Tuesday, November 27, 2012

December could be a long month....

Putting up the Christmas tree with Daddy.  We began this endeavor one evening and had to finish in the morning, the boys were over the top with excitement!
There seemed to be at least a dozen hands in every box at any given time or at least it sure felt that way

It is hard to see it in these pictures, but at least 75% of our ornaments are located on the bottom half of the tree

Not sure exactly why, but Luke was facinated with hanging the breakable ornaments

They love to get under the Christmas tree.  Can you see all the ornaments at the bottom of the tree?

December will be a fun month, but it could be a long month for us as well.  The boys are super excited about the tree, decorations, lights, Santa, Jesus' birthday, and so on.  We put up our decorations over Thanksgiving break and they have asked at least once (per child) per day about when we can start moving Santa down the calendar to count the days until Christmas.  And we thought it would be easier with the tree this year?  It seems we just have new and different challenges.  I found Luke the other day standing on a chair reaching for the top of the tree to "fix" something.  The problem now is that they can open the child proof locks on the office and they love love love to "play" with the tree.  Santa's Elf on the shelf (aka Cowboy) has not made his arrival yet, but he will be here soon.  Very soon!
We hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  We had a wonderful time at a friends house.  This is actually the first Thanksgiving John and I have ever been to someone's house who was not part of our immediate family.  I didn't take pictures because it would be a little odd to snap pictures at someone else's Thanksgiving, but the boys had a blast.  The friends we spent the evening with have a two year old son and the boys loved all of his toys.  We had a great time and appreciated the invitation. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Hockey Rink

The work begins

The boys enjoyed helping Kevin and John
After a long day of work on the rink, we played with the i-pad

They asked Luke if he could sit there and hold that piece for them all day
Here is the Rink!  Now, we are just waiting on the temps to drop.  No hurry on winter as far as I am concerned.  The whole process actually didn't take to long with Kevin and John working on it together.

 Give Thanks
Over the weekend, we did something I never would have imagined myself doing.  I remember the first time we visited Minnesota, our real estate agent told me how people put ice rinks in their backyard during the Minnesota winters.  My first thought was, "really?  Is it that cold for that long?"  Well, five years later, I can assure you that the answer is YES and now we will be "those people."  Shortly after we moved here (before Luke and Liam were probably even walking), John and our neighbor/friend Kevin starting planning "our backyard rink."  We all agreed it was a bit early to put in a rink, but perhaps in a few years.  Fast forward a few years and the rationale that I given for the ice rink was something like this, "it will be a great way to teach the boys how to skate and have fun with the neighborhood kids."  I wasn't completely sold simply because every time we go skating we are ready to pack it up and get hot chocolate after about 5 minutes on the ice.  This is hardly enough time to justify putting on all that gear much less installing a rink in your own backyard.  On the day that John was planning to start building the ice rink, he was explaining the process to Luke and John said (very excitedly), "We are going to build an ice rink today so that you, Jack, and our neighbor friends can skate in the backyard!!"  Luke looked at John very confused and said simply, "Why?"  My thoughts exactly.  We are not big fans of hockey and we (John, myself, and the boys) barely even know how to skate!  But, I am told we will learn to skate and we will love it.  I am still not buying into the hockey craze in Minnesota that seems to require everyone's time and money, but I can see a few "pros" to building the skating rink.  The Bottom line is that we need winter activities and we need ways to burn energy and this seems to be a good one.  It gets us outside and hopefully we will learn to skate because that is important in Minnesota. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!  The boys have a long list of things they are thankful for and the list includes:  Daddy, Doggies (stuffed animals), Pillow, blanket, Friends, God and Jesus, Calvin, Foods, Toys, Games, Halloween Candy, Mommy, the I-pad, Toys, etc...  We are blessed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Annual Trip to Iowa

Eating some "acorns" for breakfast.  Charlene always comes up with really neat food for the boys to try.  The acorns were donut holes dipped in nutella with sprinkles on top and a pretzel sticking up.  They loved them!

Luke and Liam remembered this toy from previous years and it continues to be a big hit!
Charlene had lots of fun projects for us to work on

Charlene also helped us to mend some holes in a few things since Mommy doesn't do much sewing.  Liam's infamous dog went under the needle for a bit to mend a hole.

