Monday, August 26, 2013

Garden Harvest

Basil, green beans, tomatoes and some blackberries. Lots of blackberries. Lots of stabby, thorny blackberries.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Anatomy of a Wakeup

 Sleeping soundly:


Here comes a wiggle:

And a stretch:

Now for a grumpy face:

Throw in a little flailing:


A little more grumping:

The old shirt over the head move:

More wiggling:


Full-on crying:

Reluctant acceptance:

Aaaaand we're done!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chcrs Far

First the m&m machine success and now this!  It's been a good day around here!  At some point after nap time, the kids got VERY excited about doing a fair in their room.  I'm not sure whose idea it was, but they spent a good 3 hours running around getting games set up and taping "ticket prices" onto the "prizes".  They worked really hard, and they could hardly stand to wait until Michael came home, dinner had been eaten and Hannah had been taken care of so they could start the fair!

They had set up lego car races on their road rug, a bumper boat competition using lego boats, a competition where you close your eyes and grab into a little pile of legos and see if you can find the yellow one, and a cookie walk!  They also had an intricate system of tokens, tickets, and a personalized scorecard for each person.  And an entire bed full of prizes to choose from, each with their own price tag.  And a lovely welcome sign!  We had a lot of fun, but mostly because they were so proud of themselves for doing everything, and it was so fun to watch.  Love our funny and sweet kids!

Here are some pictures from the fair!

Welcom to Chcrs Far, Welcom!  Translation: Welcome to Checkers Fair, Welcome!

Lego car races:

Sophie keeping track of her tokens on Michael's back:

Bumper boat competition:

Some of the prizes:

Cookie walk!

Sophie was the first winner and was pleased as punch:

Calvin won next, and thought he was pretty clever taking two cookies stuck together.  "MOM!!!! DOES THIS COUNT AS ONE?????" He was pretty pleased when I said yes.

But then, of course, Ryan won, and found THREE cookies stuck together, so he thought he was the most clever.  Then Michael made him share one with me.

Choosing prizes:

Sophie picked this soccer trophy from 1992!

And then she insisted on taking a picture of me:

Calvin picked out a bunch of things, but was most excited about these cars and nerf gun:

They were all taped together, so of course they only counted as one:

And Ryan chose the remote control cars (shocker!), but I didn't get a picture of that one.  Great night around here!

When Hannah Takes a Good Nap...

Fun things happen!  The kids spent the morning, unbeknownst to me, building "candy machines" out of legos.  Then they came to me and matter-of-factly told me that we now needed candy for their machines.  So, we transferred a snoozing Hannah to her carseat, went to the store, bought some m&ms, came home, had lunch and then did the machines as an after lunch treat.  The kids had so much fun showing me how their machines worked.  I had so much fun watching them have so much fun!  I'm a lucky lady.

Getting the machines ready:

Calvin's is all set!

And it works!

 Ryan testing his out!  Success!

Calvin made his guys play soccer with m&ms:

Sophie was very happy to be eating m&ms:

Calvin made his guy go swimming in candy:

My three little goofballs:


Also, when Hannah takes a good nap, she is super duper happy!

Love this little goober!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Green Bay!

Oh my, this is going to be a LONG post with a bunch of pictures!  Hold on to your hats!  On Monday I left with the kids in the morning to head over to Green Bay for a visit with Michael's aunt Reeny, her husband Mike, and their daughter Marcy.  AnnaMarie and I planned our visit for the same time, and I'm not going to lie, I was more than a little nervous about how it would all go down with 8 children 7 and under.  But let me just say, it was such an amazing trip!  I really don't think it could have been any better, except for having Michael with us.  Then it would have been totally perfect!  But it was such a great few days.  Mike, Reeny and Marcy were such gracious, kind hosts, always playing with the kids and doing sweet little things for them.  It's so, so nice to feel so loved!

So, I wrote about each day in Green Bay each night before I went to sleep, but I'm going to post them all together now. 


We had a great afternoon here at Hotel Cornelius!  The kids and I left home at 9:30, and after a couple of stops, rolled in at 3:30.  Reeny had so many awesome toys set out, and the kids went right to work playing with everything.  Sophie was ecstatic to see Jane there already!

So we all got dinner ready together and ate a delicious spaghetti dinner with Mike, Reeny and Marcy.  After dinner, Mike volunteered to clean up while the rest of us went out for frozen yogurt and to wear the kids out at the park.  The yogurt was great, and it was fun to see all the kids lined up there, eating their yogurt!

And of course everyone had fun at the park.  Katie and Ryan were on the swings together pretty much the whole time, and the others wandered around having fun.  Reeny gave Hannah her first ride on a swing and she absolutely loved it!  It was a fun park evening.

