Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trouble

So tonight we were trying to get back in our groove after having been out of town and having visitors for the past week. Caleb and Avery got their baths first and were all clean and scrubbed up. Addison was finishing her bath and I asked Matt if he could get her out while I finished the dishes from dinner. He walked back past the kitchen telling me he decided she could have until the water drained out of the tub and headed back to his work in the garage. Knowing the water was low but not wanting her in the tub by herself, I headed to the bathroom to find this:

Addison covered in shaving cream

I said nothing and walked to the garage to have Matt come and look at the result of his decision. He guessed the mess so didn't come in. I went back to the bathroom to clean Addie up and walked back to the kitchen to find Avery (sorry, no pictures!!) sitting on the kitchen table now naked. She had stripped down to nothing - a new habit of hers - peed on the chair, climbed onto the table, painted herself in the pudding leftovers from dinner, dipped her diaper in my water glass, and was now wringing it out all over the table. Awesome. Why I didn't take a picture of that I'm not sure. I think I was too busy shaking my head in disbelief at what a little menace she has become as I walked her back to the bathroom to get cleaned up for the second time. If I hadn't started motherhood with a Caleb I'm sure I would be losing my mind with her at this point. But thankfully, maybe with Caleb turning 5 and the realization of how fast time flies, I'm really just enjoying her busy little personality and trying to hold on to each funny memory.

Swingset

After much debate we have come to an agreement that the kids swingset needs to go. It served us well this first year, but we're not sure it will make it another summer with our bunch, so we decided to cut our losses (although we actually had a $100 gain!) and get another one. After much research we decided on a Build-it-Yourself company that allowed us to find a set that works for now but also allows us to add onto as the kids get older and are interested in more accessories, etc. It's a slow process with Matt's schedule, though he got some good time in on it during his vacation. The kids are being very patient and seem to be okay with their old set going to a new home. Tonight the kids decided to make their own fun with the set, regardless of the fact that it's in pieces. So far they've yet to see an accessory; Matt's been busy getting the wood ready with cutting, sanding and drilling the holes, but that seems to be just fine with them.



Cousins

This weekend Dave and Jami came in for a much needed visit with the cousins. It was so great to see them and everyone had so much fun! This was the first time Matt had seen Josh (now 11 weeks), and only the second time for me - I cannot believe how big and adorable he is!! It was a cold, rainy weekend (much like when they visited last summer) so the kids made most of their fun at the house. We did sneak off to Meijer Gardens on Saturday morning which everyone seemed to enjoy.




To the Beach!!

