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Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Dinos

For a few years I've been thinking about doing this Elf on a Shelf for the boys. But the more I look at it, the creepier he seems to me. But this year there was a thing floating around the interwebs of a family who had "Dinovember", in which the kids' plastic dinos did pretty much the same thing the Elf does at Christmas time. You know, getting into stuff, making messes, and causing mischief while the kids sleep. So I ventured to do the same for my boys this year. I picked up plastic dinosaurs at Wal-mart for a buck a piece on black Friday. Then started collecting ideas for what these guys would be doing during their stay at our house.

We made their introduction on St. Nick's day with the gifting of the boys' stockings. In them, they each received a new pair of gloves (just in time because it snowed that morning), a pack of orange bubble gum, and a surprise from their new friends, the Christmas Dinos. The Dinos had left a letter for the boys explaining how they would be up to mischief each night while they sleep and they would find them in the mornings. They also made a Christmas countdown chain for the boys to put together and hang. I LOVED the excitement on their faces when they discovered these surprises! They were so genuinely thrilled at such a small gesture!

So here's a recap (in photos) of some of the shenanigans the Dinos were up to as we counted down to Christmas 2013.
Busted sneaking candy from the dish!
Riding the Christmas Train around Grandma's tree!
Making a huge mess with the boys' cereal! And helping themselves to some!
Defacing our family photos! (Elijah COULD NOT STAND to see this! He cried. Then he insisted that we clean the picture frames immediately!)

Constructed a Trio Block City on the kitchen table!
Colored Christmas pictures in the boys' new coloring books!
Played Chutes & Ladders
Worked Puzzles!
Stole candy canes off the tree and ate them!
Rode Zeke's tricicle outside. It was freezing so they wore their scarves which Grandma Debby made them!
Helped Mom make coffee in the morning!
Made a mess helping wrap Christmas gifts!
Watched a Movie and ate popcorn.
Played in the snow, went sledding, had a bonfire and roasted marshmallows!
This was one of the most fun Christmas traditions we've done yet. I loved planning it and sneaking downstairs while the boys were sleeping to get it all ready. And I loved seeing their happy faces each morning when they discovered the Dinos!  We'll definately be repeating the Dino tradition next year!

Monday, December 2, 2013


A few nights ago, while I was washing dishes and my boys were looking for some entertainment, I introduced them to the joys of percussion.
Armed with only 2 sets of chopsticks, a muffin tin turned upside-down, and a few cups, they performed concert after concert for each other in the stairwell while I kept busy in the kitchen.

It went like this: Zeke, seated on the bottom step w/his "instruments" a few steps above, would tap the chopsticks together and count off "a one, two, free, four", then bang, clang, and clink his way through one musical number then another. When he felt finished, he'd turn to Elijah (who had been seated in a little chair beside the stairs) and say "Now you cwap fo me Yai-jah!" At which time Elijah would clap politely and say a few kind words like "nice job Zeke" or "Woohoo". Zeke would then turn and wave, saying "fank you, fank you, fank you". And on and on it went. They took turns, switching places, alternatively clapping and cheering for each other.
45 minutes later, Elijah was tired of the routine but Ezekiel was not. So he employed Manny as his new audience member. And the pattern repeated again.

And that is how I kept the children out of my hair while I cleaned the kitchen. {I wish I had a photo, but my hands were soapy.}

The End.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Yesterday my sweet date and I headed out for an afternoon of concert-going with beautiful music played by the Philharmonic Orchestra and phenomenal acrobatics by Cirque de Symphony.

Now, Elijah and I have been to lots of Orchestra concerts, but this was by FAR the most amazing thing we've ever watched! We were on the edges of our seats, cheering, and gasping during each routine.

Seriously, seriously, great show! And beside the entertainment, he and I had a really special time together just talking about what was on his mind.

I love that he loves orchestra music. I love that he gets excited and bouncy in his seat with the big bass drum bangs. I love that he points to the different sections of musicians and tells me what instruments they are playing and why each one is his favorite. I love that he's amazed by the strings section and how quickly they play and perfectly synchronized they are. I love that the music moves him the way it moves me. He is a child after my own heart when it comes to these things.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mud In Your Eye

On a steamy-warm day in October I left my boys with my parents while I went on a photo shoot. (6-month-old twins... yikes!)

My Dad had closed the pool the weekend before and discovered a drainage pipe problem. So he and the boys set to work digging up the pipe. Consequently creating an awesome muddy play environment. Now my boys love a good project as much as the next kid. So they worked hard and played dirty. So dirty, in fact, that when I returned to pick them up THIS is what they looked like.

I think its a childhood rite of passage. Every kid has to be covered head-to-toe in mud at some point between the ages of 1 and 12. Maybe more than once. This was not Zeke's first time. And knowing him, it won't be his last.

It was all fun and dirty games until somebody got mud in his eye. After that there was much suffering on Zeke's part and apologizing on Elijah's part, because it turns out Elijah thought Zeke wouldn't mind if he smeared it on his face and into his ears. For the record, Elijah was wrong about that.
And then I stripped them naked on the porch and carried them by their armpits to the shower.
Good times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cali folks

Manny's parents came to Indiana for a short visit (very short - only 6 days). We did as much fun stuff as we could in the time they were here. The boys loved having their California grandparents around. My sweet Zeke cried and cried and cried the saddest tears when they left for the airport. He was sobbing so hard I could barely understand him saying "I want to go to Ca-fornia wif Gammaw Goria". Poor, sweet little boy. It's hard for them to understand why we can't see them often like we do w/my parents.

