Friday, December 2, 2011

Washington D.C.

Our flight to Rome left the next day at 6pm, so we had almost a whole day to spend in Washington D.C., so we tried to take advantage of that. We had to take a shuttle to the airport and then catch one down to downtown D.C.

We started out in Arlington Cemetery. This statue is very well known, but I had no idea how HUGE it is. It was quite impressive. I'm told that as you drive past it it has the illusion of them the soldiers raising the flag. I don't walk that fast, so I can't tell you if that is accurate.

We walked through the cemetery and it is a truly hollowed ground, especially when you think of the many men and women who spent their lives defending our freedoms. Freedom is not Free.
This is a beautiful monument in honor of the women who served our country.
We walked up and observed the changing of the guard. This is the most prestigious honor for a soldier to be able to do. A soldier walks back and forth 24/7 in front of the tomb of the unknown soldier. Every step is perfectly executed. They spend 3 hours preparing their uniform for the one hour that they will be guarding the tomb. It was very impressive.
We then continued our walk across the Potomac River. (We did a lot of walking- with all of our luggage- just a taste for what was to come.)
Ron and the Lincoln Memorial.
Wendy inside the Lincoln Memorial- a very popular place to be.
Ron in front of the Washington Monument.
Wendy inside an atrium in the Smithsonian National Art Gallery. We didn't have much time to see inside this amazing building, but it did get us really excited to taste more amazing Art in Italy.
We booked it back to a bus stop and just barely made it on the bus heading back to the airport. We're talking Ron running at full sprint with his big backpack on to get to the bus stop and me pulling my luggage behind me at a run. (It was Columbus day, so they were running on different hours then usual. Luckily we were talking to another bus driver and found out and were able to catch the bus that had just left by cutting down a side street.) Just a little more excitement for our adventure.

We were able to make our flight and even sit together. It was a long flight and we tried to sleep, but sleeping on a plane was pretty hard for me. It is a kind of scary thought when you can see that you are flying over the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and know that even if you wanted out of the plane there was literally no where to get out. I guess my claustrophobia was trying to creep out on me. Luckily we made it safe and sound into Rome around 8 am.

The Journey Begins

I'll attempt to share some pics from our AMAZING trip to Italy. It's a little overwhelming for many reasons. First of all I took a TON of pictures. Second, it's hard for me to find the time to sit and publish them on my blog (with 5 kids, I know that's strange :) ) and mainly it's hard to really describe how incredible everything was, but I'll do my best.

A couple days before we left Mia fell off a chair in the kitchen and needed to get stitches. The problem was that they needed to be taken out while we were in California, so that's what we did right before we left for the airport, the day after we arrived. She was pretty squirmy, but I got them out eventually. Good job Dr. Mom I say.

One last family hug before we left for two weeks. I'm not going to lie, I was getting homesick for the kids, before we even left them, but I knew they would be fine. McKay would come up and grab us around the waste and hang on and tell us he was giving us a really long hug because we were going to be gone for a long time.
My brothers Sean and Chris drove us to the SF airport and dropped us off. Our journey had begun.
The flight was relatively uneventful. We arrived in Washington D.C. after midnight and had to catch a cab to our hotel. He was a really nice guy and very talkative. We told him we had been married for ten years and he insisted on seeing the ring, asking, "You're sure." He was really shocked when we told him we had five kids. He wanted to see a picture then and there- as he was driving. We assured him we'd show him one when we were stopped. He asked if we were Mormons and we had a nice chat about the gospel.

Halloween- better late then Never

We had a really fun Halloween and I thought I better share some of it with the world before Christmas. Ha ha. Ron and I had an AMAZING time in Italy and got back a couple days before Halloween. Last year the kids thought it would be fun to dress up together as a family so the trick was to find something that had enough characters that we could all dress up together. Our conclusion...... Alice and Wonderland!