After much deliberation, hindsight, and wisdom we decided to spend a day of Matt's vacation on an adventure. This adventure was originally supposed to be a three night trip up north (or "Up North" as it's referred to here) to the beach. Slowly this became instead a one night stay at the beach which somehow turned into a no-night stay (hence the hindsight and wisdom). My wonderful husband, during this week "off", has been hard at work preparing the wood for the kids' new swingset. He has put in at least 15 hours of cutting, sanding, drilling and we realized that his time may be better spent tackling as much of this project as possible. So, we decided to still head to our original desired vacation spot and just make a full day of it. I have to say, it all turned out quite well! After researching on the internet and asking the "locals" we (I) decided on heading about two and a half hours north to Glen Arbor. We set our sights on tackling the Sleeping Bear Dunes. We left (of course) later than we had intended, but arrived around 11am. The day could not have gone more smoothly. The big kids skipped their rest and did just fine with that. Avery caught two short snoozes at the most timely of hours, giving her the needed energy to continue with our day.
Seven months pregnant, with three small children, we ambitiously headed upward on The Dune Climb - an estimated 3 1/2-4 hour hike up (and down) these enormous sand dunes leading to the shores of Lake Michigan. All I was really hoping for was some good pictures and a great view. In order to attain this we only had to go to the highest point - one would assume ;-)
The kids did great! It was a strenuous hike, but the weather was fairly mild. There was really only one time where passers-by were laughing at us - the few short minutes at the end that Matt was carrying Caleb and Addison and my belly and I were carrying Avery. We reached our goal, about a mile and a quarter up, and parked it for a quick picnic lunch, gazing at the seemingly equidistant views of Lake Michigan and Glen Lake.
I realize now, comparing our pictures with friends' who have gone, that perhaps we wanted to go a bit further for a more seamless view. The kids had a super fun time on the dunes, rolling down the giant hills, jumping off the "mini" dunes, and feeling on top of the world!
After heading back down - which was a MUCH easier and faster trip - we filled our waters back up and headed for a scenic drive along the dunes. The kids enjoyed this about as much as I remember enjoying such drives when I was younger. We didn't quite maximize the photo ops, since the kids were fading a bit, but it was a nice way to recharge and buy ourselves some rest time before our next adventure.
I would love to tackle this town again for a true getaway as it seems that there was much that we had yet to discover, but we were quite pleased with our finds. The afternoon was spent at North Bar Beach, after a suggestion from someone we met at the dunes. I don't know that I can explain it accurately, but it was the perfect set up for a family such as ours. Upon entering the beach area we came across a small, relatively shallow lake which was warmer and calmer than Lake Michigan and perfect for sitting in, letting the kids crawl through the water, and play with their toys. Surrounding this mini-lake was a smallish sand dune, hiding the view (and noise) of Lake Michigan. After spending about an hour at this smaller lake we walked along the dunes to an opening that led to Lake Michigan. Between the two was probably a 400 foot super-shallow wading area that was perfect for wake-boarding (which we did not do) and little tots - so long as they keep distance between themselves :-) About twenty feet from the end of this wading area was Lake Michigan, complete with its waves crashing and the sound that comes with it. The kids had such a great time running back and forth between the two, feeling brave with Daddy in Lake Michigan and "jumping" the waves, then running over to the wading area to play with their toys and build their sandcastles.
It was such a great day to sit and enjoy watching the kids playing together and finding the fun in their surroundings. After a pizza dinner where the kids devoured an entire large pizza by themselves, we headed back for home, following Matt's "shortcut" that only added an extra hour and a half to the trip! We didn't mind too much, however, as the kids fell asleep shortly and we had a nice long chunk of time to talk and catch up.
We pulled into home late, once again, but were again thankful for the fact that we had two more days to unwind and relax before the next big activity: Uncle Dave and Aunt Jami coming to visit!

Note: the beauty of the waters is lost in some of these photos due to a snafu in camera-settings. The draw to this area is the crystal-blue color of the water. I guess we'll just have to go back and try again!

Glen Lake

Caleb running down the sand dunes

The kids taking a break

Lake Michigan


The "wading pool"

Caleb in Lake Michigan

Daddy and Addison

Addison and Avery playing in the sand

Family photo at North Bar

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Uncle Bob and Aunt Pam

This week we were blessed with some much-needed vacation time for Matt! Though he used five days of vacation, he also benefited from having the weekends off on either end which bought us some extra "free" time. I think we found a good balance of excitement and trips mixed with down-time to catch up on some things at the house that have been feeling neglected. We started the week off with a trip to visit my Uncle Bob and Aunt Pam in Rockford, Illinois. We left Friday afternoon and arrived for dinnertime. Saturday morning the "big" kids headed out with Matt and Uncle Bob for some fishing and a surprise trip to the "race track" for Caleb! After rest time some more of my extended family came over to join us for a picnic. The kids had so much fun together and it was great to see everyone! We spent the first half of Sunday in Rockford before heading off to meet Kevin (Matt's best friend) in Chicago for dinner. The kids were excited to see him and tell him all about their weekend. We made it home around midnight Sunday - a full weekend but a great way to start off the week!


Addison and Uncle Bob with one of her two big catches!

Caleb waiting patiently


Catch #2

Caleb on his consolation prize

Playing duck-duck-goose
Caleb, Audrey, Grace, Addie (on Grace's lap), Avery, Ella


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Avery's Boyfriends

Owen, Avery, and Luke

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blueberries

Today we ventured out (after several failed attempts) to pick blueberries. It seems to be the thing to do here and, though my children aren't fans of blueberries, we were all excited about our adventure. The trip proved successful in the fact that they all discovered that they actually DO enjoy blueberries - so long as they come straight from the bush :-) It poured rain for the two days before our picking and apparently hadn't quite drained out before we were there. The kids had fun wading through the puddles and collecting their bounty in their buckets. Now that we've been home, we've had fun making blueberry pancakes, blueberry coffee cake, and are about to venture to blueberry smoothies!


