Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Birth-o-ween Emma!

Seven years ago today I was giving birth to our very prompt little girl--right on her due date! We continue to delight in her red hair and happy personality that coordinate so well with her fun birthday.

Having a birthday on Halloween has become part of how she identifies herself. She loves that her birthday is so easy to remember and that everyone seems to have so much fun on her special day! From a mother's perspective, I have to admit that it's always a very hectic day anyway and throwing in birthday excitement is always an adventure!

So as per our tradition, Daddy got up extra early to make crepes for her special birthday breakfast. Since Halloween afternoons and evenings tend to be a little over-scheduled she also gets to open most of her presents at breakfast!


Then it was off to school for the big 1st grade Halloween party where I got to help 80 kids make some cool 3-D spiders.


Then it was back home for Ellie's nap, then back to school AGAIN for her individual class gathering out on the playground, where they had pumpkin relay races and lots of healthy snacks.

And last, but not least...trick or treating!


Despite the craziness, it was a very fun day for all!

Happy 7th birthday to our sweet little M & M and Happy Halloween to all of you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ellie's Special Blanky

Ellie's special blanky is very near and dear to her heart, and she seems incapable of sleeping without it. She's completely oblivious to the fact that it was actually made by a good friend for Adam. It is HER blanky.
At one point I sewed a couple of smaller, more portable versions of it, that could serve as a substitute when washing the original became a necessity...or in case it ever got lost. For a little while she accepted the substitutes without question, but somewhere over time she's become much more discriminating and cannot be fooled.

Not only will she not accept an exact duplicate, but she now has a special corner that is the object of her attentions. At first she must've just liked the way the silk binding formed into the corner, as she could be found rubbing her thumb and finger along a little edge at the intersection. Over time the rubbing has formed a small hole, first through only one layer of the fabric, but now through both. So now, she loops her thumb through the hole as part of rubbing her corner edge. Each week the hole grows little by little.

The kids have turned corner recognition into a game. Ellie gets into bed, they show her corner by corner of her blanky and ask her, "Is this your corner?" She giggles every time and declares yes or no at a quick glance, then laughs and cheers when her corner is discovered.

I keep wondering what will happen if there comes a day when the hole grows so big that it ceases to be a corner. Or although we don't let her leave the house with it anymore, except for overnight ventures, what if it ever got lost? I'm sure it would be a huge crisis in her life (and mine)! I figure she's got 3 or 4 years of intense attachment to it, if Emma's blanky/thumb experience was any indicator.

Long live blanky!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

An era has passed!

After 12 years, five kids, and approximately 22, 500 diaper changes....I'm done!
Ellie is potty trained!!!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crazy Hair Day!

After some computer issues that had left me off-line for a few days, I'm happy to report we're back up and running again.

Each year the Friday before Halloween, the kids' school does "Crazy Hair Day", which just like every other Spirit day...they get REALLY excited about it (as you can see).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Where in the world?

My family (the one I grew up in) is obsessed with traveling. We grew up planning our road trips by which new states we could drive through. And although financially it was a stretch, we have been all over the world together as a family.

Indicative of our obsession, I even have a brother who has created a spreadsheet detailing all of the different countries each of us siblings have been to. Sadly this brought to my realization, that being the oldest has its disadvantages as I am definitely the least traveled of the Crains. However I have to acknowledge that I would never have the right to complain about this fact, because there is no doubt that I have been to many amazing places in my life!

So when I found these cool maps on a friend's blog, I knew that I had to give them a try.



Seventeen countries (all in Europe and North America).




Only one more state to go!!

They're super easy to make at this website.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Birthday AnnaLisa (updated)!

So by this time, you may be wondering whether everyone in my family was born in October, seeing as this is the 3rd birthday blog post of the week. Oddly enough if you add April into the mix, you've got well over half the Crain birthdays between the two months!

My sweet sister, AnnaLisa is turning 24 today! As you may remember we had the privilege of having her stay with us for this past summer. Unfortunately for her, that means that we have boatloads of pictures and interesting information about her! (We love you AnnaLisa!)



This is my favorite! I've been saving this video for two months waiting for just the right opportunity to post it! AnnaLisa fell in love with the song, "Grace Kelly" by Mika (but not our Mika) and seemed unable to restrain herself from dancing to it every time it came on. So of course being the good big sister that I am, I felt compelled to set her up so I could catch it on video! My conniving was not for naught, as she took the bait right on cue! Enjoy!


My kids adore their Aunt AnnaLisa and her enthusiastic energy. She always was full of great plans for activities we could do together...places to go and things to do!


