Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Love Daddy's Vacation...

One week down, and I'm sure no one will be surprised to read that we are still lovin' daddy's summer break. So many fun things to do; so much time to do it. Perfect. This past weekend, we had some good friends come to visit us from Indianapolis, Indiana. Elizabeth and I have been friends since we were little and our friendship has endured, even though we haven't lived in the same town since second grade. It was so great to see Liz, her husband Adam, and their two year old twins, Hannah and Noah. We tried to find lots of fun things to do, despite the crappy weather.
We went to Lake Huron in Bay City for a beach day. We all got soaked on the walk to the beach, but then the sun came out just in time. (This was after driving around Bay City for over an hour, looking for some indoor activities until the thunderstorm passed.) It was quite the adventure, but the kids had tons of fun playing in the sand. I think Anna and Ben-Ben were the only ones to go in, which was actually pretty gross from all the beach muck. Let's just say, it wasn't Lake Superior. *I have to give Adam credit for all the beach pictures. He has a great camera and great photography skills...thanks.*
Splashing around.
Beach babes.
Ben-Ben exploring the beach with daddy. I think one year olds in general are so stinkin' cute, and I'm particularly biased toward my own. They're still so little, and chubby, and baby-like in many ways. Yet, they act like they want to be little grown ups, walking around, being taken seriously. It cracks me up. (I also think that Ben looks like Charlie Brown a lot of the time.)
We went up to Frankenmuth to do some exploring, look through some shops, all while trying to avoid the rain. There was a war reenactment of Bunker Hill from the Revolutionary War. Ethan, Adam and Anna stayed to watch. Anna thought she'd be able to take part. But when she realized it was so loud, she changed her mind.
Of course we went to Bronner's. We couldn't let Liz and Adam pass up the chance to tour the largest Christmas store in the world. The picture of Elizabeth is posed. She kept getting so excited about all the cute Christmas stuff she was seeing, wanting to buy it all up, and I never had my camera ready. So, this was her re-enacting it...I forced her to. It turned out a little more crazy looking than excited.

And finally, more Children's Museum pictures. During the summer they have a whole outdoor section. Anna was of course drawn to the garden. (Ben, on the other hand, is drawn to the sandbox and big pile of dirt...trying to role around in each.) On a previous trip Anna was able to help plant some veggies and flowers, so in the picture above she's checking in on "her" tomato plants. For not having a garden of our own, and for Anna being so in to gardening, we've found lots of opportunities this summer. Finally, the last picture of Anna is her enjoying her favorite exhibit. It's called Camp Bowinkle, and Anna loves to pretend she's camping. So, there are a few of the fun things we did this week. We're taking a few days to prepare, then we're off to Marquette.


So, what's with all the pictures of myself??? Well, I got a haircut a few weeks ago, and I loved it. I've been getting a version of this haircut for a few years now, but I'm really bad at describing it. (I also let it go for much longer than I should in-between cuts...mainly for budgeting reasons.) I'm not very picky, but sometimes it turns out cuter than others. And I don't regularly see the same person. I mainly go for free, or cheap. My mom has cut this style on me and it's turned out great, but this time I went to Smart Style at Wal-mart. Like I said, I'm not picky and mainly go for price.
I loved how this one turned out...the angle, the amount of bangs, how short it's stacked in the back. So, I thought I'd take some pictures so I don't have to worry about describing it in the future. I've been trying to decide if I should grow my hair out one last time. It hasn't been past my shoulders since Anna was about six months old. I think longer hair is harder to keep cute, and is more time consuming. Mainly I find myself wearing ponytails everyday when it gets long. The cut pictured above, however, is super simple. Just wash and blow dry...I don't even use a round brush. (When it's air dried, it looks okay-ish too.) But I feel like if I don't grow it out now, I never will. What to do, what to do? Hmmm, what a long, self-centered blog. Oops! I guess I'm just trying to talk through my decision making process.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The New Park...

