We don't just go places...we have ADVENTURES!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

December to Remember

December has been quite the magical month for the Zoo Crew. For the first time in practically EONS, we had SNOW almost as soon as the calendar page flipped. December 5th found us making snowmen, flinging snowballs and making Zoo Crew Snow Angel facsimiles.

Ben decided that it would be GREAT to fling his snowman's head at Matthew, who retaliated with a whole lotta little snowballs. Patrick joined the fray and "helped" make snowmen.

We baked cookies. We ate cookie dough (when we thought Mommy wasn't looking!) We baked more cookies. (Mommy ate cookie dough.) We decorated them liberally with sprinkles...and more sprinkles...

Matthew played saxophone in his very first school concert. That evening was an adventure, as Mommy was a little mixed up on her calendar. (Ever have that happen? You get a day of the week stuck in your head rather than the date?)

I was in the middle of Target buying a dressy shirt for him to wear to the concert the next night when I received a frantic phone call. "Mom, Matthew's concert is TONIGHT, not tomorrow!!" YIKES and GULP. Abandoned the shopping cart. Beat feet home as fast as the little hamster powered mobile could make it and away we went. The first year students did a GREAT job with the various holiday songs--especially since most of them have only been playing since September!! No pics, sadly, since Zoo Mama was frantic & frazzled. *sigh*

Now....given how much fun they had with the measly 5 inches we got on the 5th, imagine what Zoo Crew joy greeted the 22 inches of snow that arrived on December 19th!! The flakes were BIG and floaty, but boy did they start to add up. Good think we sent Daddy out for the tree before the snow hit! It was sooooo much fun to decorate the tree cozily indoors while the snow fell and transformed our yard into something from a Currier & Ives painting!

The depth of the snow removed a lot of the land features, so all was beautiful & white. AMAZING!! Well, OF COURSE the kids wanted to go out and play. No one realized, though, that the snow drifts were taller than Abbey. Until she quite capably demonstrated that for us, that is.

To see more pictures from our fun-filled December (and to see what Patrick was doing while the others played in the snow!), check out the rest of the album here: December 2009.

Christmas post soon to follow!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

7 out of 9 Cousins Agree

......that Jefferson is the place to be for Thanksgiving!!! (and only 7 because 2 were celebrating in California!)
David and his family made the 10 hour drive from Indiana to join the Zoo Crew for Turkey Day. We had a lovely long weekend, feasting, playing and visiting. Counting our blessings, too, of course.

Jacob and the boys bonded over Legos and video games.

Abbey & Laurel bonded over just about everything 5 year old and female.

On Friday, we hit the Black Friday sales for a wee bit of shopping. Later, pretty much the whole batch of us headed off the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Center at Dulles; Forrest was able to join us for that fun little road trip, too, rounding out our large number. We were quite surprised to find it so VERY crowded, but not surprised to find that it was VERY cool! Saw all kinds of crazy cool stuff, including the Space Shuttle and the Blackbird aircraft used in the most recent Transformers movie.

Check out more pictures here: Thanksgiving 2009

Great times...and the Zoo Crew is tickled pink that Dave's family is so much closer now and able to come visit more easily!!

If you are reading this, know that we are VERY thankful for you! Blessings as we enter this crazy busy Christmas season!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Patrick!!

Twelve years old today!! Can't believe it, really. We've been through some amazing times with this guy...incredible highs and heartbreaking lows. No matter where we've been, though, he continues to bless us with his perseverance, sense of humor and willingness to give just about ANYthing a try!

We celebrated his 12th year in a simple Zoo Crew way....birthday treats and presents. This year, we went with a giant birthday cookie...Patrick LOVED it!

Gramma & Gramps sent him blank DVDs and DVD case inserts on which to immortalize his movie-making efforts. (I'm thinking he's got a future in Independent Films!!)

His loopie birthday pal (Brittany from Reno, NV) sent a big box FULL of Lego kits--Bioncles, vehicles, space aliens. Patrick is in Lego heaven!

As I type this, he is working his way through building a Lego kit of about 8 vehicles, playing nicely with his brothers. I can't help but sit and stare a little, pausing to reflect that a couple of years ago, I would never have thought he'd be able to interact so peacefully for so long. Watching him read the directions and follow them so closely, I am in awe of the wonderful works God has done for this kiddo...and sending a special thanks to the many who have helped pray our family through these first 12 years of my boy's life.

Happy birthday, my first son!

