August 27, 2011

Imitating Uncle Duck

This past week we visited the home of Lucas' Uncle & Aunt. While there, the twins met "Uncle Duck" - his uncle's (incredible) impression of Donald Duck. Ry-guy loved it. Not one to ever miss a comedic crowd-pleaser, Ryan has been practicing his impression ever since. Here is a short video of his progress (taken on my phone). You might need to turn your volume up to hear his quacking :)

video

August 26, 2011

Let's Pretend

My kids love to play dress up. Until recently, our dress up bin consisted of several princess dresses, sparkly shoes (some with heels), lots of play jewelry, and a couple hats (some animal left over from their birthday party, and some purchased from goodwill...most girly). Ry-guy never minded dressing up in the princess dresses & shoes, but I felt badly. We needed variety! We have to be able to pretend we are something other than a princess!

Then I stumbled upon a jackpot of costumes (Halloween costumes. Only worn once. Some never worn) on craigslist!! Fire fighter, pirate, frontier, dragon, construction hat & lion mask! Yay! I couldn't even save them until Christmas because I knew they would love them so much! And they did!
My little firefighters
(firetrucks & ambulances are big in our house so I knew this would be the favorite!)

I had to move both of our full length mirrors so they could each look at themselves in their new costumes without fighting over a mirror. Ryan couldn't stop looking at himself. I asked him if he liked how he looked as a firefighter. Without turning away from the mirror he said a confident (full-of-awe sounding), "Yes." So much more creative play happening in our house! But I can't go into anymore detail because I have to go and mediate a fight over pink princess heels...

August 23, 2011

As the Dust Settles

In a wildly fast 10 days we had my brother's wedding, VBS, a new outreach at church, and
another yard sale to raise money for the adoption. During this time we had no less than 12 people stay at our house at some point - the most at once being 6. As you can imagine, it was a 10 days full of fun, friends, family, & frenzy. Yesterday, everyone left, and we are attempting to regroup as the dust settles. The house (immaculate - or as much as my house will ever be - before everyone arrived) is a bit of a disaster. The yard sale needs to be packed up. Schedules for the upcoming year need to be planned and set (for ministries, etc.). Websites need to be
updated. And I have a million other projects I want to tackle.

But last night we decided to simply enjoy the beautiful weather outside together.



August 22, 2011

The Wedding

And now for the post you've all been waiting for: The Wedding. (some pictures were shamelessly stolen from my cousin's facebook page!)
My husband and brothers waiting for the bride.
Everything was beautiful. Inspired by the peacock feathers - the colors were rich, vibrant, and elegant. The boutineers (which I ended up pinning on - the groomsmen had no clue how terrified they should have been as I pinned them!) were small peacock feathers, and the girls also wore feathers in their hair. I loved the way the feathers and colors were woven throughout so many details of the wedding without it being theme-y at all!
Walking down the aisle!
Lucas officiated the wedding (he is now only 1 wedding away from marrying each of our siblings!). He talked to them about 1 Corinthians 13 - which has, unfortunately, become cliche at weddings. He said that so many pastors say, "Try your hardest to be this," but that is impossible. As imperfect people we can never live up to that example. But, that is the perfect definition of God - patient, kind, never keeping a record of wrongs, enduring all things, never failing. If we try in a marriage to live up to the example we will always fail & frustration will ensue. If we keep God as our focus, and His perfect love, it will flow over into our marriage. When the other fails, our forgiveness & love will be more readily given as we remember the One who always loves & forgives us when we fall short.
The weather is always an important factor in an outdoor wedding. As the bridesmaids came down the aisle, little sprinkles began to fall. It lent the perfect amount of drama to the moment, but all droplets stopped when the bride walked to the front. As they began to recite their vows, the clouds parted & the sun broke through - shining brightly on them. And when they kissed, a boom of thunder (the only I heard the entire morning) rolled in the distance. A movie couldn't have had weather as perfectly on cue!
Playing on the practice green with daddy while waiting for pictures.
We love to run!!
A daughter gained to happy parents :)
The reception was fabulous. My favorite touch: They each picked their favorite books and at the center of each table was a book cake with the title & explanation of why it was one of their favorite books. I wished I had thought of it myself! Nerds after my own heart :)
Twinners with Uncle Matt (don't ask about Allie's face...it's what she did when I told her to smile!)
Posing with their uncle and newest aunt!
I mentioned family in a previous post, and I really enjoyed watching my kids play with the kids of my cousins at the wedding. Once upon a time, my 20 some cousins and I ran around & played together at family gatherings. Then we all of the sudden grew up, and now our children run around and play together at family get-togethers like this. It is some kind of awesome to sit next to the people you love & played with growing up and watch the next generation run around together.
We managed to stop the running long enough to line them up for a picture. This is only a fraction of the kids from a small fraction of my cousins!
My mom's mom with all the great-grandkids present - only about half!
My Dad's parents (and me) with their great-grandkids (the benefit of being the oldest grandchild is that your kids can be the first greats!)
I will confess that it all seemed a little surreal. I would stop every now and then and look at my little brother (who I still can picture jumping around in his underwear pretending to be a Ninja Turtle, and who is frozen in my brain as a high school freshmen sleeping in the chair outside my room so that he doesn't miss saying goodbye to me before I leave for college.), and think "my little brother just got married." It is sometimes so hard for me to believe that we are grown up! I'm so proud of him & the incredible man he grew into. I love Ariel and couldn't have hand-picked a more amazing girl for my brother. Their joy is so apparent, and we are so happy for them.
Congratulations, Nic & Ariel!!!!!