Let me just start off my weekly journal entry with a huge shout out to my sweetie - CONGRATULATIONS ETHAN!!! I'm so excited that he is finished with the first year of his Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Eth did a great job, good grades, good feedback, etc. The last four weeks of his summer term just about killed us though - me being alone with the kids so much, and Ethan using every spare second to study, write papers, work on presentations, and all that jazz. But we both made it, and at 11:45 am on Friday the 17th, Ethan completed his first year. So, what do we plan on doing with this five weeks of glorious, blissful summer vacation? Regroup, catch up, long trip to Marquette, fun with friends, but most importantly...lots and lots of family time. Like our little trip to the park on Friday.

This is a park I previously mentioned. I LOVE this park because there is so much space, and I can always see my mischievous little Benjamin. The pictures above show the wide, open space pretty well, with Ben-Ben wandering around in both of them. It's not like I ignore him the whole time, but it's very convenient to let him explore on his own too.
I love this certain playground apparatus shown below. It's so fun. Just get a running start, and with the tilted angle, you just keep going around and around...well, as long as you can hold on. Ah, to feel like a kid again.

Anna didn't want to get in any of our park pictures; she was too busy playing. BUT, I have a few funny stories about her. Yesterday, Anna watched the Disney movie, Mulan, for the first time. We got it from the library. She LOVED it, especially the action scenes. Anna has been imitating the fight scenes. She pretends the rest of us are the Huns - the bad guys from the movie who invade China. Benjamin makes a pretty good Hun. :) So, today at church, Anna kept pretending everyone around her were Huns...she would not stop. And since she doesn't whisper, it was a little awkward. She takes her make believe play very seriously.
Second story: At church during the primary time for kids, the leaders were trying to find out if it was anyone's birthday that week, so they could sing to them and give them a treat. Anna says, "Excuse me, I'm going to have my birthday in Marquette because then I will be four." The leader says how special that will be and starts to move on to other announcements. Then Anna says, "Excuse me, my mom doesn't know how to make a birthday cake, so my Grandma Susan is going to make it for me." The teachers and primary leaders thought that was pretty funny. I just had to clarify to them - I've made numerous, delicious cakes and cupcakes and cookies and banana bread, and brownies, and other baked goods...I just don't know how to decorate cakes all fancy like my mom. There's a difference, I'll just have to explain that to Anna.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This is good...

As an added bonus to this week's journal of our happenings, I thought I'd throw in this little video. It was taken in May, but I just never got around to posting it. Here's a little background: Ethan has a big, loud laugh. I love it. It's contagious. Note: The laugh he is doing in this video is not his real laugh...he's just trying to get Ben to go along with him.

The laugh Benjamin is doing in this video is his "fake laugh." I think it could also be accurately described as Ben's impression of Ethan's laugh. He laughs like this when other adults are laughing, and he has no idea what is going on. Ben has toned down his fake laugh over the last few months, but he still has his real, sincere laughter, and then something like what is shown in this video. It cracks me up! His face looks like he's in pain. Ahhahahahaha!

Some randomness...

I can't believe I didn't take any pictures this week. These oldies from June will just have to do for this week's post:
I LOVE when my kiddies play together, laugh together, and have fun together. But my favorite is when they are helping each other. Anna asked if she could feed Benjamin some cereal on this particular morning. So sweet. Sometimes Anna plays "baby games" with Ben that I know she secretly enjoys too, and sometimes Anna reads books to Benjamin. (Anna has many of his board books memorized because they are so short, and she hears them all the time...we read them to her when she was little.)
Ben also helps out Anna. Usually it is in the form of him sharing a toy or book...whether she wants it or not. But he has started to help Anna pick up toys when he notices Anna doing it. And I guess this last thing isn't really helpful, but Benjamin gives the sweetest hugs, and he gives them to Anna all the time. Ben's equivalent of a hug is when he lays his head on you. He walks up and lays his head on your arm, or leg, or anything that is reachable. It's soooooo sweet. He does this to Anna when she is upset or sad. Just melts my heart.
Of course they have plenty moments of unkindness too...but that isn't what I'm blogging about right now. Okay, okay, I'll give you an example. When Anna is watching a movie, Ben-Ben often sneaks up and turns off the TV, then runs away laughing. Anna does not like that one bit. And Anna often shuts the door to her room right in Ben's face. He always wants to be where she is, so this definitely hurts his feelings. Anyway...