Check out more pics here: Patrick's 12th Birthday (We had a couple of special guests for his big day, too!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Boo from the Crew

After diligently completing our chores for the day, the Zoo Crew was ready to play!
With Miss Ashley's help, we had a little cookie decorating fun. Loved these kits from Target! Abbey, Ben & Miss Ashley opted for the traditional approach and frosted theirs in orange. Ben fashioned his jack-o-lantern face from black bats! Abbey figured that the sprinkle-o-rama approach was best. Patrick selected a black frosting base; the results? ummmm, TASTY (?)

A traditional Halloween dinner of corn dogs followed the cookie appetizer. (No, seriously, we actually had this conversation! "Hey, Mom! What's our family tradition for Halloween dinner?" My response? "whatever is quick & in the freezer!" Ahhh...the memories!)

Miss Abbey sported a festive purple pirate look, complete with ruffled hat.

Ben had a rough time of it this year. He said he didn't really want a costume, rather he just wanted to be Halloween-y. After rejecting my suggestion about going AS Halloween (I'm thinking black sweat suit covered in all sorts of Halloween icons, Halloween decorations glued on--cool, huh?), he told me he'd wear black sweat pants and an orange shirt. We found one that says "I don't do tricks, just give me the candy!" which made his little 7 year old heart swell.

Matthew's exhaustive search for the perfect knight helmet was unsuccessful, so he he wore the headpiece that came with his costume, despite the scratchiness.

Patrick, who is besotted with all things Verizon, dressed as his alter ego, the Verizon Man. One of our neighbors made his day by recognizing him and asking "Can you hear me now?" Patrick happy danced all the way back down the driveway!

Check out the pics here to see more--including fun with The Spider Lady!

Happy, tired and ready to devour their loot, the beasties made their way back home for a bit of a movie night with Daddy, complete with caramel apples. Sugar highs bring sugar lows, you know....so our weary crew collapsed happily in bed. We hope your Halloween was wonderful and fun, too!

PS: Our missing beastie was off visiting her friend for a scary movie fest. *sigh*

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

About two weeks ago, the Zoo Crew took a road trip to Catoctin Mountain Orchards. Grandmother & Grandfather Bolingbroke really enjoyed the drive through the hills of Maryland to the orchards. We were planning to do a little apple picking, but October means it's pumpkin patch time...so no apple picking. *sigh*

Flexibility is, of course, a Zoo Crew specialty, so we quickly opted to check out the orange gourdiness. The beasties were loosed upon the poor unsuspecting orbs to make their selections. Beastly eagerness nothwithstanding, the pumpkins have been patiently waiting on the front steps for THE day.

Abbey was more than a little disgusted to remember that the scooping of the goop comes first. (note her thumb pointing to the goop!) Once I explained that the stringy stuff can catch fire from the candles, Ben was ultra intent on getting all the goop out of his.

The candles, by the way, were Patrick's idea--his requirement, actually! We put 'em in the pumpkins just for tonight...on Halloween we'll use electric ones. But he was happy!

Matthew aimed high and put a moustache and eyebrows on his!! (I think it looks remarkably like Bill, don't you?)

Patrick, ever the traditionalist, took great pains to draw his triangle eyes and nose.

Once we finished I told the kids to clean up the mess so we could wander outside and light 'em up. Matthew's response? "First, I must prepare the hose!" hee hee hee

Oh...let me set your worries to rest...Bill was carefully supervised while using the sharp objects!!

More pictures here: Pumpkin Carving 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

At long last and....


It's Patrick's turn to go back to school.
MSD reopened today and Patrick couldn't be happier! He was up and at 'em bright & early, chomping at the bit to hit the road...he sat by the front door and counted the minutes down. Of course we had the usual drama about "when will the bus be here?" (finally resolved after numerous calls to the school district at the crack of dawn!) He's learned to tell time and that's a mixed blessing, I tell ya'!! Thankfully, time moved quickly for the boy-o and the bus arrived promptly at the promised time...with the added bonus that Megan, his favorite aide, will be joining him again this year. YAY!

Please note the lack of wheelchair--double YAY!! YAY!!!

Abbey was persuaded to help in the leave taking, though a wee bit reluctantly.

See more pics here: Back to School 2009

Hard to believe we've hit this point...FIVE beasties on their way to school.

...and away they go...
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

If you were curious....

In case you were wondering what Patrick has been up to while the others are in school...he's been spending a lot of quality time with the cats. Click here for pics.
We've also had a great deal of fun playing with the computer and watching ASL videos on YouTube. Then there were what I like to call "the baking episodes"...brownies, cookies and something with bisquick that he just whipped up...

He's turning into quite the movie maker, too...creating DVDs with the computer and demonstrating quite the flair for dramatic juxtaposition.
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FOUR out the door...

