Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tall, Dark, and Handsome

Last weekend we had the treat of welcoming Birch's littlest, BIG brother home from his mission. Andrew (a.k.a. Juje) just returned home from serving a two year mission for our church in Leon, Mexico. How does he look?? Tall, Dark, and Handsome!
The kids were so excited to see Uncle Juje again! Coop wasn't even sure who he was but he just knew he was going to love him. He has been drawing him occasional pictures for two years so he was anxious to meet this "Uncle Juje."
Try taming 22 kids under the age eleven for a group family photo shoot. Wow!!!
We've waited for two years to take a complete family picture. I can't believe how big and fast our family has grown.
Here are the original Dittos. I bet their daddy was smiling big from heaven as he looked down at this gorgeous bunch!
We packed the weekend full of fun times. One afternoon we went to the bounce house to let the kids run some of their energy out. They had a great time!
Another afternoon we enjoyed a sunny picnic at the park. It didn't take long until a game of volleyball was organized.
These cousin girls could spend every second together and not tire of each other. They came up with games to play all afternoon.
Uncle Juje thoughtfully managed to bring home a little souvenir for each person in the family (no wonder he didn't have room to bring home his shoes). For the nephews he brought authentic Mexican wrestling masks. The boys were in wrestling heaven!
The other highlight of the weekend was spending some more time with Birch's little sister's lover--Ryan. These two are just as twitterpated as can be and are so much fun to be around. They ooze with loveliness and are still alert enough to be very entertaining with the nieces and nephews. Ryan squeaked his way into the Ditto Family picture so....well, we're awaiting possible news??

We just love being together!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mother of the Year Competition

Without knowing it, my sister-in-law, Julia, has instigated a little "Mother of the Year" competition. Julia shared a delightful "mother" moment when she finds that she unknowingly sent her two year old on a play date with NO underwear under her cute little skirt.

I'm afraid I can out-do that one.
Thursday afternoon I was rushing around preparing for a meeting at the kids' elementary school for the upcoming jog-a-thon fundraiser. Originally I was going to go to the meeting myself but at the last minute most all the kids decided that they wanted to come. I made them swear that they would not say a word to me during the meeting, and that they would play quietly in the teacher's classroom. Upon arrival at the school we all jumped out the car, since I was running a few minutes late to the meeting, and the kids wanted to make it to the book fair in time before it closed.

About an hour later we had a break in our meeting and I took a quick tally of the kids. Um, where was Cooper?

Mom: "Did Cooper come back with you from the book fair?"

Kids: "Cooper didn't come with us to the book fair."

Mom: "Yes he did!"

Kids: "No he didn't. Did he even come with us to the school?"

Mom: "Yes, I buckled him in the car."


I ran out to the mini-van, which I might add was directly across from the classroom I was meeting in, and found one sad, crying boy buckled in his car seat exactly where I had left him one hour earlier. Coop has only asked me a few times since if next time we go to the school if I would unbuckle him and let him come too.

I think Coop completely forgave me after I took him to the store and let him pick out a candy JUST FOR HIM because Mommy was such a ding bat!

I know the outcome could have been tragic if this had happened in the summer. Thank goodness it didn't.

Anyone dare to out-do me for the "Mother of the Year" award??

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hacking up a Storm

Poor Chlo-Chlo has been fighting a bug for sometime now. It just seems like she has struggled to get over the yuck that we all had for nearly a month. Chloe was recently treated for an ear infection but her symptoms of being sick just seemed to worsen over time. After Birch and I were up until 3 am in the morning last week with Chloe we decided that it was time for another trip to the doctor.
That all resulted in THIS contraption. This isn't a picture of Chloe but it might as well have been--only difference would be that she was SCREAMING, had snot running down her nose, and longer hair.

The x-ray showed that her lung junk was consistent with JUNK-ities not pneumonia. We returned home to doing regular nebulizer treatments of albuteral and a three-day course of the steroid prednisone.
Nate is such a sweet brother to Chloe. He HATES it when she cries and will do ANYTHING for her. He'll open up cupboards that are child-locked so she can get what she wants, he'll sneak her candy, he'll share his own treats with her, he's happy to play with her. Nate did not let Chloe down...he was great at helping her with her nebulizer breathing treatments. What a guy!

Chloe is feeling much better now and we are all sleeping much better!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ain't nothing but a hound dog

Yeah Baby!!! Two weekends ago I got to have a "Mini-Me" trip. My mode of transportation...the Greyhound bus. Not being a confident freeway driver and knowing I was going to be extra tired after spending a weekend staying up late with people I love, I chose the luxury ride of the Greyhound. Years ago my sister and I took the Greyhound to visit my grandma and I still have memories of being a bit scared but also enjoy several solid hours of people-watching. Well, I certainly was not let down in that department on this past trip. When I first loaded on the bus the driver said to all of us passengers, "Riding the Greyhound is like going to church: no swearing, no drinking, and NO FUN. Enjoy the ride!" I sat like a scared little nini right behind the bus driver and made sure to give no eye contact to anyone (except for when I was staring). Honestly, though, I would do it again. It was great to have over five hours to just read. Over the weekend I read three terrific books that I would highly recommend:

"Like Dandelion Dust" by Karen Kingsbury (a new author that I have been enjoying lately--she writes nice clean Christian books)

"A Thousand Tomorrows" by Karen Kingsbury (LOVED this book)

"The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks (I sat in the Portland Bus station bawling my eyes out at 6 am in the morning.)

The reason for the trip??? A day with three of my favorite people--Meta, Kimberly, and Amy. We've known each other for over twenty years (wow--that makes me feel old). The last few years we've been lucky enough to throw together several mini Girls' Trip to catch up on each other's lives and continue our childhood friendships. This year we were missing one of my favorite childhood friends, Heidi. I'm hoping that the next trip will bring us all together again.