August 21, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

This is a story about what NOT to do before your brother's wedding.

DON'T decide that you are going to make all of your clothes. Even if you have the cutest patterns for a dress for your daughter; pants, vest & bow tie for your son; and a dress for you...unless you have hours of free time and are able to finish the outfits well before the wedding, it is probably more stress than it is worth.
Before the wedding in the outfits they ended up wearing.
When you plan on taking your sewing machine on the 2-week vacation you will be taking right before the wedding in order to finish the 3 outfits you decided to make & it breaks at midnight the night before you leave. Give in. Buy clothes. DON'T press on determined to make the clothes in the 10 days you will have before the wedding, after you get your machine fixed, while you are also preparing for VBS & a fundraising yard sale happening the week after the wedding. It will probably end up being more stress than it is worth.
Looking down. The flower in Allie's hair was supposed to be an embellishment on my dress...
3 days before the wedding, even when you have the perfect shoes (purchased on clearance) to match your daughter's dress, it is a bad idea to START making the dress. Even if you are able to finish it that night. Because when it turns out to be 2 sizes too big you will not have enough time to do the necessary alterations (and also make the pants, vest, bowtie, and dress you still have left to make). Give in. DON'T persist in making the clothes. It is definitely more stress than it is worth.
Giving each other a hug (notice the shoes on Allie that started it all)
DON'T wait until 2 days before the wedding to go shopping for the outfits the majority of your family will wear. You probably won't find anything in the stores (that, by this point, have completely switched seasons and only have cold weather clothing...which is not appropriate for an outdoor wedding in August...), and will end up having to buy fabric to make last-minute alterations to clothing that you already own. Cost-effective...sure. Satisfying...not so much. More stress than it's worth...most definitely!
And now a kiss...
IF you manage to find a dress, 2 days before the wedding, that you love. That you love even more that the dress you designed in your head and bought the perfect fabric for. DON'T leave said dress at the nail salon after purchasing it. And make sure that you show the dress to as many people as possible when you get home so that if you do leave it behind, you realize it sooner than the night before the wedding at 11 pm. Otherwise, you will accidentally wake your sleeping parents up the night before the wedding when they need their rest only to find out the dress is not in their car. And your mother-in-law will end up making an emergency trip to the nail salon before the MORNING wedding. The nail salon will not be open, and your loving and generous mother-in-law will end up going to the store and buying yet another of the dress you love (thank goodness one of the 2 they had left will be in your size) only to get a call on the way to the wedding that the nail salon does have the dress. And now you will have 2 of this dress that you aren't so sure you love anymore. It will cause way more drama than necessary the morning before the wedding. All because you were determined to make your clothes. And it will be far beyond more stress than its worth!
He pulled away from the previous kiss, so she pulled him in for a decent smooch!
The moral of the story? If your brother...or sister...or anyone in your family is getting married. Know months in advance what you will be wearing and make sure it is all ready to go and laid out days before the wedding!
(alterations made the night before the wedding: Ryan's long-sleeve dress shirt was turned into a short sleeve, the red pocket square on his vest was removed and some cloth matching his sister's sash sewn in, A flower & bow combo cut off Allie's dress & the existing sash covered with fabric that matches the flower, a flower cut off a lace flower garland & glued to a clippie for her hair)

