Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Cost of Convenience

Our car is a trouper. It's a 2002 Toyota Sienna and it's brought us across the country several times and thankfully has given us very little trouble.

As we are about to embark on another one of these crazy adventures tomorrow, we decided that we should get some of our lingering annoyances with the car taken care of--the broken sliding doors and the shaking brakes. So we took it into the Toyota dealership to see what they could do.
We were a little shell-shocked when they called with the estimates, so we decided that although it would end up being a much more painful (and long) process that we needed to try to take it to separate auto shops to see if we could save some precious bucks.

First we took it to the body shop for the doors. Since our driveway is so sloped BOTH of our door handles had broken off and we were growing weary of kids climbing in and out of the front seats all the time. Toyota had quoted us $760 to get them back in working order. Pope's auto body shop did it in $261.

The next day we took it to Costco to get new tires where we saved another $130.

Then we were off to the brake shop where $125 savings wasn't too shabby.


$738 more in our bank account.

So we did we do with all the money we saved?

Something long overdue! We got a DVD player installed! Yay!

(I probably won't be able to post much while on vacation, but I hope to have lots of fun photos and stories when we're back!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

We're so buff...

Each Fast Sunday my brother Pete and my cousin Aaron and their families gather with ours to share a delicious meal together and celebrate any nearby birthdays. With a dozen kids between us boisterousness and noise are never in short supply

This summer we'd gotten a little off-schedule due to conflicting vacation plans, so we held our get-together yesterday celebrating all of the summer birthdays at once. Since my Uncle Bobby and his family were in town from Oklahoma they also got to join in the festivities, bringing our guest total to an impressive 23 people.
There literally were people everywhere in our house, including this picnic of cousins eating my version of Cafe Rio taco salad. Yum!

Then, as per our tradition, we had the five summer babies (Cami, Aunt Mary, baby Jakob, cousin Aaron, and Glen) blow out the candles on the gorgeous four-layered multicolored cake that Trish created.

Last time such a large group of Crains gathered together we ended up with a giant leg wrestling tournament--which was quite as entertaining as you might imagine.

This time it was arm wrestling. Glen gave a formidable performance--losing to Aaron, but eventually beating out my cousin Ryan after a five minute grueling match of endurance.

Then, don't ask me how it happened, but I somehow got talked into challenging Aaron's wife, Trish. The first match between us ended in a draw after Trish's son, JD walked into the room and seeing his Mom's strain, came to her rescue by pushing my arm down on her side. But after a rematch where all children were required to retain more passive roles in the contest I finally ended victorious! I'm still suffering from a weak, sore arm, but I can't help but to feel a little more buffed now. ;)

Our laughing and cheering proved contagious to the younger set, with each of my five children challenging someone to a duel of strength!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When I grow up...

I want to be like Becky Lowe.
Becky and Steve are the kind of people that inspire you

...by the quiet, selfless way they live their lives,

...by their enthusiasm for the gospel and missionary work,

...by their willingness to extend a hand of friendship to the newcomers, the lonely, the struggling, and to any who may come their way,

...by their enduring faithfulness even through great hardships,

...and by their cheerful countenances.

We feel truly blessed to have known them and their humble strength will be missed in our ward and by our family, as they sally forth onto their new home in the west.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What happens when you...

...let your seven-year-old play with your hair during Family Home Evening?


For the record: I actually quite enjoyed her playing with my hair, however I was grateful that this time no one knocked on the door while I sported the new-do (which has happened before).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

See a similarity?

What do you think?



Do you notice any similarities from these first three pictures to this last one?

I tell you--it's a gift! Emma's the sweetest, most sensitive, creative, energetic, fun, cheerful, and enthusiastic child you'll ever meet, but she's got a knack like no other for making gigantic messes!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Too much T-R-A-U-M-A !!!

Disclaimer: I've been advised that I should warn my readers not to read this post while eating, or with young, impressionable children around...


How else would you describe it when your five year old comes running up to you breathlessly telling you that your one pet gerbil is eating your other pet gerbil?

Expecting a little playful tail-nibbling going on, I almost lost my lunch when I saw the harsh reality that Lucy (the evil red-eyed one in the cage) was indeed actually consuming Fui (seen here enjoying better days in Spencer's hands).

My stomach is much too weak to even play with the gerbils when all is well and since it was quite apparent that there was no saving Fui at that point, we just placed a little covering over the cage and waited for Daddy to come home to take care of the messy business of extracting a formerly beloved pet from the grips of the evil cannibalistic traitor gerbil.

