Thursday, April 28, 2011

How We Got Them A Hoop

Noah asked the other day if he could have a basketball for his birthday. I told him that it would be silly to have one since we don't have a hoop. He said he wanted one so he could play with it at recess. We have been debating the best way to get the boys a basketball hoop for ages, including going round and round about where we would put it if we got one. Between the cost of between $150 and $200, it just wasn't going to happen any time soon.

But when I was going through the things we were going to put into their Easter baskets last week, I decided to use the refund I got at Toys R Us for a recalled product we had to get them a basketball to share at school. Since they have separate recess times and their lockers are pretty much right by each other, I figured it would work out fine.

So I went and got the ball and wrapped it up and hid it downstairs.

Then came Friday night when I had a huge epiphany. Why not check Craig's List for someone who no longer used their hoop. I found a couple of ads but nothing that seemed like it work. So I decided to post a wanted item post of my own. In less than an hour, I got a response from someone who lives about 40 minutes away willing to give us theirs for $25. I immediately called Steve at work to see if he could get his work truck to pick it up and we could surprise the boys Easter morning.

He called me back soon after telling me that when he was asking his co worker about borrowing the truck, the co-worked responded saying that we could have their old hoop for free as long as we wanted to come pick it up.


So Steve showed up at home Saturday morning after work with his work truck and a "new" basketball hoop. The boys were so excited but distressed that the net looked so awful (it was ripped, nasty, and hanging there by a string). They also were bummed that we didn't have a basketball. Apparently, none of the other 20 balls in our garage would cut it. So I packed them up and headed them to Target for a new net.

And the inevitable question came..."Mom, don't you think we need a ball?"

So I got one ball and they were both incredibly puzzled as to why we were only getting one ball. I wasn't sure if I should tell them that there was already another ball in the basement wrapped in pretty Easter wrapping paper.

But, soon after we got home, it became clear that Easter was going to come a day early and I brought out basketball number two for them.

The rim has one broken hook...but hubby the "cable guy" solved that problem very quickly with a cable tie. The dilemma then arose about location for the hoop. We have a very narrow driveway on a busy street very close to the neighbor's fenced in yard that is covered in dog poop from their three dogs. The hoop moved several times before finding a place that might work for awhile.

The day was spent playing ball off and on all day. MANY balls passed over the fence and needed to be retrieved. Another issue arose when the the balls strayed into our own backyard, that has temporary fencing up to keep Lily in. So in order to play, we have to keep the garage door down, but each time the ball strays into our backyard, Noah has to lift the garage door for retrieval. Not the most ideal situation, but the benefits definitely outweigh the obstacles.

The last four days have been rainy yucky outside, but each time there has been a clearing, one or both of the boys have been out the door to play ball.

This was an awesome little blessing that came our way and we certainly couldn't beat the price!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Aaron Eats a Chocolate Bunny

"Is Mommy really going to sit there and take pictures while I eat this entire bunny?

"Mommy, I'm eating the ears off. Are you gonna stop me???"

"Whoa...there's a big hole in the middle of this rabbit!"

"Can't waste a single crumb. Better pour it out so I can eat those pieces next.

"I'll use this lid so I don't miss any more pieces"

"Mom, look...the entire back is gone. I REALLY get to keep going?"

"This is SERIOUS work. Not so sure this was such a good idea....but I'm still goin"

"This was bigger than it looked!"

"I'm SOOOO exhausted"


"Can have another one?"

Note: one of the funny thing sis that during this entire ten to fifteen minute adventure, neither Aaron nor I said a word. It was complete silence during the entire time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photo Shots

Easter weekend has passed. We had some time together as a family which is always cherished. I wanted to share some great shots I captured over the weekend. We haven't done professional pictures of the family in so many years that I can't even count. It seems like they never quite capture the personalities when we try. The family picture we have on our wall in the living room is one that a friend took of us at our old church two years ago on Easter day. It was really an amazing picture that stayed clear even when I enlarged it to an 8X1o and to date one of the best we've ever gotten of the four of us together. We kind of joked throughout the week that it has been two years and we really should get a new picture. It seems as if Easter will always manage to be "our" weekend for good family shots. Out neighbor took one of us outside as we were getting ready to head out to church. I thought it was pretty good until I noticed Aaron's eyes closed but it was still so cute that I thought it would be our winner. But then I had my MIL take one of us while we were up there in their back yard. I think it will be the new family portrait for awhile.