Then we headed home and got everyone ready for bed.  Ryan snuck up to Mike's office where Mike showed him pictures and videos of Mike driving a real Lamborghini, and Ryan was hooked!  They were up there bonding over fast cars for at least an hour and a half.  Mike is so great.  I overheard Ryan telling Mike about his big plans.  It went like this:  "So, I think I'll start out buying a slower car, like a Mustang or a Corvette.  Then later I'll buy a Lamborghini or a Bugatti.  And you know what? I wouldn't even buy it to brag about it.  It's not like I would do it to show off.  I would just do it, you know, because I just really really really want it!"  Oh, Ryan.

So while Ryan and Mike were bonding, we got the other kids all tucked into bed in their sleeping bags in the living room, and AnnaMarie read them stories.  We had to go in to quiet them down a few times, but it actually worked out better than I expected!  And once Ryan and Mike were done, we tucked Ryan in there, too.  And then me and Marcy and Reeny and AnnaMarie got to stay up chatting up a storm!  It was so nice.  I love family!


On Tuesday the kids slept in later than I thought they would.  Calvin woke up at his usual 6:15 AM, but instead of waking everyone up, he just came up to my room and played the ipad for a while.  So everyone else slept in until around 7, and then we all  got up and going for the day.  Then the kids spent a good hour or two doing watercolor paints.  Pretty great way to start the day!

After Jack, Aiden and Hannah had their morning naps, we all headed out to Bay Beach!  It was my first time, but let me just say, it was completely awesome.  It is a small amusement park, and it only cost us a total of $20 to entertain 10 people for 4 hours!  It was such a steal, and the kids got to pretty much ride as many rides as they wanted.  They had a big roller coaster that Ryan loved (none of the others were tall enough to ride it), so he went on it once with Reeny, once with me, and three times with AnnaMarie.  He was one happy kid!

They had lots of other smaller rides that the kids all loved.  It was just such a fun day.  Reeny is so great with the kids, it is such a blessing to have such wonderful family!  We had a picnic lunch while we were at Bay Beach, and we ended up coming home around 2:30.  We let the kids play for a while, and Marcy snuck off with Ryan to take him to a go-kart place where they could race karts.  He was in heaven, and was so proud that they got first and almost lapped a couple of people!  Then when Ryan came back, we had them all put on their swim suits to play in the little zebra inflatable pool and slip n' slide that Reeny bought for them to play with.  It was pretty chilly, but they still had so much fun!

After playing in the pool, they all dried off and got their jammies on and we did dinner and a movie.  The kids loved it, of course (what's not to love?), and especially loved the surprise ice cream cones with sprinkles that Reeny brought in for them to eat while they watched.

Right as they were sitting down to start the movie, Mike came in and asked if anyone wanted to help him rotate the tires on his truck.  Ryan weighed his options for a minute, and quickly decided that he would rather help Mike with the truck.  So out he went, in his pajamas, to help rotate some tires.  He had such a great time.  Mike is such a great uncle!  I love listening to him teach Ryan about all kinds of things.  It was awesome, and Ryan had such a great time!

After the movie ended, I struggled to get the kids to all go to sleep.  I ended up separating them all and the only one who ended up falling asleep in the room was Kaite!  Everyone else fell asleep other places, and Ryan got to stay up and play Yahtzee with the adults and eat some snacks.  Perks of being the oldest!  While we were playing he said, "Mom, this is the best vacation ever!"  He's pretty much right.  After I sent him off to bed I got to stay up late chatting with AnnaMarie and Reeny again.  It was so much fun!


On Wednesday I woke up a little confused because it was 7:30 and I hadn't woken up yet.  I stumbled out of my room at the same time that AnnaMarie stumbled out of hers and we both looked confusedly at each other and headed downstairs to find that Reeny had made waffles and fed all of our children, including Jack and Aiden, without us even knowing it.  We were speechless!  Reeny is amazing!  And She did it all by herself without any help.  She is superwoman!

So that was an awesome start to the day.  For the rest of the morning we hung around Reeny's house playing while AnnaMarie packed up to leave, and Reeny taught Katie and Ryan how to sew with a needle and thread, and then we all went to Chuck E. Cheese's at about 11.  Usually that place makes my head explode.  Probably my least favorite place on Earth.  But this time it was actually pretty great!  I think we spent $40 total for 10 people for 2 hours, and the kids all had a blast.  Not too bad!  And no one whined or cried or was mad that they didn't have enough tickets to get something awesome.  So, all in all, a good Chuck E. Cheese experience!