By the time Glen got home the sideshow was over and Fui looked like he was peacefully sleeping in the corner, so we made a graham cracker box into a special casket for poor little Fui and the burial services will be held shortly.

In the meantime we're trying to distract Emma and Adam, who were the only two actual eyewitnesses of the gruesome sight other than me, with more lighthearted pursuits and hope that one day they'll forget the trauma part and remember the happy days they spent watching them playfully flit around the cage.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Growing up too fast!

As one of our birthday traditions I let the children each choose their favorite dinner for me to make. We usually end up with hot dogs, pizza, or some other kid favorite. Most of my kids switch what they want each year, but I could always count on Cami. For 6 years I've made the same meal for each of Cami's birthdays...broccoli cheese soup. Kind of fun and different from our normal summer fare--I liked it and looked forward to it every year.

But this year she changed her mind. :( She wanted steak and mashed potatoes instead.

Doesn't that sound like such a grown up thing to request?

Well, I wasn't about to deny her her requested meal of steak, but I wasn't quite ready to let go of the broccoli cheese soup quite yet either. So we let her enjoy her new second favorite meal on her birthday eve.

Since Cami's birthday fell on a craft club day, I let her choose the theme and the crafts for the day. So "Beach Day" was born. We made seashell boxes, whale shaped piggy banks, and these cool plaster of paris handprints.

Of course what would a gathering of friends on your birthday be without some good old-fashioned cupcakes to share? We had quite the time trying to create milk-less, egg-less cupcakes to accommodate some food allergies, but I believe her beach umbrella cupcakes turned out quite cute indeed and thankfully did not cause any anaphylactic reactions!

Then, after her new grown-up birthday dinner of steak and potatoes (which was quite delicious, if I do say so myself), we got to indulge in a cookie dough ice cream cake from Coldstone.


If you're wondering why there are no pictures of her opening any presents, you can refer to her birthday list pictured in the post below.

Kind of a grown-up list too, huh?

So, she's getting a daddy-daughter date and a trip to the mall with me this weekend as her birthday gifts. Not quite as much fun as birthday surprises, but I guess we won't have to take anything back this way!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Cami Rose!

Eleven years ago we were anxiously awaiting the birth of our second child. I was a week overdue, living in the heat and humidity of a July in Baltimore.

After trying every trick under the sun in hopes that she would decide to come on her own, I was finally scheduled to be induced on the morning of July 15, 1997.

A little after 2pm, we were thrilled when our first daughter finally made her appearance. Camille Rose was perfectly cherubic at 8 lbs. 15 oz. and she was welcomed with eager arms into our family!

Over the years she's grown into a beautiful, intelligent, outgoing, and caring young lady and we so appreciate the excellent example she is to our family!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good News ....or not.

"Customers like you don't come around often, but when they do, it's cause for celebration..."

Yikes! Is it such a good thing when you get a hand-addressed vellum letter signed by the CEO stating that you've just become one of their favorite customers...

and would they like us so much if they knew that the only reason why we order so much is that since we get 40% off everything (the best employee perk Glen's ever gotten), we get the illustrious honor of supplying every PTA, preschool, and other crafty or party-like event?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Remodeling the Blog

Why is it always so late at night when I suddenly decide I have to do a blog remodel right now?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bedtime woes!

Some people would say I'm lucky. I just say I give birth to children who are a little chicken about trying scary things. It's not to say that they don't develop brazen, daring behavior as they grow older (like Spencer who's recently taken to scaling 25 foot trees-ack!), but innately they've all started off on the cautious side of life.

To illustrate this fact I will point out that not a single one of my kids has EVER attempted to get out of their crib or playpen by themselves, so we would always just leave them to sleep in their cribs until the next child would come along and needed it next. I was so shocked when my little nieces and nephew started crawling out of their's at 16-18 months or so...I never even knew it was possible. Now I realize that my kids are more the anomaly than the other way around.

But we have a problem--okay it's not really a problem, just a hindrance to our tradition...Ellie doesn't have anyone to take her place in the crib. So we've done what any other lazy parents would do; we've just kept her in the crib.

Well she's almost 3-1/2, and with the arrival of summertime's more laid-back schedule we decided that it would be the perfect time to make the move to a bed. She was SO excited about this new development and she was old enough that I was confident that it would be a smooth transition.
But I was wrong!