I got a good one of the boys too. As we were attempting pictures outside, I zoomed in closer I love the result. Yes, Noah's glasses are halfway down his nose, but the picture is just so sweet and it may just go on the wall too :)

Just wanted to share. Have a great day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Is Coming

It's Easter weekend. I really haven't made much of a thing at all about Easter with the kids this year. Of course we've talked about the real purpose of Easter, but we haven't done any of the "traditions", such as coloring eggs, planting flowers, making Easter crafts, etc. It just never seemed to fit into our plans this year. And the kids never mentioned it either.

So when Noah reminded me this morning that this weekend was Easter, it made me think that maybe I was taking something away from them from not making too big of a deal about the "traditional" side of the holiday.
Noah First Easter, 2003

Actually, this was quite intentional. After Christmas two years ago and then again this past year, events that I never shared to the blog world made me really think that we need to tone down some of the build up to these holidays, which is making the boys only care about what they get. In the past we have usually given them their Summer toys for Easter (including the year Noah needed a new bike) since no one has spring birthdays. But it has risen Easter in the boys' minds as a "present" holiday. So I had planned to tone things down this year. But then I realized that I can't just magically take away what they know to be Easter to suit my own needs. And I am excited to have found a few inexpensive but fun gifties that I know they will love. The only difference will be that I am not making a basket for Steve and me this year. I am working on weight loss and I did get a few sweets for Steve that I can just slip to him :)

Aaron's First Easter, 2005

But in all reality, quite a lot will be different this year. It will be our first Easter in our new church, since last year we were still in "search mode" on Easter. Also, we are spending Easter with my in-laws for the first time. And then this afternoon I was informed that my MIL has made baskets for them as well and she has filled eggs and is planning to hide them. Now, I do appreciate that she wants to have a fun Easter day with the kids, but then I was left to wonder, how do we carry on any of our family Easter morning"traditions" (such as our own backyard egg hunt and them opening their baskets from us) without it seeming like just doubling up? And as awkward as it will be to spend the holiday with the in-laws (as all holidays with them are) I need to stay positive and excited for the children's' sake.

So Steve and I spent some time talking about the weekend ahead, trying to figure out how to work it all in without feeling rushed. And believe it or not, I am actually starting to get really excited about our "plan"

Our church has been holding Saturday night services for the last nine months now and they have asked as many of the regular attenders on Sunday morning to go to Saturday night Easter in order to open seats up for visitors on Sunday morning. Now, saying "He Is Risen" Saturday night may feel very strange, but when we started talking about we decided to do "our" Easter here at home on Saturday and then have a second Easter with the in-laws Sunday afternoon. It really isn't any different than going to church Christmas eve and then doing presents Christmas morning. I will be hiding eggs in the backyard tomorrow afternoon and we will do a night search when we get home from church, let the boys open their baskets from us Sunday morning, and then head up for an afternoon of in-law "pleasantries". A full Easter weekend.

Not the same, but still hopefully special in everyone's eyes.

Now let's just hope the weather holds for us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend Thoughts

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted here. Trying to figure out how to get everything done during the week is still a work in progress. There are a few things on my mind tonight as I get ready for the week.

Aaron has a field trip this week. One that I volunteered to drive for before I got the Gymboree job. His teacher emailed me about a week ago to see if I could still drive for it. I went ahead and got the afternoon off and then saw that the teacher had sent out another note thanking the moms who were driving and I was left off the list. Between this and not being able to do lunch anymore, I feel like I'm losing touch with school and the kids. I thought that I had a pretty good relationship with the teachers but it seems like since I can't be as involved anymore, I don't matter as much. Kind of feeling sad about that.

Aaron is in the middle with the red sweater with white stripes during his song in church this morning.

In happier news, we realized that we have now been at our "new" church for a year. The boys joined the entire Sunday School and sang in front of church this morning. It was very cute and I was very proud of them. They are learning so much, just as we are and it is such a wonderful place. I am really looking forward to the Easter service next week. If it's anything near as powerful as the Christmas Eve one was then it should be a morning to remember. They are adding an extra early morning service which is the only one with an egg hunt for the kids so we will try to get up for that.

Noah (the one in green) during the song this morning. Look how tall he is!

I was sick this weekend with a monster cold which should make singing all morning tomorrow to little kids interesting. I am usually not this sick with a simple head cold so this is pretty miserable. Steve even took the boys to a Dove family movie (free) this afternoon (Alpha and Omega) so I could sleep for awhile and my head is still pounding. But at least this week I am finally out of "training" mode and allowed to teach on my own without someone watching over me taking notes. It will definitely be a much improved week.

