Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Busy Week

This week we have been crazy busy, but crazy busy in a good, fun way.  We have had to get up each morning and head out the door by 8:10 am to make it to church in time for Allie's cheerleading sports camp and Zach's preschool camp. 

Although our church isn't necessarily close to our home, we've had to leave even earlier than usual to fight traffic and road construction.  The kids have been troopers, even eating breakfast and lunch in the car a few days. 

Allie is having a great time making new friends and learning all types of cheers, her favorite being the "Peel Banana" cheer.  She is also excited to be officially grouped with the big kids (grades 1-3) now as opposed to the preschoolers and kindergartners.  In addition to learning the sport of cheerleading, Allie has also had the opportunity to play games, sing songs, learn Bible verses and stories, and have snack.  She even emptied out her piggy bank yesterday to contribute to the offering that will aid in purchasing sports equipment for kids in need. 

Zach is absolutely in LOVE with preschool camp.  The theme for camp goes along the lines of Jesus being a kid too, so the kids have been learning all about Jesus' life as a little boy.  Zach, our resident complainer, has had not one single complaint about preschool camp.  He has enjoyed the crafts, snacks, songs (he actually SINGS!  I saw him and he was singing and doing the motions!) and games.  Tonight at dinner he even recited today's memory verse, complete with actions. 

While the kids are at camp each morning, Olivia and I have had a great time together.  Since it isn't really worth it to drive all the way home (only to have to turn around and drive all the way back to church), we've made the most of our time running errands and exploring the surrounding community. 

Today, however, I decided we needed to do something especially fun.  So, we headed to a nearby park that is super neat because it has HUGE teddy bears made out of stone and amazingly themed play toys that are perfect for her age.  Olivia was completely enamored by all the teddy bears and made sure to give each and every one a hug.

We also just so happened to arrive at the park as they were beginning a community sponsored kids' music class.  Olivia had a great time dancing to music and playing instruments before she headed the other direction to tackle the slides. 

After a fun time at the park, we continued our morning with a walk by the river and an early picnic lunch.  Olivia seemed to really enjoy pointing out the boats and birds and screaming "SPLASH!" every time the water hit the banks. 

We finished our morning just before the rain began to fall and right before it was time to pick Allie and Zach up at church. 

This afternoon, instead of swimming at the local pool (like we have the past two days), we came home for some much needed down-time (thank-you, PBS) and laundry catch-up. 

Three days down, two more to go...the kids are already bummed.  Good thing we have Vacation Bible School to look forward to in August!   

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father's Day

Ben seriously deserves the Father of the Year award.  Not only did I leave him alone on Father's Day weekend to care for all three kids while I took off to visit my very first (and favorite) nephew, but Allie came down with strep throat on Thursday afternoon, shortly followed by Zach's diagnosis of strep throat on Friday morning. 

Yes, you read that correctly.  Somehow, 10 days AFTER Ben contracted strep, the big kids managed to come down with it while Olivia and I somehow remained (and still remain) unaffected. 

And, yes, right after accompanying Ben with all three kids to the pediatrician's office on Friday morning, I gave hugs and kisses goodbye and made my way to OshKosh, leaving Ben alone on Father's Day weekend to care for the three crazies...two of which had strep throat.  (I guess that means I won't be receiving the Mother-of-the-Year award!) 

Somehow in my whole "I'm-an-aunt-and-I-can't-wait-to-see-my-new-nephew" euphoria, I may have also sort of forgotten it was even Father's Day weekend in the first place...until approximately 5:30 am on Thursday morning as mile 1.75 ticked by on the treadmill and I had a panic attack when I realized I had approximately one day to clean the house, tackle laundry, go grocery shopping, and help the kids put together some sort of Father's Day craft (and all this was prior to Allie's strep throat discovery). 

Although Allie had been bugging me for the past several days that we needed to make something for Ben for Father's Day, I had kind of blown her off because I had somehow managed to convince myself I had one more week until Father's Day.  In my defense, I even ordered a little Father's Day present online for Ben and was so proud that it would actually be here on time to celebrate on June 24th...because in my mind, Father's Day was on June 24th...NOT the 17th!

So, after the panic subsided, the kids and I perused Pinterest for some good Father's Day craft ideas.  We came up with a personalized Father's Day candy-bar poem and were headed out the door by 8:00 am to hit up Walgreen's for our chosen candy bars, poster board, and tape.  We also made sure to pick up cards for the grandpas and I was able to drop them in the mail and make it home with our purchases before a massive thunderstorm was upon us for the remainder of the morning. 

While the thunder rolled, we crafted it up and were pretty proud of the final product. 

The only hiding place in the house large enough to conceal the candy poster was underneath Zach's bed.  I was a little concerned about his ability to sleep in the same room with over a dozen candy bars present and not be tempted to eat them, but apparently he overcame temptation. 

I gave strict instructions for the kids to wait until Sunday morning to give their present to Daddy (and according to Ben they did just that).  He said he was pretty shocked and started laughing when both Allie and Zach came down the hallway with this huge poster to give to him.  He said after seeing the size of the gift, it finally made sense to him why they were pre-planning how to get his present out of Zach's room and maneuver it down the hallway.

