Thursday, May 31, 2012

Planting Carrots

Riding on the tire swing at a park with our twin friends Jack and Charlie
Liam was so proud of the numbers he practiced writing at school this week.  Way to go Liam!
No, we are not starting a garden yet.  Liam and Luke have a facination with growing things so we are trying to grow a few carrots in the backyard.  We will see how this goes.  All three boys will eat carrots or maybe I should say RANCH dressing with a few carrots.

Liam was literally dying to see what the seeds look like

Everyone helped plant the seeds
Planting the seeds
Luke found a few worms

We enjoyed a very nice Memorial Day holiday with the bonus of an extra day at home with John.  The boys always count how many days that daddy will be home each weekend and they were so excited to hear there would be THREE days at home with Daddy rather than just two.  The outdoor pool opened over the weekend and I must say that our initial pool trip was so much easier this year than last.  The hours we spent in swimming lessons over the winter paid off in dividends when we took the boys swimming over the weekend.  It might actually be a little more relaxing this year.  Well, maybe not relaxing to the point of sitting in a chair and reading a book, but at least not as stressful. 

We planted some carrot seeds in the backyard and we will see if they actually grow.  Luke and Liam are really excited about the idea, but don't seem to understand that this is going to take some time.  For the first few days, they checked the carrots each day and Liam cried huge tears when Aiden stepped (or stomped) all over the dirt where the carrots are "growing."  The novelty has worn off a bit now so perhaps the carrots will suprise us one day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Fun

 The boys are sparring with their Star Wars light sabres in the backyard with two of our neighbors. 

 And our very funny and talented neighbor, Chad, put this picture together after he took the one above.  Can you see the five boys in the middle?

 The boys are playing pretend baseball on the hottest day in MN since like last summer sometime.  The temps actually reached over 90 degrees!  It was short-lived like most of the heat waves here.

 Aiden is the pitcher

 We have taken the bikes to a couple parks recently and that is a way to wear Luke and Liam out for sure!  Luke was asking me to go home after this trip.
Dinner with Super Friends (Left to Right: Liam, Jack, Luke, Charlie, and AJ).  The only one missing is Baby Andy (Jack and Charlie's 8 mo. old brother) in his superman shirt

Luke and Liam planting some flowers
And this is what AJ was doing while we were planting flowers.  Note the car bumper with chalk on it.  Yes, we bought Aiden a flower to plant as well and we planted it.  After it spilled all over the car, that is. 

Despite some recent rain, we enjoyed a streak of really nice weather and had a lot of fun playing outside.  We are thankful to have several boys in our neighborhood that are basically the same age as the boys and we have enjoyed some nice play time every night after dinner which really helps with our bedtime routine/energy level.  Luke and Liam were really excited to plant flowers this year.  We took all three boys to the nursery and they each picked out a flower to plant in a small pot.  I am a little nervous about how much water these flowers have gotten recently, but we will see how they survive this summer.  We are a bit over zealous on the watering of our plants!  While John was away on a short guy's weekend trip, we enjoyed dinner with our favorite twin friends, Jack and Charlie, and we all wore our super hero shirts.  The boys all had so much fun.  Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cincy and Cali

We have had a busy week or so since I last posted.  We took a trip to visit John's family in Cincinnati for a few days and also combined another trip to celebrate our upcoming 10 year anniversary (in September).  John's sister, Jennifer, is turning 40 this year and to celebrate she wanted to run the Flying Pig Marathon relay with anyone in the family that was willing to participate.  So, we headed up for the marathon on Sunday and had a great time running with Russ, Jennifer, Dan, Jason, John, and myself along with a few of Dan's friends.  The weather was warm and sunny and the course was lined with lots of spectators.  Most importantly, Jennifer and Russ finished the relay together and everyone enjoyed celebrating afterwards.  Happy 40th Jennifer!!

After a fun-filled weekend of festivities with John's family, we headed out of town to celebrate our upcoming 10 year anniversary.  After much deliberation on what we would/could do, we decided on a trip to the California wine country.  We landed in San Francisco on Monday and spent a couple days touring Sonoma Valley on bikes and by car.  We loved the extra sleep, uninterrupted dinners, and time to relax and actually have extended and meaningful conversations (something that often does not happen here until the boys are in bed and then we are too tired!).  The landscape is gorgeous in this part of California with mountains, valley, and lots of vineyards.  We visited the redwood forest, several wineries, and stayed in a small town called Healdsburg.  The town was quaint with several shops and great restaurants. 