Luke loves to play memory and he is really good.  Just ask Grandma.

Uncle Tom helped the boys build a train

We took turns being the conductor and blowing the whistle

All Aboard!

This picture was taken by Aiden's teacher at school.  Its a little blurry because its from a cell phone, but here is Aiden the geologist!

We made our 3rd annual trip to Iowa over the weekend.  Apparently the Hawkeye football team is not having one of its better seasons so tickets were cheap and John and his Dad were able to enjoy a game in early November with temps in the 70's!!! 
Meanwhile, back at the home front, the boys and I were excited to see what all Charlene had planned this year.  We did a few crafts in the morning including making turkeys and some pictures with all types of stickers.  Charlene helped us mend several of our stuffed toys with holes and even a pair of Luke's jeans.  Grandma and Luke enjoyed several games of Memory while Liam and Aiden ran around "repairing" things in the house.  On the way to Iowa, the boys asked about the jack hammer toy above (the one Aiden is playing with), which has become a favorite for them.  We rearranged the Thanksgiving decorations in Charlene's house, tested out the foot rest on all her reclining chairs, and we "repaired" everything in the house with her tool set.  Thankfully, I am pretty sure nothing was permanently damaged.  We had acorns and breakfast cookies followed by fish shaped sandwiches for lunch.  After lunch, we made it to a local park and had a great time outdoors with the nice weather.  Later in the afternoon/evening, we decorated cupcakes and played with more toys until John and his Dad returned from the game. 
Another highlight for the boys was staying in the hotel.  Liam called it a "ho and tell" like "show and tell."  As we were leaving on Sunday, the boys thought we were going back to our "ho and tell house" rather than our house in Minnesota and they were pretty disappointed when we told them it was time to head home.  They negotiated and tried to convince us to leave them a few more days.  Apparently, we never do anything fun at home?  After some naps and a good night of sleep, we were good.  Glad they enjoyed seeing everyone and we appreciate all of Tom and Charlene's hard work to feed and entertain us!  See you next year!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Walking to the big pond to visit the geese.  The large pond in the distance will soon be frozen so solid that you could drive a car across it.

Trying to feed the geese that were completely uninterested in anything to eat

Since the geese wouldn't eat the bread, Luke did.  

Liam was persistent and finally got a few to eat his bread

Finding ways to burn energy indoors is a challenge, but this is one of our favorites in the basement!  It works great after a meal when they are running around like crazy cakes!!

Liam the Monster

Luke wanted me to take his picture too

Many times when I look back at previous posts, it is interesting to see what the boys were doing or saying at that particular time, what we were wearing (that maybe Aiden is wearing now or has outgrown), what the weather was like at that time of year, and how things have changed so much in a seemingly short period of time.  There are good times, ordinary days where things flow well, fun vacations and holiday trips, and periods where I want to freeze time and just enjoy it.   

When I looked back at previous Halloween pictures, it became a reminder that winter is coming.  Typically, we only have a few weeks after Halloween before it really really feels like winter is here to stay.  The temps get colder, the days get shorter, and the snow arrives.  Once we get a good snow, it typically doesn't melt until spring so I am always hopeful that we can postpone that first snowfall as long as possible.  The large pond in our neighborhood (see pictures above) will soon be frozen enough for a car to drive over it!  I never would have imagined this before I moved to Minnesota.  Where I grew up, we were lucky to have 6 inches of snow during our 1-2 months of "winter" and really lucky if it stuck for more than 24 hours! 

We have begun to find good ways to burn energy indoors.  We have our favorite open gyms and indoor play areas that certainly help.  Don't get me wrong, the boys love the snow and I have learned to enjoy as well.  We will still go outside even in the coldest months of winter, but its just a little more complicated when you have to put on snow pants, boots, hats, gloves, etc...I am always hopeful that no one has to use the bathroom 5 minutes after we get outside and that we will play longer than the time it takes me to get everyone dressed and out the door.

So, we are ready to enjoy these seasons of life and the frozen season of winter in Minnesota.  Ready or not, here it comes.