them that if they wanted to they could choose 3 different costumes and wear one to the ward party, one to the school party, and one trick-or-treating. They thought that was great. So, Samuel was Picachu for the ward party (a hand-me-down from the neighbors), Stitch for school, and a Red Sox player for trick-or-treating (He came up with that about 15 minutes before we left, and he was so adorable in his jersey, baseball pants, and cap. He got more compliments on his costume than any of the other kids). Isaac was a prince for all three (Grace needed an escort), but he was the "knight-in-shining-armor" prince for the church and school parties and a blue and gold hand-me-down prince costume for trick-or-treating. Grace was a princess. She was beautiful. For trick-or-treating I put a little makeup on her. Nate wasn't mad, but I don't think that he was wild about it. She LOVED it. I love having a daughter! Jonas was a jack-o-lantern, but he only got dressed up for the church party (he slept through the rest). Ruth took pictures of the kids on Halloween night, as soon as she emails them to me I'll post them.
The next day, Saturday Nov. 1, was definitely the highlight. Nate and Samuel went to a Young Men service project in the morning and then we went on THE BIG DATE. Actually 4-dates-in-one. About a year ago I started craving The Melting Pot, which is a great fondue restaurant. We wanted to go, but it is expensive, so we thought we should go for something special. Once we survived the holidays and the baby being born we decided that we would go for Valentine's Day. We ended up spending Valentine's Day in the PICU of Massachusetts General Children's Hospital, and the next 2 months home with a baby who we were trying to shield from germs. Needless to say, that didn't happen. So, we decided to go for our anniversary in April. We had a Relief Society service project and Stake Priesthood meeting that weekend, so we moved it back a week. Then, on Sunday morning, we got a call from Nate's Mom telling us that his Grandma had just passed away. It was Spring Break that week, and we found an amazing deal on tickets, so we all went out to Idaho for the whole week for the funeral. We thought about going out there (there is a Melting Pot in Boise, and we would have free babysitting), but we ended up deciding to spend the weekend with family. After we got home we decided to go for my birthday the next month, but I also wanted some extra motivation to finish my degree, and I was SO close, so I told Nate that we couldn't go until I was done. I thought I could finish in 2 months. One month later I was called to be the Stake Young Women's President, and we both agreed that the degree would have to be put on the back burner for a while. Here it is November and I FINALLY finished. I had some extra incentive because my brilliant baby sister is graduating in December (just two-and-a-half-years after graduating from High School) and we are getting the same degree (BS in Psychology) from the same University (BYU) so I had to hurry and finish so that our diplomas would have the same date on them. (We'll try to forget about the fact that I am almost 9 years older than she is!). Anyway, I finally finished, and Ruth was available to babysit for FREE so we decided to go even before the score came back (worst case I have to retake the final). It was the best date EVER. We left the house after lunch, at about 1:30. We went to the temple and did sealings (which I think is so romantic, I love doing sealings and we only end up doing it about once a year, we usually just do a session). It was wonderful. Then we went to the Burlington Mall, which is my favorite mall. They have Nordstrom's, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, and great pretzels - what else could you need?! We found a great suit for Nate, a PERFECT Christmas dress for Grace, and we browsed through every store we wanted, for as long as we wanted. without worrying that the kids were going to break something. It was heaven. The best part was that we bought NOTHING (except the pretzels). No buyer's remorse. Although we found several things that we want to buy and will be shopping for deals on.
Then we went to The Melting Pot. Seriously, my favorite restaurant in the world. So romantic. So delicious. Great atmosphere. I hear the wine list is great, if you're into that, and they offered to make any of their specialty drinks non-alcoholic (which is rare out here). In honor of our 4 celebrations (Valentine's/Anniversary/Birthday/Graduation) we ordered all four courses (Cheese Fondue/Salad/Meat and Vegetable Fondue/Chocolate Fondue). It was all AMAZING. So good. And we had the best private booth - it was set up with a corner bench so that you could sit really close and the separating walls go all the way up to the ceiling so that you can't see anybody but your hot date (It sounds claustrophobic but it is not. Seriously great design.). The whole restaurant isn't like that, you can do groups there, but if you tell them that it is a special date (which Nate did when he made the reservation - good man) then you get a special romantic booth. It was perfect.
When we got home Ruth had the house all clean and the kids all sound asleep in their beds. It was heaven. We talked to her for a while, then we put on a movie (Ocean's 11 - we love it and hadn't watched it for a long time and they were playing some of the music from it at the restaurant). I lasted for about 20 minutes, and I don't think Nate finished it either. But, falling asleep together on the couch is a pretty great way to end a date (unless you aren't married, then I don't advise it - especially if you are at your parent's house and your Mom comes down and finds you that way - awkward - and embarrassing - not that I'm speaking from experience or anything).
So this post is way too long now, and that pretty much gets us up to date. Ruth left early Monday morning and today I voted (hooray!) and took the boys to the dentist (no cavities - hooray!). The rest of the week is packed with meetings and activities, but the countdown to guest time is on, so I've got to get to work. In exactly 5 weeks our first guest arrives and then we have non-stop company for 4.5 weeks. The peak is the week between Christmas and New Year's when we will have 20 people staying here. I am so excited, but I am also determined to have my house deep-cleaned and organized before that happens (you know those drawers and closets that need attention, and don't get me started on the basement). So, wish me luck. One of the weeks we will be in Michigan for Thanksgiving, so we really only have 4 weeks. I'll keep you posted. (Don't worry - I have a special notebook with my "project plan" - cue Nate's bemused laughter - now I just have to follow through!)