This past weekend we went up to the lake from Thursday night through Sunday night. The weather was chilly but fabulous! We probably won't get to go too many times now before winter sets in, so this may have been one of our final getaways before next spring.
We worked part of the weekend remodeling the upstairs bathroom which was circa 1960's. Over the past few weeks we have ripped off the old mirror, repaired walls, re-painted, removed the glass shower doors, and used a fiberglass spray paint to paint over the old pinkish-brown bathtub. We'd never tried spray painting bathtubs before and were nervous about the results, but I think it turned out pretty well! This weekend we removed the old carpet and tried our hands at tiling. We've never tiled before, so we'll see how that goes. Ben cut the tiles with his new wet saw and spread the goo, and I laid the tiles and placed the spacers. Next time we go up we'll grout. After that, we have to hang a new medicine cabinet, paint the trim, re-hang the shower doors, hang the window curtain, install a new toilet, sink cabinet and top, remove the old light fixture and hang the new one. Whew! Maybe we'll be finished and ready to start on the basement and replacing our old rickety deck by sometime mid-summer.
I posted a bunch of pictures of Riley because I got so many good ones this time. He takes after me by not being very photogenic. These all turned out to be rare, relaxed poses. You can see just how tiny Ephraim is in the picture of Riley giving him a bottle. Ephraim is now 15 months old and Riley is 13 years old.
The kids got to spend the whole weekend playing hide-and-seek, playing in their tree house and jumping in piles of leaves. It looks like we had them busy raking leaves for us, but actually they were just raking so that they could turn right around and jump in the piles or hurl them at each other.
Today is our oldest child's birthday. I was twenty-three years old when she was born; two years younger than she is now. She has been a part of more than half of my life. I know that's an obvious statement but something that just struck me today. We had some turbulent times during those infamous teen years, but now we rarely go a day without talking on the phone or emailing each other.
Brooke, I love you. I am so lucky to be your mom. Thank you for being an amazing daughter and one of my best friends.
Here in Tennessee we're expecting lows down in the lower 30's this weekend, and I'm getting ready. We tried to fire up our gas fireplace last night, and it's not working. We've GOT to find someone to fix it! I can't make it without my fireplace! I'm not a wintertime person.
Unfortunately, while I'm busy mothering twelve children, home schooling five of them, and helping my husband out with the business aspects of his medical practice, the day gets away from me, and by evening I realize that I didn't get to give Ephraim many of his bottles, play with him as much as I would have liked, or always snuggle him to sleep and read him a bedtime story. I may be missing out, but Ephraim certainly isn't. Even after five months the new hasn't worn off, and the girls still argue about who gets to pick out his clothes and dress him, give him bottles, push him in his stroller, and play with him. If I find myself tied up on the telephone or helping Bailey out with the insurance claims when bedtime rolls around, I usually find one of the little girls snuggled up with him and reading him a story. Ephraim seems to enjoy the books, and the girls love to practice their new kindergarten and first-grade reading skills.
Here we've got Ephraim doing the laundry! He loves to yank all the clothes out of the dryer while I'm trying to empty it. It has certainly made me speed up so that all the laundry doesn't end up in a heap on the floor. He's seen us do so much laundry that he gives each piece a good shake before throwing it down and pulling out the next one! I shake each piece before hanging it up so that I can skip ironing.
Some of Ephraim's "housecleaning" has been hazardous! Ben was cleaning our bathroom this morning, so he put Ephraim in the shower where he thought he'd be safe while Ben scrubbed the bathtub. Within just a couple of minutes Ben heard blood-curdling screams! Ephraim had managed to get his finger stuck in one of the tiny holes in the shower drain. Ben got it unstuck without too much trauma. I doubt though that the experience taught Ephraim to quit sticking his finger in every hole he can find. That seems to be his favorite pastime.
I posted the pictures of Ephraim in his overalls just because I thought he was so cute and looks so grown up all of a sudden. I'm afraid I'm not going to have a baby for very much longer. He's eating finger foods better and rarely finishes his bottles now. He's also taking three or four steps at a time, so I don't think he'll be crawling much longer. I bought him his first pair of tennis shoes this week. They are bright red New Balance track shoes in a size three. He's still so tiny!
