Vitamin E–is it good for hair?

OK, our littlest guy got a hold of a Vitamin E tablet yesterday and somehow figured out how to lance it, then spread it all through his blonde curly hair. It took me a few hours to figure out we did not have a dead animal in the house or a plumbing back-up.

Fish kill-Image is public domain and is courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife ServiceI finally saw the drained caplet and put the fish smell together to figure it out. SO, he gets a bath with the other two little boys, followed by a bath for the three little girls.

Anyway, funny smell at dinner tonight–it turns out ALL SIX now smell like fish. Another bath night tonight, now in different tubs…. 😆.

Saturday Soccer Scramble

This morning was a bit of a scramble, but we pulled off a small miracle for soccer.  With Robyn at the Southern Womens Show in Charlotte, Dave had soccer duty with all 9 kids.  Robyn has done this before, so she’s an old pro, but this was Dave’s first time gunning solo.  Here are the statistics:

  • 1 parent
  • 9 children
  • 6 players
  • 5 teams on 5 fields (3 at 9:15AM, 2 at 9:45AM; 2 at school on one side of a main street and 3 at the YMCA across the street)
  • 3 players on 2 teams with pictures at 8:40AM (we were late, but still got there in time to get team and player pictures)

We have been blessed to have have the opportunity to play on our Church’s teams, with fantastic coaches and team parents, many who are from large families themselves, and who were able to lend helping hands.


So, we started with a head count of 9, and finished with a head count of 9.  Not sure if they are all ours, but we can sort it out later (after we determine whether or not we traded up for some ‘keepers’).

Next week will be a slightly different story, as the number of parents goes to “zero” while we are both at the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, KY.  We’ll be saying our prayers. 😉

Soccer with 9 kids 9-17-2011.

3-year-old rapier wit

Robyn was preparing dinner and our two two-year-olds and three-year-old were trying to help her by playing with the baby.

–that statement itself is a wonder, since they are ALL babies! —

The two year olds soon lost interest, but the 3-year-old, being Mother Hen to all 3 little brothers, decided she wanted to feed the baby.  She got a bib and baby food to boot.

When Robyn finally realized what she was doing, she tried to stop the process (fearing the clean-up would be worse than the help) by saying:

“[Littlest girl], you are not going to feed him right now because I don’t even want to SEE what kind of mess you are going to make by trying to do this.”

Without missing a beat, the little one responds in her 6-inch alien voice “Then just don’t look at me, Mommy.  I need the spoon now, please.”

She was so cute, Robyn could not resist.  But Robyn did not think it near as funny when three minutes later from the same little voice came the matter-of-fact statement:  “I need a new shirt, MMother Henommy.”.

Traveling with Children: Day 13 of 27 days in a green tin can with 9 children–CT

Day 13:I happened upon a Colgate Moment in the morning.

Robyn with SteadyMom and good friend Jamie and childrenWoke to a European style B&B breakfast experience–fresh ground and fresh brewed espresso (hot-diluted to cafe Americano), home-baked bread with homemade marmalade and country salted butter, and fresh fruit.  Do we really have to leave?  Our New Haven friends are so good to us and it is a long process to extract our children and ourselves and say goodbye.Fun with friends in New Haven

We lumbered down the road to Shelton, CT, which is just up the road from Trumbull, CT, where Dave grew up.  A little hiccup in the plan as we checked into the Marriott Residence–because of fire regulations, most hotels will not let you sleep more than 5 people in a room, even if it is a 2-bedroom suite and 3 are in pack-and-plays.  So when we booked through the national reservation center we were under the impression we were getting two adjoining 2-bedroom suites.  When we got there we were informed this was not possible as each two-bedroom suite was located in a separate building, and none connected to any other adjoining rooms.

Dave was in talking to the desk clerk while Robyn stayed in the car with the children, and we communicated by walkie-talkie as Dave discussed options with the clerk.  After spending several minutes of trying to figure out alternative options and explaining that if we put one adult and 4 children in each of two rooms, that would still leave one child in a room solo–not going to work.  Now, after reading “Spirit to Serve:  Marriott’s Way”, while studying customer service models, Dave is a big fan of the Marriott chain.  But this was kind of a startling setback.

