Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Families Are Eternal"

We had a little Back to School Feast and special Family Home Evening the night before school was supposed to start. It was also the day of the earthquake, so we later found out that school would be delayed a day and that it wouldn't actually start until Thursday. It turned out fine because we had a few aftershocks that night and it was nice to have the kids home the next day because I was still a bit jumpy.

Anyway, our family theme this year is: Our dinner consisted of crockpot chicken over rice (a family favorite), steamed broccoli, fresh pineapple, buttery bread, and sparkling raspberry lemonade.

During dinner we talked about our theme and what it means. We let the kids know that our home should be a heaven on earth and we should always strive to have the spirit here. It is a safe haven for everyone who enters and no one should have to worry about being sad or unhappy while in our home. We love our family and we have the eternal blessings of the temple to be together forever as an eternal family, and we need to always remember that. We also talked about how our family is the most important thing in this life and we should always treat each other like one of our most prized possesions. We stick up for each other and help each other. Always, no matter what.

I have noticed since this special FHE that the kindness in our home has increased and the bickering has lessened so much. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the kids are back in school, and therefore, don't see each other as much. But whatever the reason, I like it :)

Mini Cinni's served as our dessert.

I made these special back-to-school gifts for each child. During April's General Conference, I remembered hearing a talk about how every child should have a picture of the temple in their room. It's been my goal to make that happen. I've had the supplies for these for awhile, but never made them until now. I think they turned out fabulously!

This is Magnus'. I made them all to match their rooms.

The kids were very excited about their pictures. It made me happy.

Excpet Bear really wanted to take the flower off of his picture, haha. Too bad I totally super-glued it on. Sorry Bear!

After our wonderful FHE, we had Father's Blessing's given by Andrew. They were amazing, and it was mentioned frequently for the kids to be good examples to their friend's and to also be good missionaries. I have really enjoyed living in the mission field. It has taught my kid's so many great lessons.

Treats were served, and everyone was happy :)

The End.

Monday, August 29, 2011

We're Still Kickin'

We survived Hurricane Irene, and survived it well. It rained a lot and was extremely windy, but we were some of the few who didn't even lose power, or trees, and didn't have any flooding. Even though the storm was an enormous 500 miles wide, and they predicted it to be a direct hit over our little town, it wasn't as bad as they thought.

Lucky for us. We actually had quite a terrific Saturday, cozy inside our home, playing Wii, eating lots of treats, playing games, reading, watching the news (it was a constant noise in the background), and resting. All the while, the wind was howling outside, and rain was pelting our home pretty much the entire day. It was worse through the night, but like I said, we were fine, and thankfully, didn't have to eat chicken noodle soup for a week straight. Those who didn't fare as well are still in our thoughts and prayers.

Good riddance Irene, please do not come back anytime soon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Checklist:

You know, for back to school. I should be doing a checklist on hurricane preparedness, but I don't want to think about that anymore. I am super nervous and trying not to let my kids know just how scared I am. Not for the actual event, but for afterwards. The authorities say we could be without power for up to a week. Yikes. Oh well, I feel like we're as ready as we can be. What a crazy last week it has been. Alright, enough with that.... onto our Back To School Checklist!

-Dental check-ups for everyone. The kids were all awesome, they love the dentist. Sick and twisted, right? It's probably because none of them have ever had a cavity. And the same held true, they all had perfect little clean smiles. Hooray for that. Andy wasn't so lucky. He had a small one, which has already been taken care of. I didn't have any either, but I need to have 2 (my only 2!) fillings replaced because they are old and falling apart. Next week... yuck. I hate that numb feeling all. day. long.

-Physicals! Yay, right? No. The kids were fine and healthy, of course. A few of them needed immunizations and we also found out that Daphne and Jonah had strep (I meant, most of them were healthy :). Ahhh, so that's what those fevers were from...

-Haircuts. We spent the Saturday morning before school started giving everyone a trim-up. And they all look teeee-riffic. Of course they do. I cut their hair. Tee-hee.

-Back to school shopping. My favorite. I just love to shop, no matter what (or whom), it may be for. They have this cool tax-free weekend here in VA for said shopping and we took advantage. We only saved something like 20 bucks, but it was nice to get it all done in one day. Pencils, folders, rulers, notebooks, paper, crayons, pencil boxes, markers, erasers, glue, scissors, kleenex, hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, a couple back-packs, new lunchboxes, and the like. Also, lots of new shoes (we ended up with 10 pair, I believe.... the kids had all grown at the same time. Imagine that?), a first day of school outfit for all (complete with lots of new underwear and socks), and a pizza for dinner at Costco, along with churros for dessert. It was a fun day spent together as a family.

