Monday, July 28, 2014

Branson Vacation

We spent one week in July with my parents, my 3 siblings, their spouses, their kids, one cousin of my sister-in-law, and one sister's mother-in-law, for a total of 20 PEOPLE!
Yes, we went on a 20-person family vacation to Branson, MO!

There were high points: taking the kids on "Ride the Ducks," and roller coasters at Silver Dollar City.  There were low points: scrubbing barf stains out of the van carpet, passing what we thought was carsickness onto the cousins (guess it wasn't...sorry).
C was a good rider (translation: non-puker)
What was the most fun, though, was hanging out with my siblings (who live in TX and MO) and watching my kids have fun playing with their cousins.  One morning I woke up to hear one niece directing the other niece in what can only be a "Frozen" re-creation : "You are Chris, and I am Elsa (or the other one?) and you skate across the ice, like this..."  My boys didn't really get into Frozen, though: they were too busy building stuff with the landscaping rocks found under the rental house's deck.

One of the hotter than blazes days down there, we rented a pontoon for 4 hours and took a bunch tubing!

S and E, Michigan-turned-TX nephews

relaxing on the bow

Captain Hubs and his first mate, C

My two crazy sisters took the first spin!!
My sister in law, R, was our photographer, so she got most of the good shots after the tubing event, and I didn't take my camera into the amusement park, so most of the rest of my pics are from our two go-carting outings.  Big and small kids had a fun time doing them, and the rest of the week was very comfortable weather - an added bonus.

Oh, we went to Moonshine Beach, too, which was fun!  Here's niece L and C playing together in the sand.
 My 3 nieces, one nephew, and M on a ride at kiddie land at the go-carts.  L (second from L) made scaredy faces on every ride she took that week, but afterward, she wanted to go again!
 A few more pics of the go karts: Sister in law R takes N for a spin, above.  The littles all got to drive their own karts on the kids course.  This was their favorite of all!

 Above, M and I on the "woody" track, and below, Hubs rides the baby teacups with C because he can't go alone!
 There was only ONE ride C could go alone on: the baby ferris wheel.  L is with him in the cage.
 I guess I took a lot of pics of C on his rides because they were slow enough to focus?  Here's my dad feeding quarters into the Jeep ride.
 My sister P organized a pinata for the kids and here's M taking a whack.  I also thought it was a good shot of the landscaping rocks they loved so much.  Below, me and two of my boys on the "Ride the Ducks." DUKW's are retired amphibious military vehicles which were a lot of fun - the took you around town then for a ride in the lake!  It was very windy in the back where we were!
We had so much fun hanging out with everyone!  We love you all!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Snaps

 I read with the kids every day, afternoon or evening.  Here we are getting ready for bed.  Nothing is better than freshly bathed kids reading bedtime stories together!  All my hard work is paying off!  M and N are both reading lots of sight words - M even told Hubs yesterday that he "loves to read!" I am so, so proud!
 Cousin D graduated from high school and we attended his open house/pool party.  The kids swam with Hubs and Uncle A while I snapped photos on the side.  It was their first swim of the season, but they didn't mind the chilly water and insisted Hubs tread in the deep end and catch them as they jumped in!
 Mid-Michigan's Children's Museum in Saginaw is a blast for the kids!  I visited with a friend and her two grandchildren and the 4 who could walk ran around all morning together.  C spent some time at the optometrist's office trying on specs.  "I'm going to need you to come in on Saturday...."
 We've been making our own cool treats this summer, getting creative with non-dairy ingredients.  Frozen bananas are just the best thing ever - I melted chocolate chips and spread them on half bananas stuck on ice pop molds.  What a sweet treat!
 The big boys and I waiting for the Loons game to end last week so they (M) could run the bases.  If you've never been to a minor league baseball game, you ought to go!  It's so much fun, perfect for the kids, and a fraction of the cost and fuss of a MLB game.  And it's just 8 miles away!
 Our Saginaw Children's Zoo pass expired Sunday so we went just one more time.  It's the perfect zoo for little ones - we can see all the animals in less than an hour and spend the rest of the time riding the carousel and train over and over and over!

 C is big enough to ride one all by himself - I was going to say "horse," but M was reading the panels and pointed out that C chose "Girl Bunny."
 I love that M and N put their arms around Hubs for this shot~
Our selfie on the last train car - to avoid the loud TOOT!

We had a lot of fun over the 4th of July weekend - family cookouts, Bay City fireworks, and boat rides!  I was overly focused on packing food, drinks, sunblock, change of clothes, chairs, Twizzlers, clop-clops, and the like for all of the festivities and forgot to pack the camera!  We enjoyed lots of time with both my and Hubs' families, telling ourselves and them repeatedly, this is why we're here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Michigan Summer Begins

So much to say, so little writing time!
•thank you for your thoughts and prayers as we laid Grandma K. To rest last week. She was a wonderful Godly woman whose love touched us deeply and eternally. I was honored to share an eulogy and simply read "Grandma's Lesson," my May 19 post. 
• twelve years Hubs and I celebrated last week! Because of the funeral, our outing was simply a quiet dinner away, but still perfect for the two of us. A dozen years and three silly boys and I love him more than the day we said "I do." We shared the day with Father's Day this year.  "Fantastic Dad potential" was something I looked for in my future spouse and I knew he had it.  Here's the proof:
June 15, 2014: Father's Day Pic

June 15, 2014: Our 12th Anniversary

•a splurge: my beautiful new dining set. This is also why our anniversary was subdued: this is our gift to each other (ok, me) for every 2014 celebration! We ordered it together from Amish folks who build furniture somewhere in Ohio via Tri City Furniture and was worth the wait. Thank you, honey!
Right now they all fit on the bench!

