Monday, May 28, 2012

Capture Gratitude: Garage Sales & Great Wolf Lodge

“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner 

I know I share cute pictures of these two being cute almost every week. But I do spend the bulk of my days watching their cuteness (and occasionally breaking up the not-so-cute). I'm looking forward to having pics of all three of my cute boys now that Luke will is out of school. But for now....

133. GARAGE SALE (the sale itself and that it's over...)
We had a garage sale last weekend... I'm not a fan of the work that goes into having a sale - either getting every thing together, or the actual sale. But I am thankful to have some cash in exchange for clearing out quite a bit of clutter... and some baby items we were hanging onto after Tobin, in the hopes that we'd have another baby. Now that we know that baby came to us at 2.5, we had quite a few goodies to sell. And I loved getting to spend 3 days with my awesome sister-in-law (who is a garage sale QUEEN and the only reason it was worth it to me to have a sale!)
 Luke and our neighbor and friend Zachary had a lemonade and icy pop stand, and as you can see in the top picture, Tobin helped with sales. Except sometimes he told people, "Yeah, that looks cool, but it never works." Thanks kiddo!

I love soccer. I really hope one of my boys loves it as much as I do, because it would certainly be my sport of choice for them to continue with. At the moment, Luke is pretty set on being a professional basketball player. Soccer is his second favorite, even though we had a really rough season (5th and 6th graders playing mostly 7th and 8th grade teams... Our guys looked pretty small playing against boys who looked like they may already be shaving.)

BUT they played hard and we are proud of them.

Luke was never one for pretend play. He loved (and still loves) to build things - take them apart and put them back together, then start all over again. Tobin, on the other hand, lives in a pretend world. And takes Micah right along with him. Today T spent all day being a police officer (because our neighbor gave him some play handcuffs that didn't sell in the garage sale.) But the pretend play of choice for a long while now has been cowboys. And cute little cowboys they are.

(In the interest of full disclosure and keeping it real: The bandaid on Tobin's chest resulted from Matt getting the Cozy Coup car out of storage - and not supervising Micah's introduction to it. By the time Micah saw it, Tobin was already driving it around the porch, and there may or may not have been a frenzied scratching attack. Lots of cute pictures of them together, but it's not all cute around here any more than it is anywhere!)

We looked after our neighbor's cutie beagle while they were out of town. I think they felt like they might be putting us out by asking...little do they know that Tobin is now in LOVE with Colt and wants to have Colt move in with us.

We didn't buy gifts for the boys for their birthdays this year. They get a fair amount from their grandparents, and we decided we'd rather use the money we would spend on gifts to do something fun as a family. Of course their birthdays were in February, March, and April, and here it is the end of May and we still hadn't done anything. You better believe Luke noticed.

So... We got a great deal at Great Wolf Lodge and surprised the boys. We pulled Luke out of school early on the last day of school and headed to Kansas City (I love KC.) The boys were super excited. Great Wolf Lodge has an indoor waterpark/water play area.

 It was especially a hit with our youngest. He basically screamed in excitement for 24 hours.

Maybe my favorite picture of these two EVER:
There was a giant bucket of water that dropped every 5 minutes. It had a clanging bell to warn you that it was every 5 minutes the ENTIRE time we were there, Micah would stop and watch it and scream. Luke dragged him out there to be under the water (being careful to protect his head and neck, like the good brother he is). Look at Micah's little feet, sucked up off the ground!

Here's a video of Micah's love-hate relationship with the giant bucket...(If the video isn't working, you should be able to watch it here....

And here's Tobin getting the bucket treatment (and taking it like a BOSS.)

And here's the first time Luke took Micah under (the picture above is from the second time, I asked him to do it again, but facing me this time so I could get a picture.) The joyful screaming you hear at the end is Micah. :) (if the video isn't working, watch it here...)

And my cutie littles going down the slides in the baby pool together, killing me with their cuteness. I basically spent most of the day watching Micah go down these slides over...and over....and over. "Yook at me, Mom!"

