it’s tradition

fair-years'14 Ben’s ready to give up going to the fair, but I won’t let him. It’s tradition to go, use the photo booth, and take this picture. Here are some things I noticed about this newest picture versus the rest…

True is actually smiling in this picture!

This is the first year I’m not carrying the baby (in my belly or my arms).

Ben broke the cycle of carrying Soul.

Ben’s wearing the same shorts as last year (and similar shirt). He’s a simple guy and rarely buys anything new for himself.

Read last year’s comparisons here. Another tidbit from these pictures… The one of 2007, Brave was born the very next day. All that walking at the fair helped get labor started because my water broke the very next morning (we were at the fair until late that night).



traveling with four kids

travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids travel with kids We’ve done a lot of traveling this summer, at least for us. Ben and I left for Singapore, then the whole family went to the East Coast, and we were off again for a few days this past weekend. There’s been a lot of packing, unpacking, and laundry set on repeat all summer long. When we left for our D.C. – Williamsburg trip, we wanted to pack as light as possible. We were flying into D.C., then taking Amtrak to Williamsburg, then flying out of Richmond with lots of taxis and shuttles in between, so we didn’t want to have to lug around a lot of stuff. Four kids going to and fro was already going to be a handful.

This was our first time flying with all four, while we have the whole road tripping thing with four kids down, flying with them is something we aren’t familiar with. Somehow, I managed to get 5 days worth of clothes (for all of us) in one carry-on suitcase. My mom was pretty surprised at how little we packed, and another mom on the flight who packed for the same amount of days (for a family of 5) was surprised how we were able to do it with no bags checked-in. I’m not an expert at all, since it was our first flight as a family of six, but we seemed to manage well enough, so I’m glad to share what worked well for us here with you all.

We took a red-eye, since it was the most economical and direct way to get to D.C., but I had no clue how the girls were going to do on that flight. Once the plans were in place, I tried to do a little training beforehand. For a couple months leading up to the trip, every time we saw a plane, I would ask Glow, “What are we going to do on the airplane?” And I trained her to respond, “We’re going to sleep!” So that’s what she said every time I asked. I hoped if she said it enough, she would do it when the day came.

Our flight left at 11:45pm (the kids are normally in bed by 7:30pm), so it was already a late night for them, and we didn’t let them sleep on the drive to the airport. I was thinking it was going to either backfire and she would be so tired and cranky that she would wail on the plane, or she would just fall asleep. All the girls were so excited about flying, and take-off was pretty exciting for them, and after take-off, Soul went to sleep and the big girls knocked out soon after. There were some kids sitting in front of us who were watching cartoons (and Glow could see the screen), so she would try to watch, I had to do some maneuvering to block her view between the seats, and after some tossing and turning, she fell asleep. Whew! Then, I fell asleep once I knew she was done for the night. Since it was a direct flight it was only about 4.5 hours, but the kids seemed to sleep well the entire time (it was a different story for Ben and me) and we woke up just a little bit before landing. Once we landed, the girls were so excited and ready to go. We had a shuttle pick us up, and thankfully, we were able to do early check-in at the hotel, so we spent about half an hour just reorienting ourselves with the area and plans for the day before we set off exploring with only about 5 hours of sleep in all our bodies.

The plane ride home was just as smooth, even though we had a layover, and all the girls fell asleep on the plane ride again. I’m thankful that they didn’t throw any plane tantrums and they all did a really good job on all the flights. You just never know with kids, so this first experience with all of them turned out really well.

Now for the packing tips, I packed the exact amount of clothes needed (no extras), one set of pajamas for each person (we bathed each night, so I figured they would stay clean), and I think what made the biggest difference in getting it all to fit into one carry-on suitcase is that I ironed everything. I ironed all the clothes to free them from wrinkles, then folded them to be put in the suitcase, and ironed them all again folded to flatten it even more. I totally think that did the trick! Everyone pretty much only had one pair of shoes and those were the shoes we wore on the plane, so we didn’t have to worry about packing any shoes in the suitcase (though I did throw one extra pair for the girls just in case). All our toiletries were travel size and Ben had them in his messenger bag (not in the suitcase), and I put enough diapers in the carry-on suitcase to last the 5 days we were gone. We didn’t bring any laptops, just an iPad, and I made each of the girls their own mini backpacks and in it were their books, crayons, and a light sweater. I had one backpack, and in it was my camera, wide angle lens, and wallet. We also brought our light umbrella stroller with us too, and that’s that for everything we brought along. Packing light made it really easy!

