Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday Eli!

Saturday Eli turned 4, and although he bounced out of bed like it was Christmas, I kind of wanted to swaddle him up in a miracle blanket and weep over him. 4 is definitely the end of the toddler phase and the beginning of  the rough and tumble, independent little boy one. And it just does go by way too fast. On the other hand, year 3 definitely had lots of challenging parenting moments and battles of the will and John and I are hoping that with a little more maturity will come a little more obedience as well.

We started the morning with a special Bob Evan's pancake breakfast where Eli polished off all of his meal and most of mine as well. That boy can pack away the food. Then it was back home to try out his new power wheels while his kind daddy stood outside in the freezing rain and cheered him on. In the afternoon Eli's cousins Max, Gabe, and Shayden came over for a boy's bowling birthday party. Eli had originally requested to go boating on his birthday and then changed his plans to bowling once we explained that boating wasn't going to work in April. After bowling it was back to our house for pizza, ice-cream cake, and 4 maniacs on a sugar-high screeching wild throughout the house. There was lots of giggling and bizarre story-telling and Eli couldn't have been any happier. When we put him bed that night he was asleep within 5 minutes, which is saying something for the boy that is normally still running around his room when I turn in for the night.

Happy Birthday Eli. You are one pretty amazing kid and we are so lucky to have the privilege of guiding you as you grow and discover another year of your life. God has some mighty big plans for you little man!

Bob Evans Breakfast

Norah was thankful Eli had a birthday so she could eat some french toast. She ate everything on this plate plus a piece of sausage, 2 cups of milk, and then attempted to drink the syrup until we cut her off

Power wheels in the rain

The boys outside the bowling alley. Eli, Gabe, Max, & Shayden

Eli was the self-designated bowling director. He stood next to whoever was up and said "pause" with his hand up until the pins were set-up and ready to go

Pizza and story telling


Chocolate mint-Oreo ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen. 
(okay, so maybe his pregnant mom chose the cake. so what?)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


After 12 years and 230,000 miles, John finally traded in his beloved 99' Corolla that he has been driving since he turned 16. And his wife is very relieved that he is now driving a reliable, safe car and no longer has to crawl in the back seat to open the driver's door from the inside. He always said he planned to drive the Corolla into the ground and I think he can check that goal off his list because that car is ready to be pushed off a cliff into oblivion. And although it was the car that he picked me up in on our very first date, I am not sad to see it go because if anyone ever deserved a new car after years of sacrificing his own comfort and pride in order to put his family first, it is definitely John.  Enjoy those leather seats babe, you earned em!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Getaway

Friday afternoon we packed up our van and headed down to the "big" city of Cincinnati with the kids for the weekend. John surprised me on Wednesday by telling me he had taken Saturday off work (which is a rarity for his job) and we made plans, booked a hotel, and left town for some much needed quality family time that has been lacking a bit lately. Because we knew if we stayed home we'd fill the weekend with mulching, cleaning, and projects on the to-do list instead of relaxing and having fun together. We didn't have too much of an agenda and tried not to worry about sticking to the kid's usual schedules. The hotel we stayed in downtown happened to be hosting an annual tattoo festival as well as a quilting convention so it was an interesting mix of biker dudes for the kid's to stare uncomfortably long at and old ladies to coo over them and pinch their cheeks. Every ride in the elevator came with a prayer that Eli wouldn't blurt out something awkward about our fellow passengers.

We filled our days with adventures to kid friendly hot-spots, lots of eating out, and plenty of pool time. John was in the pleasin' mood, saying yes to all the kid's requests and lavishing us with a weekend free from the budget and obsessively checking our bank accounts. Vacation daddy is a pretty fun guy, we really liked him.

Here are the photo highlights

Our city room with a view...mostly of a parking garage, but we still enjoyed it

Pool time with daddy and a few tattooed folks

You can't visit Cincinnati without indulging in some Graeter's ice cream. It is home of the original location after all.

Snuggles with daddy in our ONLY bed

Thanks to a mini-sized pack n' play that Norah could easily climb out of, we often had two snugglers in our bed

Duke Energy Children's Museum at the museum complex downtown

A beer at noon from a local brewery? Why not, we're on vacation!

This local cupcake store just looked too enticing to walk past...

so we got half a dozen of their most popular flavors to try. And I think I finished off about 4 of them

Newport Aquarium across the bridge into Kentucky. A super cool place for kids and adults

Practicing with chop sticks at an Asian restaurant

A horse-drawn carriage ride at dusk through the city. Eli begged and begged for this one and it was quite lovely.

 I assure you the kids had much more fun in the carriage than you might assume from this picture, yikes!

A sleepy boy who didn't want to wake up Sunday morning

Family devotional time before breakfast on Sunday, complete with a sing-a-long of the Watoto Childrens Choir's "Cast Your Burdens" (thank you YouTube and yes, I'm sure we disrupted a few of our neighbors)

A peaceful breakfast at my favorite restaurant, First Watch, that was just a few blocks from our hotel.

And by peaceful, I mean we played a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode on my phone for the kids and had a 15 minute date of coffee drinking and conversation before our food came, Ahhh, technology!

chocolate chip and blueberry pancake eating champion

Fountain Square and a beautiful sunny day

pigeon chasing in Fountain Square that soon turned into...

chasing each other in Fountain Square

And a final swim in the pool before we were forced to check out of our room and head back to reality

Saturday, April 7, 2012

And hunt #2...

No, we haven't forgotten about Jesus in this house, although it is challenging to keep young children more focused on the Resurrection than the chocolate candy inside their plastic eggs. So we try to mix in plenty of Bible lessons (when they aren't running laps around the kitchen from a sugar-overload) along with the American Easter traditions and are praying that the seeds of the cross, God's forgiveness, and His overwhelming love for them are being planted somewhere deep inside their little hearts.

Today was round 2 of egg hunting for us. And as John was giving Eli strategy tips over breakfast in regards to the best way to pick up an egg mid-run without wasting time coming to a full stop, I played the worship music a little louder to help counteract the competitive look gleaming in his eyes. John unfortunately had to work and couldn't join us for the fun, but the kids and I were treated to a full morning with Grandma Jan and Papa Bob of egg hunting, a trip to Costco, and lunch. There's nothing better than still being able to feel like a kid when you're with your parents....even though there are two little people tugging on you and calling you "mommy."

Waiting in the crowd for the hunt to begin

Watching the sky as a helicopter made passes through the fields dropping hundreds of Easter eggs to the delighted shrieks of the kids

 Hard to see them here but there were tons of eggs being thrown out

Papa Bob and Eli. This picture just melts my heart because our kids have such amazing Grandparents.

Norah stayed pretty focused on collecting the broken, empty eggs that the other kids left behind

This boy is a pro at this game

My sweet kiddos