Thursday, June 28, 2012

Month of June: Trip #2

Six days after we got back from Memphis, we loaded up again and headed to Oklahoma City. I just repacked the suitcase that was still laying on my bedroom floor, half unpacked. It is quite a feat to pack for four people. I make multiple lists and check and recheck. This was the summer regional meeting for all the Edward Jones agents and their families in the Wichita area. And since that is one of Jon's sales regions, he was chosen to come and speak during the weekend to represent his company. The seven hour drive felt much shorter than the 10 hours to Memphis, but Dawson and Channing didn't do so hot. Channing only slept for about 20 minutes each naptime, and as usual, Dawson never naps in the car, so going into the weekend, he was already tired. It was fun to be a part of the weekend since our meals and hotel were provided, but to all be in one hotel room for four nights put the fear of God in me. I think we've only stayed in a standard hotel room with kids twice since Bennett was born and that was for one night each. Not my cup of tea. They stay up super late, wake up earlier than usual, not to mention, having to be super quiet at night and during naptime when they are sleeping. I knew this would be a stressful situation so I was determined to have a good attitude and not complain about it. I think I did very well, all things considered! Thankfully we have a crib tent for Dawson that goes over the pack-play, and we just cover it with blankets and he has his own little cave to sleep in, so he can't see us. He and Bennett were still up until around 10pm every night and woke up at 7:30 or 8 every morning. He got a normal nap on Thursday (while Bennett and I hung out in the hallway of the hotel with the baby monitor for two hours because I knew he wouldn't be quiet enough in the room) and about a 20 minute nap on Saturday. This was tough for him since he usually sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 2 hour nap almost every day. He's very affected by lack of sleep so we pretty much just expected the worst from him. I suppose when you expect the worst, anything short of that is tolerable!
Friday we got to go to an amusement park with the group. Super hot but super fun. I cannot wait until Bennett's tall enough to ride real roller coasters with me! For now we just do the wildest rides that he is tall enough for. He loves them, just like his mama. We put Dawson's bravery to the test on the Tilt-a-Whirl, and as you can see from the next couple of pictures, he hated it. I felt horrible. The poor kid was completely freaked out and was literally trying to climb out of that thing while it was spinning! Major mom fail.

Much later in the day, we found the kids area of the park and figured Dawson would do OK on the kiddie coaster. There wasn't anyone else in line so they all just stayed on and rode it four times in a row. Dawson was hilarious to watch. You can see in the pictures, he has the fiercest look of determination on his face. He was like that the whole ride--just dead serious. He wanted to get off after the first two rounds but got back on for the fourth. And look at the kid in front of them in all the pictures. He cracks me up! I wish I knew who his mom was so I could send these pictures to her.

Since we didn't have to pay to get in, Jon was feeling generous and bought them cotton candy. Bennett was in heaven:
I caught this moment in our hotel room. I actually didn't even pose them that way! It was one of those moments that just made my heart swell. I'm so proud to be the mother of these three gorgeous boys that God has blessed us with:
On Saturday everyone had a free afternoon so we decided to go to the zoo. If we ever have the chance to visit a new zoo, we jump on it. We all just love it. Again, it was super hot out but still worth it. A lot of the exhibits were built around these small air conditioned buildings (like spokes around a wheel and we were in the center) so there were a lot of breaks from the heat.
And as far as zoo experiences go, this was a great one for seeing animals up close and active. Dawson checking out "King Kong" with his own little Kong:
This next one isn't a great picture but I wanted to post one on here--this baby chimp was missing one of it's arms below the elbow! The poor little thing was fascinating to watch. It was sad to watch him struggling to climb from one thing to another, taking lots of tumbles, but he sure was determined. I'm glad he's not on his own in the wild:
Nobody wants their picture taken right now. But isn't that our prerogative as the mom?? Sorry honey...just appease me. You all looked so darn cute:
These tiger cubs were the highlight of the day. They were going at it, wrestling with each other! It was awesome. We stood there and watched them for a long time:
Sorry, the video is terribly out of focus but it was hilarious to hear all the boys cheering them on like they were watching a WWF wrestling match:
All in all, it was a fun trip. Bennett learned how to do a front flip into the pool! Seriously...totally shocked me when he did it. I need to get a video of it. And he swam across the full length of the pool (it was a small one). I'm so proud of him! They had childcare during some of the meetings and we got to get dressed up for an adults only dinner one night. I was freaked out trying to pack since I had no clue what anyone else would be wearing and "dinner dress" just isn't very specific! Talk about unnerving for a girl. Jon did awesome during his talks and has gotten lots of calls from that region since so I know people liked him! (Duh.) It was well worth the lack of sleep, although, we're still paying for it, big time. Dawson has been a wreck still, all week :( Thankfully Judie has them tomorrow so I can finally get that suitcase off our bedroom floor!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Now and Then...