So once we got back to the states I got to work while we were still at my parents home. I had fun making our many family costumes and enjoyed my mom's help as well.

We have Mr. McKay as a card guard. (He was the only one who didn't want to dress up with the family- but with the proper motivation (thanks Natalie) we were able to talk him out of Harry Potter.)
Miss Mia was our little white rabbit. I decided not to even attempt the glasses. She was darling anyway.
Siena was our Crazy Cheshire Cat. I must say she was the cutest one I saw.

Miss Lizziroo of course was our Lovely Alice- who started the whole thing.
William was our Mad Hatter. He was so popular he needed Batman to guard him throughout the festivities. (His cousin Jack).
Ron was the Ace of Hearts who's sole purpose was to ensure the needs of the Queen of Heart were met. He did a pretty sweet job.
Here we are all together. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. Happy belated Halloween!!!

We had fun trunk or treating in California before we came home. Let's just say there was not a shortage of candy among the Francom Fam
We also enjoyed watching the kid's costume parade at school that day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Early Spring Craft Bug

So yesterday I decided it was time to change some things up in our living room and help things feel a bit more springish and St. Patrick's dayish. So the craft bug hit and I got to work. Here's what we ended up with.

To do the ball on the piano I glued split peas all over a styrofoam ball. I started with Elmer's glue, but quickly realized that hot glue is the way to go. I put the glue on and then rolled the ball in the peas and then tried to pack them in as tightly as I could. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.
I love spring blossoms on trees in the spring, so I decided to bring some into our front room.
I wanted something fun to give an elegant accent as well. I saw on the tutorial for making these hurricane lanterns. They were very inexpensive, super easy and turned out really good. Basically you take a candlestick and a vase and glue them together with some super strong glue. Apply some pressure and let it dry.

Here's what we started out with.
And here's our finished product. I added split peas to the sides to give it a more festive look. It also compliments my accent ball on the other side of the piano.

I love subway art and added this little sign to help get us all geared up for a great St. Patty's day.
All in all it was a pretty fun day. Sometimes you just need an outlet from a stressful day and it's fun when you can do something productive with that.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Music, Memories and Maestros

A little over four years ago William started taking piano lessons (I've been thinking it was only three and was surprised when I counted it out that it really is four.... William reminds me of it quite often.) William just finished his theory book for his fourth set of books, which is quite the accomplishment, especially considering how much he "loves" theory. Needless to say we we wanted to celebrate and let everyone know what a great job he's done, and to also get everyone excited to continue in their own piano endeavors.

The party was a "black and white affair," meaning that those attending needed to be dressed in black and white. Our decorations were all black and white too.

The kids were greeted by black and white streamers, balloons and pictures of various musical images, such as sharps, flats, the treble clef, Mozart and Beethoven's silhouette, etc.

The table was decorated with a black table cloth with a white table cloth used as a table runner down the middle. I cut up some music and taped them together into a long strip of paper and put it down the middle of the white table cloth and put a "music" centerpiece on it as well. We used our white bowls and had black silverware and white napkins as well. Basically anything we could find that would compliment our color scheme. It was fun and the kids loved it.

Here's my cool centerpiece.
Mia was so cute in her black and white spotted coat. She had a lot of fun being with the family.
Here's our little personality meter. Notice that Elizabella is all natural.
William was the "Theory Man" for the night and got to wear this cool hat. I was surprised that he actually wore it throughout the whole party. I was pretty impressed by the treble clef. Took me a whole 30 seconds.
Check out these cool clothes. You actually can't see my black leggings. It was pretty sweet, but I wasn't too sad no one stopped by. Ha ha. Here are our refreshments. I was trying to keep with our color theme and could only think of Oreo cookies that sounded good and are black and white. They are supposed to represente whole notes. The kids all loved them (and so did Ron and I). Overall we had a really fun night.

For our games we did a little relay game where we used flashcards to see whole knew their musical notes the best. Ron really impressed me by how well he knew them. Everyone did really good.

