Not quite Jon and Kate plus 8, but with kids this delightful...bring on three more!!
Excuse the long post with too many pictures but there's a lot I want to record here so I don't forget many of the details and precious moments of this past week. Ryan and I were up in Lake Elsinore babysitting Zak and Kelli's kids while they spent a week in Ireland. We've done this many times before for them but this time we had two babies added to the mix which added to the challenge but added even more to the joy and fun! Although it has taken me a few days to recover from the lack of sleep and constant activity, I am going through serious withdrawals from the kids and chaos!
Growing up, I struggled to find my "talent." I wasn't athletic, totally tone deaf and not musically inclined, I didn't consider myself especially smart and had to work to get the grades and felt very average in pretty much every way. My mom would comfortingly say, "honey, of course you are talented...you are a good friend and a good listener." Mom's are so funny sometimes...I wasn't reassured. Well, I feel like I know my talent now... I am good at being a mom. I thrive in these situations (managing lots of kids). Ryan commented that when the kids were around it was like I got an adrenaline shot! My stress level surprisingly went down and I loved the challenge of being a mediator and creating peace in every situation be it homework struggles, meal times, arguing kids, ouchies, baby mayhem, etc. etc. With only one time out for each of the older kids throughout the entire seven days, I felt like Ryan and I really succeeded in running a very smooth and happy household for the week.
Now, I CANNOT take all the credit as I have to tell you Zak and Kelli have raised their kids to be absolute angels. They were seriously so well behaved for us, so helpful, so obedient and so fun! Every one I talked to during the week would ask if we were "surviving" and I just kept saying, "these kids are so GOOD, we are more than surviving...we are having a blast!" Also, I could never have done this without Ryan's help. He managed to work our business and be my equal partner, sharing the load 50/50. In addition to Ryan helping with all of the kids, he was also taking care of me by constantly reminding me to take my meds, occupying the kids so I could do my treatments, bringing me water and going up and down the stairs for me whenever I needed anything!
Here are some of my special memories of the kids:
Jaydn was the BIGGEST helper! There was hardly a time she wasn't helping with one of the kids. When Zak and Kell handed us a check (I said it was not necessary but they insisted), I wanted to hand half of it over to Jaydn. She was invaluable and never complained when asked to help. She is so mature for her age, she's only eight but was like a second little momma all week. One of the highlights of my week, which caused me to tear up not only observing it but every time I recounted the story, was watching Zak and Jaydn at gymnastics. Zachy landed his first back flip and his teacher made a huge deal about it to everyone at the gym, he then turned to Jaydn and said, "is that YOUR little brother?!" and Jaydn said, "YES and I am so proud of him!!" She then turned to Zak and congratulated him with a big high five. It was the sweetest moment and I couldn't swallow the lump in my throat. I was so proud of HER. She could have been jealous of all the attention he was getting but instead she was just so excited for him. She is such a good big sister to all of her siblings and such a great cousin to Harrison...he just ADORES her!! I also adore her and had such a great time helping her with homework, preparing meals for her, doing her hair, singing Disney songs at the top of my lungs with her and watching her practice for the Primary program!!
Zachy is just a ball of energy! He is all BOY with an adorable tenderness. He excels in everything and amazed me all week whether he was building towers, doing his homework, flipping on the trampoline, practicing for soccer, doing the "it's friday and we have no homework breakdance" on the floor or answering my questions during scripture study. My favorite moments with him were taking him to his soccer practice and being there when he lost his first tooth! I got special one-on-one time with him as I took him to practice while Ryan stayed home with the other kids. I loved talking to him on the way there and hearing about how his dad bribed him to go on Tower of Terror! Also, I will never forget him losing his tooth. We didn't even know it was loose. Jaydn and him were just playing around with this blanket on the floor and Jaydn pulled it suddenly and one of the strings from the blanket got caught on Zachy's tooth and it was yanked right out! He just started laughing and said, "wow, I didn't know it was so easy to lose a tooth!" Nothing phases this little guy, he is so funny! I have to add that Zachy was the go-to man for getting Sawyer or Harrison to laugh! He had them cracking up all week, it was so cute to watch.
Precious little Addie. She definitely gives Zachy a run for the money in the ball of energy category!! She is full of four year old fun and passion for life! She just loves everyone and is so affectionate! My Addie hugs were definitely a highlight of the week, she gives the best squeazes! She loved to be one of the big kids when playing with Jaydn and Zachy and was the designated baby mugger!! Harrison loved following her around and copying everything she did. Every time their faces were in close proximity, he would pucker up and give her a big "mwaaaa!" and she would just overflow with delight!! One of my favorite memories with Addie was doing her hair for the Halloween party. She wanted it to look just like Cinderella and kept asking, "is this how Cinderella would have her hair?" Her hair is a thick mane of silkyness and was so fun to play with all week. We put it in a high braided bun and then topped it off with her beautiful tiara. She is spunky and sweet and added so much to the fun we had!
Oh how I miss my little cuddle bug. This little angel provided the baby fix I have been craving!! He was so so good for us. I worried most about how he would cope with being separated from his mommy and how his sleeping schedule would affect us and how we would do with his teething but he just decided to be perfect for us! He adjusted to us so quickly and slept so well, actually sleeping in an hour or two more than he usually does! He also was such a tough little guy as he cut two new teeth while they were gone. My favorite memories with him were watching him lay his head on Ryan's shoulder every time Ryan held him and feeding him his bottles after he woke up. He would just nestle into me and I wanted to pause time. I also loved watching him watch Baby Mozart. Harrison never really got into these videos but Sawyer would just light up upon hearing the music start and it was so adorable watching him being entertained by the animals, toys, colors and sounds!
Here are a "few" more of my favorite pictures : )
Just hanging out at home
Pumpkin Patch Adventure
Halloween Party Time!
One last thing:
Harrison had the time of his life with his cousins and fit right in. He was a good sport to share his mommy and daddy and have his schedule completely changed! He provided endless entertainment for the kids as they loved prompting him to do all of his "tricks" (animal sounds, identifying body parts and generally being a parrot and copying whatever anyone says). They also got a kick out of asking him questions because his answer to EVERY question is no! No means yes : ) As he went to bed after the other kids, Ryan and I relished being able to have some one-on-one time with him every night but got such enjoyment out of watching him interact with Jaydie, Zachy, Addie and Sawyer. He is utterly bored now that we are home and has only his mom and dad for companions...thank goodness he's been able to spend time with his Grandmas since we've been home!!
All in all, this past week will for sure be one of the highlights of our whole year. We truly treasure the time we get to spend with all of our nieces and nephews and love being able to bond in this intimate way with them! Thank you Zak and Kelli for sharing your kids with us and trusting us to sub in for you every once in a while!