July 26, 2013

Bit of Tid

Our first year of seminary, the name of our building's newsletter was "Bits of Tid."  The phrase still brings a smile to my face.  That is your first "tidbit."

We got home from our trip to Cincinnati and immediately got slammed by Post-Road Trip Syndrome (PRTS).  If you've road-tripped, you know it well.  The kids get sick, the laundry is overflowing, the house is a disaster - both from suitcases that have thrown up all over your living room and from the deep cleaning that you don't get done when you are out gallivanting all over the midwest - your schedule is slammed because you are trying to catch up after your time away and quickly get prepared for a crazy busy schedule to come, and all you want is to take a nap.  So these are the random "Bits of Tid" from our life in the midst of the chaos of PRST, ministry meetings, VBS preparations, and 2 more weddings!
What do you do when you need to start making decorations for VBS, but you want to spend quality time with your kids?  Have them help make decorations for an arts & crafts project!  They are so excited about being a part of the decorating crew!  
According to Allie, she would like to be a babysitter someday.  Or a mermaid.  A mermaid would obviously be cooler, because you could swim with sea turtles and seals, but you would have to learn to breath underwater, and that would be hard (her words).
 Is it just me or does this look a little like C-3P0 decorating a butterfly?  Or Ryan's impression of C-3P0 at the very least...
Ryan would like to be a lifeguard when he grows up - until he becomes a fireman and a race car driver.  Really, he just wants to be Lightning McQueen.  He just hasn't figured out how to turn himself into a car...yet...
Some of the butterfly decorations for VBS.
We FINALLY made it to the lake.  Between travel and weather, our days in the water have been few and far between.  But we are squeezing our lake days in whenever we can!  Our most recent trip was actually a fairly cool day.  So chilly that I never even thought about the fact that I didn't put any sunscreen on me.  I thoroughly sunscreen each child before putting on their swimsuits, but had forgotten myself.  I was so cold, that the idea of burning never occurred to me...and we stayed in the sun to keep warm because it was really cold in the shade.  I am currently as red as you are imagining...
Allie jumping in!
 Ryan swimming (can you tell that he is unhappy that I won't put the camera down and come in so he can take of the floaties and practice swimming under the water?)
We have a garden this year.  Sort of.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious black thumb.  But, our fish have survived this long so I figured we might be ready.  A good portion of what we planted didn't make it.  But a few things have.  I'm thinking of it as our dry run before next year.  We're mostly just going through the motions and figuring out what we are doing - any produce we actually collect is a bonus!  
Helping me water the garden.
 We have already "harvested" 2 meals worth of peas.  Our dill has been growing like crazy (which is awesome because I LOVE dill).  1 pumpkin plant made it and looks like it is doing great (so we should have mini pumpkins come fall).
Allie loved the rainbow you can faintly see in the water spray.
The biggest surprise (pictured below) is our zucchini plant!  A surprise because we didn't plant any zucchini.  We didn't even buy an zucchini seeds.  As far as I know, there were no zucchini's or their seeds ever in the vicinity of our garden.  I almost pulled this plant when it first started growing because it was definitely not the radishes I had planted in this spot.  But it looked so much like our pumpkin plant that I left it in case I accidentally planted a pumpkin in the wrong spot.  Just a couple days ago I discovered little zucchinis growing!  Good thing we LOVE zucchini and use it for everything - like to replace lasagna noodles and keep our meatballs moist. (Update:  It turns out it is a cucumber - which we also did not plant!  We LOVE cucumbers and have a ton of dill...so it is still a match made in heaven!)