We played at the water park for several hours Thursday (then had a very overpriced meal at the hotel because we didn't feel like driving anywhere...we won't make that mistake again, there are tons of fun restaurants near by, and it wouldn't have taken us any longer to get to them than the very long wait for our $8 kids meals at the hotel.) Then we spent most of Friday at the park again, enjoying a pizza meal that came with the deal we got on our room...then showered off and went to the T-Rex Cafe, which is just 10 minutes away, and which the kids LOVED as well. And we headed back to Lincoln with all the boys snoring away in the van... Fun times.

We might make a family tradition out of making memories for the boys' birthdays rather than buying them gifts. We don't need any more stuff, and the time together outside of our normal schedule was priceless. Saturday morning I took the two younger boys to a friend's birthday party - and Tobin was so disappointed that Matt and Luke were staying home. "But I WUVE Daddy!" My. Heart.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


As part of my "stop the TV madness and do something" plan with the boys, I went digging down to the bottom of my "Crafts to do with the kids" board for something I pinned when I first joined Pinterest (but had never gotten around to doing.)
This is called "Frozen Fun" and boy was it!! It takes some planning ahead - but the boys enjoyed the set up as much as the end activity. And it was basically free, since it uses water and found items! The original activity froze things in plastic bins - but I don't have any of those that aren't full of something I didn't want to dump out. So we used gallon size zip locks, and that worked out great.

So...when I was at the very beginning of my "Nope. No BEE-BEE shows. Play and have fun, boys" initiative, there was a lot of complaining, whining, asking repeatedly for "Gabba Gabba Gabba".

I quickly realized that I needed to do something with the boys, and plan things to keep them occupied (I did actually know how to do this at one point. It's like all the change sucked the problem solver out of me!) So after refreshing myself on what "Frozen Fun" required, I gave both boys a gallon zip. We went through the bins and baskets of toys in our living room and looked for small items. I gave them each a 1/4c measure and told them to find things that fit inside that. I still had to fish out some GIANT things, but it mostly worked. We had a LOT MORE little things laying around than I realized.

After they had enough in their bags, I filled them with water, put them on my large rimmed cookie sheet, and stuck them in our deep freezer. That thing is crazy cold (we have to microwave ice cream before we can scoop it), but it still took a while to freeze all that water. We tried taking them out after a couple of hours (maybe 4?), but they were still liquid in the middle (duh.) So wait several days...

Then, on an afternoon when you're kids are antsy and needing entertainment... Get them out, tear or cut off the bag, place it in a bowl or bin (we didn't want to lose the little toys to our deck), and let your kids go to town.

 They were pretty excited to dig things out using kitchen knives (butter knives, not sharp ones. And they got bent, so if you're attached to your silver....)
 But water and salt worked better.
 People. I'm not kidding, this was awesome. 1 hour later, and they were all three happily working together (even though I'd only made a bag for the 2 littles.) Luke got bored after an hour, but Tobin and Micah were engaged for another hour or so.
 When it was dinner time, Tobin agreed to come inside without getting his last few holdouts. But he did check them throughout the evening, and was overjoyed when the last thing came unfrozen.
This is a great pre-school activity - but I think it would work with young toddlers as well, you'd just need to help (or enlist an older sibling, like I did.) Micah LOVED pouring water over the ice, and also enjoyed chipping away at the "COOOOOOOLD!"

We'll be doing this again. I wonder about coloring the water, so they can't see the toys they're digging out as well - it would be like a treasure hunt!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Capture Gratitude: Time wasters, intentionality, fun neighbors, and orange shoes.

“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner 

This is going to be short and sweet, because I am under a couple of deadlines (one of which is a garage sale this weekend. Which I was super excited about in my decluttering frenzy in January and February. Now? Not so much.)

True confession time. This week I really have been working hard under those 2 deadlines. But the past few weeks, working hard hasn't been the only reason I wasn't blogging much. I was doing something else with my free time:

This is my favorite game/app EVER. My awesome SIL got me hooked on Draw Something: Which is a phone/iPad/Kindle Fire version of pictionary, except with color. Love it. If only I had an iPad or a stylus, I could really rock at it, but I'm getting pretty good with my fingers. I'm playing with several fun friends, but my favorite is playing with Luke. He got the word "Luke" one day (I'm pretty sure they were going for Skywalker...more on that coming soon), so he wrote "ME". This just in: 12 year old boys are hilarious.