Enter ‘protective Mama bear’.  Robyn tells Dave on the walkie-talkie, fully audible to the desk clerk and now manager also, “OK, you come on out and I am coming in”.  Dave shrugs an empathetic “I am sorry, I tried…glad I am not you right now” shrug to the ladies behind the desk as he exchanges places with Robyn.  Within 5 minutes Robyn comes back out the the car with a card-key for the upgrade to the ‘Penthouse suite’.  Problem solved, once again proving that women can really communicate.View looking up into the loft at the hotel

So we unload into the suite, which is roomy enough for all of us (thank you, Mr. Marriott), drop off our bags and gear, and head out to lunch at a restaurant nearby with a dear friend of Dave’s from high school, whom he has not seen in about 25 years.  What a beautiful family they are, although the oldest daughter is away traveling in Costa Rica (can you blame her?).

On the way back to the hotel, we nearly run into Dave’s buddy Tommy’s Mom who is backing out of her driveway.  She has never seen our van so she’s looking at us like we are about to stick her up.  Dave jumps out of the van and runs up to her window (at this point she’s looking a bit frightened until he’s about 5 feet away) when she recognizes him and jumps out of the car to give him a hug.  Traveling to Shelton in the Ford E350XLT conversion vanAt this point Mr. P. recognizes the hub-bub in the driveway and comes out to join the fun and inspect ‘the wheels’.  He was very impressed with the E350 chassis.  But we are running late for an appointment in Fairfield, and have to move on.

Monseigneur Larry and the gangWe are due to meet Father Larry (now Monseigneur Larry) at St. Pius in Fairfield at 4:30PM, and we’re running a little late.  Fortunately, he is also running a little late so we have time to drive around Fairfield a little bit and Dave gets to tell the children about how he went to high school at Fairfield Prep just down the road, and how when he was in high school Msgr. Larry was a newly ordained priest who was running the St. Teresa’s youth group in Trumbull.  Fr. Larry was a good advisor for Dave and his brother Steve, and he helped teach them wisdom and steer them clear of trouble (mostly) during those formative years.

Doggie Heaven--there's a dog in there somewhere, I promise!Our meeting with Msgr. Larry is short but good, with updates from both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  The kids love the cookies they always get when visiting the rectory, and they are absolutely in love with Fr. Larry’s dog.  Even little Robert, who usually shies away from animals, is captivated by this old, patient, friendly dog.

We top off the evening with dinner back in Trumbull with Dave’s high school buddy, Tommy, and his family.  Dave and Tommy both were smart enough to go South after college and marry Virginia girls.  Robyn and Teresa get along like sisters, and you’d think they knew each other longer than Dave and Tommy.  Tommy and Teresa have 4 children, roughly matching the ages of 4 of ours, but all 13 play along with each other incredibly well.  It was a hoot when Robyn and Teresa both had the first-borns around the same time, and named them after Dave and Tommy.  So Teresa introduced the babies to each other:  “Little Dave, meet Little Tommy.  Little Tommy, meet Little Dave”; we knew it would be an historic event.  It was sort of like seeing the most recent Star Trek Movie when young Captain Kirk meets young Mr. Spock.


1)  Most states limit hotels to 5 people per room due to fire codes.  B&B’s are usually more flexible or have a better way to accommodate large families.Personal Sleeping Quarters: when it's tight, a closet floor makes a great private bed!

2) If you have to stay in a hotel, choose a customer-friendly place like the Marriott chain.  That way, if there is a mix-up, they will understand customer service and find a way to make you happy.

3) Sometimes a sock drawer or empty closet bottom with good padding can serve as a wonderful makeshift bed for little ones..

Travel with Children: Day 8 of 27 Days in a Green tin can…Road to Boston

Our biggest Travel day!

“And I’ve never been to Boston in the fall”, but we’re heading there in the Spring!  Boston or bust today – actually, to a great suburb North of Boston to stay with Dave’s sister and family.