AnnaLisa's smile and laugh are out of this world. She is a very cheerful soul who brings sunshine to everyone lucky enough to spend time with her.


AnnaLisa knows how to have fun and isn't afraid to get dirty in process of having a good time!


AnnaLisa likes to take self-portraits...so cute!


AnnaLisa served a mission in the Ukraine-Donetsk mission--the fourth Russian speaking missionary from our family!


AnnaLisa is a fantastic cook and we often benefitted from her superior culinary skills!


AnnaLisa collects nativity sets from around the world.

While at a semester abroad at the Jerusalem Center, AnnaLisa discovered that she has a thing for large men! (now it should make more sense!)

Happy Birthday AL...we love you and miss you!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy 30th Pete!

Happy Birthday to my brother Pete! And this is not just any old birthday...it's the big 3-0 for him! Hope your full day at work and at classes was at least kind of fun!
Meanwhile for your entertainment I've decided to enclose a few interesting facts about my younger brother.

His nickname growing up was "Pepperoni Pizza Head" and is currently "PeePee".

He's known in our family as being our parent's favorite child.

His sense of humor is unsurpassed and he specializes in potty/gas humor.

Pete has a sock fetish. He used to beat Matt up for wearing his socks, and still organizes them meticulously.

He is very athletic and even played for the Olympic Development Team with Andrei Kirilenko (of the Utah Jazz) while living in Russia. (one of the reasons he was a parental favorite).

Pete served his mission to Siberia (did you know the church exiles certain missionaries?)

He claims to have not developed any communist tendencies on his mission, yet he still has an dog-eared, highlighted copy of the "Communist Manifesto" on his bookshelf. (hehe)

He just bought his first minivan!

He's been married to a wonderful woman, Mika, for 5 years now!



Pete specializes in girls. He has eighteen-month-old adorable twin daughters, with another little girl on the way soon!

Pete is an excellent Daddy, balancing his time between full-time work at a law office, and law school in the evenings. He still manages to play, laugh, and have a great time with his house full of girls!

HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY PEEPEE!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cougar Mystery Solved!

After combing through the evidence and the many tips we received, we've solved our license plate frame mystery. Thank you Aaron and Trish for your thoughtfulness...even though we know that it probably pained you to have any part in shouting out for our beloved Cougars!

It has been wonderful having you close by these last several months. You are awesome!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to Adam (yesterday)!

Happy Birthday to my sweet five year old!

All in all, it was a pretty good day...you know, after he got over the cake debacle (of me making the wrong brand of cake...yeah seriously!)

Which would you prefer?
(Adam apparently has a thing against Betty Crocker)


...Then there was the whole cheese incident...


...And the sloppy joes that no one would eat, because they "tasted funny"...


...And the being out of wrapping paper...




...and of course there were the giant 72-hour-kit candles decorating his Betty Crocker cake, because one of the kids made off with the birthday candles I'd just bought...then again, I think he ended up liking his big giant candles!

At the end of the day, Adam jumped into Glen's arms to tell him all about his great birthday. Not a thing was mentioned about cake mix brands, candles, wrapping paper, cheese, or yucky sloppy joes, so despite the craziness it ended up being a very happy day for the newest five year old in the world.

Thanks to all of you for your phone calls, e-cards, and blog posts....they seriously made his day!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Unsolved Mysteries...can you help?

EXHIBIT A:
A broken license plate frame. For a year (or maybe more) we've only just been alumni, but who knows of where.


EXHIBIT B:
While in Utah, Glen shops at the BYU Bookstore and decides it's high time to replace our broken frame.


EXHIBIT C: (the mystery)

A couple of short days after returning from Utah with exhibit B...exhibit A is found in the trash and exhibit C is screwed securely into place on our Sienna. (exhibit B still resides in its resting place in our kitchen).

We are quite thrilled to be proud Cougars again, and ecstatic to have a frame to put on our little car as well. But how did it happen? We are most anxious to properly thank the responsible, thoughtful party!

Can you help us solve the mystery?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Making Priceless Memories....

Glen had a vision. A lofty vision that would require a great deal of planning. A plan to accompany his sons to their first Priesthood session of General Conference--live at the conference center in Salt Lake City. So, when Spencer turned twelve a few months ago, Glen started making the numerous arrangements to make his vision a reality.

Late Wednesday night of last week they took off for Utah.

First staying with my parents in Alpine, where they got the added pleasure of spending time with my Nana Crain who was visiting from Oklahoma.