If you look very carefully you can see one of our little zucchinis growing at the bottom in the center.
Our Home Study Update is finished!!  Our social worker and friends who wrote our reference letters knocked that out in record time!  We are all set to reapply for our government paperwork in August!
The other evening, I put together one of my favorite childhood summer pass-times for the kids.  A water slide!
 As part of the home study I had to do a TB test.  When I went in to pick up my results, Allie threw a HUGE tantrum in the bathroom.  After making everyone in the doctor's office wonder if I was abusing her, I left wondering about her behavior as of late.  I realized that I got in a bad habit of spending a lot of time on my computer during the time I was down with my ankle.  So, I have been trying to stay off the computer when the kids are awake.  Trying to be more present - because the more connected I make a point of being, the better their behavior always seems to be!
 They LOVED it!
Speaking of my ankle...I'm out of the air cast!  Have been for 2 weeks now.  At first, the extreme loss of range of motion had me disheartened.  I have been working on some physical therapy type exercises a nurse friend gave me, and have made a lot of progress!  My bad ankle still doesn't have the movement that it used to, but I'm able to move much more easily than I was when I first took of the brace.  I feel encouraged by the progress.
They kept comparing it to the slip 'n' slide at Papa & Gigi's.
 Friday morning donuts have started to become a regular occurrence (when we are home).  You have a good chance of running into us on Friday mornings at our local donut place (which is so much more than JUST a donut place).  We wrap up our time there visiting the animals, and then set out to see if there are any local garage sales where we can "treasure hunt."  I love our Friday mornings.
I borrowed Uncle Nic's slip 'n' slide trick of adding a little dish soap to help them move across the tarp.
Ryan and Allie have been into decorating for parties lately.  Every day one of their stuffed animals has a birthday.  Every day there has to be a unique party with a unique theme and homemade decorations.  I love watching them put together their parties.  It makes me happy that all the thought and effort I put into their parties clearly isn't going unnoticed.  I do not love having to clean up after their daily parties.
 Because of all the party decorating, I took some time to teach the kids that only the blue painter's tape can be used on the walls.  The result is that my painter's tape is always missing and I'm constantly finding things taped to the walls everywhere.  But as long as they are only using the blue tape, I'm calling it a win!
Speaking of a win, one of my favorite parts of the summer is that my kids go semi-vegetarian.  As fresh produce is abundant (sometimes from our own garden), they request as much as they possibly can for every meal.  It is not unusual to see 3-4 fruits and/or veggies on their plate at lunchtime.
 Once they got over being sick, the kids started waking up between 5:15 and 6 every morning.  Every. Single. Morning.
Clearly, for them, "summer" means use every single minute of daylight to have fun.  I'm kind of looking forward to the days when "summer" means sleeping in...
As always, we have many more adventures in our near future!  We will keep your posted as best as we can :)