We used to put her to bed about 45 minutes before the rest of the kids, because she needed just a little more sleep. But it's proven to be way too exciting for her sleeping with the big kids and she just lies in bed (still she never gets out of bed) late into the night chatting away to anyone who might listen. Often I'll go to check on them and find Emma and Adam sound asleep, while Ellie is still cheerfully chatting away!

So my ever-smiling, giggling little girl is a little less smiley and giggly as she goes through life with 1-2 hours of sleep fewer per night than before. I was optimistic that this adjustment would come quickly, but after almost 4 weeks I'm growing worried that it may not be until school starts again.

In the meantime, I have to admit that although I miss her constant cheerfulness...her pout is still pretty darn cute!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hmmm...What to Blog About Next...

Why is it so hard to blog in the summertime? We're doing way more interesting things together as a family and yet whenever I try to think of what I will blog about next my mind goes blank.

Using an old high school technique, I think I'll brainstorm and see what I come up with.

Here I am with my blank mind pondering over what I could possibly blog about next...

Maybe you would be interested in the craft club for 10 girls we have at our house twice a week, that keeps us busy doing all sorts of creative crafts...

Then again, maybe it's a bit boring looking at pictures of other people's kids doing crafts.

I'm sure NO ONE wants to see the haggard state of my kitchen floor mere hours after mopping! Popsicles, gogurts, and a constant stream of kids going in and out the door wreaks absolute havoc!

Yeah, that's just kind of gross, surely no one else would want to see that.

Ohhh! Maybe everyone would want to know how Glen had to work late on his birthday so we met him downtown and had a late dinner with him at a park right next to National Airport. That was fun.

But then again...his birthday is old news now. Hmmm...

Cute/scenic/interesting photos are always good. But wait! Who wants to lug their 99 lb. camera to Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, the movie theater or swimming pool? Not me! With Ellie out of a stroller now I have no place to carry the camera other than my neck. Ugh---I need a purse-size one for just such occasions.

Here's one I have from Sunday, with the kids at Great Falls...but oops...forgot to get waterfalls in the picture. So, um, here are five kids sitting on a gray rock.

Darn! I did all this brainstorming, divulged my paltry list of ideas, and now I'm still no closer to finding anything noteworthy to blog about.

I need your help!

What do you think I should blog about?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Free Manicure!!

In May I had the opportunity to have my very first professional manicure and pedicure. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and loved how pretty my hands and feet looked.

Of course I'm too big of a cheap skate to do it very often. So when I was approached by a handsome young man offering to do it for free, I immediately accepted the kind offer.

His manicurist skills turned out to be most impressive...I mean seriously, have you ever met a manicurist who would attempt to paint someone's nails without even looking?!

What do you think? Are yellow and orange nails destined to become the next rage in fashion or what?!

I must say my nails turned out quite fetching and although it had peeled off by the end of the day ( I may have provided a little help to speed the process along)...I certainly can't complain about the price or the pleasant company!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I've just spent the last hour working on a post that was going to be really interesting and witty. You would've loved it!

Too bad you'll never see it or the disastrous attempt.

Wit is always a quality I've admired in others and strove to develop in myself. And I am having a bit of a mid-life crisis as I realize that wittiness is a gift. A gift that I have none of.

My brain just doesn't think that way or that quickly. And never will.

A wit appreciator is all I'll ever be.

*sigh* That felt good to get that off my chest.

So throwing aside all attempts at humor and cleverness so I can go to bed, here is the gist of the almost stupendous post ...

Spencer and Glen have been away at scout camp all week. With Adam left as the sole representative of the male gender in our family, our house has been kind of girly. Fun for a while, but we're missing our boys. Glen has just come home. °Ü° Yay! Spencer will be home on Saturday. The End.

Happy Independence Day!

Oh yeah--don't forget to leave me lots of witty comments, so I can vicariously be associated with your charm and wittiness.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

By Popular Demand

Emma LOVES to check out the comments on any blog posts that she is the star of. When she looked back on Emma: Before and After and saw that she had some requests to see her new clip-on sunglasses, she quickly grew animated.

"Mom! All those people want to see my clip-on sunglasses! You need to take a picture of me right now!"

After a discussion about waiting until morning, she then left a comment promising all of you that she would post her pictures today.

It wasn't long after breakfast that she got all dressed up in cute clothes, did her hair up all fancy, and practically dragged me out the door...

And for all you adoring fans out there...here you are! Stylin' Emma and her fashionable clip-on sunglasses!

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