-A week of practicing waking up early for school. A bunch of friends in my ward planned a week of breakfasts, taking turns hosting and preparing breakfast for the lot of us. There ended up being about 50 of us (8 families) and it was so much fun. We would meet at the host's house at 7:30 for breakfast, we would all eat and the kids would play, and we were back home by 9. It was good practice for my kids, even though some mornings I was dragging them out of bed to get to breakfast on time. We only did it for 6 breakfasts, so luckily I was able to pair up with my friend Ira and I didn't have to host one at my house. The menu was fabulous each day:

Tuesday: hard-boiled eggs, muffins, yogurt, sausage, and orange juice
Wednesday: German pancakes with various toppings, including maple syrup, ice cream, fruit, chocolate syrup, yogurt, and whip cream, along with orange juice.
Thursday (Ira's and my day): sugar cereal (such a treat, haha) and milk, fruit/granola yogurt parfaits, and orange juice
Friday: pancakes, bacon, orange and apple juice
Monday: breakfast casseroles (eggs, sausage, cheese), baked french toast, monkey bread ( I have always called these pull-aparts, but everyone else here calls it this..? Not quite sure what monkeys have to do with brown sugar, butter, and biscuits all baked together?), orange and apple juice
Tuesday: french toast topped with fruit compote and whipped cream, watermelon, yogurt and orange juice.

It was a blast, as well as a great idea. I love my ward, I have made such wonderful friends and I love the fun things that are always being planned.

I only brought my camera once and only snapped a few pictures. It must have been Friday because there are pancakes in the pictures :)

I just noticed that all 5 of my kids happened to make it into this picture. Can you spot them all? It's "Where's The Collette Children Game"!

-Summer's Last Hurrah. On the Saturday before school started, there was a Movie/Swim Party at our community pool. It was super fun for the kids since the pool usually closes at 8. They though it was just SO cool getting to swim in the dark with the pool lights on. We also got to watch Rio, which we had yet to see. The movie started and all of us were watching it, chowing down on popcorn. One by one, the kids slipped away from the movie and into the pool, until most of the seats were empty and only adults were left watching the movie.This kid sat and ate popcorn and watched the entire movie.

Daphne found a great spot where she could swim and watch the movie. Smart girl.

Eventually, everyone ended up in a towel and finished watching the end of the movie. It was such a fun night, as well as a final farewell to summer.

-School Open House. Every year the kids get to go to their school, meet their new teacher, see their classroom, and bring all of their spanking new school supplies to their cubby. This year was especially exciting, because Daphne started kindergarten! We went to her orientation and then headed to her classroom.

She got to sit at her desk...

Explore her classroom...

Meet her teacher (who is SO great)...

And check out the school bus that she will be riding. It all made her SO excited for school to start.

We then took Laylah and Jonah to meet their new teachers, who I think will be excellent also.

And afterwards we had to go say hi to all of their old teachers. It was a fun day that made the kids SO excited to start school.

-And last, but not least, on our back to school list is.... our Back to School Feast! Which I will keep you on the edge of your seats for....

I know, I know. It's just almost too much to handle.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And So I Lived To Tell The Tale!


In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic with my title :)

I have had a post in the works about getting ready to go back to school, but it will have to wait because, well, if you live under a rock, you didn't hear that we had an earthquake here in good, old Virginia.

Guys.... it was scary.

I've only experienced one other earthquake, when I was a young girl, and I remember thinking it was thunder; that's how small it was. My mom later informed me that it had been an earthquake. I thought it was pretty cool and exciting. Now I know that it isn't. It is incredibly surreal and I could hardly believe the feelings of helplessness that kept sweeping over me.

So, if you're ready, here is my tale...

The girls and I were sitting at the kitchen table, doing a craft. Andy was driving at the time, running some errands. The 2 baby boys were napping, and Jonah was at a friend's house. Laylah had just asked me a question, and I glanced up to answer her. My view was such that I could see out the sliding glass door, and I noticed a rumbling in the distance. It kept getting louder.... and louder. I remember thinking, "Huh, that's funny. The sky is clear. Why is it thundering?... Or is that a plane...?? What the heck is that noise?!"