Back to School this year is wild for the Zoo Crew...when school kicks into full swing, there will be no beasties left behind. No more pre-schoolers in this household!!

Off to school this week:
  • Katie--9th grade (yes, that's high school!!)
  • Matthew--4th grade
  • Ben--2nd grade
  • and Abbey--kindergarten (YIKES!)
Abbey was very enthusiastic 'til it was her turn to board the bus today. Her older sibs offered up lots of advice, here are a few of the better tidbits...
  • Katie: "Abbey, when you have to choose between a pink crayon and a purple one, don't. Go with both!"
  • Ben: "Sometimes you get to make friends and sometimes you get to be one. I say you should be one first." (pretty profound huh?)
  • Matthew: "If you listen to your teacher, you can't go wrong."
  • Ben: "Abbey, school isn't always fun, but, well, you gotta go or you get in trouble."
  • Matthew: "Sometimes you get to do all kinds of fun projects...relax and enjoy the kindergarten ones when you don't have to write about it."
  • Katie: "You know, Abbey, some of my friends & I have been in class together since kindergarten. Get to know your peeps, kid."
Patrick starts back to school next week.

I miss 'em already. (If you didn't click the link above, click here for pictures!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Big Furry One!!

Yup, believe it or not, it was 14 years ago today that the Zoo Crew came to be...and the adventure began in earnest.

It started at 4:10 am with one GINORMOUS kick; I just *knew* it was time! I wandered out to the family room to make sure....killed a little time watching the 4 am news man reading silly headlines from around the country. I can't remember the exact headlines, but I remember him cracking himself up so hard over something that he took his glasses off and wiped his eyes.

More highlights from the labor room:
  • Mom & Dad beating us to the hospital and freaking out because the nurses couldn't confirm we were there--still sorry about that one!
  • Getting locked in the delivery room--just Bill & I--due to a faulty lock when the nurse ran to get the doctor and Mom ran to get ice chips. Nurse Maria stood outside the door yelling "do NOT push! do NOT push!" Poor maintenance guy had LOTS of support for his door opening efforts!
  • My dad inching his chair from the waiting room into the hall and to right outside my room.
  • Puking on the doctor--the ONE doctor in the group practice I hadn't met yet!
  • The lady across the hall delivering her 5th and smallest child--a 12 1/2 pound boy! (they put Katie in the bassinet next to him in the nursery so that she would look small, hee hee hee)
And then, there she was, only 7 1/2 hours later--all 9 1/2 pounds of her!! And life has never been quite the same...

Katie's quote of the day today? "MSJ--isn't that some sort of chemical replacement for chicken?"

Happy 14th, Girlie!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Zoo Crew 4th

The Zoo Crew celebrated America's birthday with our dear friends the Piggs. We had a WONDERFUL fun-filled day of play. Nana joined in the fun, too. Miss Ashley popped by, as did Patrick's new helper-friend, David. Highlights of the day:
  • Mr. Chuck's ribs--YUMMY!!!
  • Patrick showing his movies (made all by himself!)
  • remote control helicopter races
  • trampoline jumping (WOW, David!)
  • wheelchair follies
  • catching fireflies (or trying to!)
  • sparklers & fireworks
  • spending time with family & friends!
Everyone sparkled--Nana does a mean chair sparkle! We made our own patriotic music while Kenny, Chuck & Daddy set off the fireworks. (You really haven't lived 'til you've heard the combined Pigg-Zoo Crew choirs sing America the Beautiful!) We danced and make super-cool shadows on the house while the strobing ground flowers did their thing...better than any disco, I tell ya!

Here are all the beasties with the mandatory photo-opp. Check out the rest of our pictures: Zoo Crew 4th of July.

We hope your 4th festivities were as much fun as ours!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

9 Years Old?

Okay, so it's getting to be a recurring theme...where has the time gone? Child #3 turned 9. *sigh*

It really seems like yesterday that we were off to the hospital to have the little beast. From the moment he was born, he's been amazing us with the things he says and does. He was the only one of my kids who needed that extra something to fall asleep--trips around town at 2 in the morning!!

When he was a little over a 3 years old, Patrick attempted to harness the power of then 1 year old Matthew, helping him build a makeshift ladder to the kitchen counter and up onto the fridge. I returned from changing loads of laundry to find Matthew perched on top of the fridge; he was swinging his feet, happily chomping on cheetos and tossing a 'em down to Patrick who was waiting below, doing his best seal impersonation. For awhile, the two of them were quite the team!