AnnaMarie and the kids headed home after that, and me, the kids, Reeny and Marcy headed out for ice cream and then to downtown Green Bay to walk along the boardwalk and play at a splash pad.  The kids had such a great time, that after that we decided to go back and get their swimsuits on and then go to another splash pad!

The kids had a ton of fun playing at the splash pad.  The only sad part was when Ryan got stung by a wasp.  Which was ironic, because not one hour before we had all been telling about the times we had been stung by bees.  Poor Ryan was very upset.  But he ended up cheering up and we ended up having a nice time overall.

When we got back to Reeny's house, we let the kids play in the blow up pool while we got dinner ready and fed them.   Then Mike decided to take the boys out to see some big r/c car races that they hold at a nearby track.  The boys were SO thrilled!  The plan was for me and Hannah and Sophie to go with Reeny and Marcy to a farmer's market while the boys were gone, but Sophie was so exhausted that she ended up being totally asleep in bed by 5:45, no joke.  So, instead we played rummy, had a treat, and then when the boys got back we roasted marshmallows over a fire and did sparklers (where we learned to not buy any type of firework from the dollar store--it was an adventure)!  It was such a great night!


On Thursday morning we had a nice omelette breakfast together and then I spent a while packing up all of our things.  Then we all headed out to a wildlife sanctuary, that sort of reminded me of the nature center near our house, but bigger and way more awesome.  Almost like a zoo.  The kids had SO much fun exploring, going down the really cool slide, learning about different animals, playing on the cool playgrounds, etc.  But the very coolest part was seeing the wolves.  The kids started howling and were thrilled when that coincided with one of them coming over to the glass window ("See?  We called to him, and he came!"), and then they got a very up-close view of both of the wolves.  They thought it was so cool!

After the sanctuary, it was time for us to head out.  It was such a wonderful visit.  Reeny and Marcy and Mike were such amazing hosts.  We have such an incredible family--aunt and uncles and cousins who love us and who we love so much, too.  We are very blessed!

The drive home went really well.  I tossed the kids a lunchable as we were pulling out of Green Bay and they happily ate their lunch, sang songs, and eventually all fell asleep!  At the same time!  And they didn't even wake up when I had to stop to feed Hannah!  It was amazing.  Can't wait for the next Green Bay trip!

So, here are 60 pictures from the trip, because I have a really hard time narrowing pictures down.  Enjoy!

 Out for yogurt with the whole gang!

Sophie at the park:

Happy Calvin:

Almost tall enough to use this thing:

Reeny helping Hannah have her first ride in a swing:

Can you tell she loved it?

My blue eyed baby girl:

Jack didn't love the swing so much.  Good try, Marcy!

Katie and Ryan:

Jane carrying Aiden around the park:

Everyone tuckered out:

Reeny had a cool little splash pool and slip and slide that Marcy set up for us.  Haha, love this sequence:

Aiden was pretty interested...

Here comes Ryan!

 AnnaMarie with Katie and Jack:

Ryan dipped his feet in the pool, did the slip and slide twice, and then spent the rest of the time like this:

AnnaMarie and the boys:

Best little buddies:


Playing mermaids:

Oh, Calvin.  Please pull up your pants.  Please.

Mike letting Ryan jack up the car:


 Using the impact wrench:

Movie time!

Marcy and Hannah, snuggling on the couch:

 Learning to sew with a needle and thread.  When Ryan got home he said to Michael, "Do you know what my favorite talent that I have is?  Using a needle and thread!"

Splash pad!

Calvin always makes me laugh.

Love the lines from the mask:

This is Calvin pouting:


Ryan was pretty ruthless with this squirty thing:

Sophie doing a dance move, of course, while Calvin is shooting Ryan with the squirty thing:

Then Ryan got stung by a wasp.  He was pretty sad!

But Reeny cheered him up on the swings!  She is such an amazing aunt!  We love her to pieces!

So, Ryan announced that he was going to race Calvin.  Then he went up to Reeny and whispered to her, "Watch.  I am going to let him have a head start, then come up next to him and say 'See you at the finish line, brother!' and pass him, and then he will fall down."  And that's exactly what happened.  Calvin was inconsolable for a while.  Then They did a re-do, and Ryan let Calvin almost beat him, which I guess made him feel better?  Ryan is a stinker.

Glow sticks by the fire:


By the fire with Reeny and Marcy:

At the wildlife sanctuary.  Look, it's a four-headed turtle!

Marcy showing Sophie the crane:

Calvin checking out the wolf:

They boys howling to the wolves:

They were so close!

Marcy and Reeny and my kiddos:

Reeny with Hannah Banana:

Marcy was so great with the kids, we love her!

Marcy and Hannah:

Reeny carried a tired Sophie back to the car.  I love this picture!