Got lots of things running through my mind. I'm heading to bed now in hopes that my puffy eyes may magically return to normal by 8 AM tomorrow morning.

Have a good week.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So yesterday I posted about all of the adventures leading up to out main point of going to Chicago for Spring Break, but never got to the main event.

Back in December on Christmas vacation was when Steve and I had realized that we hadn't gone anywhere as a family during the entire year and that no matter what we had to do something for Spring Break. Because of finances, we were of course limited so we figured a trip to Legoland Discovery Center in Chicago would be fun since we'd never been there and legos had been a big request that year. I had talked to my SIL since she had been there and she said it was a fun place. And then, a short time before we went, I found out that my sister was also planning to take my two nephews there the same week as well. Since my other nephew wasn't on spring break but had a half day on that Wednesday, plans were made and we all decided to meet at Legoland and have fun together. We were laughing because it all just happened to come together rather than a big planning session, which is probably why it all worked out so well. I got a lot of great pictures of groups of cousins that I can't share here, but they were awesome. I even posted a couple of them on the Legoland site :)

The first section was Miniland, which was a huge rendition of the entire Chicago lakeshore. It was so detailed. Noah thought it was pretty cool on one end where they could actually touch controls and move some of the pieces in a construction area. It was also neat because every five minutes or so, the lights went out and it turned into "night".

Moving on, we went through a path and then landed at Dragon Quest, a little ride similar to the Winne the Pooh ride at Disney World where you rode around in a little car and saw the different lego creations in a cave like setting. The kids really enjoyed this ride and at the end of the day went through over and over again, mixing up the combinations of which kids rode in groups of four. Unfortunately we let them ride one time too many and had some drama, but it was short lived and not something we're not going to dwell on.

After the ride we headed upstairs to lego mania. We headed to the "factory" . It was a model of the factory where legos were made. The lady who described the process was very silly and the boys loved her. Each of the kids got a chance to push a big red button making one of the processes begin. Did you know that yellow legos were the first ones made? Anyway, the only disappointment here was that we thought that the kids were going to receive a lego souvenir from the factory since I had read it somewhere and they didn't, which made Noah sad for about a millisecond.

After the factory, we finally met up with my sister in the main building area. There were several areas where kids could build vehicles of different sorts and try to run them down two different test tracks. All of the kids took their turns at making cars and trying to run them. It was a challenge to find wheels to use but I don't think anyone was sad from it. I was actually impressed that Aaron sat down to make a car, since he is usually a little less interested in following through on things like that.

Right near there was the other ride. It was a simple kiddie ride with planes that flew around in a circle. Aaron rode it over and over again, again with different groupings of people each time. He even rode it once with Daddy, which was very cute. I think we went on a good day since they never had to wait for too long before it was their turn to ride and I think all of the kids were able to ride it as many times as they wanted.

We then headed to the 4D movie. I got an adorable picture of the cousins with their 3D glasses on. The movie was about 20 minutes and the kids loved it. I think they would have stayed and watched it again if we'd let them. It was funny watching Aaron because every time something came at us, he held out his hands as if to block it. So cute.

At the end of our adventure, it was finally time to stop in the gift shop and spend the souvenir money that Grandma had given them. Noah was so excited to finally get a Ninjago set and Aaron built his own lego clown guy and got a little car to race him around in. I know this was a good trip because it was the first time that we visited anywhere that Noah didn't spend the entire time we were there asking when we would go to the gift shop.

On our way out, we decided to go back to my SIL's for dinner before heading out for home. The kids had a good time just relaxing and eating yummy pasta and chicken cacciatore. Finally after ice cream sundaes, it was time to say goodbye to our 36 hour adventure away. As we headed out to the car for the three hour drive home, we snuggled the boys into their seats under their blankets with their buddies and looked up. The sunset was beautiful, bringing a nice close to a memorable family day.

I keep seeing all of the status updates of all of the in laws and their annual exotic trips to warm places for their wonderful spring break adventures. Yes, that would be nice someday to take a real vacation again like everyone else. But for now, I can remember that we gave the boys a fun day away at someplace new and they will have memories of us being together, whether we travel three hours away or thirteen.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Break Trip 2011

Spring Break 2011 is almost over. We are recuperating from our whirlwind overnight adventure to the Chicago suburbs and our trip to Legoland Discovery Center. I am sure if you have boys (yes, I know some girls too) then you have experienced the euphoria that can overcome them when they start building with legos. Since we haven't done a vacation in a couple of years and we're looking at a few more before we can even think about it again, we thought we could at least take an overnight and have a small family getaway.