Tobin loves to watch me draw and help guess. This week he was practicing writing on his white board (he loves his dry erase!) He told me he was going to play Draw Something with me:
 Any guesses?

My favorite thing about May.
The last 6 months have been something of a whirlwind, as we got used to living as a family of 5. Being home with 2 very active little ones has been exhausting, and I'm still trying to get my mojo back as far as doing things with and for them, and actually getting things done. I realized a few weeks ago that I've defaulted to turning on a TV show whenever they were getting too rowdy or I needed to get something done (not that we watch anything on actual TV...Netflix all the way, baby!)  I'm determined not to feel guilty about that - this is a season of life, and there's  no cookie cutter formula for raising kids, no merit badge for kids who only watch 30 minutes of educational TV each week.

BUT I also know that I want to be intentional about raising my kids, giving them different experiences, and teaching them to entertain themselves rather than always be entertained. And I felt like I was getting lazy - it's just so much easier to turn on The Backyardigans than try and get/keep them both involved in any activity. And most activities take a lot more prep and clean up than flipping a switch.

 So the past 2 weeks, I've tried to limit the Media-time (for them and for me), and plan some activities for the boys. Or just get out some of our many art supplies and let them go to town. To my surprise, the boys have really enjoyed having some structured activities again, and have even played very well on their own, once they got used to having the computer turned off most of the time again. I mean...I still have to referee pretty often, but I also had to do that after 30 minutes of watching "Bee Bee", as Micah calls it.
Disclaimer: I am not above copious amounts of TV viewing for my youngest very-early-riser so that I can have 5 minutes of alone time to read my Bible, pray and drink my coffee.  That doesn't count.

 We love our neighbors, and are super happy that they're going to be around more this summer. Who else has a neighbor who would lend their newly won-Beiber doll and let Luke come and surprise me at the door, singing "Baby, Baby...." Tobin thought that was the FUNNIEST THING EVER. And we kind of want to steal their Beiber, but that wouldn't be neighborly, I suppose.

 Speaking of my early-rising-youngest... Matt was out of town last week for 5 nights. By Saturday morning, I was WIPED out. And I heard both younger boys giggling and talking in their room before 7am. I wanted to cry. But then it got really quiet, and no one made the very expected and traditional tiptoe into mom & dad's room, and climb up on Mommy. I fell back asleep. And then I woke up kind of panicky 30 minutes later, with the realization that little boys + quiet = TROUBLE. No fear:
Luke heard them, and got up with them, letting them watch Netflix shows on his Kindle. Praise God for big brothers.

Tobin was disappointed that we didn't enter our mini-van, which I'm sure would have looked smoking, next to all the classic Model A Fords, Trans Ams, and Corvettes.
 In even better news, we all voted for our favorites, which entered us in a drawing. Tobin won our family a book of TEN movie tickets. SCORE.

 Saturday night was my last night alone with the boys (Matt got home around 9, after the littles were in bed.) We had home made wild wings and watched Star Wars in the basement.
Best moment: At the end, I was explaining to Tobin that Princess Leia was giving them all medals because they helped save the planet. Tobin looked at the screen, with Luke Skywalker (in case you're wondering: Still a whiner.), Han Solo, and Chewbacca with their medals. Tobin: "That BEAR didn't save the planet!" When I told Matt that story later, we laughed for 10 minutes. Nerds.


 Mother's Day is bittersweet for me. I am so thankful for my 3 boys, but also remember years of waiting and feeling like Mothers Day was just salt in the wound. And I know that for many it's an actively painful day - those who've lost babies, or lost their mothers.

So I pray for those who are hurting...rejoice with the MANY friends who celebrated their first Mother's Day as Mommies this year, and pray for those who are waiting and/or hurting.

And thank the Lord I get to be a Mama to these turkeys.