August 20, 2011

Family

I know it's been a while, but we have had the craziest couple of weeks (as you should see in upcoming posts). My brother got married last weekend, and one of the best things about weddings (besides the actual wedding of course) is all the family that you get to see! My uncle & 2 of his daughters came out early & we got to spend a few days hanging out with them - including a trip to our lake!
Allie & Ryan showed off their swimming skills
(note: perhaps Allie doesn't love swimming because she always starts on shore?)

Gigi & my cousin C.
No diving in here, they all got in s-l-o-w-l-y!
My uncle tossed in some quarters to let the twins look for "treasure." Allie is still talking about the money in the lake. And there IS still money in the lake because every time they found all the quarters they threw them back and there is one we never found!

Kicking in the water with Papa.
Swimming with Uncle Matt.
Water 500 :)

Eventually they moved from the water to the swings with Papa.
The gang!
I so enjoyed the little pockets of time with all of our family, but it was especially fun to really show "our life" to my uncle & cousins :)

August 07, 2011

Let's Party!

um....er...potty?
Crossed signals or not, thank you to my children for reminding me to make music & celebrate...even when you're feeling poopy!

Note: Don't recognize the instruments? Ryan has a "trumpet" made out of a funnel & Allie has maracas from one of our instrument sets.

August 03, 2011

The aquarium and final stories

I'm truly bummed that the pictures of this adventure are absolutely terrible. This was definitely a time when I was kicking myself for not replacing our close up lens before. With our super zoom lens (that I often love and have learned to successfully use in most situations) we couldn't get anything of decent quality in the incredibly packed Aquarium. There were just too many people & too much chaos for us to step as far away as we needed. But we still had a great time.

The twins are in a very sea obsessed phase right now. They love fishies & whales & sharks & turtles. They sleep with a seahorse every night. They love anything that has to do with water. And so, the only "touristy" thing on my agenda was a trip to The New England Aquarium. We went with some good friends (their children darkly pictures below), and enjoyed an afternoon together watching the sea lions, penguins, seals, seahorses, displays of fish from all different regions, the touch tank, and the sharks, turtles & fish in the main tank.
The biggest draw (for me), a special sharks & rays touch tank. The twins weren't awesome at it (they splashed too much), but we all got the chance to touch a ray or two AND I got to touch a shark!!
The twins LOVED the penguins. They are on the ground level and all the way up the main tank you can peek over the edge and see them. The twins loved checking in on them ALL the way up (much to the dismay of their bathophobic mother)...
At this aquarium, each level hosts different displays with a main tank in the middle. There is a walkway that winds around and up the main tank, and then an observation deck at the top. On the way up, we happened to catch feeding time and witnessed up close the feeding of the turtles! We also had sharks and large fish swim so right by the windows where we were standing!
One of the highlights - seeing the turtles so close!
Another random story I wanted to share: we visited my former boss at the nursing home where she now works. With my Activity Director background, and my love for the elderly, I have wanted for a while to take the twins into a local nursing home to visit the grandma's & grandpa's there. But I was afraid they would get shy and the visit would be for naught. I got a little taste of what it would be like with this visit. It happened to be their birthday party & the twins ended up joining the entertainment - dancing, helping play his guitar, and even singing a little! They ended up each getting a dollar for their help (their first paycheck?)! By the end, they were saying hi to residents by name, greeting everyone as they left, and dancing around without inhibition. Then Allie stuck her hand in the birthday cake, and I figured it was time to go! Not only was it great for me to get to see my former boss and good friend, but it made me feel much more confident about some potential volunteerism in the future!