The first thing that made this trip possible was my parents offering to not only allow us to borrow their van, but also dog-sit for us so we didn't have to worry about Lily being left behind. The second was a generous offer from a blog friend to get us a hotel room at a family rate since her family member worked for the hotel chain. We were so thrilled at the offer and were lucky to take her up on it. The first snafu happened when we got to the hotel and they had our reservation, but absolutely NO RECORD of it having been paid for. There was no way we were going to tell the boys that we had to turn around and go home and we took the cash that we had brought for food for the trip and paid for the room again. I am still praying that she will be able to get her money back from this disaster :( I feel so guilty about it.

But at least we did finally get settled in our room and the boys were itching to hit the pool. The pool was very small and shallow and we had it to ourselves all three times that we swam which was fun. After about an hour or so everyone seemed to be slowing down and we decided it was time to dry off and find something to eat. We visited the pool twice more over the course of the eighteen hours at the hotel. The second of the three was the most eventful, being that Noah was swimming along the bottom and while trying to do the butterfly, scraped his nose and banged his head on the bottom of the pool. He came up crying and holding his nose and for a short time I feared we were going to visit an ER during this family trip. Luckily a goose egg between his eyes and some nose scrapes were the only damage incurred.

We headed out to the nearby mall, a very large and fun place that I hadn't visited in a long time. We wandered a bit trying to figure out what we were going to do about dinner. We decided that we were going to be able to do one meal at a restaurant and settled on Red Robin in the mall. After dinner, we wandered a little more on the way back. We stopped near the Rainforest Cafe so the kids could see all of the animatronics there and Aaron loved to lay in the pretend "rain" that was coming down. We also stopped at the lego store in the mall so the boys could scope out what souvenirs they might want to get the following day.

We finally settled into our room for the night. I had brought snacks, which included microwave popcorn and sugar free pudding so the boys thought it was pretty cool to be lying in bed eating snacks. Given that the TV had 20 sports channels and basically nothing else, we turned all lights off by 8:30. Unfortunately, we're not used to all of us in one room and between rustling of blankets and Daddy's snoring, it took several hours for anyone to find sleep. So going to bed that night, I was thinking about our trip so far...messed up reservation that now left us with no money, major face smack for Noah, and kids deciding not to fall asleep until after 10:00. This was looking to be a wonderful trip!

Luckily, the morning dawned and we all woke in good moods. I had brought the makings for PB&J sandwiches and bagels and cream cheese along with OJ bottles for breakfast in our room so that we could have food before we headed out to swim one more time, rather than having to spend money on going out for breakfast. This was the start of a better day. Everyone ate great and we spent the longest time at the pool that morning. Noah was a little more pool-shy this time around and spent most of the time poolside or in the hot tub. Aaron the Fish Boy was of course going strong long after I took Noah back up to the room to get ready for our big day.

By the time we checked out, we were ready for lunch. Knowing we needed to stick with low budget, we decided to try to find our favorite chain restaurant, Noodles and Company. After looking it up in the GPS, it said the nearest one was 20 miles away, including two toll roads. But since we had almost two hours before we had to meet our other family members at our main destination for the day, we figured we might as well go with it. Long story short...sometimes GPS guidance isn't the best way to go. When we got there, it was a run down old building that looked like it was boarded up about ten years ago. Not exactly what we thought. So we re-set the GPS to take us aback to exactly where we had come from and find SOMETHING there. We settled at Chipotle, another favorite, even though the boys don't love it much. Once again, we broke out the PB&J and another successful meal was achieved.

FINALLY, we were ready to head to the main vacation destination...Leogoland Discovery Center. This was the whole point of the trip. But now that I wrote about all the other stuff leading up to now, this post is WAY too long. So I will save Legoland for next time. In short though, all of the crazy ins and outs of getting to the apex of our trip were all worth it. We had a very fun time at Legoland. It was awesome that we ended up there with my two sisters and our kids together, who all adore each other. I can't wait to share more about that part of our trip, since it was great. But time.

Thanks again to Melissa for helping us get this trip together. I really really really hope we can figure it all out so you get your money back :( We really do appreciate all you did to make this happen for us.

Stay tuned...