I'm still running... But my shoes were dead, and I've been fighting shin splints. I've been reading a lot about barefoot or natural running, and decided to give barefoot shoes a try (Matt says he thinks I'm supposed to wear them barefoot - without socks - but I think they'll get stinky. They are barefoot shoes, because they're supposed to encourage you to run as if you were barefoot, which is better for your body.) Everyone has told me to go super slow... So I wore them around today, and I'm going to start slowing breaking them in tomorrow (I think I'll run for 5 minutes... I was up to 30, so that's not 10%, which is what was recommended...but I have been wearing a pair of barefoot casual shoes for a while, so it won't be a total adjustment for my muscles.)
 I don't know how they'll work for running, but they sure are adorable.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Capture Gratitude: Catching Up

“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner 
 Lots and lots of gratitude and pictures just waiting to be shared... I've been counting gifts and capturing pictures as reminders. But haven't shared any in almost a month. It's going to be a long one folks. But there's loads of cuteness, so buckle up!

I'm happy every time these 2 get along.

For the record, minutes after I captured the cuteness above, the brotherhood broke down and there was violence and tears. Sigh.

But they sure are cute.

I mean, this is how they watch TV (on Luke's kindle Fire.) I find them like this many mornings when I come home from the gym. Matt is in the shower, and they're watching "BEE BEE" as Micah calls it, piled up like this.

And this is their preferred way to lunch. Baggies of PB&Honey, outside, together.

110. SLEEP
Of all of God's gifts, this may be my current favorite. Not that I get enough of it... But a few weeks ago, something glorious happened.  Micah has joined the 2 older boys going to Grammie's house on Thursday nights so that I can be at our weekly college Bible study. After 7 months away, it's been wonderful to be back. But the best part of all came the next day. I often have meetings first thing on Friday morning - but this particular Friday was FREE. So...

 A picture taken from my pillow: Of the clock at 9:52. DREAMY.

111. "WAIT ME GUYS!"
We are learning many delightful things about our precious youngest boy, it has been so fun to see him blossom in our family. One of my favorite things to see is his JOY at being included in group activities. This picture just captures what he always says as he follows behind, not wanting to miss out on any of the fun.

Everyone's favorite time of day.

I miss my big Texas sky. But this will do (assuming it keeps it's tornadic activity to a minimum.)

So thankful for our wonderful local children's zoo. The Omaha zoo is amazing, but massive. Lincoln's zoo is perfect for 2 hours, a picnic lunch, and then home for nap.

 And the train??
 Wow, was *that* a hit.

Like many boy-heavy households, Garbage day is like a holiday in our house. I really want to go dig out the pictures I have of Luke at this age...and then Luke introducing Tobin... and now this. What a collage that will make!

 Greek yogurt + spinach + lovely frozen mangoes and pineapple = delish. And the two youngest boys join me in this love (Luke is not coming anywhere near this...)

Last year we got to have Sarah several days a week while her mom worked. Now that she has a stay-at-home mommy (yay for them!), we get to have lots of playdates, but Tobin is never satisfied with a few hours, when he used to have full days.
 We got to have Sarah for a full day a few weeks ago while her Mama packed up for their upcoming move (speaking of gifts: they're now 5 minutes away from us. I'm so happy.) The boys loved.every.minute.

 I redecorated one of our walls this month - I gathered art and pictures we had been collecting and made a big display wall. I'll share the final product later, but I made one thing myself.

Love it so.much.

I thought I would wait to take Micah to the theater... One episode of The Backyardigans holds him rapt, but I wasn't sure if a full length movie would do it. And then I learned about Chimpanzee (a documentary following a baby Chimp, filmed in Uganda, perfect for families. And only an hour and 15 minutes long.) Micah is *obsessed* with monkeys, so I knew it would be perfect.

Matt was out of town for a wedding a few weekends ago, so the boys and I headed to the movies. As predicted, Micah was spellbound. He loved eating popcorn and drinking soda, of course. And every 5 minutes, he'd grin at me and say, "MONKEY!" :)

My favorite Sunday of the year is the last Sunday in college worship hour, when we usually do baptisms. I love hearing people's stories of God's faithfulness. So thankful to get to be a part of others' stories, and especially for these 4 dear ones.
As we head into a new season, we've gotten to experience lots of firsts with Micah. It's so fun to see him leap into our family activities and traditions. I never know when a first is going to hit me emotionally... For whatever reason, seeing him take his first swim lesson had me teary the entire time.
I mean, it's not like swim lessons are vital to a full and happy life. People all over the globe live their whole lives without a swimming pool and are perfectly content. But I'm sure happy that this little boy gets to enjoy the water here with us.