July 14, 2013

Party in Cincinnati!

Another picture heavy post.  I was going to separate it into 2 posts, but couldn't figure out how to divide the pictures, so you get a super long post instead...

Less than 60 hours after we walked into our house after our long trip home from Nebraska, we were back on the road again.  This time heading to Cincinnati for our youngest nephew's 1st birthday party!  

As soon as we had all arrived, we set out for an indoor play place where the kids could run off some energy before the party.  It turned out that this place (and the hotel where we stayed that night) was just over the river...in Kentucky.  In less than 72 hours, we spent time in 7 different states!
They had a giant Lego sculpture for pictures.  H was the only one who stood still long enough for a decent picture.
 All the different things there to do and my kids end up at the train table!
 I finally talked them into checking out some other things - like this conveyor belt for foam bricks.
 Ryan ended up going back to the train table, but Allie found the ballet station and spent the majority of her time practicing her "dancing skills."
 Once we were finished we went back to Ohio to the hotel where they were having the party.  Loralee transformed a generic hotel room into a nautical themed party.  The pictures don't do it justice.
 While we waited for everyone to gather, the kids played some hide 'n' seek.  They had almost floor-to-ceiling windows, and the long curtains were a favorite place to hide.
Or just hang out while drinking from their cool party glasses.
(I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this picture of the "older" cousins just hanging out and laughing together)
 Nana squeezes in some cuddle time with Ry-guy.
 My sister-friend with her "Big" boy.
 Catching the birthday boy in a classic Binky-from-my-Brother grab.
Now H has it...
 ...now he doesn't!
 The birthday boy had his own smash cake, but he was so eager that he grabbed a handful of the cake intended for everyone else!  And this was the last picture I managed to capture before my camera battery died...FAIL.  It's too bad because he made a spectacular mess of the smash cake!
That evening and the next morning, we spent some time swimming at the pool.  Ryan spent some more time practicing his "diving skills," and continues to get better at swimming under water.  The only problem is that he cannot seem to master swimming with his head above water...which limits the distances he can swim.  Clearly, we will have to keep working on that skill... The next afternoon we all went to the Children's Museum.
The biggest hit was this construction exhibit.  Ry-guy driving the dump truck.
 Allie shoveling some rocks.
 D climbing in.
 The Birthday Boy doing some heavy lifting.
 My kids also liked the "garage" where there were tools to work on cars and a gas station.  Being especially familiar with gas stations after so many recent road-tripping hours, they were excited to pretend to fill-up by themselves.
 These "racing" cars were also a hit.  Allie and H raced.  Allie is convinced that she won...mostly because H is too young to argue...yet.
 And once again, Ryan spent a significant amount of time at the train table (he told me, on the way to the Children's Museum, that the Museum people had called him the night before to tell him there was a train table there, so he was looking for it the second we walked in).
 And Allie practiced being a ballerina once again (perhaps I need to get this girl in dance classes?).
For about 20 seconds, we managed to get all of the cousins (and Uncle Luke) into the bus at the same time.  This was the only picture (out of 10) where you could see the faces of every single cousin...and about half a second after this was taken cousins were climbing out of the bus.  But at least we got them all together!
Because we had to be back for church (something about the congregation wanting their pastor to preach...), we were only there a little over 24 hours, but it was a jam-packed, fun-filled time.  We were sad it had to end so quickly!  Sigh.  But it was a wonderful celebration of Baby T turning 1!

July 12, 2013

Family Time

The rest of our time together was filled with various activities and adventures.

We, of course, played a lot of games.
The drawing/guessing phase of this game is always very quiet as everyone concentrates.

 But the revealing phase of this game is always filled with laughter.  Below, Nic is showing us how "Chicken Dance" turned into "Bird Song."
Another favorite was Settlers.
We liked playing "Triple Blind" with the land cards, numbers, and ports all turned over.
 Papa & Gigi humored the twins by playing dozens of games of Candyland.  Did you all know there is an updated version that is completely different from the original?
One of the days we split up.  The guys went golfing.  Originally, they were going to leave the kids with us, but I talked them into taking Ryan.  I knew he would feel so important being one of the guys and that he would have so much fun.  When Lucas told him that he was going to go golfing with the guys he said, "That is so great!  I love all of them!"
They let him collect the balls.
 Do a little caddy work.
 And even try golfing a little.
But his favorite thing was driving the cart.  He said he even liked driving more than eating the skittles they gave him during the golf outing and the ice cream he had after!
 In the meantime, the girls went out for pedicures.  One of the places nearby has special chairs for little girls.  Allie had no clue what it meant to get her nails done, but she was thrilled to be doing something special with "the girls."
She was so excited about "all the colors!"
 Trying to choose.  She was so decisive that I let her pick my color...and then she picked colors for everyone in the family - including the golfing guys...
Aunt Ariel picked a Shrek Green - which was not only a really fun pick, but looked really great when it was finished!
 Allie was pretty excited about getting to sit in her very own pink butterfly chair.
(or, as she excitedly, and loudly, announced when we arrived, "They have pink butterfly toilets!")
 For as young as she is, Allie did really well for the pedicure - especially since they did a leg massage and warm towels and the works.  I have never seen her sit so still for anything!

Among the other events of our time together (which I must have forgotten to document in pictures), we made a point of taking some family photos.  
A test shot of Ariel and her favorite pass-time.
 Our family.
2 generations.
 3 generations.
 4 generations!
I suppose I can't speak for anyone else, but we had such a great time together!  Presents are nice, but I would definitely take this time together over presents any day!  We are already looking forward to, and thinking about, our next family get-together.