We also played a "cake walk" type game. I had pictures of various musical theory pieces on the wall in the kitchen and living room. Someone played the piano while the rest of us walked around and when the music stopped we touched a picture. The piano player then drew out a picture that corresponded with the pictures on the wall and if your was chosen then you took you're off and it was your turn to play the piano. It was fun and we also reviewed our theory at the same time.

We ran out of time, but these were some other games I had thought of doing:

Mozart's Memory- a music matching game

Beat Beethoven- Which time signature belongs with which

Put the Piano together- Who can put the black notes in the correct places on a piano with only
white keys.

Musical Spelling- I copied some pages from a theory book where they spell words using musical

We're excited for our next musical party. Go theory! GO!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mia's Hospital Adventure

On Saturday and Sunday Mia's "lump" did not improve, but the Ear/Nose/Throat Specialist (EST) felt that we should continue to wait and observe what was happening with it. He didn't seem overly concerned. Our pediatric doctor kept implying that he thought that we would need to have the abscess drained, so we had two differing opinions.

They discovered that Mia did in fact have a staph infection, so it was good that they had put her on antibiotics when we first got there. Now the question was what to do about it. She also had fevers going on and off Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday things did not look any better and Mia was still pretty miserable, although the new pain medication did help. Our Pediatric Doctor consulted with a pediatric specialist as the hospital and they both felt pretty strongly about having the abscess drained. The EST was consulted and consented to do the operation, at about 2:30pm, Monday Feb. 21st we took Mia to the operating room. She was so sweet as she showered kisses on Ron and I as we waited for them to take her into the actual operating room. I was so glad to have Ron there to reassure me that all would be well. It was pretty stressful and traumatic for me, but he helped me through it.

The operation lasted about 40 minutes and then the doctor came and talked to us and told us everything went well. We waited about 10-15 more minutes and then were able to go and get Mia. She was a little groggy, but was in good spirits. We noticed a big difference with her within an hour. She was all bandaged up around her neck, but she had a lot more spunk to her and seemed much more like herself.

They observed her on Tuesday and on Wednesday they took the drain that they had left in out and pull the incision mostly closed. They left it open a bit in case it needed to drain more.

We were able to go home around 11am and were able to pick up all the kids and take my brother Sean to lunch and then to the MTC at 1pm. (He flew in the day before and we were able to visit for a little while). We are sure glad to be home and to have our Mia doing so much better. We are all grateful for those who helped us and prayed for us during this challenging time. We are also grateful for the doctors and nurses who were so kind and knowledgeable throughout our stay and most of all we're thankful to our Heavenly Father for the MANY blessings we felt throughout this experience.

When the boys came to see Mia she wanted to play with them and interact. It was really cute to see her giving them hi-fives with her bandaged hand.

We really enjoyed seeing the boys. Bella stayed home as she was sick and we visited with Siena later that night.

Can I just say this is the cutest... I mean must beautiful little girl. She had been so miserable and then started feeling so much better that we couldn't keep her in her room so we wandered the hospital halls. Needless to say everywhere we went we were met with, "Isn't that the cutest little girl," or "What a little sweetheart."

She loved pushing a pink doll stroller around that was filled with toys.

Because she was wearing blue I also got asked a lot about my son, so I made sure to bring a headband back with me to the hospital so there would be no mistaking that she is a girl. Do you think this headband was a bit much?

Notice how lopsided her face is. She looked so different. I did love that when the boys came to see us at the hospital the first thing McKay said to Mia was, "You look so beautiful." It brought tears to my eyes.
Here we are walking down to the Operating Room.
Here is another close up of Mia's face before surgery. It just kind of sagged on the one side because it was so swollen.

Waiting in the Operating Room. I think Mia's face says it all. "Do we really have to be here?"