August 02, 2011

Praying for Baby J

About a year and a half ago, in the midst of the festivities surrounding the twins' first Christmas, there is this post. Followed up by this short, but heartbreaking post. Though the road has been difficult, we found out not too long ago that they were joyfully expecting baby #2 in November!

Last night we received word that she went into early labor and their baby had to be delivered via emergency c-section at 26 weeks. Little Boy J is 1 lb. 13 oz., and healthy despite his early entry! Currently, mother and baby are at different hospitals (he was flown to a hospital more equipped to handle preemies that small), and they are looking at a 5-6 month NICU stay. I know they would appreciate your prayers for the long journey ahead - for strength & patience, for comfort & peace, for support & encouragement when they need it most. And we ask especially for prayers for little baby J - that he would continue in his good health as he grows bigger and stronger.

Goodnight Boston

When the twins were born, we were given this book by a friend who knew we would be (eventually) moving. I love this book. I absolutely treasure it, and we read it almost nightly for weeks before our trip so the twins would have an idea of what Boston was all about. I'm so glad because between the book and our excitement, the twins couldn't wait to get to Boston!
Wearing Daddy's Red Sox hat on the way to the New England Aquarium - both are in the book!
Although I desperately wanted to go and visit our old town, house, park, neighborhood, etc., I had taken it off the "absolutely-must-see" list because it didn't include seeing anyone in particular and I felt like people were more important than places. Then we suddenly found ourselves with an open window, and I seized the opportunity for a trip down memory lane. We started at Beaver Brook Reservation - a place of significance for me. I was hoping to feed the ducks, but due to the short notice of the trip didn't plan ahead enough to bring bread. I pulled out the twins snack cups (filled with generic cheerios) to see what the ducks thought of that. Then, a little girl and her daddy shared the last of their loaf of bread with us. The twins had a blast feeding the ducks (who, it turned out, like cheerios!).
Ryan was so desperate to catch one!
Then we took a walk down the trail. The last time we were there they stayed in the stroller. This time they held my hand and trotted along beside me. They loved the trail (so much so that Ryan refused to turn and head back to the car even when I told him that was the only way to the park!), and the waterfall. I managed to snap this picture on the way back (the always refuse to look at the camera when they hug...)
Then, as I mentioned, we went to our old park. Before they were never old enough to do much more than swing, but this time they ran and climbed and slid and played on everything!
This picture was taken seconds before Allie fell off backwards...good job mommy.

Some generous friends allowed us to stay at their house while they were away on vacation. We couldn't have asked for better accommodations! Perfectly kid friendly! They had a fabulous closed-in porch filled with toys where we spent most of our time when we were actually at the house and not sleeping!
"I lubs you, sis."
Yes, those were the exact words he was saying as I captured this picture. Melt. My. Heart.
They had a variety of toys, but the hands down favorite was the guitar that looked just like daddy's! They also had a small drum and many "jam sessions" were enjoyed by all :)
They had rocking chairs on the front porch and the twins loved sitting in them!
Best of all? A fabulous backyard - with a slide and a swing and a zipline and CHICKENS!! That's right, a chicken coop with real chickens. The twins were in love. In fact, the few days we didn't have a chance to visit the chickens they complained. And if anyone asked them what they had been doing (keep in mind we visited lots of friends, played in the fabulous backyard, went to multiple parks, and visited the aquarium!), all they would talk about was the chickens!
I think there will be one more post (the aquarium), and that will conclude our Boston trip. We have been home for a couple days now. The whole way home Allie sang her Dunkin' Donuts song whenever we passed a sign for one (she repeats the words "Dunkin' Donuts" over and over to the tune of "Come Thou Fount"!!). The twins still ask if we are going to Boston whenever we get in the car. We have seen many of our friends whose very presence reminds us we have a life and people here that we love! Aside from the overflowing suitcases and mountain of laundry, it all feels a little surreal. One day we were in New York with our dear friends. Suddenly we were in Boston and New York felt like a distant dream. And then we woke up in Michigan, and I wondered how we could so quickly be back. One day there, then next here - wondering if it all really happened at all...