Then as another added bonus to the trip, his cousin Stephanie (from our ward here in VA) was getting married that weekend in the Bountiful temple. So Glen was able to attend the wedding and other festivities, seeing long lost relatives he hadn't seen in many years. A very happy reunion indeed!

And in a major small world coincidence, Stephanie's husband Rob happens to be cousins with one of my favorite people in the world, Lara Greene. A former roommate of mine, and a person who influenced my life in a very meaningful way...not to mention the fun we had with our similar names (Lara Crain and Lara Greene)!

Then Glen got to hang out with his oldest brother Alex and his awesome family in American Fork. Alex's kids are almost all the same ages as ours, so the kids have a special cousin connection, even over the thousands of miles we live apart.

Not only did they golf and attempt to fish before the snow came, but Spencer also got in his wrestling time with cousin, Devin and siblings joining in! With Spence's only brother being 7 years younger than him, wrestling is a much more rare occurrence at our house, although it seems like whenever we visit with cousins and friends with similar aged boys, a wrestling match is sure to ensue.

Of course they also had to go take advantage of the beautiful autumn leaves and take a drive on the Alpine loop. There's nothing quite as breathtaking as the changing leaves combined with the backdrop of the beautiful Wasatch mountains.


And last, but not least, the reason for the trip in the first place...Priesthood session, where they randomly sit down in a seat in the 20,000+ available seats and end up sitting a row away from our stake president!

They truly had a wonderful experience together...one that will never be forgotten for either one of them.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Apple Pie

In the spirit of autumn time here is my favorite apple pie recipe...and it really is "No Fail", which is a good thing for me!

No Fail Apple Pie
This recipe is from one of my college roommates, Emily.


1 ½ cups sugar divided
¼ cup flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. ginger
6-7 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 Tbs. butter

Start with the pie crust rolled out into a 9" pie pan. Sprinkle ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup flour, and a pinch of salt over the crust. Fill crust with half of the apples. Sprinkle on another ½ cup sugar, then add the rest of the apples. Then sprinkle on another ½ cup of sugar, pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Cut butter up into small clumps and place evenly over the top of the apples.
Roll out top crust and place over pie. Cut half an inch from the edge and tuck and form as desired, making sure to poke a few holes to allow steam to escape. Brush over the top with some milk, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375° and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Watch the pie carefully the last 20 minutes or so, being ready to place some foil over edges or top if they are browning too quickly. The filling will bubble out when the pie is done.


Pie Crust
this is the 1979 Maryland State Fair winning recipe and the best one I've ever found!


1 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg + enough ice water to make ½ cup liquid

Cut shortening into flour and salt until the size of peas. Add egg/water mixture and stir with fork until just barely clinging together. Knead with hands for thirty seconds just bringing in some of the loose crumbs. It handles best right away, but if you're making it in advance then keep tightly covered and refrigerated until ready to use. Yields two 9" crusts.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Columbus Day tradition!

Happy Columbus Day (yesterday)! Columbus day seems like one of those bonus holidays—a day off of school, without the other stressful holiday obligations. However days off of school for a mother of five, are stress inducing in and of themselves, as I wrack my brain trying to figure out what I can do to keep everyone entertained for the day! Over the years we've started to form a couple little holiday traditions for these smaller holidays, Columbus day being one of the lucky ones--family apple picking day!


The last few years we had headed to Charlottesville to spend the day with Aunt Heather, picking apples at a mountaintop orchard there in C-ville. However since Aunt H has moved back to the Crain homeland of Minnesota, we decided to find ourselves a closer orchard to our home. Homestead farms in Poolesville, Maryland--only 45 minutes away and still all the perks of an apple orchard, like free apple cider, farm animals to pet, a country market, and lots and lots of apples to pick!


We eat a lot of apples throughout the year, but there's something so divine about the crisp juicy apples of autumn time…especially right off the tree. I always think we've picked too many, but somehow we never end up throwing any away. This year our apple haul weighed in at 22 lbs, and that was significantly lower total for us compared to years past, which I will blame on the 95° heat and humidity that sapped our energy quickly (so much for pleasant autumn weather). So sad, because I had to go to Safeway to buy our Granny Smiths that I use for apple pies and other apple treats!


Clearly I can see now that our apple supply most likely will not even make it to the end of the week, as we're already down to half in just 24 hours! And just so you know that that would be just from us snacking on the apples, since I haven't even done anything fun with the Pink Ladies yet!





Only half of our pink lady apples left!

(Sadly, this is the only picture I have, as Glen still had the camera from his trip to Utah)


Sunday, October 7, 2007

It's Autumn Time!