Since Allie was all on-top-of-it when it came to Father's Day, she also had a few cards she had made weeks ago to give to Ben.

Apparently, she had even encouraged Zach to draw a portrait to give to Ben on Father's Day as well.

Since the small gift I ordered was obviously not going to make it in time for Father's Day, I had resolved to instead give it to Ben for his birthday.  And then Ben called me up on Saturday morning asking why there was an Etsy package on our doorstep and what he should do with it.  Oh well.  I told him to open it.

Now he has his very own candy jar...just like the one at my parents' house that he always manages to empty every time we visit. 

Although I did not get to spend the majority of Father's Day with Ben, I did get to spend it with my own Dad (and brother) while we made our way back home from OshKosh.  I have been blessed to have an excellent father who has shown me unconditional love and always encouraged me to be my best and follow God's leading in my own life.  I am so thankful that my kids will also know the blessing of having him, in addition to their own amazing dad in their lives. 
After I returned home, Ben requested a Father's Day dinner at our favorite local Mexican restaurant and I was happy to oblige.  Anything for the Father-of-the-Year. 

I love you Ben...and watching you with our kids makes me fall more in love with you than I ever thought possible. 

It's A Boy!

Last Wednesday, June 13, my sister and brother-in-law welcomed their first son into their family.  We were all anticipating Drew's arrival anxiously and I knew I would be excited, but I didn't realize just how excited I was going to be until I heard the news of his official arrival early that morning.  The pictures my sister sent only made it more difficult for me to wait patienly until Friday to head down to OshKosh with my parents and brother to celebrate Drew's birthday in person. 

"Baba Doo," as Olivia affectionately calls him, was even cuter in person than in his pictures.  Although we all agreed that Drew is almost a spitting image of his Daddy, I still feel like I can see a little of Stephanie in him too, especially when his eyes are open.

I think we were all pretty excited to take turns holding him after we first met him at the hospital.

I'm an AUNT!

Athough we arrived Friday evening, Stephanie, Chris, and Drew did not come home from the hospital until Saturday.  Never fear, I made sure I was there, camera-in-hand, to document Drew's homecoming!

We spent the remainder of the day spoiling Drew rotten (in between feeding times, of course).

Drew "holding" the birthday card Allie made for him.

My sister has always been a complete natural with babies, so it comes as no surprise that she is already an amazing mom to her own son.  She is continuing to recover and rest as much as possible in between cuddling and caring for her babe.

A big congratulations to Stephanie and Chris....

....and Happy Birthday, Drew!  We are so glad that you are finally here and can't wait to watch you grow (but, seriously, you don't have to grow too fast...because we don't mind enjoying your itty-bitty cuteness just a little while longer)!!! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Beauty Shop

Yesterday morning, Allie insisted that Olivia needed her hair fixed.  So, Allie sat Olivia down on the step-up stool and they played hair-dresser for a good 20 minutes.  It was pretty sweet...and kept them both occupied long enough for me to work with Zach on his daily letter homework.  I'm sure this is just the beginning of a lifetime of sisterly-bonding moments between these two. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Birthday #31

Yesterday I celebrated my 31st birthday.  Due to leap year, my birthday fell on a Monday this year as opposed to a Sunday...bummer.  Ben and I both agreed that Monday birthdays are pretty much the worst (he will have his own Monday birthday in a little under 2 weeks), but I decided to make the best of it by having my birthday party at Como Park and Zoo.  Yep, even 31-year-olds can have birthday parties at kiddie amusement parks...especially if they have three extremely excited kids ready to celebrate along with them! 

We spent most of our time riding the rides...over and over and over again.  Even Olivia got on her fair share of rides and when she thought she might miss out, she just exclaimed, "MY TURN!  MY TURN!" 

Zach was all smiles here until the swings got higher and started spinning.  His hand went up so fast (an indication to the operator that he wanted to get off the ride) and he immediately jumped off that swing as soon as the ride stopped...then he went on the Tilt-A-Whirl with me...go figure.  I guess I should have gone on the swings with him too!

Allie was extremely excited to finally be tall enough to ride the roller coaster.  She loved it and as soon as we got off, we got right back on so that we could do it again. 

After a picnic lunch, my mom walked around with an extremely tired Olivia in the stroller while I waited with the big kids as they waited in line for more rides.  Approximately 10 minutes later, my mom walked by with Olivia looking something like this:

Thanks to Grandma, the kids even got a chance to "Feed the Frogs" and win their very own prize.

As we walked through the zoo looking at all the animals, we stopped for a quick snack of Icees, popcorn, and cotton candy.  The big kids snarfed the cotton candy, but Olivia wouldn't let it come near her mouth.  She was pretty thrilled with the popcorn, though.

After a fun day at Como, we were all we met Ben at home and headed out for dinner at Granite City where I indulged in a BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger and Sweet Potato Fries...super yummy!  When we got home, the party continued that evening....

The balloons Ben and the kids picked out for me.

I really had a fantastic birthday...filled with my favorite people and favorite treats!  I think the kids had a blast too...because they were completely exhausted and ready for bed by 7:30 pm! 

Happy Birthday, To Me!