And then the shaking began. Slowly, at first. I felt my eyes widen and Laylah said, "What is it Mom?" and I exclaimed, "I think it's an earthquake!" and immedietly the girls broke into tears. I ushered them over to the closest doorframe as the shaking got worse and worse. I reassured them , even though inside I kept thinking, "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Why won't it stop! How long is this going to last?" It felt like I was standing on a crazy ride in a funhouse or something. Things started falling off the walls, decor started falling off of shelves. Drawers in the kitchen opened and closed, light fixtures were a swingin'. It lasted about a minute, but it felt like much, much longer. I could still see outside and I noticed our barbeque and deck shakin' away. The helpless feeling is almost indescribable. And it was just so LOUD. Not knowing how long, or how bad it would get, it just terrified me. At the moment, all I could think about was my family who weren't around me. I didn't feel comfortable leaving the girls and running to check on the boys. So we waited. It slowed down and eventually the shaking stopped, but the vibrating rumblings continued. I was still comforting the girls, especially Laylah, who was still crying. Sadie had been going crazy, but we finally got her to come over by us and stay.

And then, it stopped. Finally. I ran for my phone to call Andy. No service. I called for Laylah to run down and check on Bear while I sprinted up the stairs to check on Magnus. Sleeping away, through the whole thing. Laylah came back up and said Bear was sleeping still. Phew. And then I went and collapsed on the couch. I still felt wobbly and my heart started pounding every time I thought about it. I was thankful it wasn't bigger, but just the experience was truly terrifying.

I was finally able to get a text through to Andy, who texted back that he was fine. He had thought something was wrong with the car, oblivious to the swaying street and traffic lights around him. He didn't even know it was an earthquake until I texted him. Then the shaking car suddenly made sense!

I got a hold of my friend, who had Jonah at her house. She said he was a bit shaken up (literally, haha ;), but fine. I started researching quickly after that. I found out the epicenter was in Mineral, VA which is in my ward boundaries. So close to us. Crazy. I found out that they were going to postpone the first day of school, which was supposed to be the next day. What a way to end the summer, eh? I just kept feeling so relieved that it happened on Tuesday instead of Wednesday on my kids first day back to school. They had to check out all of the school buildings. Although damages weren't severe, several schools need repairs. A few roofs caved in. My neighbors chimney ended up in their living room. Many old and historic buildings (built in the 1800's) will have to be knocked down because of damages. The east coast is just not equipped or prepared for an earthquake of that size, a 5.9.

We have had several aftershocks, up to a 4.5 magnitude. I realize that when I take a step back and look at it all, it is pretty comical (especially all of those hilarious pictures and jokes flying around the internet... "Virginia Quake of 2011.... We WILL rebuild" captioning a picture of patio furniture with the lawnchair tipped over.... I got a good laugh out of that one :), but I will be the first to admit that it was incredibly scary at the time. I really hope to never experience anything like that again.

Oh wait.... Hurricane Irene is headed our way in a few days. Here we go again...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Baby M: 9 Months

Baby boy is 9 months. Technically, he is 10 months, in a little over a week. He is such a joy. We can't get enough of him and we all get such a thrill out of every cute, little thing he does. As usual, he is growing like a weed (but, a darling weed :) and he is still completely off the charts at 27.5 pounds and 30.5 inches long. Big boy. Don't worry, his crib is now on the lowest setting. I have to say that this is one my of absolute favorite ages. It's so fun to see him learn so much and really starting to grasp the world around him. He has learned a lot of new tricks, including:

-clapping (especially when we say "Yay!")
-giving 5
-sipping through a straw
-shakes head "no" when he doesn't want something
-pats his chest when we say "Where's Magnus?"
-and da da da-duh!.... Crawling!

Life has changed quite a bit since M started scooting around (about a month ago) and it's funny how much you forget they can reach and get into. Thankfully, he can only pull up to his knees still and he's not on his feet yet.

I can still trap him in his excer-saucer, and he loves to jump up and down in it. It keeps him busy for awhile before he's protesting to be taken out.

Cute little crawler. He's getting much quicker these days, especially when he sees something he wants. It's hilarious when his legs start going too fast for his arms and he ends up doing a faceplant on the floor. Unfortunately, he's already taken a spill down the stairs and I am constantly telling the kids to shut the basement door.

He loves suckers and will stay quite content in his highchair sucking on one happily while I do dishes or sweep the floor. (PS Look at those arms! Love me some squishy-squish)

I still bring him in with me to nurse when he wakes up in the morning. This is one of my favorite times of the day. We just sit and play afterwards, until he's trying to crawl off the bed, that is...

If you've noticed a pattern, it's true. I never get my child dressed. He wears onesies and pajammas every day. He's just SO snuggable.