There's just something about the new found crispness in the air in the autumn that gives me an extra jolt of energy and contentment. The colors, the smells, the weather, and the tastes of autumn are just rife with nostalgia and that somehow my memories associated with the autumn seem more vivid and pleasant than other times of the year.

Perhaps it's the memory of my engagement day to my wonderful husband 14 autumns ago. Or maybe the excitement of a new school year and the potential that brings for a new beginning, even more so than at New Year's. Or the long walks in the beautiful fall leaves trying to encourage my overdue October babies to arrive. Maybe it's the new jolt into our drab summer menus with the excuse of cooler weather to start making soups and baked goods again. Or maybe it's the nostalgia of my high school cross country days in Minnesota--running for miles enjoying the short-lasting pleasant weather! Or the drives around the Alpine Loop while I was at BYU? Whatever it is...I love it!

One of our family's autumn traditions is an annual trip to Cox Farms--a farm made into a giant play land for children. Sadly Spencer may be outgrowing the excitement of it all.
Ellie, however, was having a hay-day (yeah I meant the pun)!

Notice my sixth child in this picture, our neighbor Megan. She comes with us on family outings, more often than not.


At the end of the day at Cox Farms, everyone gets to pick out a little mini pumpkin to take home as part of the admission fees. Problem is, is that they surround the mini pumpkins with all the large pumpkins which happen to cost $50. So if it's not hard enough dragging them away from the rope swing, hay ride, giant slides, baby piglets, and free apple cider...then I have to deny them the fun jack-o-lantern pumpkins too. Once we're back in the car again, then we remember what a fun day we had enjoying a gorgeous autumn day!

Friday, October 5, 2007

How annoying...

In my 12 years of being a mother I've discovered raising kids is an adventure in every respect. Not only do my five kids have 5 completely different personalities, but they've also each found their own set of difficult phases to pass through…unfortunately often at the same time as another sibling or two going through another kind of phase.


Cami was a breath holder who would pass out several times a week—and she wasn't even a year old yet! Ahem…a little glimpse into her intense, perfectionistic nature which causes her to write a four page paper when all that was required was one paragraph (true story that happened just last night!)

Another attorney in the family?


Spencer went through a really long phase of screaming hysterically and hiding every time I went to pick him up from a friend's house….thankfully he's outgrown that one as I'm pretty sure I wouldn't stand a chance dragging him anywhere these days!

At over 5 feet now...I'm not dragging him anywhere!


Emma is at the tail-end (we hope) of a phase of screaming loudly whenever she doesn't get what she wants. It doesn't matter where we might happen to be, the grocery store, the park, at a friend's, our house with a friend…she screams uncontrollably to no avail. A complete and total lack of reinforcement of never once giving in to whatever caused the tantrum was little deterrent for her, in fact it came to the point where I think she began to secretly liked the lengthy lectures that followed each of her episodes. Her tantrums haven't quite ceased yet, but they have decreased dramatically in their frequency. Hallelujah!

I'm smiling now, but you don't want to see what happens if you take away my milkshake!


Now Adam's always been a funny guy with his phases. He was a hard kid from the day he was born…never took a bottle (even in the NICU), never slept unless we held him, wouldn't sit in strollers, had allergies, asthma and frequent ear infections, and in general despite him being surgically implanted into the Baby Bjorn and attached to my chest every moment of every day, he was still a fussy guy until he was about 2.

A perfect angel? Almost.


Ellie's phases have been mild thus far, take for example her current phase of background praying (a little echo if you will) with every single family prayer that is said. Personally I think it's pretty cute, although I know from experience there is definitely some not-so-cute phases to come!

I'm so cute, I'm sure my prayers count for double!


So in all these years and with all these phases plus countless many other, I've had to exert my creative mothering skills to the extreme to find solutions. One morning in complete exasperation after Emma had come to our bed for the thousandth night in a row, and kept us up all night with kicking, squirming, and talking, I decided I could take it no longer. Talking, encouraging, and moving her (or ourselves) was getting us nowhere! So this one morning after no forethought whatsoever I tell her to make a chart (reminiscent of a potty training chart). Every night she stays in her own bed, she gets a sticker. After 10 stickers she gets a Barbie and after 30 nights a trip to IHOP. Wow! She made that chart in 5 minutes flat and hasn't slept in our bed since!


Then within a few days of implementing this with Emma, and seeing the excitement with which she sallied forth staying in her own bed, we decide to try it to get Adam out of diapers at night. His transition wasn't quite as smooth, but surprisingly it worked for him too! He still doesn't wake up very well at night, but he's learned to gauge how much he can drink to keep himself dry.