But we bought enough chairs because someday they won't!


•VBS. M and N participated in a good one last week and loved every minute of it! I confess to you I signed them up for another one, the one their preschool's parent school hosts, for next week. Seriously a lifesaver for me;)
•age 5. Wow, what a difference! Despite what I just said about VBS being a lifesaver, age 5 is like a magic spell that I hope lasts for many years to come! It's like a dream come true: they go to the bathroom and dress themselves, follow directions and eat the food I prepare for them. They ride their bikes sans training wheels and ask a thousand questions (I.e., why does A have two daddies? That was just this morning!) after a few seconds, I remembered that the simplest answer usually satisfies so I said, A was born before Uncle D met Aunt J. That was enough for him, thank goodness I didn't have to explain biological father/stepfather relationships. (Yet) even so I am reveling in their big boy-ness: reading, helping, aiding and playing with little bro C. 
•t ball: I can't believe the season is over tonight! It flew by but they loved loved loved it! Both boys have improved greatly in 2 months time and I'm certain I have real ball players on my hands!


•neighborhood kids: pros: there are a bunch this summer for the kids to play with. Con: I seem to be the only parent with a two year old to chase so there were 8 kids (!!!!) in my yard last night. Finally I sent them all away, off into outer space, so I could feed mine dinner. I hope they have parents.

Okay that's all the time I have for now.  Hope you're enjoying this fine Michigan summer - it's always worth the wait!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Minne-sota Vacation

Last week we spent 4 quick days visiting our beloved Minnesota, where we did a few important things:
1. Visit my doc.  Every girl has to do it, and it's a whole lot easier to just go see your old one, the one who delivered all 3 babies, than to find a new one.
2. Haircut.  Oh my goodness, we were all overdue!  When K finished, there was a pile of hair the size of a badger!  Here are the before and afters:






badger
3. MN Zoo...our favorite place!  We packed lunch and swimsuits so we could stay all day and play in the fountains.  It was nice and hot, and the kids loved it!
 N Waiting for the bird show with Dad

Mrs. W., our wonderful neighbor and hostess, poses for a photo taken by N.


Coconut starts every bird show...thank goodness he was still there!

My family about to be eaten by a giant tarantula!

C and M jump right in!

4. Visit some friends.  (Please forgive us if we missed you.)  We did have dinner with the M family, and for about 30 minutes, it was just like old times!  Our kids were busy playing  with their kids' toys and their kids were busy with their grandparents.  For a few moments, we were taken back to our shared newlywed-childless years.  Then someone who shall remain nameless filled his drawers.
Between us we had 5 boys in 4 years!

The kids and I also got to visit some twin friends, and when she sends me the pic, I'll show you all 6 of our boys together on her couch.  It's adorable.  So many boys!  There must be something in that Minnesota water...

5. Hang out with the neighbors.  Mr. J. gave Hubs and the kids a spin in his hot rod on Friday night!

"Hot Rod! Hot Rod!"
6. We visited the MOA and took the kids on the rides, which they were begging to do.  Now that C is big enough, we go through the points pretty fast!  But 4 rides was enough for all of us...Hubs picked out the kids' shoes for kindergarden, too.

Our trip went so fast, I can hardly believe we are already home!  The twins are excellent travellers, they breeze through TSA airport security with ease, they follow directions and stay in their seats.  The same can't be said of the their little brother yet, but

Monday, June 9, 2014

Look Ma, No Training Wheels!

 Taking a hands-off approach to bike riding lessons, when the kids wanted their training wheels off this spring, I removed one each.  M and N have spent the last two months riding around on one training wheel, learning how to balance and turn.
 Thursday last week we had a whole day of nothingness planned, so I asked them if they were ready to take off the second wheel - they'd been asking for a while, so I knew the answer would be YES!!
 I packed a bag with snacks, drinks, a first aid-kit, and a wrench, and we walked down the block to a nearby church for some extra room to ride. It wasn't too warm yet in the morning, so I had them change into long pants and sleeves just in case of major durfing.
 But that wasn't even necessary!  I showed them how to use the yellow curb at first to balance and push off, since their feet don't quite touch the ground if the bike is upright. They rode in giant circles and through a huge puddle created by the city guys washing their trucks next door.  (See above)
 The kids were naturals!  I only had to demonstrate a couple of times how to push off and stop, and they are pros!
 We spent the rest of the day riding around our house, N singing, "I'm doing it without training wheels!  I'm doing it without training wheels!  Hahahahahahaha!"

 The best part of all?  I didn't have to chase after either one, holding onto the back end and running for dear life.  Not. Even. Once.
There was one injury, I should mention - C scraped his right knee when he fell running after his brothers.  It required a band-aid from the box, but you can see how it's already healing, with the help of a snack and a juice box.