The first picture above is one of Ben-Ben's favorite hiding spots. The only problem is...he usually gets stuck in there and then needs help out. The second picture shows Anna snuggled up in Ben's baby swing. Both the kids came back from our trip to Marquette with bad colds. So sad. This is how Anna likes to be when she's sick...snuggled up nice and cozy, watching movies.
Despite not having the pictures to show it, we did some fun, new things this week. We found a new park a few minutes from our house that is just perfect for us. It is located behind a school, has lots of equipment, is set in a humongous field, and is all fenced in. It's perfect because Ben-Ben can wander around, staying in sight, without the possibility of escape, and I can play with Anna. Not to imply that I ignore Ben the whole time.
Today we went to a lake in Flint called Blue Bell Beach. The beach was gross...well, probably typical of an inland lake, but Lake Superior has skewed my opinion of how clean a lake should look before I, or my children, will swim in it. Anyway, right next to the lake there was playground equipment, AND a splashpad. (A splashpad is like a whole bunch of cool looking sprinklers, spouts, fountains, etc. for kids to run through.) Anna and Benjamin loved it. They also loved chasing the seagulls in a huge, grassy field. Fun, fun. I think we'll be back there often...and I'll be sure to take pictures next time. :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh, Say Can You See...

So, the Fourth seemed a little anti-climactic this year. I think we all missed being in Marquette for this holiday. It's just hard to beat watching the fireworks over Lake Superior, not to mention all our family up there. Despite that, it was a BEAUTIFUL day, and we had some fun. I love doing little holiday themed things with Anna because she gets so excited for any type of celebration. We did some 4th of July crafts this week. She's in the middle of figuring out what patriotism is, what a country is, and why a flag can be so significant. Speaking of flags, notice the cake Anna and I made today. She LOVED this. She even did the entire last row of strawberries without any help...and wanted them facing a different way, but did manage to keep a straight line. :) I think I saw it in a magazine: cake mix, cool whip topping, then add the stars and stripes. So fun! So yummy! I think this will become a tradition.

We got all decked out before heading down to the little festival our town was having. Anna was very excited about the bows on her piggy-tails. I was excited that the kid's "patriotic" shirts still fit them from last year. (Ben-Ben's was huge on him a year ago because size 12 months was the smallest they had. :) Anna noticed Ethan wasn't as patriotic as the rest of us, so she gave him a little suggestion: "I know Daddy, why don't you get a hat with stars on it. Because that's what the 4th of July is all about." Hmmm. Like I said, she's still learning about this holiday.

The town festival was small, but had a few things that caught our attention. The dunk tank confused Anna. She was most excited about the bounce house, but she also found the war/army display interesting too. Anna crawled through the tent, marveled at the machine gun, and tried throwing a grenade (which was pretty heavy). In the middle picture above, you can see a man demonstrating how to loft a grenade through the air. He then let Anna have a turn, and she somehow managed to throw it directly behind her. Luckily no one was hit with it. Ethan and I were excited to get an elephant ear to share...until we realized it was $4. Geez people! (I know that's probably a typical price for "fair food," but we were caught off gaurd anyway.)

I love pictures of my two babies together. Ahhh...such cuties!

After a yummy dinner - brats, corn on the cob, fresh cherries, carrots, sun chips and cake - we went out for some sparkler/smoke bomb fun. I LOVE Anna's expression in the first picture. Benjamin just wanted to try to grab the sparklers. Finally, he gave up on that, and went to find some pine cones and bark to eat. He is such a naughty pants!
We ended up the day with some stories and a bath time. The kiddies were pretty exhausted, and were in bed at 7:25...five minutes before bedtime. Nice. We told Anna we'd wake her up when it was time for some fireworks, and we will; we're just hoping that she's too tired to go watch. (We can see them right next to our apartments if she so chooses. One of us could take her out to the big grassy hill.) Ethan and I plan on having a very much anticipated date night (a rented movie and snacks) after an exhausting, physically/ mentally/emotionally draining week for us. But enough about that...Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!