Adam and Emma enjoying the fruits of their labors at IHOP


So I've been converted to a new way of motherhood with a firm testimony of positive reinforcement.


Hmmmm….what else can I make a chart for? Mowing the lawn? Not snoring?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I’ve been tagged again!

In my six months in the blogging world I have never been tagged before this week…now I've been tagged twice within a couple of days! This time I was tagged by my friend Stacey to fill out this ABC style survey.


A- Attached or single: Attached
B- Best Friend: Glen
C-Cake or Pie: definitely pie!
D- Day of choice: Saturday
E- Essential Item: pillow…I even travel with it
F- Favorite Color: Blue or red depending on the day
G- Gummi Bears or Worms: Neither, unless dipped in chocolate.
H- Hometown: Andover, Minnesota.
I- Indulgence(s): Chocolate
J- January or July: July… vacation time and Cami's birthday
K- Kids: Spencer—12, Cami—10, Emma—6, Adam—4, Ellie—2
L-Life is Incomplete Without: Glen
M- Marriage Date: December 18, 1993
N- Number of Siblings: 3 sisters, 4 brothers
O- Oranges or Apples: Granny Smith Apples
P- Phobias or Fears: missing an important obligation
Q- Quotes: I like Princess Bride, Waterboy, and Seinfeld quotes
R- Reason To Smile: 5 sweet kids and a wonderful husband!
S- Season: Autumn or Spring!
T- Tag: Kristina, Matt, & Heather
U- Unknown Fact About Me: I just signed up to run a half-marathon in April
V-Vacation Dream: Italy
W- Worst Habit: comfort eating
X- X-Rays or Ultrasounds: ultrasounds because that means there's a baby not a broken bone!
Y- Your Favorite Food: Café Rio taco salad, lemon meringue pie
Zodiac: Taurus


NOTE: The original survey did not have the letter V, so to appease my own editing tendencies and Stacey's mom, I took the liberty of adding it in.

Tag…I’m it!

I've been tagged by sister, Kristina to fill out this survey about my life, as unexciting as that may be!

What I Was Doing 10 Years Ago: Living in Baltimore, adjusting to life as a stay-at-home with 2-year-old Spencer and newborn baby, Cami!

What Was I Doing 5 Years Ago: About 10 months pregnant with my fourth child, Adam!

One Year Ago: Same thing as this year…readjusting to life in a new school year.

Yesterday: Cleaned, cooked, babysat a couple of kids, ran errands, sent Glen & Spencer on a trip to Utah, laundry, helped with homework, read books to kids, see previous post for greater detail!

Five Snacks I Enjoy:
1. Bowl of Wheat Chex
2. Frozen wild blueberries with a dollop of vanilla yogurt
3. Piece of toast with PB & J
4. Banana
5. Chocolate chips


Five Things I Would Do With 1 Million Dollars:
1. Take a year off of life, buy an RV, homeschool the kids, and tour USA and Canada
2. Pay off house
3. Redo kitchen, basement, and other home projects
4. Mission/college/retirement funds
5. Hire a cleaning lady


Five TV Shows I Like:
1. Amazing Race
2. American Idol
…that's it! I'm definitely not a tv watcher.


Five Things I Hate Doing:
1. Sitting still (hence the not watching tv)
2. Cleaning the oven
3. Cleaning out the refrigerator
4. Confrontation
5. Backing out of a commitment


Five Biggest Joys Of The Moment:
1. Adam learning to read
2. Emma developing a deep love for reading
3. Watching one of my kids making a good choice when they don't know I'm watching
4. Autumn weather!
5. Ellie's giggles!


Five People I tag: This one is hard for me, as my blog definitely doesn't have very many regular visitors…and the few it does have have already been tagged. So in order to continue the tagging survey, I will randomly put a few unsuspecting friend's names down who happen to have blogs. Chances are they will never see this, and they will be off the hook…but at least I've done my bloggerly duty.
1. Mandi
2. Brenda
3. Lisa
4. Clarinda
5. Tim

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"I am a Mom" hilarious video



Thanks to Dad for introducing me to this hilarious video about a day in the life of a Mom. I watched it for the first time after a very long day of errands, outings, homework, grumpy children, huge school projects due the next day, and Glen arriving home after midnight. I was more than a little exhausted and frazzled, and this video hit my funny bone just right. Three minutes of hysterical laughter does wonders for a weary soul!

Monday, October 1, 2007

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