After performing our “normal” farm morning chores, we packed everything up (though I say that lightly – it was not a light chore!) and “hit the road again”.  Don’t ask me why, but for some reason, we had estimated this voyage to take us about 5 hours – WRONG!  We left around 10:30am and arrived in Boston at 9:30pm – that was a long time!

[Slight interjection by Dave, here.  We did leave the farm at about 10:30AM, but we sat in a parking lot until about noon, waiting for Robyn to finish her WiFi business and straighten out a shipping issue–THEN we got on the road.  Still, it WAS a long trip.  After growing up in Southern CT, and attending UConn for college (“5 or 6 of the best years of your life”), I am not sure how I so badly underestimated travel time.]

Unfortunately, that meant we missed one of the places we were really looking forward to seeing since it is well set-up for little ones:  Old Sturbridge Village.  It is a ‘living museum’ of New England life from 1790-1840.  We had gone there on our last trip about 3 years ago, and there was a terrible rainstorm, but there was a great indoor kids ‘explore’ area that was just their speed.  The rest of the place is really well set up for visitors, young and old alike.  But we drove by here about 8:30PM and waved as we passed.  *SIGH* I guess we’ll just have to visit next time.

Leaving that morning and heading in a Northward direction was prChild with chicken and Daffodilsobably the most difficult moment in this whole trip for Dave and I.  The farm had been fun, but it was a lot of work to keep up with the kids, it had been hot, and we had a lot of dirty laundry, and…the van was kind-of stinky.  We looked at each other, from our thrones in the front of the van, and wondered out loud if we had truly lost our minds!  We were at the end of our first week away and we had 3 more weeks to go.  Going North seemed like the craziest thing we had ever done, home was South, and we were heading into the abyss with 9 young children for 3 more weeks.  We were scared!  But, Garmin led us on and we followed – North!

The drive was prolonged by traffic, personal stops and just the fact that it was actually a very long way to go.  The kids did amazingly well, no major melt downs or complaints.  I will add a few tips at the end of the post, but right now I want to tell about the funny thing that happened on the Jersey Pike.

We were crawling along in very, very slow traffic when we heard the dreaded “I gotta go peeeeeeee!” from the 4 year old.  Argh – she’s the one that we didn’t put the travel diaper on.  So, over we went to the side of the road and stopped.  I dashed out of the van and set up our little van potty (see the blog about supplies) on the floor of the van.  Our daughter proceeded to take care of her business.  While I am solemnly waiting for the event to transpire, I am startled to the point of needing the potty myself by a man speaking as he approached the van!   I almost screamed.  It was a state trooper who was coming to check on our status.  While I was trying to regain my composure, he took one look in the direction of the inside of the van and quickly averted his eyes and turned around while saying something like “Oh, potty break, I see, well, you go ahead”.  And before I had a chance to confirm that it was a potty break, he was behind the van and out of site!  I guess we looked like we had it all under control!

Our 800 hour trip, I mean long travel day, ended at Dave’s sister’s wonderful house, where we all hugged necks and screamed with glee.  And then, I asked permission and pardoned myself as I spent the rest of the evening with her washer and dryer!

Long Road Trip Tips for being in the car:

1. Put a diaper on anyone who will tolerate it, and put pads under anyone who won’t.  Carry a portable potty, or use a diaper, or a cup for those who won’t.

[Another interjection by Dave -Another product we’d recommend for traveling with children:  The Piddle Pad, a Waterproof Car Seat Liner.  The Piddle Pad Car Seat LinerThis works well as preventing the seat from getting wet, or if you forgot to do that and there is an accident, you can change the child, put this down, and have a dry surface for them to sit on while you continue to travel.

2. Have some very long running DVD’s available for the kids.  We also enjoyed some stories on CDs.  We also have adult CD’s (business books) to listen to.  We took turns with the kids, alternating between kid time and adult time.

3. Make sure the kids are sitting in the best possible configuration to get along and play together.   We didn’t bring a lot of toys, but times like this are when the new toy from a fast food kid’s meal can really be a help!

4. Nursing babies – bring a bottle (if they will take one) in the car/van.  I am fine with giving my nursing babies a bottle of formula here and there, so I like to have one available if we are not in a good spot to stop for a nursing session.  This has been a great thing for us on several trips..