After the surgery Mia found a comfortable place to hang out. A pillow palace.
Mia's spirit's really seemed to improve after the surgery. Lots of big smiles for all.
On our way out of the hospital. Mia was exhausted.
Mia got so excited to see her uncle Sean at the hospital. He flew in Tuesday afternoon and spent a couple hours with us. What a fun treat.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy President's Day!!

So we've had a lot of stuff going on with our family this weekend, but I wanted to share something that helped me feel the spirit of President's day. The third grade classes at William's school did a reader's theater commemorating the great accomplishments of many of our past US Presidents. Here are some clips and songs that they sang. I must say, that cute ... I mean handsome boy in blue was sure fun to watch.

William was really good at speaking his part, but you can't hear him as well on this recording because of all the background noise. "I am Abraham Lincoln. I was born on February......"
I am grateful for the good men and women who have worked so hard to make our nation great. I was grateful for the reminder from these young kids.

Miserable Mia

Miss Mia has always been the happiest and easy going baby. For the past month she has not quite been her normal, cheerful self. I took her into the doctor's office on Thursday and the doctor noted that she was teething and was probably fussy from that and also that we need to watch how she's eating as she is really small for her age. That was it.

The next morning we gave her a shower and as I was drying her off and putting lotion on her I noticed a huge lump below her right jaw, which was about the size of a golf ball. We ended up taking her into the doctor and we were then sent over to the hospital for some tests.

We arrived at the hospital around 1pm and waited until about 3pm when they ran a cat scan on her. While we were waiting to be seen Siena and Mia enjoyed running all around and saying hi to everyone. You could hardly tell Mia was not well, except for the lump on her face. She was also wearing her squeeky shoes so we could hear her wherever she was. It was kind of fun to see how the girls seemed to cheer up those hospital patrons they came across. Siena was little Miss chatter box and talked to everyone LOTS and LOTS!!!

When they finally saw us they tried to do the cat scan without sedating her, but they felt it was best to since if she moved while she was having the scan it would be blurry and they would have to wait for 24 hours before they could do it again. In the mean time Siena was done waiting at the hospital. They had a girl come down and play with her and blow bubbles. What a life saver. She also gave her and Mia some fun things to keep them entertained with.

The cat scan showed there was a small abscess, so we were admitted to the hospital. All the rooms in the pediatrics unit were being used, so we had to wait an hour until they could get us into a room. In the meantime they had Mia hooked up to an IV so that she wouldn't become dehydrated. Once our room was ready they took us upstairs. The pediatrics unit has a room full of lots of different toys. Siena was in heaven. Mia tried to walk around in it, but was a bit woosy. She did enjoy the variety of toys there too.
Our room consists of a crib/bed that has bars all around the outside of it to keep her in and safe, a rocking chair/recliner, a pull out sofa chair, bathroom, tv and other medical monitors. We're pretty cramped in here and have been told it is one of the larger rooms.

We saw the ear/nose/throat specialist and he thought the abscess wasn't big enough to need to use surgery so he drained some puss out of the lymph node and it is being cultured now. Mia has been in a lot of pain and not slept well since we've been here. Ron and I both stayed the night so that we could tag team in taking care of her. William, McKay and Elizabella have been staying at a friend of mine's home (what a lifesaver). Siena is staying with her cousins. Poor Elizabella apparently has come down with something and is sick. It's hard to want to be in two places at once. I'm so grateful for good friends to whom I feel confident in trusting my children.
We met with the Dr. this morning and he felt that Mia's lymph node has been over active and we're waiting to see if it will go down. He gave her some anti-inflammatory medication to try and help it go down and today we're trying to help her be as comfortable as possible. So far they seem to be working. Her swelling hasn't gone down much, but every once in a while we get a glimpses our sweet Mia. Right now we're taking advantage of all the time we have to snuggle, cuddle and love our sweet baby. Thanks to everyone for remembering us in your prayers.

Here's a little video of Mia in here "cage." Her spirit's seem a bit better this afternoon. However she will take mom or dad's arms to the crib anytime.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Days like this...