Sadie likes to hangout with M because she can get the occasional lick in and he doesn't protest like the rest of us. He thinks she's funny and likes to "pat" (ie "hit") her.

M has had 8 teeth for a couple months now, but there is no sign of more anytime soon. He eats anything he is given. Anything. I have yet to find a food he doesn't like. And he also never stops opening his mouth for food. He cries nearly every time I stop feeding him and tell him the food is "all gone!" at the end of a meal. He loves to eat.

It has been quite a different experience having a baby in VA. Babies are more of a rarity here and I can't believe how much attention he gets. People are always stopping us to see him or going out of their way to come up to us and talk about him. I think part of it is his size. I have yet to be out running errands and not have someone comment on how big he is. He has always been shy and will duck his head with a little smile when a stranger talks to him. If I am holding him, he turns into my shoulder and hides.

Magnus loves his dad. He saves his biggest and best smiles for Andy. He reaches for him whenever Andy passes by. He is definitely a daddy's boy. He also says "Dada" on a regular basis and has been for a couple months. However, sometimes, a boy just wants his mom :) His first word was "Momma" right around 6 months old. Sometimes I am the only one who can calm him or make him happy. He also loves his siblings and they all love making him giggle, laugh, and smile. Daphne is especially good at this and she loves to play with him in his room. Laylah is still the best helper with him and lugs him around, gets him dressed, feeds him, and buckles him in his carseat. Both Jonah and Baron alike can always get a smile out of M when he is cranky or sad. They are all just so sweet with him.

M makes some funny noises with his tongue. He clicks, as well as makes a "tsss" sound, all day long. He also says "nana" over and over, which means he sees food, and wants some, of course :). He is still an excellent sleeper, going 12 hours at night (7-7) and taking two 2-hour naps during the day. He is a dream baby. We all just love our big ball of squish named Magnus :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Know It's A Little Early For Halloween, But...

Seriously. I almost wet my pants when I went out to check the mailbox, opened it up, saw this giant web completely covering the opening, peeked inside and saw a HUGE black widow right in my face. I screamed so loud that my boys heard me from inside and came running out to check on me.

I ran in and found a can of RAID (for ants), but it did the trick. I sprayed and sprayed that sucker until it dropped to the ground and was writhing around in circles. Then Bear stepped on it and now it's a black smear in the gutter. I hate spiders. Like hate hate.

Can you even imagine if the mailman just happened to come a little earlier that day, and put the mail in there, and one of my dear, sweet children ran out (just like they so often do) and reached in to retrieve it (reached into a deathtrap!!), and what if that ugly, black creature just happened to decide to sink its fangs into their chubby little hand?

Holy. Moly.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And Then There Was The Day I Decided It Was Okay To Have Brown Hair...

Okay, so listen up. I used to think that I was a blonde and that was that. Like, forever and for always. I have had blonde hair my entire life except for about 6 months after I graduated highschool and I went super dark brown/red, and I liked it for about 2 days and then I hated it. I slowly went back to the blonde. I actually met Andy when I was still semi-dark/halfway back to blonde and he really liked my hair that color. But, I told him I was a blonde and I would never go dark again (he's always been attracted to girls with long, dark, wavy hair.... and I forgot to mention that at the time my hair was suuuuper short. How we ended up together is still a mystery :)

Que to last summer. Since moving to VA, I have hated my hair. The humidity kills me. My hair is frizzy and ugly and gross, and if I spend a half hour doing it, it is ugly again in about .5 seconds. The bleaching every couple months just wasn't doing anything for it. Not to mention that I still haven't found a stylist that I love here. And if I were to go to a high-end salon, it would run me about $300. Every 8 weeks. Not going to happen.

I finally talked myself into trying out the brown again. Believe me, I did not do this lightly. It took months of thinking about it and changing my mind back and forth about 50 times (rememebr me? Sarah Collette? The Girl Who Hates Change? Yeah, that's me :)

I finally decided on a color and did it myself last Friday night. Andy hasn't stopped telling me how much he loves it. I guess that's good.... excpet, what about while I was blonde the last 10 years? Haha, just kidding.

It's growing on me and I've stopped doing a double take every time I walk past a mirror. I don't know still. It's just so different. I've even had people tell me that I look like a totally different person. Kinda weird. But, like I said.... I'll get there!