We are particularly thankful to John's family for taking such good care of the boys while we were away. During the 12 hour trip back to Minnesota, Luke kept reminding us that he wanted to stay in Ohio a little longer. The highlights of the week for the boys included trips to the Zoo, a local farm, the park, McDonalds, fishing, and a couple baseball games with Aunt Jennifer, Grandma, and Grandpa. After their naps and school for the older kids, the boys enjoyed playing with their cousins Zach and Seth (and Ace, the dog). Zach taught the boys how to play Angry Birds and I am pretty sure we will soon be investing in an i-Pad since they have only asked about it a couple hundred times! Aunt Ann, Caitlin, and Ella also provided some fun playtime for the boys and took them to the local children's museum. Since we returned from Ohio, the boys have not stopped talking about going to see Caitlin and Ella very very soon. Thank you all very much for your assistance with all three boys over the week!

 Luke, AJ, and Liam with Cousin Ella and Ace (the very tolerant dog)

Practicing Angry Birds with Cousin Zach

Dinner with Cousins

The whole family (all in green shirts for the marathon relay to celebrate Jennifer's 40th)

Fishing with Grandpa and Uncle Jason

At the Zoo (dressed in their matching green shirts which Jenni agreed makes it easier to keep up with them)

Playground and a Walk with Ace

Souvenirs from the Zoo with Aunt Jennifer.  Liam's giraffe is "Ace", Luke's is "Seth", and Aiden's frog is "Puppy."  Thanks again Jennifer!

We drove around in a convertible (and no carseats!)

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge heading to Sonoma Valley

Beautiful Coastline

 This was a super fun day, but a rather long bike ride after we kind of got lost.  We finally found the redwoods and made it back safely.  I was ready to be off the bike.

One of the wineries we visited called Ferrari Carrano with beautiful Italian architecture and gardens

Just a few wineries to visit in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County (the arrows are all pointing to various ones)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Luke's Special Date

 Luke's Progression Chart for good behavior.  Each star represents good behavior/good decisions and Luke got to put a star on each ball.  It took AWHILE to get there, but we finally made it.  FYI...the next chart requires about half as many stars. 

 Luke picked to go get ice cream with Daddy!

 Liam and Luke on a big rock at the park

 AJ loves to swing

Here is what the rest of us were doing while Daddy and Luke got ice cream.  They actually love to help clean house so I wouldn't say it was "work" necessarily.  Liam is great with the vacuum.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we recently began a very simple reward system for the boys.  They get to put a star on a progression chart when they make good decisions and show good behavior.  The stars "progress" towards a goal and then they receive a reward.  The stars are not for doing just the normal stuff like sharing, listening, picking up toys, etc..., but rather for doing things "above and beyond" what is expected of them.  For example, if they share something with their brother without having to be asked or if they picked up toys on their own without having to be reminded.  We did, however, decide midway through the most recent chart that we would have to start giving stars a little more liberally otherwise this process was going to take forever!  The first chart had 21 basketballs and the boys needed to put a star on each ball in order to move closer to the basketball goal.  It is often difficult to find things to motivate them, but they have been very motivated to make better choices with these charts and that has been fun to see.  The reward after completing their chart was to pick something they wanted to do alone with either John or I.  For example, they could go get ice cream, go to the grocery store, go to a park, read a book, play a game, take a trip to the library, etc...The goal of these rewards was two-fold:  one, it gives John and I a chance to be with each of the boys one on one; and two, it gives the boys some incentive for good behavior.  This week, Luke was the first one to reach his goal (Liam is currently one star away from his goal) so he was able to pick a reward.  He chose to go get ice cream with Dad and John said he never stopped smiling or talking the entire time. 

In other news this week, we had what will likely always be referred to as the "maple syrup incident" in future years.  John suggested I post this on the blog because years from now we will likely forget that it ever happened and because while this may seem "normal" to us, it might be humorous to others.  Well, John was at work when the incident happened, but I am pretty sure I will never forget in the years to come!  Nonetheless, we were downstairs in the basement after lunch and trying to burn off some energy yesterday.  It was very windy and a little rainy so we had the bounce house out and the boys were jumping around.  Even though the basement is a great space to play hockey or jump in the bounce house on yucky dates, it also has a lot of areas where the boys can't play.  Aiden is tricky in the basement because he typically does not do the bounce house for very long.  Yesterday was no exception when Aiden got out after jumping for maybe 5-10 minutes and started getting into things that he is not supposed to play with.  He climbed up the shelves in the downstairs refrigerator and found large bottle of maple syrup.  Once I saw what was in his hand, it was really too late.  It was a little like slow motion as he dropped the entire bottle of maple syrup on the concrete basement floor and it broke in several pieces spilling maple syrup everywhere.  Luke was crying because he was covered in syrup (as was his beloved doggy), Liam was crying because it was so loud, and Aiden was crying because he knew he was in trouble!  Let me tell you firsthand that maple syrup makes a huge sticky mess!!!  Not that you didn't already know that, but I have no pictures to prove it.