So a week or so ago my sister Michelle recorded what she did in a typical day. I was amazed by how much she was able to do in one day and decided to record one of my days as well. Here goes:

My Day Today Monday February 7, 2011

Tossed and turned throughout the night. (Someone had been playing in the bed and put a bunch of crumbs in it. Tried several times to brush them all off, but there were still some left.)

4:30am Bella came in and said she had a bad dream. Scooted over and made room for her to join us.

4:45am Ron's alarm goes off and he gets up to go exercise with Logan at his work.

5:11am Get up and go down to exercise.

6:20am Finish exercising and read scriptures. Finish the Book of Mark.

6:45am Hop in the shower before kids wake up.

7:00am Get out of shower and hear Mia crying in the other room. Get dressed and pick up girls room.

7:15am Siena is crying and wants a bath. Put her in and get hair done and makeup. William comes in and jumps in the bathtub with Siena.

7:30am Kids get out of tub and get dressed. Get breakfast for Mia, Siena and myself. Kids get cereal for themselves. Try to get kids to practice their piano and get beds made before breakfast.

8:00am Mckay plays the piano. Make sure that everyone is dressed well for school, lunches are made, coats on, backpacks found.

8:45am William leaves. Still working on Bella's hair.

8:50am McKay and Bella leave. Take a deep breath as the whirl wind leaves.

9:00am Finsh my grapefruit and read Michelle's cute blogs about her family while I eat.

9:15am Start a load of laundry. Change sheets on bed. No more crumbs tonight!

9:30am Work on cleaning room and getting laundry ready to be washed.

9:45am Girls are being too quiet. They had gotten into the books in McKay's room, but better check on them. Oh, wow. They have completely emptied his closet and it is a HUGE mess. Debate shoving it all back in the closet, but decide to take the opportunity while he is gone to do some dejunking.

11:15am Still going strong on McKay's room. Have gotten a couple loads of laundry folded and washed by now. Try to get Siena to pick up the legos in her room. She does NOT want to and throws a big fit. Would be easier to pick them up myself, but she needs to learn. Tell her she has to stay in her room until she has picked them up. Listen to her scream so Mia and I head downstairs to work on McKay's room where we don't hear her so much. Find our lost Mary from the kid's nativity set under McKay's book shelf. :)

11:30am Get Mia a snack. Siena's still mad and won't pick up. Continue working on McKay's room. Got all the corners of his room picked up. Will let him do his bed and under it.

12:00pm Call Ron. Siena FINALLY decides she can be a “helper” and picks up. Get her lunch and put Mia down for a nap.

12:20pm Get lunch myself and read some emails, etc. on the computer.

12:40pm Fold another batch of laundry and keep it moving through. Siena “helps.”

1:00pm Notice Siena has dumped out all the Skipbo cards out. Also smell a very fragrent girl. Go improve the air quality of our house.

1:15pm Siena wants to “watch something.” Go turn Sesame Street on. Type this up while sitting with her.

1:30pm Call health coach and set “health goals.” So exciting. (Can you sense my sarcasm?)

2:15pm Hear Mia crying upstairs, which is weird because I have the monitor on and don't hear her from that. Guess it got unpluged somehow.

2:30pm Am SO grateful that Ron put a lock on the game closet so that I can just get the puzzles out for Siena to play with. She and Mia dump them all out, spread them around and then take off while I fold the girls clothes and watch Toy Story for the umptenth time this year. Siena has chosen it as her new favortie.

2:40pm Pick up the mess the girls made in William's room while I was cleaning up the other room

2:50pm Go put clothes away. We have too many clothes I decide.

3:00pm Siena is asking very politely to go outside. How can I say no and it is pretty nice for February. I quickly make an invitation to take to one of my visiting teachies and we go on a walk to deliver it and to pick up kids from school. On the walk Siena discovers a discarded apple in the street and gives a loud and therough lecture about how “ucky” and “gross” it is and they should “throw in a garbage.” You tell them girl.