At 9, he's got the vocabulary of a high schooler, the thought processes of a future pocket protector wearer, the grace of an ox and the sense of humor of, well, a 9 year old boy! (Seriously, how many fart jokes could there be???!!) He's still pretty big for his age, but he's beginning to wear it well. (I still like to stand him next to Steph to get a giggle! He's almost as tall as she is!!)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

How did THIS happen???

My baby is FIVE. No, really....and yes, she was human at birth. Since then, all bets are off, LOL. THIS is the face she made when I said "smile nice for a blog picture." She can hardly wait to see this on the world wide web!! There are a few more birthday girl pics in our Busy June Picasa album, if you wanna peek.

According to the Abbinator, this is how a puppy would eat birthday cake...

She asked for a puppy. A real puppy. And if she couldn't have a puppy, a "kind of older dog would be OK, I guess." Um right.

She got a stuffed puppy. And one that moves a little when you pet it's back. Sometimes it gives a little bark. Been down the dog road. We are STILL not ready.

She will start kindergarten in the fall. I don't think Valley is ready for this one. (Or for 3 of the Zoo Crew to share the same school...I see more adventures in the future!) Gramma & Gramps sent her materials to practice school with and she thought that was pretty darned cool. She's already written her name in the paper tablet.

Pink is still her favorite color, but she likes dogs now (who could have seen that one coming?). "When I was 4 I thought cats were something, Mom, but now I'm growed, I think dogs are the bestest." Not sure what Dakota and Indy think of that.

Happy birthday, pumpkin!

Can't imagine life without you...and I can't imagine where these last 5 years have gone...

Crazy Busy June

Sometimes I wonder if we could fit more activities in a week than we already do...and then June hits!! Here's a brief snippet of the last 10 days:

1st: lacrosse games for Katie and Matthew
2nd: lacrosse game for Katie; meeting for mommy
3rd: incoming kindergarten "round-up" for Abbey (thankfully, Katie's lacrosse game was canceled)
4th: catch the breath
5th: mani-pedi with Katie & friends in preparation for the big 8th Grade Semi-Formal; the aforementioned semi-formal; Abbey's Pre-K "graduation"
6th: Matthew's lacrosse tourney...canceled due to flooded fields
7th: Katie's lacrosse tourney...scheduled for 4 back to back games; played 3
8th: sports meeting at school
9th: Matthew awards ceremony
10th: Katie awards ceremony; Patrick last day of school: ABBEY TURNS 5!!

Somewhere in there, all the homework, housework and work work still had to get done. Busy life = happy life? Crazy, maybe....

I'm beginning to get it...kids are happy it's the end of the school year because it's the start of the summer....parents are happy because they can finally catch their breath!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

She shoots...she SCORES!!

Miss Katie's lacrosse team has had a crazy, rough season. Nasty weather has kept their practice time to a ridiculous minimum--for some reason, they aren't allowed to practice in thunderstorms, go figure! And despite playing better and more team-like than EVER, they just haven't been able to pull a win out of their hats...'til last week.

Each & every girl had a terrific game, their passes connected, their plays were solid...it was pretty and oh-so-fun to watch. (with the added bonus that I got to ring the B-wick cowbell LOTS of times!!) This game was so well played that I think we would have enjoyed it even if it had been a loss--no, seriously. But what a treat that it ended 10 to 9 in our favor!!

And even though everyone had a stellar day, gotta ice the cake and brag on my girlie--my super star scored the game winning goal!!!

There are more pictures of the team on Picasa, if you want to sneak a peek of highlights from the season: BLAX U-15.

Whoo hoo!

Now on to the BIG week...games every night of the week, including All-Stars on Wednesday. (Yes, Katie made the league All-Stars!!!). Oh, and somehow we have to squeeze in games for Matthew, too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Famous Matthew Man!

Matthew made the front page--and even got quoted!

Check out the article about Dandelion's Peace Poem by clicking here. FNP


On Thursday, he was one of about 20 Valley kids who were invited to read their poetry at Literacy Night. He did a GREAT job and didn't seem nervous at all.

YAY Matthew!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Birthday Ben

Can't believe the little booger is SEVEN!! That's right, SEVEN.

I asked him how it feels to be seven...and he said "the same as being 6, pretty much."

Typical. He's the oddest of my odd ducks--and THAT's saying something! Mom (that would be me!) mucked up on the birthday candles--thought I had plenty!--so he had the numeral 6 and 1 regular candle, LOL. He was cool with that, pretty darned happy, actually...figured no one else he knows would have their SEVEN like that. (Smart, flexible boy!!)