P.S. Thanks for all of your sweet comments on facebook. It really meant a lot :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Water, Water... and Some More Water

Since getting back from Utah, we have been busy getting WET! It is quite a difference from last summer where I was 7 months pregnant and miserable and H-O-T, and I did indoor activities as much as possible. However, this summer I have noticed that the heat doesn't bother me quite as much as it did last summer (although I don't think I will ever get used to the random trickle of sweat going down my back, due to high humidity), and we've been having a blast!

One night the kids were swimming in their little blow-up pool and running through the sprinklers. Dad decided he was hot and got in on the action...

Another day we decided to try out a little pond at Alum Springs Park, along with some of our friends. We saw lots of fish, frogs, lizards, and snakes. And plenty of bugs. It was muddy and yucky. Not my favorite place. Although the kids have been asking to go back, I'm not sure I'll be taking them anytime soon.Jonah was pretending to be a river monster. I wouldn't have been very surprised if one actually did come out of this yucky little pond/river.

Magnus was busy finding anything and everything he could to sample in his mouth. The list includes, but is not limited to: giant handfuls of sand, little rocks, big rocks, sticks, leaves, and dead bugs. Pretty dang gross.
Oh well, whatever makes 'em happy, right? And stop screaming at me when I try to take something away.

Heading down the river to explore.

I finally relented and let this kid scoot down to the water. We decided to call it a day when M kept trying to crawl in over his head. And throwing a tantrum when I decided that it probably wasn't a good idea. But what do I know? I'm only his mother. Ahhh, babies. Fun stuff, right? Not.

The highlight of the day was definitely leaving to go and get slurpees.

Later that week, we decided to see what all the hype was about down at "The River". I hear kids and adults alike always talking about "going down to the river" and I finally asked one of my friends what that was all about. She said that there is a big beachy area down by the Rappahannock River where people go play, camp, barbeque, tube, and swim. We decided to go together so our family could check it out. It was a lot of fun. Even though I was grossed out by the actual river :)

We brought umbrellas and beach blankets so the babies could play comfortably. It was a super hot day and we spent most of it lounging in the shallow part. We took turns getting up to go and drag back stray kids who were unaware they had started going along with the flow of the river and had gotten too far away. We had a lovely picnic and enjoyed good company.

There are lots of fish and they aren't scared of people. They would swim right up and nibble on your toes. The kids caught a few little ones in their buckets.

The dads took the bigger kids on a hike up the river where they found a small waterfall and they were able to fish for a bit. Jonah caught a huge catfish and he was so excited to tell me about it.

While they were gone, Magnus decided he was ready to be done, and cried for an hour until the dads got back. It was hot and he was tired. Again, with the "not fun" stuff. Babies just aren't fun at this age for doing recreational activity type things. (PS I remember thinking last summer, while I was pregnant, that this summer just wouldn't be very enjoyable to do outdoor type stuff with an infant. And I was right. It's not :)

As soon as those Baby Blues spotted daddy from afar, a huge smile plastered his face and his little arms were going crazy waving to his daddy. He loves Andy, more than anyone. He practically leapt into Andy's arms. Hilarious :)

These two (2.5 months apart) are so funny together. Magnus is always making Aiden cry. A second after this picture was taken, those keys were in Magnus' hand and that frown on Aiden's face turned into a full-on cry. Poor Aiden. He has no chance against The Giant Baby, even if he is older.

Just last week we decided to try the beach at Lake Anna with a bunch of friends. It is so beautiful and the water is always warm (due to the nuclear power plant in the center of the lake. The lake is actually man-made, specifically for the purpose of cooling the plant down. That's right, we live within 25 miles of a power plant. So, if you ever see me glowing, let me know... ;)

They have a little man-made beach area with lifeguards and roped off areas where it's safe to swim. They have a little playground in the grassy area and even a concession stand. We had SUCH a blast. It was even fun for me because Andy had a sinus infection and was home from work, so I was able to leave Magnus with him and really enjoy myself! Marvelous.

There weren't any boys Jonah's age (which ususally seems to be the case, poor kid), so he made up a game where he would bury his goggles, spin around in circles with his eyes closed, and then try to find where he had buried them. It was really funny until.... he couldn't find where he had buried them last. He spent about an hour digging 10 different holes trying to find them. He is really bummed that his new goggles he receieved for his birthday were lost. Oh well, live and learn :)

Daphne finally learned to swim without floaties. So proud :)

We have had such a wonderfully fun summer. Only 1 week and 3 days to go until school starts! I'm not ready (back to a schedule, alarm clock, missing my kiddos during the day), but at the same time, I am (no more fighting! Yay!). Bring on the pencils, books, and homework! (wait, not the last one...) because summer has come to an end...