In that dreadful Target cart that's the size of a Mini Cooper. Kids love 'em, moms hate 'em.
December, 2008:

Thankfully now in that cart, there's a whole lot less fighting and a whole lot less bribing while we shop...June, 2012:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Month of June: Trip #1

Since Jon can't take a ton of time off of work, we planned a trip down to Memphis coinciding with a trip to Des Moines my parents were planning. Jon drove us down there and left for work in Kansas. The boys and I stayed for four days and then rode back up with my parents to Des Moines. This was our fourth time in Memphis since my parents moved there last year but our first time to get to swim in their pool! It was so relaxing and easy on me since Dawson and Channing could still get good naps inside and we could have fun outside. Man, I wish we could enjoy this setup on a much more regular basis. :( 
Their backyard is gorgeous so I was having fun with my camera, snapping pics of what was in bloom:
Give this boy some animals and something to build a tower with and he's a happy camper (as long as his big brother's not around. Why is that?? He's seriously a different child when Bennett's not there). Hippo's on the King Kong tower:

Channing's loving the Bumbo now!
Dinner on their patio:
Lots and LOTS of jumping:
And of course, the highlight for the boys: when Grandad gets in!

We had one really rainy day there. We were sitting out under the covered patio next to the pool sipping coffee (my mom) and tea (me) in the late morning. My mom said at one point, "this is the life". It was just so calm and peaceful. My three precious boys around me; nowhere to be, nothing to do but still having fun. She was right.
Banana bread and basketball in the nude. No big deal:

He caught his first firefly. "I always wanted to catch a firefly and my dream came true!" He was so proud:
This was right before we found a giant (silver dollar sized) spider under the diving board. My mom tried to kill it with a shovel. Turns out it was so huge because there were five MILLION babies riding on her back which proceeded to scatter in all directions like some kind of plague. The sight scarred me for life and gave me nightmares. Literally. Another reason to add to my "be thankful you live in Iowa" list.
This trip was Channing's first road trip. He only slept for 20 or 30 minutes at a time in the car which was not fun but he did ok despite the lack of sleep. I just nursed him a little more often than usual. He also went to the nursery for the first time ever during their Wednesday night church. Bennett learned how to do a forward somersault in the water without getting water up his nose! I remember how hard that used to be. He also improved on his deep water swimming without any floaties. Dawson is just as brave and was jumping off the diving board on his own and really figuring out how to get himself across the pool. I hope we can get down there again this summer! Its a heckuva lot of work to pack and prepare and drive there with these three little boys but afterwards, you never really think about all of that. You just think about the fun you had while you were there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Party

We ended up having two parties for Bennett, one for his friends and one for our family. A little overboard, I know, since we also made his actual birthday a celebration day as well. But he made so many great friends at preschool this year, I wanted him to be able to invite them. I was thinking of having our family come for dinner on the same day but my parents were coming into town the following weekend, so we decided to delay the family party until then.  (Jon asked if we'd be doing that every year and I assured him, no! I would love to hear your solutions for those of you with lots of family in town. Do you invite a few school friends along with all the cousins? I always like to make a meal for our family but want to keep it simple if he has a bunch of friends coming. What do you do??)

We had an ocean themed party and just let the kids swim and play in the backyard. They had a blast and of course, it was low maintenance entertainment :) I wanted to order a couple of bunches of balloons for decoration but apparently there's a national helium shortage.Who knew?? They were going to be $2 a piece! No thanks.

 Goldfish (of course) for a snack:
 Judie made cute little labels for the water bottles but I forgot to take a close-up of those. They said, "Freshly Bottled Ocean Water". Forgive me, Judie, for not better documenting your hard work!
Cake #1. Swedish Fish, cut up pieces of Fruit by the Foot for seaweed and crushed Graham Cracker sand. (Tip for any novice cake makers out there, like me: I baked the cake in a 9x13 with a piece of parchment paper on the bottom so it came out of the pan easily. Another trick I've learned, stick large pieces of wax paper overlapped around the edges when you're frosting a decorating. You can slide those off when you're done and your tray stays neat.):
 Finally, he turned 5, when he blew out those candles! (According to him):

The goodie bags in a bucket. A growing sea creature from the dollar spot at Target, a Go Fish game from the Dollar Tree, an "Octopop" (idea from this blog) and some swedish fish:
 And party #2 with all his cousins and a couple of our closest friends:
My parents and Claire were staying at our house and come to find out, Claire is a crafty sister. She was thrilled to help me with all the party details. I kept having to reign her in on more details she wanted to add. She was all about it! I'm glad to know she can be my party assistant from now on! I made jello cups with swedish fish swimming inside both times but the second time we added the lifesavers on top with a little writing icing detail. Judie found the fish net under the cups at Michael's. (Warning: if you ever make these, don't do it too far in advance. The fish get all puffed up and mushy overnight. I put the lifesavers on just a couple hours before the party but by the time we had cake, they were nearly dissolved!)
And the fun napkin rings with a Wintogreen Lifesaver (we just used a permanent marker for the detail on these). I'm sorry, can't find the source on these anymore :(
Cake #2. Claire did the shark on this one (she traced a simple shark silhouette onto wax paper off of the computer, cut it out, laid it on the cake, outlined it with frosting, removed the wax paper and filled it in). She even picked out a bunch of white sprinkles from the jar to use for the teeth :) The frosting ended up a little too dark on this one since I loved how the seaweed stood out more on the first one, but man, it was such a fun and easy cake!
Bennett's 4th party here and 3rd, here.