We spent an entire day this time making tamales from scratch. We boiled the peppers for several hours, strained, blended, strained 3 more times, then blended again until it was smooth and perfect. Then cooked the beef, made the masa, steamed the husks, shredded the beef, then assembled them by hand, wrapped them in the husks and steamed them. I tried one and I'm just not a fan. But Manny was crazy about them. I think after a whole day's work we ended up with maybe 40 tamales. It's so much work for that! It was more about the experience of making them and for me it was good to learn.

Gloria, Manny, and I took the boys to the zoo one day. Elijah had been asking to ride the big duck paddleboat every time we've gone, so we all road the boats. Manny and Elijah went in the duck one and Gloria, Zeke, and I went in a regular one. They boys totally loved it!

Gloria and I took the boys over to the river park in Henderson one afternoon too. That's always fun to play in the fountains.

Of course, we swam at Mom's a few times, and ate every Mexican dish we could think of. Enchilada's one night, flautas another, then tamales, then burritos. Plus we went to Los Bravos. We also took Gloria to Gerst Haus for a little of my own heritage - German food.

Another evening we had a family shindig at my parent's house and I made everyone cooperate for family photos. They didn't want to! The guys all grumbled, but too bad! It's not often that I get pictures of all of us together! Especially since we only get to see his family once a year! So, then said cheese in the hot hot hot humidity until they thought their faces would melt. :)

Manuel wasn't able to get out and about this time. He has a sore on his foot that won't heal. The diabetes makes for poor circulation, plus his feet hurt a lot. So he just stayed home and we girls ran around town w/the kids. And that's about it. A short and sweet visit. We hope to go out to California some day. But who knows. It's so expensive for all of us to fly, plus the time off work w/no paid vacation. We'll see. Maybe in 2015. :(

The End. Until next time.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Best Day in the History of Elijah's Life {according to him}

A few nights ago, when it was almost bed time, we called a family meeting in Zeke's room. Because I knew as soon as we told the boys that the long-awaited trip to Holiday World was happening THIS FRIDAY, there would be a stream of questions such as "how many hours until we go?", "how long will it take to get there?", "may I bring Little Duck?", "which rides are we going on first?", etc.  So we waited until nearly the last minute in order to avoid the torture for ourselves and them. It was just enough time for their anticipation to grow, but not too much to drive us all bananas.

So this was it. The day we've been talking about for the past 6 months. I don't think Elijah slept last night. Bless his little 5-year-old heart, I know how that excitement feels and he handled it very well. Naturally this was all we've talked about since the big announcement. We got on the Holiday World website and looked at all the rides to determine which ones he would be tall enough to ride.  We had a plan and were ready to go!
But first, I had agreed to do a photoshoot at 8:30 this morning, so I did that before we could leave. It all worked out fine because we still made it to the park around 10:30. We hit the dry rides first and they opted just to ride the Doggone Trail, the Salmon Run, and the canoes before heading to the water park. It was hot already. By the time we got suited up and greased up it was noon. First we all went on the lazy river together, but it wasn't enough action for the boys. So we played for an hour or so at the Kimba Bay area, which they LOVED. Zeke did the slides like a madman, just as we predicted. No fear.

Next Elijah and I rode a water coaster, which turns out was a huge mistake. Not only was the wait nearly 2 hours, but he didn't even really enjoy it. It was too fast and too jerky. I regret that we waisted so much precious time out of our day to go on that stinking thing. We won't be doing that again. While we were doing that, Manny and Zeke played in the wave pool, then Kimba Bay, then went back into the dry park to ride the train, salmon run, and boats several more times. Once Elijah and I got back to our meeting place, it took us another hour to locate the 2 of them because Manny hadn't taken his phone w/him. (dang it!) So, by the time we were all together again we were ready to eat. We grabbed some pizza, bread sticks, fries, chicken, and onion rings at the concession stand (super healthy, right?).

After lunch we played in the part w/all the really wide kiddie slides. The boys had a blast in that place because the pool was only waist deep and the slides were just right for them. I admit, I had fun on the slides w/them too! Then we did the wave pool, and while Elijah and I rode the really tall racer slide (he had a love-hate relationship with it), Manny and Zeke played in the toddler area some more. Then Monsoon Lagoon, then the other wave pool, then we were ready to dry off and do some more dry rides, which included the raging rapids, kiddie train, and kiddie roller-coaster (which neither of the boys enjoyed it.)In fact, Elijah got off it half-way thru the ride. They rode several more dry rides on our seemingly endless walk back to the park exit. My knees hurs soooo bad by the end of the day, the boys were both completely exausted, and we were all starving (thank goodness I packed peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches in the cooler for the drive home). But you know what? It was an awesome day! We had so much fun as a family - I think even Manny (who hates pools AND hates the outdoors) enjoyed it. Elijah and I are already making plans about when we get to go next year!

Of the water park, Monsoon Lagoon was my favorite part. It's a little more for older kids (deeper water, taller and faster slides), ropes and nets to climb in stead of steps, but it was Zeke's favorite too. He zipped down the big-kid slides with no hesitation whatsoever. Elijah, on the other hand, was more interested in playing with the water sprayers and sprinklers. Zeke and I did slides for a loooong time. And when I say "Zeke and I", I mean, Zeke ran ahead of me and I chased after him, trying to ride slides with him. But as it happened, he really did them mostly himself. He probably giggled more during that hour than he has collectively the rest of his entire life.

By the time we rolled into our driveway at home the boys were nodding into dreamland. Dreaming, I'm sure, about the wonderful day we all had. What a super-fun day. What a blessed mommy I am to have these boys to enjoy it with. I am happy. Deep down, really happy.

The End.