Red is still his favorite color. But he likes Bakugon toys now....this is his expression when he opened them as a gift from his siblings.

Happy birthday, Beastie #4!

Watching you grow is always an adventure--and there are so many more to come. The fun is just beginning!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Fun

Easter this year was a wee bit low-key (well, as low-key as it gets around here!)

As sad as it made me, we opted to skip church services this year, given the logistics and hour. (I made due with updating my FaceBook status with the traditional Easter morning greetings: "He is risen...He is risen INDEED!").

We had a lovely lazy morning. Katie and Daddy made ham & cheese omelettes for everyone, including the "guests" invited by Matthew:

Afterwards, we played games. Daddy & Matthew took a walk while the rest of us took advantage of the April breeze to fly kites:
Miss Ashley popped by, bringing chocolate bunnies for all. (Is it any wonder we love her?)

All in all, a fun family day....and a nice treat for us to just "hang." We hope you had as nice a day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What IS it? Monday

It's time for another fun-filled edition of ...What IS it Mondays? (are you excited?)

Betcha you've been just waiting and waiting???

Well, knock yourself out...here it is....now you guess...WHAT IS IT????? Give it your best shot (or your silliest!).

This week's prize is the pride and satisfaction of knowing you figured it out!! (Go you, go you, go you!) Mostly because you *really* don't want this in your mail or your house or, quite truthfully, ANYwhere near you...

Good luck!
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Breaking!

We had the opportunity to get away for a mini-vacation this week. So off to Fort Story we went. (Yes, we LOVE that place!!) Of course, we dragged the Piggs with us.

Highlights of this trip?
  • Mini-Golf, speed version
  • a cyclops named Earl
  • sand castles and digging to China
  • Monsters vs. Aliens in 3D and IMAX (WOW!)
  • new favorite restaurant, Mary's
  • giggling when Matthew stood next to Mrs. Stephanie
  • playing paparazzi on the Boardwalk with Miss Smith
  • margaritas at Guadalajara
  • marshmellows toasted over a campfire
Sadly, we learned that The Purple Cow is no more. So the last purple tongue pics are just that...the last. ('til we find a new ice cream joint with purple ice cream!!)

Hope you enjoy these pictures from the trip:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Matthew's First Lacrosse Game

Lacrosse season is finally here!! YAY! Matthew is playing for the first time and had his very first game yesterday.

I've watched girls' lacrosse for 5 years now. Did NOT prepare me for the sidelines of a boys' game. WOW. For example...it's perfectly OK to tackle the guy with the ball--so long as you do it from the front so he can see you coming. NICE. (Have to admit there was something weirdly satisfying in the UMPH and smack of helmets when the boys collided on field.) Huge pileups and no flags--just a boy coming up victorious with the ball. I imagine them grinning, but hard to tell beneath the helmets and mouthguards.

Yesterday was drizzly & cold (much like today, for Katie's game!); referee started the game with "are you guys ready to get MUDDY?" It was hilarious to hear everyone hollering 'YEAH!' Those boys were pumped!

Matthew decked out in ALL his gear kinda scares me, so here he is with some of it missing...game face cracks me up! He did really well, considering it was his first time on the big field. Team is almost half new kids, so they did a GREAT job holding their own against a more experienced team...lost 3-2, but showed terrific promise for a good season.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What IS it? The Winner!!

Well...THAT didn't take long...

Shasta's the lucky winner...they were Katie's attempt to make drop biscuits with Bisquick. (Yes, we know how much you LOVE Bisquick, Shasta!)

Lately, everything Katie bakes comes out flat. VERY flat. (I think it's an issue with her basic understanding of the DIP-LEVEL-POUR method of flour measurement! Thankfully, such talent was NOT required for the making of today's Snicker Bars.)

We decided to call these "bisquakes" because they were flat like pancakes...Matthew threw one at Ben and it didn't even crumble...hee hee hee.

So...where shall I mail the one we saved for you???

Monday, March 16, 2009

What IS it? Monday

So...inspired by my friend's blog and his Song Lyric Sundays contest, the kids and I have decided that we could provide a wee bit of online entertainment with WHAT IS IT??? Mondays!!

Here's the deal...we provide a photo of something. You guess what it is. Maybe there will be a prize, maybe there will not. You never know...this is, after all, the Zoo Crew.

First up, an offering by Miss Katie herself (and actually SHE was the inspiration for this momentous event! "Gee, Mom, why don't you just take a picture and put it on the blog?" ALWAYS happy to oblige, m'dear!):

What the heck...be the first person figure out what these ARE and we'll snail mail you one!

C'mon...let's hear from you!