Our oldest daughter, Brooke, is convinced Ephraim will be permanently scarred if he wears this ladybug costume for Halloween. She thinks the costume is only acceptable for a girl even though it was shown for a little boy on the Old Navy website. What do you think? Can Ephraim be a gentlemanbug without having his psyche damaged?
I've had several people ask me what Brad's tattoo is. It's the top part of a cello -- the box, pegs and scroll. I didn't think to mention that, and apparently I made quite a few people curious.
As a little background, the oldest four children all play the cello. They began lessons around the age of three or four years old, and they have been heavily involved ever since. They spent several days a week at Vanderbilt in private lessons, quartet practices, orchestra and theory classes. Two of the kids were principal cellists in the Nashville Youth Orchestra, and they have all won numerous competitions. They have attended summer music camps all over the country and one of them has performed in Germany.
Although Brad is a senior at The Georgia Institute of Technology in Industrial Engineering, he's still very involved in music. He's been in a band called, "The Taxi", with three other Georgia Tech students for several years now and is on the music team at a mega church in Atlanta. Their band has won several "Battles of the Bands", has played warm up for some big-name performers and has had air time on a couple of radio stations. Even though Brad is still in college, he was asked to join Georgia Tech's music faculty, and he is currently teaching cello in their pre-college department. Brad graduates in December. He plans to pursue a career in music for at least a few years and may eventually incorporate his love of music with his engineering degree.
Specifically the tattoo is based on various photographs and on a drawing by Susan Sheets in honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andrea Amati in 1505. The cello depicted is "The King" by Amati, Cremona, built around 1538. It is the oldest known cello in existence. You can see additional pictures and read about it at http://www.usd.edu/smm/Cellos/Amati/Amaticello.html .
Bradford is our most conservative offspring of the entire crew. He's been campaigning hard to convince all his over-eighteen siblings they need to vote and to be sure to vote Republican, and he plans to drive all the way from Atlanta to Nashville so he can exercise his right. He never makes any major decision without months and months of research and before he has driven all his friends and family batty with his obsessive lists of pros and cons. When he was ten years old, we told him he could have his own dog for his birthday. One year of non-stop discussions and a dozen books later, he finally decided on the breed, the breeder and the puppy. That partnership rivaled that of Lassie and Timmy for many years.
Our Alex P. Keaton has gone and gotten himself a tattoo. To his credit, I have to say he didn't take his disfigurement lightly. He has talked of nothing else for months and has had me and everyone else he could corner spend hours on the computer comparing the relative talents of various tattoo artists around the Atlanta area. He had been on the waiting list of one sought-after artist for quite sometime now, and I'll bet he bombarded the poor guy with photos and emails while he waited so he could make sure the tattoo would turn out exactly as he imagined.
Brad is happy with the tattoo, and although I'm not too crazy about the idea, I'm glad he's happy. My fear was that it wouldn't turn out to be 100% perfect, and he would obsess about its flaws. In Brad's words, "it's awesome". I just hope he feels the same way when he is pushing fifty like his old mom and pop.
We had a full weekend. On Saturday we spent the day at Cheekwood. They had a special scarecrow exhibit in the botanical gardens and a Faberge egg exhibit in the museum. The kids liked the scarecrows but didn't appreciate the Faberge eggs. That was no surprise. The kids especially liked the water gardens (playing in the ponds and waterfall) and the sculpture garden. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I missed some wonderful photo opportunities.
On Sunday after church we went to a fall festival at the Owen Farm right next door to us. In fact they are so close we sat outside on the trampoline on Saturday night and listened to their bluegrass band! This was the Owen's first year for the festival, and they did a good job. The kids played on the Go Jump equipment, rode a hay wagon, rode a train made up of a four wheeler and plastic fifty-gallon barrels, and they spent the majority of the time playing in a giant sandbox filled with corn kernels. It was a beautiful day, but it sure didn't feel like autumn. It was just plain hot!
I'm a work-at-home mom of thirteen children ranging in age from twenty-six years old to five months old. Eight are home grown and five were adopted internationally (Russia, Guatemala, Vietnam and Ethiopia). We live on an 85-acre farm, and we have home schooled since 1986. My husband is a family physician in solo practice. I manage his practice and file the insurance claims.