Even though we are all spread out throughout the United States and I don't have regular time talking time with these wonderful women it only takes about three seconds to feel like we are back to our high school days hanging out with each other at a sleepover or church youth event.
What did we do with our precious hours together?...TALK. I found my comfy spot on the couch and relished catching up on each others lives. We threw in a bit of shopping and eating at our favorite spot--"American Dream Pizza" and "New Morning Bakery."
It all came to a close too quickly and we said our goodbyes after attending church at our hometown ward. Even though we have stayed connected through blogs, occasional phone calls, and a tad bit of facebooking you just can't beat sitting in the same room together, shedding a tear as we talk of life's struggles, rejoicing in each others families, and laughing about past memories. know I cherish each one of you and look forward to our next reunion!!!

I was double lucky by not only seeing some of my favorite women but also by sharing a day with my littlest sister, Laura and her husband Jared and my mom and dad. Though we didn't have a lot of time together I enjoyed each moment. I'm not sure if I have ever spent a day with just my mom and dad (especially as an adult). It's so fun seeing my mom and dad together as empty-nesters...enjoy the alone time and keeping their love strong. They each treat me and my family with such love and made me feel extra special while we were together. Laura married her sweetheart, Jared, not long ago and they are now expecting their first child. They are going to be awesome parents and I can't wait to meet their little one.

The weekend all came to a close so fast but I'm so thankful to have been able to have a "Mini-Me" trip reconnecting with those I love. Birch held down the fort with no trouble at all. I came home to a clean house, colorful flowers on the counter, and happy children (because they had been spoiled by their daddy all weekend).
Go Greyhound!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nate-dog Turns Six

Ever feel like you barely have time to breathe? That is the closest way I can think of to describe the past month. March has been filled with lots of fun events. Nate's sixth birthday was certainly a highlight!!
Nate is a fun kid to have around at meal time (well, most of the time). He is less picky than many of our kids and really enjoys his food. He knew exactly what he wanted to pick for his birthday dinner--spaghetti and meatballs (from Costco) and shrimp cocktail. As I have mentioned in the past, I am not much of a cake maker. I'm always trying to convince the kids to pick something else for their birthday dessert like rice crispy squares or popsicles. Nate really wanted a cake though...and mom delivered. I made the cake earlier in the day and then while I was gone at cub scouts Nate and Alex decorated it. What a cute SIX year old! We had a full day of celebrating. For lunch Birch and I decided to take just Nate out to Olive Garden. Whenever Birch and I are eating there we have thought how much Nate would enjoy eating there too. Nate loved the bread sticks, salad, and chose cheese filled raviolis with meat sauce for his main dish. After lunch we took Nate to Toys R' Us to pick out his FREE $3.00 gift from Geoffrey the giraffe. Nate choose a Tech Deck. That afternoon Nate, Tyler, and Alex made a dirt course for all their Flick Trix. Here Nate is taking his dirt bike Flick Trix down the course.

Nate is full of energy and a perfectionist at most anything he does. He is a very good athlete. Nate continues to be very artistic and loves to draw VERY detailed pictures. He started taking piano lessons a couple of months ago and has really enjoyed it so far. Nate is kind of like a tea pot that is always on the verge of boiling. We are working on learning how to help him control his temper (open to suggestions anyone?). He can be such a sweet boy and then just explode.

Another thing that we are just learning about Nathan is that he loves money. In fact the other day he said he would "die for money." I reminded him that money would be of no value to him then. Recently we have added an opportunity for the kids to earn a small amount of money if they do extra jobs after they have completed their daily jobs. This has turned Nate into an extra job maniac.

Nate has really blossomed academically this past year. We just has his parent/teacher conference yesterday and I was again impressed with what a smartie pants he is. He occasionally struggles with wanting to go to school but it is no where near the battle we were having at the beginning of the year.

The letter below was written to my mom two weeks ago prior to her having foot surgery. The first part of the letter talks about what he is going to do for his birthday and the end paragraph is written to my mom about her surgery.

"For breakfast we are having egg mcmuffins and sausage. Then we are going to go to Olive Garden and then after we are going to Olive Garden we are going to Toys R Us and for dinner are are having spaghetti and we are having shrimp and we are having meatballs.

I hope you have a good time at the surgery. And that you will learn on how you use the crutches.
Love, Nate"
(picture taken March 2006)

We are sure happy to have Nate as part of our family. Love you!!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Darn it...why does she have to be so cute!

I seriously do know that I am a mother of SIX kids...not just one cutie patootie. Perhaps the camera seems to work better when Chloe is around? Or maybe it is just because she is home all the time? Or possibly because she still talks so nicely to her mommy and daddy and smothers them with kisses?

For whatever reason we can't seem to get enough of Chloe. Here she is debuting her super-sweet jacket that my mom made for all the little cousin girls. It is made out of super soft fleece with the cutest little pale pink fleece flowers. Chloe loves wearing her pretty coat.
Every day that daddy is at work Chloe will ask me at least a dozen times, "Daddy work?" She loves it when he comes home for lunch.
Chloe is a fast runner!

Please do notice the natural wave. This is BIG news at the Ditto house where we have always grown straight hair.
Chloe has lots of teeth and unfortunately mommy and daddy haven't been strong enough to take away her pacifier and bottle so her teeth are still being affected. She LOVES her "ba ba" (bottle) and has a very cute way of asking (begging) for her pacifier as well. It sure is hard to take away something that you know if going to affect ALL of our sleep for a while.
This girl loves going to the park or just playing on our own playground in the backyard.

Alex, Tyler, Alysee, Nate, Cooper...I promise to put you in the camera spotlight soon too!