3:20pm start walking home with kids. Siena wants to walk through every pile of snow and then wants to be held with all the snow dripping down off her boots. Fun.

3:25pm Get home and get kids snacks. Try to encourage them to do piano and homework. They have other plans. William is on something and really bugging Bella. Send them both to their rooms. He keeps getting out. I keep getting frustrated. Mom calls and I talk to her, while William keeps coming out. Do not enjoy this teasing phase.

4:00pm Sit down with William and have a “talk”. Not sure what it did, but he did get his piano done and didn't bug anyone else for the time being. Maybe the fact that he was told he wouldn't go to basketball that night if there was one more problem helped.

4:30pm Listen to William play piano and try to quickly make soup for dinner so that it is ready when we get home.

4:40pm Call everyone to get in the car to go. Mia is poopy. Great. Change her, but she puts her sock in it so have to get new socks. Ahhhh.

4:46pm Drive off. William is supposed to be there for pictures at 4:45pm. Takes a while to find a parking space. Get everyone out and find picture place.

4:55pm Coach still isn't there and they're missing three teammates so we decide to scratch pictures.

5:00pm William's game starts. I find Ron inside just in time as Siena is lying down on the bleachers and having a fit about going the way we need to go. My arms are tired from carrying a little one year old. Pass her to Ron for the rest of the game. Watch William score a basket, which always makes the game nicer.

5:50pm Head home and make sure dinner didn't burn.

6:00pm Everyone else come's home and we set the table for dinner.

6:25pm We eat.

6:45pm Clean up dinner.

7:11pm Bring up a load of Bella's clothes to fold and begin fhe a couple minutes later. We had a lot of fun making Valentine's cards for our family. Ron is very creative. Fun to see.

8:15pm Have smores for refreshments. Make them in the microwave. William is not happy as he wanted to make them on the stove, but I don't want Siena having ANY ideas of what she could do on the stove as she can turn it on.

8:30pm Send kids off to bed. Try to put little girls to bed. Ron is cute and reading stories to them from the computer.

9:00pm The kids are all now in bed. Yeah.

9:05pm I'm typing this up and Ron's cleaning the stamps we used tonight. My hero. I work on typing up our Valentine's Day card.

9:45pm Ron helps me figure out how to print up our cards. Wait for them to finish printing.

11.07pm Brush teeth and get ready for bed.

11:11pm Say prayers and hop into bed. Wow this has been a busy day.

---While reviewing this I noticed that I didn't recored all the "mini" play sessions that the girls and I have throughout the day. They often consist of reading a quick book, putting together some legos or mainly playing peek-a-boo for a minute in between what I was working on. This would have been WAY too long if I recorded all of those little things, but yet I think those are some of my favorite things of the day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Partners in "Crime"

I have recently started referring to Mia and Siena as partners in Crime. It's so fun to see them getting along and working together. The other day I found them locked in the bathroom eating a box of cereal. Later on that day I found they had locked themselves in Elzabella's room. When I unlocked the door I discovered Siena with a pack of gum and Mia was under Bella's bed. Apparently Siena would eat the gum and give the wrappers to Mia to hide under the bed. Pretty good team work.

One of their daily "rituals" is to pull all the contents of one of my drawers and spread them throughout the kitchen. Apparently that wasn't exciting enough, so they started restocking the drawer with themselves.
I love how Mia likes to really "smile" when I take a picture. She looks like she's getting ready to be a pirate. Arrrrr.
Ron gave the kids haircuts the other day so he brought a stool in the kitchen. Mia LOVES to climb it. Siena was being a good sister and making sure that Mia didn't fall off as she climbed up it.

These two girls are so fun. Granted they're either laughing hysterically with each other or Mia is screaming with all her might in frustration that something has been taken away from her. So fun!!!