The girls knew they were each in charge of their own backpack, and since we only had one stroller, they knew their little legs had to do all the walking and complaining wasn’t going to get them very far. I’m pretty proud of them because they were such troopers the entire trip. Sure, we had to stop here and there to break up a fight or put one of them in time-out, but overall, they all did a fantastic job.

What are some of your tips and tricks for traveling with children?



a robot party

Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave's 7th birthday robot party Brave’s seventh birthday request was originally a Transformers party at a hotel, but about a month ago, she changed her mind to a robot party. I love her little quirky requests, so robot party it is! We took off for a few days in San Diego, Pricelined a hotel, and ended up staying at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. The girls request hotel parties because they love going swimming all weekend long, and we love it because we feel we’re really able to focus on the celebrant and get a lot of relaxing family time together. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The girls made the backdrop for the party, I brought the blue striped fabric to cover the bed, I made the berry shortcake using this recipe, plates are from Target, and I used this DIY to make the party hats. Target actually had these metallic party hats and I just added the felt and the chenille stem to the top. The presents were also wrapped similarly with silver wrapping paper and felt. I decorated the hotel room while the girls were at the pool, and we surprised Brave with everything around dinner time. The first thing she wanted to do was open presents (of course!). Then, we sang “Happy Birthday,” had a little cake, and we headed off to dinner to the restaurant attached to the hotel. After Brave’s birthday dinner, we came back to our room, opened more presents (all the handmade ones True and Soul made her!), played some games (True and Brave each made their own version of “Pin the Button on the Robot”), and then we had a robot dance party.

Brave was all smiles, and Ben and I were happy seeing all our girls happy. These birthday weekends are spent playing at the pool, staying in bed too long, and watching cartoons in bed (we don’t have a television, so they love them at the hotel). It’s a nice break away and since the girls keep asking for these kinds of celebrations, I’m guessing they love it as much as we do.



purging and robots

brave birthday brave birthday brave birthday brave birthday brave birthday brave birthday I’ve been spending time this week purging through each room. If  I look at a room, and can’t mentally pack it quickly in my head, it makes me itch, and a lot of rooms were starting to make me itch, so I finally got around to organizing a bit. Spring was busy getting ready for my book release that I missed that spring cleaning window, so I’m doing it now before we start a new school year. I still have a ways to go, but it feels good to already have gone through some nooks and crannies of our home.

Our biggest project of late is getting ready for Brave’s party. She changed from a transformer themed one to a robot party (because transformers are robots), so we’ve been birthday prepping. I’m letting them take care of the backdrop and they’ve been doing lots and lots of robots. I love seeing the different robots they’re making; that bacon and pancake robot above is my fave. I love the stuff kids come up with!




family pictures 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 family photos 2013 This was taken over a year ago in March. It marked our first outing as a family after I turned in my first completed book draft. We all had to sacrifice a little to make the book happen. We gave up most of our Saturdays, so I could spend all day working since Ben was home and could run the show. Looking back at these pictures remind me of that special season of our lives and the relief we all felt after that March 1st deadline. I’m glad my friend Kimberly Genevieve (and Andre!) met us out in the dessert to capture this special time.

Anyway, I’m totally late in sharing these (I just kept forgetting to), but I thought since today marks the birthday of our family (it’s our wedding anniversary), it was about time to share these photos in today’s post. To celebrate today, I’m just making Ben one of his favorite dishes for dinner and we will have a quiet dinner in our room, after the girls go to bed, and watch 24 (season 8, since we want to refresher before we watch this newest season). We both agreed Singapore was a fantastic way to commemorate it, so low-key at home, on the actual day, works perfectly fine for us.

We were telling the girls how special today is because it’s our family’s birthday, and they were like, “No, you weren’t a family because we weren’t there yet.” Ben explained that we became a family the day we got married and our family just kept growing as each of them joined. The big girls get it now, but Soul is still insistent that July 9th won’t be a birthday unless there’s cake involved, so we just might need to find time to make cake today too.

We went from two to six in just a matter of nine years… had just a taste of the wonderful (and sometimes bad) and unexpected craziness of life, but lots of grace and forgiveness given daily. Cheers to 9!

Photos by Kimberly Genevieve and you can see more here on 100 Layer Cakelet.



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