Addison

Avery stealing from my bucket

Floating through the blueberry patch



Avery talking to Parker




Saturday, August 8, 2009

Avery

I don't know if this is something we want to encourage, but Avery sure has been surprising us with her fearless nature. Caleb was the same way when he was little, but we chalked it up to him being a boy. Addison was (and is) much more reserved and timid, though has proven herself as quite the little monkey. At her three year checkup the pediatrician commented on her physique - "she must be a climber" - which she is, but no gymnastics in her future due to her size and her grace which matches her mother's.
Avery spent the night tonight "painting" herself blue, going backwards down her (thankfully little) slide, and swinging from the pole on the swingset. One of her favorite games with Addison is taken from her swim class. Avery stands on the couch (I know...) while Addie sings a song and then attempts to catch Avery as she jumps off. As long as it ends in giggles I have to admit I'm okay with it.


Like usual, the video doesn't quite capture the true gusto of her new trick - I think her arms were tiring out at this point.
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This was taken this morning - Avery has some new dance moves. She was a little distracted by the tower of books Addison was trying to build on her dance floor.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Spotlight

Today Ada had a Children's Fair put on by the local businesses. The kids and I headed over for a bit to see what we could find. It was a smaller fair, which was perfectly manageable on our own, and the kids had a blast. Both Caleb and Addie went on the inflatable slides and bounce houses, played some bean bag toss games, and enjoyed their first snow cones. The highlight, however, was when they got up on stage to tell jokes:

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And Then at Night ...

Today was a busy day with fun in the sun in the morning at the pool and a Whitecaps game, sponsered by one of the Orthopaedic groups in the area at night. We headed to the game around 7 and enjoyed free barbeque, lemonade, and cookies. The kids had a great time running around with the other Ortho-kids and hamming it up for all who would watch. Caleb was thrilled that the first run of the night was a Whitecaps homerun that went right over our heads and out of the ballpark. I'm not real sure what happened the rest of the game as we were chasing after kids, but Caleb seemed to have caught all of the highlights - he even made it home with a new helmet and a tee-shirt he packed out that "Addie just has to have!", though it's yet to leave his back after she told him, "I don't really like baseball Bubba". He feigned surprise for about half a second before throwing it over his head onto his own body :-)





Addison enjoying fireworks after the game with Daddy

Pool Fun

The past few weeks we have been taking advantage of the great pools available through the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation. We have been frequenting these at least once a week - they are great for the little ones, offering lots of wading areas, fountains, and even a water slide that Caleb can go down. The best part - super cheap! The four of us can get in for $3. We've been going with Parker and Owen and having a great time bonding with our buddies. Here are some pictures from our most recent visit.


Parker and Addison

Caleb going down the waterslide

The gang

Crazy-haired Avery and Owen hanging out

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Swimming!


With Caleb in tee-ball we wanted the girls to have some activity that they could do as well. At Avery's age we usually have the kids in some type of parent/child class. Our Y here doesn't offer tumbling like Caleb and Addie did with us in the past, so we have her in a swim class that she really enjoys! I have to admit that I was very surprised to see how quickly Avery picked up on the patterns of the class, which songs came next, what to do with the "props", etc. It's nice to have that one on one time with her as well. When Matt's home he goes into the pool with her and I know we both enjoy being able to be with her as well as just watching her enjoy something that's just hers.
Addison is in her second "solo" swim lesson, meaning it's just her and her peers and her teacher - no parents in the pool with her. I don't have any pictures of her first session (which she did right after her birthday) because she never budged off of the wall. This session, after spending plenty of time in the water this summer, she's much more comfortable. She's still shy, as you'll see in the pictures, but she is willing to try things to an extent and is comfortable trusting her teacher.